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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Saw on CNN today that meat prices are going to take another jump in January. Exclusive: Even hot dogs, burgers and deli meats will soon get more expensive

Might be a good time to start pulling out your favorite alternative protein bean, cheese, lentil etc dishes and getting your family used to seeing them on the table a few times a week if they don't already. I know this kind of jump is going to hit our household hard. We've gone from cuts of meat at dinner to meat in stew and soup already. And we're eating meat we bought two years ago on sale and packaged for the freezer.

I've been trying to lose weight so I cut out junk/fast food except on the day of holidays, then cut out lunch a while back and it did stop the increase in our grocery bill - but that's all it did other than drop a few pounds. With the prices going up slowly but steadily, it really didn't create any room in the budget.

There isn't anything else I'm willing to cut right now, so it's time for me to discover some more alternative proteins. All the cuts I'm making are entirely voluntary, but I what happens to those for whom it isn't a choice when most families will have to stop donating to the pantries? Losing from your normal healthy weight can have serious consequences going into a winter when we've already been told we may be short of fuel.

Please chime in with your thoughts -- and your protein substitutions!
 
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I heard that people need a lot less protein than we have been told. I have been mostly vegetarian for close to a year and no signs of protein deficiency. I don't drink milk either. Eggs are my main source of protein, my landlords have 4 backyard hens and they give me eggs.
Most people are used to eating a lot of meat, it isn't necessary or good for your health. I volunteer at a food pantry, we don't just rely on donations. We spend about $30,000 a month on food. We get a lot of meat donated from the store, and from wholesalers in the area. Also the USDA donates meat. Even though I don't eat meat, I feel good when I can load up a big family with a big pack of chicken, a ham, and a big roast beef.
 

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Thanks for the tip! The price of meat seems to have stabilized somewhat here, I am seeing sales and stocking up when I find good deals. Though some things like bacon are still crazy (jumped from ~$3 to ~$7) I incorporated "vegetarian" one day a week into the menu plan, but I don't tell DH that, because he thinks meals should have MEAT. Usually it is a soup or salad, depends on the weather.

We only eat hot dogs and processed meats on occasion, it's not a staple here, and I stocked up during summer sales. But I understand many people do rely on hot dogs and bologna sandwiches to meet their budgets.

DH is pre-diabetic so we have to be careful not to have too many carbohydrates, bread, rice, beans, potatoes, etc on the table at once. That means I can only serve pasta twice a month. He has issues with beans and refuses to believe that his body will adapt if he would only eat them more often, but on the other hand he risks diabetes if he eats rice and beans too often. Likewise, he doesn't like lentils or grain based "salads". I've gotten him to eat more whole grain brown rice, and cauliflower rice, but the price of cauliflower has gone up drastically as well. Meanwhile, I can't do cheese based dishes, being lactose intolerant. So lots of nice budget friendly casseroles with lots of cheap pasta and cheese is right out of the question for us.

The spear tip of my plan right now is not throwing food away. I cook less so leftovers don't pile up. We can't afford to put money in the trash. Eggs are my go-to for breakfast, DH often has yogurt and makes his own veggie egg cups. Now it's getting cold we'll have more oatmeal in the crock pot. For lunches DH has canned soup, peanut butter sandwiches or grilled cheese. For dinners I'm doing more vegetables, things like stir-fry bowls, hearty vegetable salads, and pretty soon it will be soup-of-the-week. (I make a large batch of a different soup every week for 6-8 weeks and freeze half. In January we start eating the frozen stuff, by March the freezer is -- theoretically-- cleaned out) Also, I stretch my chili with vegetables. If you grate or puree you can hide a lot of things in spicy tomato sauce.

I haven't switched to alternate proteins, much of the fake meat stuff is more costly than meat right now. I have been doing more with cheaper cuts, like pork and chicken thighs. I wish we could do more with fish and seafood, but living where we do it's never been cheap and DH can't eat shellfish anyway. (Shrimp often goes on sale here, but not an option for him) We've learned to like tilapia, being flavorless it takes seasoning well. It makes good fish taco.
 

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I've been stocking up on meat when I find a good sale. I bought more chuck roast a few weeks ago and when I put it in the freezer, found I already had a bunch. I'll buy the cheap steaks that go on sale and slice them for stir fry. I'd like to get another turkey or two for the freezer. We eat them throughout the year. Leftovers become turkey hotdish. I just layer all the leftovers and top with cheese or make turkey soup. Unfortunately all I'm finding are huge turkeys. 10-14 lbs is perfect for us and even if ds and family come eat, it's more than enough. I buy chicken when I can find it. Seems to sell out fast. I do keep hotdogs for a quick meal. I have a few packages of pork steaks too.
 

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Forgot to say, one of the things I did recently was sign up for the NYT cooking email newsletter The Veggie Sign up for The Veggie - The New York Times Even if we don't eat meatless every day I find it a good way to keep my head in the game and get ideas. You have to create an account to actually view the recipes, but it is free to sign up.
 

