One of the ways to save money in the menu planning is to look at meat differently. Americans as a whole consume more protein than their bodies need. When I was attending Weight Watchers it became quickly obvious to me how big our serving portions of meat are!
We as Americans look at meat as the food ingredient to center our food around. Many times this can be hazardous not only to the weight loss efforts but also it can wreak havoc on our grocery budget also!
One way to save money and enable you to stay, or to have, a smaller budget for grocery items is to look at meat as an ingredient in your meals and not as the main course.
For example the other night I was making Swiss steak for dinner. I was able to get by with a one and a half pound package of round steak ( containing 3 small steaks) as the meat for the entire meal. Rather than giving each one of the kids a steak - ( and having to purchase 2 more packages to have enough for everyone to have their own steak). Before I cooked them I simply cut the 3 steaks into bite sized pieces and added them to the tomatoes in the skillet. I then added an extra can of tomatoes and extra seasoning spices to the skillet. Thus allowing me to have more vegetables in the meal; but without sacrificing the taste. The end result was the same taste as Swiss steak - but with less meat needed to go around. We had more than enough for everyone to have an ample helping and left overs to boot. Thus I had two meals with less meat than the original recipe called for that would have just served one meal.
You can also take this concept further and add less meat than called for in a 'casserole' type dish. With chili you can add a half a pound of ground beef (rather than a whole pound) to get the meat taste but add another can of beans to stretch the chili further. Thus you have another half a pound of meat to freeze for the next time you have chili and you have a bigger pot of chili with the added beans. You can add less chicken than what is called for in a chicken and rice hot dish and add extra broccoli for the needed filler in the recipe.
Looking at meat as an ingredient rather than a main dish can help save dollars in the grocery budget. Taking a closer look at just how much meat you need in certain dishes can help you not only save money; but also help you meals be within your caloric budget as well.
I love it when I am not only able to save money on certain things - but also have in the process a healthier option to feed my family. Who says you can't eat good food on a tight budget?!