Most of us would agree that when we eat better, we feel better. When we feel better, we feel more equipped to face the day and all that life throws at us. As a dietitian, I often get asked how to eat well while spending less. In my next few columns, I will focus on just that: providing tips on how to feed yourself and your family well, while sticking to your food dollar budget.
Today I will look at meat and meat alternatives. This food group has many attributes but is best known for providing protein. Each and every cell in our body requires protein, so it is essential for good health. Also, eating protein at every meal it helps us feel satisfied and fuller longer. This is great news for anyone looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Meat and meat alternatives include beef, chicken, pork, fish, eggs, beans/peas/lentils, nuts and seeds (and their butters). If you are trying to make your food budget stretch a little further then consider these points before your next grocery trip:
- Eggs are not just for breakfast! Eggs can be used to make frittatas for an evening meal or in sandwiches instead of more expensive (and more processed) deli meat. In my household, we often have omelettes for supper.
- Pre-packaged/boxed meat, chicken and fish cost more. Save money by preparing your own.
- Beans (dried or canned) can be served with rice and vegetables as a quick meal. Bean curry is a favourite in my house! Lentils can be added in their dry state right into a vegetable soup for an inexpensive protein source. Chick peas can be tossed in a salad.
- Canned salmon and tuna are not only affordable but oh so nutritious! Try adding one or the other to a warm or cold pasta dish. One of my favourite ways to serve it is to mix canned salmon or tuna with low fat mayonnaise, chopped onion and celery. Place it inside a whole grain hotdog bun, sprinkle it with cheese and place it under the broiler. A tasty meal in less than 15 minutes!
- Buying a whole chicken is less expensive than buying chicken parts. Roast the whole chicken and use leftovers for sandwiches. If time allows, use the bones to make chicken stock.
- Peanuts and sunflower seeds tend to be the most cost-effective nut and seed. Sprinkle them in yogurt, salads, or in your baking.
- Buy regular ground beef and drain off the fat after cooking.
- Buy large cuts of meat and portion it yourself at home.
- Less expensive pieces of meat include outside, inside or eye of round, blade or flank steak, stewing meat and pork shoulder. Less expensive types of meat may be less tender, because they are lower in fat. You can increase the tenderness by marinating meat overnight in your fridge or by cooking the meat slowly and in liquid such as broth, water or tomato sauce. Pounding meat with a mallet before cooking can also help.
- Simply eat less at one sitting. A serving size of meat, chicken or fish is considered 2.5 ounces. A larger chicken breast can easily serve two people.
- Focus on meals where meat is less of the focus, such as in stir-fries and casseroles.
The chili recipe below can be adapted to use what you have on hand. If you have extra beans, use less ground beef. Choose low sodium canned beans such as PC Blue® Menu™ Dark Red Kidney Beans if you want to reduce the sodium. Add peppers, if available, to increase the vegetable content.
Family Style Chili
Ingredients 1 tbsp (15 mL) PC Splendido extra virgin olive oil 1 1/2 lb (750 g) PC Free From Angus beef – lean ground 3 onions, chopped 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 1/2 cup (125 mL) noname chili powder 1 can (156 mL) tomato paste 2 cans (each 796 mL) PC Organics whole tomatoes Canada Choice 1 can (540 mL) noname Dark Red kidney beans, rinsed and drained 1 tsp (5 mL) salt Instructions In large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook beef for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring to break up, or until no longer pink. With slotted spoon, transfer beef to bowl. Discard all but 3 tbsp (45 mL) fat from saucepan. Return saucepan to medium heat. Stir in onions; cook until lightly coloured, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in chili powder and salt; cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato paste until combined. Stir in browned beef, canned tomatoes with liquid and kidney beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Nutrition information per serving: 280 calories, fat 12, sodium 720 mg, carbohydrate 23 g, fibre 8 g, protein 19 g
Recipe source: www.pc.ca
Anne Marie Armstrong, BscAHN, PDt is a registered dietitian with Atlantic Superstores in Nova Scotia.
Have a nutrition question? Contact me by calling 1-888-225-5295 ext. 632157 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org