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So much depends where you live and your options too for shopping plus stage of life. Sales are my friend. You have to know what your family will eat plus looking recipes. I see make meals under $10 or $5 and has all chicken breasts etc which would make it a $20 $25 meal here cus costs. I admit we can eat better or more homecooked. but since I am the main cook..lol I like takeout esp if it is the same as if I make at home and I look for the good but cheaper options like pubs. Dh has gotten better and the kids over the last year but still allergies like eggs, whole grains etc. Lots of unhealthy habits that side. And they love hotdogs so..easy option too. and teen boy plus his friends.

But like others if I make a no meat meal I just don't say it. do they need to know it is cheese tortellini instead of beef well can't taste the difference (will throw in fresh spinach if I have it). or carrot soup etc. I am limited on salads so just do caesar cus at least it is eaten. Throw veggies in homemade spaghetti sauce or make black bean chili .no questions about the lack of meat cus there isn't suppose to be. If I make lentil soup ham bone or bacon cus needs it. or sausage. but you don't need a ton. Crockpot beef stroganoff doesn't use much meat or I use the remains of roasts or roasts bones. Not as cheap as some but it is supporting local and getting way fresher is my farm share csa for seasonal veggies.

I find if you just stick to real food and recipes..so many cultures have them that use no or limited meat that are great. or changes like hard boiled eggs in curry instead of meat that work. All about balance and portion control. I don't say can't eat candy or xyz but balance w fruit and veggies etc. they don't get huge slabs of meat etc.
fake meat just no..only buy if I have to for bbq for people. I will put black beans in taco meat to stretch it and add veggies. same w making curry w Now lots of stuff is cus teen boy. thankful he is not the one w allergies and pickiness so he will eat tuna and egg salad plus lots of other things. Koolaid etc, desserts, cookies etc live here cus well we like them and some is help the budget. all about balance and if I don't buy cookies or lunch treats then dh will. trained him to take a banana and a yogurt w lunch too.

Deli meat is $$ so since I hate making sandwiches..I buy them at times cus same price and usually a lot fancier then I will make. and I will get cheaper lunch meat since ds hoovers it down. dd doesn't eat lunch meat so pb. yes she takes after her father..eats ham but not as lunchmeat and no bacon etc. no hamburger but will eat steak and roast beef. yet will eat a bowl of peas. dutch dish kids love..mashed kale and potatoes but she won't eat the sausage in it but more important to eat the kale lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the interesting ideas! One of the things I'm looking into is thermos meals that you make up in the morning, add boiling liquid, and the ingredients are ready for lunch or dinner. I have a wide mouth, short thermos that handles that kind of thing well. I love all the comments I'm reading on various sites about kids who eat beans and lentils - not only are they growing up healthy, they're cheaper to feed ;)

When I was growing up my parents hit a bad time and really didn't care what was going on at home. My dad at least remembered he had kids and would come home with two 2 liter bottles of soda and two bags of chips and say "here's dinner." I gained 100 pounds over that summer and have been fighting to lose it all my life. It's sad because my mom was raised on a farm in Idaho and knew all sorts of good recipes before she melted down. I think that's the only reason my brother and I are still alive - we got good nutrition for our first few years. But we're both diabetic, both have dental and skeletal problems, and generally had to learn to eat like a healthy adult human on our own.

That has a lot to do with how concerned I am about the nutrition kids in our neighborhood get. Many families are out of work and struggling, but they use meat substitutes like cheese, beans and lentils, and do the best they can to keep track of the children's eating because even the people without a high school education know that feeding your kids right makes them grow right. I hate it when kids are hungry but you go over their house and the parents have plenty of alcohol, weed and cigarettes but their kids have trouble identifying different vegetables, much less eating them. Now that the parents can't afford to just send the kids to McDonald's or Taco Bell I'm worried that the school meals are the only nutrition they get.

I try to encourage people to try new low cost things, not just say "I don't eat that" because they don't like one kind of bean or lentil. It's surprising how good you can make vegetables, beans and lentils taste if you spice and cook them right. I hope I'm passing that along to people. My Indian classmate laughed when I asked how she cooks lentils and said "Which ones?" and proceeded to give me a mini class on how lentils are the building block and you have to add flavor which is the difference between a farmer and a cook (the best quote I've heard about why to season your food).
 

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Interesting topic. I'm pretty omnivorous, but am aware when I'm eating something like peanut butter or yogurt or cheese that I'm getting protein from those sources and can reduce meat portions. Canned tuna still seems reasonable (Target brand & price) and I may start buying extra cans and rotating that for my own meals. Unfortunately hubby won't eat a lot of things like beans or canned tuna.
I found a web site myfooddata.com that is helpful. Surprisingly green peas have 8g of protein per cup (plus lots of fiber).
I have also noticed they are selling protein-enriched oatmeals now, typically some type of protein powder is added. But the price difference may be worth while for those who like/would eat oatmeal.
 

