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Vegetarian meals save money

Vegetarian meals are great for the budget and can offer a low-fat, high-protein alternative to meat. Including them in your menu once in awhile can be a healthy and frugal move.

The meal below is incredibly low cost. And the main dish offers a sensible amount of protein by using an ingredient called TVP (texturized vegetable protein). It’s a soy product that is high in protein, low fat, has no cholesterol, and costs only around 40 cents per pound.

It comes in many sizes; granules like ground beef and small chunks like beef cubes. It is very versatile and can be used anywhere meat is used. It has no flavor of its own, yet it assumes the flavor of the seasonings you add. It is sold dried at most health food stores and is reconstituted with equal parts of hot water and TVP.

Frugal Vegetarian Recipes

Meatless Sherpherd’s Pie
Serves 6

1 cup TVP granules
1/4 cup salt-free broth powder
2 1/2 cups hot water
1/2 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery rib, diced
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon salt-free Italian Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
3 cups mashed potatoes

In a mixing bowl, combine the TVP, broth powder, 2 cups of the water, onion, carrot, and celery. Let rest for 15 minutes. Transfer to a large skillet and turn on low heat. In a small bowl combine the flour, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup of the water, and seasonings. Mix into a paste and add to the TVP mixture. Simmer until it thickens, stirring constantly. Spread mixture evenly in a greased 2-qt. baking dish.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine the cheese with the mashed potatoes and mix well. Spread the mashed potatoes over the TVP mixture. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the mashed potatoes are golden brown.

Cost per serving (1 cup): 37 cents. Preparation time: 25 minutes. Cook time: 20 minutes

Nutritional analysis per serving
Calories 212; Fat 5 grams; Cholesterol 13 mg; Carbohydrates 30 grams; Fiber 4 grams; Protein 14 grams; Sodium 434 mg.

Honey Mustard Salad
Serves 4

1/2 head Romaine lettuce
1/4 cup honey-mustard salad dressing (see recipe below)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup salted peanuts, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and drain the lettuce leaves. Tear into 1-inch pieces and place the lettuce in a large mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over the lettuce. Sprinkle the green onions and peanuts over the lettuce. Toss well to evenly distribute the ingredients. Serve immediately.

Variation: To make this a main dish, add one cup of cooked diced chicken to the salad.

Cost per serving (1 1/2 cups): 21 cents. Preparation time: 10 minutes.

Nutritional analysis per serving
Calories 142; Fat 9 grams; Cholesterol 3 mg; Carbohydrates 14 gm; Fiber 4 grams; Protein 5 grams; Sodium 153 mg

Honey Mustard Dressing
Serves 10

2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon minced onion
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Pinch of salt

Place all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk together for 30 seconds, or until smooth. Refrigerate in a tightly covered container. Serve over salad or steamed vegetables, use as a dip, or even as a marinade for grilled chicken.

Cost per serving (2 Tablespoons): 8 cents. Serves: 10 (Makes 1 1/8 cups). Preparation time: 10 minutes.

Nutritional analysis per serving
Calories 92; Fat 8 grams; Cholesterol 5 mg; Carbohydrates 5 grams; Fiber 0 grams; Protein 0 grams; Sodium 115 mg.

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