There’s a new diet / lifestyle being tossed around lately.” Flexitarian.” Hunh? Essentially, a flexitarian diet is a flexible diet that does not entirely exclude meat, like a vegetarian or the strict vegan diet but does attempt to cut down on meat. What does that mean to your budget? That’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? Meat is usually the most expensive item on your shopping list.
Flexitarianism may be a good choice for anyone who wants to lower their food costs, do a little something for the planet, and be a little healthier.
Combined with the ecological impact of raising beef, hogs and other livestock, and avoiding all the “ethical treatment” considerations, (which I am sure are quite important to some, and not so much to others) cutting back on meat is something I feel good about.
Come to think of it, I may already be a “flexitarian”. I am an omnivore, and I eat anything, and I have been cutting back on meat. Since there are no hard and fast rules, I guess that makes me a flexitarian. Sort of.
I am not big on recipes per se, and cook a lot by instinct, so here’s a few basic concepts and ideas that may get you started. There are lots of recipes out there on the web that can guide you if you need them.
1. Rice and bean dishes – the combination of rice and beans gives your body a complete protein without meat. There are dozens of kinds of beans to try. Rice and beans are a staple of many cultures, and the combination is very inexpensive and quite filling. Got kids? Make it fun by letting them build their own tacos and burritos. Provide bowls of chopped tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, onions, salsa and guacamole . You won’t even miss the meat.
2. When you do use meat, use meat as a “seasoning” rather than the centerpiece of the meal. I know this is a radical departure from the standard “American” diet, but it saves a ton of money, while still giving you a little meat. Instead of that huge roast decorated with a few veggies, how about a vegetable stew, with beef broth and small bits of beef. Or Chicken and vegetable rice instead of the big roast chicken? (Ah, here I may get some input from “real” flexitarians – is a meal with “less” meat a flexitarian meal, or does it have to be vegetarian?)
3. Vegetable casseroles! You can make a killer casserole with a can of mushroom soup, noodles, and your choice of vegetables. I use frozen veggies for convenience sake, but if I can get my hands on local produce.. YAY!
4. Big colorful salads can make a great main meal. In the summer, don’t cook once in a while! Your body will thank you for having big salads. With summer fruits and vegetables available at farmer’s markets, take advantage of local produce and whip up some no cook meals. Save on energy to cook, keep the kitchen cooler.
I have no intention of giving up meat entirely, but I do feel the pleasant difference when I cut back on my previous consumption of steaks and roasts. And I most certainly see the difference in my shopping bill. You will too.