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As I've gotten older, I've had to increase my protein to level out my BS. I never cared for protein/meat but now have to have it. Carbs are not my friend but I do love them. Alternatives for protein have been mentioned-dairy, beans w/rice, any kind of fish, peanut butter and nuts. I'd add soybeans, edamame, quinoa and vegs like broccoli or peas and pumpkin seeds.
 

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I do pretty high protein as well.
I stocked up on beans and managed to grow a pound or two of canary beans this year. I help a friend butcher her ducks and chickens at the end of the season (e.g. 30 ducks yesterday) and she cans, freezes and smokes the meat and then shares it with me. I do pay her some as well. Right now I have 7 pints of home made chicken stock (good gelatin in there from the boiled carcasses) to which I will egg noodles or drop a beaten egg in for more protein. I have a few chickens and sources for local eggs.When the chickens stop laying, I take them over to the friend's on a butchering day. And I learned to home can my beans. I add rye berries or wheat berries to bean soup or beans to a pilaf for good protein.

At work we get free steelhead or salmon a couple of times a year and a colleague smokes and freezes some for me usually. I eat some fresh as well and hope to get back to canning it again. That's REALLY delicious and the bones soften enough to be eaten and that's a great source of minerals along with the high quality protein.

I also recently bought at Ross Dress For Less (also check TJMaxx and Marshalls etc) 1lb of organic beef gelatin powder for 5$ It is nearly pure protein. 9g per tablespoon I think. When I am low on other protein sources, I use a bit of gelatin to make either a dessert or pudding, or even just dissolve it in coffee or tea and chug it. I need the high protein for various reasons so stick to nearly 100g a day which is more than most folks need. I have also found "vital wheat gluten" at these types of stores for about 3$.
Also have a fishing and hunting license. Haven't shot my own meat yet, and forget to bring my fishing pole when I'm out and about, but it IS and option

I do thermos cooking as well. Lentils and brown rice work nicely in there. I'm at 3000ft so beans don't work well. Those I do a pan on the woodstove or now can up dry beans so I can just throw them in broth or grain pilaf.

I honestly can't remember the last time I bought meat at a store. When I go out to eat, which is less and less often, I make a point of ordering good meat if it is available.
 

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I've seen articles and heard of people not finding pasta or marinara at their stores...I've seen articles about a global pasta shortage. Has anyone encountered this?

There are pasta recipes out there and I've made fresh noodles & raviolis. I picked up a few boxes & jars to add to the stockpile anyways. Always good to have.
 

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Pasta has been in our grocery ads lately and I've seen plenty at the srore and also DG. Don't know about sauces because I never buy those, but haven't noticed anything. As you noted, pasta is easy to make if need be, especially spaetzle.

Whole turkeys are $1.19/lb at our store this week. I think bone-in ham is $1.69. The ad has several kinds of ham at varying prices. Our store has also gone back to its pre-covid 4-page ad instead of the 2-pager they put out during covid.
 

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I read a rather long article about it last year. Certain types/shapes of pasta were not being produced because they took longer to make than others. Macaroni and spaghetti noodles were in high demand for home cooking, many factories were extruding only those shapes in order to keep production high. Bucatoni is one shape I remember that had gone out of production at the time.

Haven't noticed any shortages recently, but I haven't really looked since we don't eat noodles and red sauce very often and I already have some in the pantry. Aldi was well stocked last week.

It's possible the shift in weather has people eating heavier meals now.
 

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Mme Homebody, yes it sucks when kids are affected by parents choices. I know dh allergies etc are mostly from his upbringing all the smoking etc. but then it was the era yet they were heavy ones for the era too. But so much depends what you are exposed too also growing up. Dh mom didn't like cheese so only bought the american cheese slices cus they lasted. Funny though when she got dementia she loved cheese. Where my parents and where we lived exposed to so much. but my kids eat more junk then I did but partly cus more convenience food and fast food around plus energy.

I don't think there is a pasta shortage..at least not here except when people went nuts buying it..now always on sale. I notice sales are down in stores earlier this year because people had to use up all the stuff they bought in a panic. Canned soup, pizzas, pasta and sauce. yet real food was there so mostly young ones who don't cook. cus when restaurants opened up like ramen etc there were the lineups lol

Mme Homebody I don't know if I posted this before but here is a link to meals you are looking for..she made them for camping for her hubby to save money but good for lots of things.

6 Instant Meals-On-The-Go| Just Add Boiling Water
 

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I was in one of the larger Wal Mart last week all food isle and meat counter was well stocked except the snack isle it had lot of empty shelves the man working that isle said he was having hard time getting in things i said most of us like snacks even us older people.But the meat prices was out rages.








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