Embrace Meatless Monday!

Meatless-MondayEver heard of Meatless Mondays? It’s a movement for regular meat-loving folk to adopt a practice of making one night a week a meatless mealtime. And Monday makes for a nice alliteration.

There are benefits to adopting this practice- from a health, socially conscious and from a budgetary point of view.

Cut the Meat, Cut the Costs

When you trim meat from your meals (even once a week), you can put a decent dent into your overall grocery budget. Meat easily accounts for the largest part of your grocery bill, proportionately speaking. When you make a small change like this and commit to it, then you will definitely come out ahead in your spending.

Reduce your Footprint

Even if you are not an environmental advocate, there is no denying the great by-product of going meatless now and then (seriously, who doesn’t want to save money and the earth at the same time).

Raising livestock for meat costs energy and water. By reducing your need, you are reducing your carbon footprint. Essentially many of these physical costs are passed along to the consumer.

I’m not a Vegetarian!

No one said you had to be a vegetarian. Meatless does not necessarily involve tofu burgers and other things of the sort.

It’s about swapping out traditional meat protein for another source.

Legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas), yogurt (some Greek yogurt offers up to 9g of protein a serving, which is pretty substantial) and cheese all make for great, kid-friendly meat alternatives.

Tomato Pasta

The beauty of the summer (aside from the weather, of course) is the quality (and cost) of fresh, local produce.

Here’s a simple, meatless, delicious dish. Cook pasta (a wider noodle, like fettuccine or linguini is good). Sauté chopped onions and garlic in a little olive oil. Chop tomatoes and fresh basil. Toss the cooked pasta with olive oil mixture and the tomato mixture. Top with grated mozzarella cheese or parmesan cheese.

Black Bean Quesadillas

Lovely in the oven, or on the grill, this is a great, sneaky way to change up your protein.

Brush the inside of tortilla shells with BBQ sauce (it adds a nice zing).

Fill half the tortilla with cheese, salsa, veggies of your choice and black beans. Seal the sides and either bake in the oven or throw on the BBQ until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are browned.

Baked Beans

Meatless or not, this is a major staple in my house for flavour alone.

You can either buy them in the can at the store (choose low sodium variety) or make them yourself at home (which is far easier than you might think).

Soak navy beans (or black beans) in water overnight. Drain and recover with water, simmering until they are tender, but not fully cooked. Combine any number of ingredients (I like maple syrup, molasses and water, but many recipes use a tomato base, like ketchup or canned tomatoes. Ensure that beans are well covered (usually about 4 cups of liquid for 2, 2 ½ cups of dried beans), and let simmer in your slow cooker for about 10 hours.

Another note- beans freeze well, so make for good freezer dishes too.