However you square it, Eating meat for every meal just isn’t smart math going forward. As a complication to the COVID pandemic, meatpacking plants are seeing production hiccups, making meat more scarce and expensive. Even before that, we could see the eco-friendly tides pointing towards more than just Meatless Mondays.
So what does that mean if you’re a steak and potatoes kind of family? Here are my four ways to meet (meat? 😉) in the middle. These options will protect your heart, your tastebuds, and your grocery budget!
Purchase The Best Quality Meat You Can
Ha! You probably didn’t think I was going to start off this way, did you? Seriously though, I love a good burger as much as the next gal. But going forward, I’m trying to purchase the most responsible meat I can. What exactly does that mean? Well, it’s up to you. You could focus on organic, free-range, or grass-fed. For me, I love the idea of supporting a local farmer, so I’m focusing my meat buying to farmers’ markets this summer.
If you have a large family, consider buying a pork or beef share (or a meat CSA that includes chicken and poultry, too!) where you get some portion of a whole animal. It comes to you butchered and ready to use, and you know the animal was used up nose-to-tail vs. just slaughtered for the “good parts.”
Another way to get good meat is to go back to the olden days and purchase meat directly from a quality butcher. Kettle Range Meats is a great option, as is Bunzel’s Meat Market. Ask questions about where the meat came from, how best to cook it, how to properly slice, etc. Even the butchers at a grocery store meat counter should be trained to help you here. They don’t want to see their work destroyed by bad grilling skills. Work together for a delicious dinner!
If You Can’t Go Completely Meatless: Use Meat Sparingly.
Instead of having the protein be the main focus of your meal, consider it as a side or even a condiment. I love to mix in diced veggies with the sausage for my spaghetti or add black beans in with the chicken for enchiladas. Or try a hearty salad like this one (with the ingredients in their own little piles for picky eaters) with a bit of leftover shredded chicken on top. Not only does this do good things for your waistline and environment, but it will help stretch a recipe to feed more, too!
Find A Naturally Occurring Meat Alternative
I’m going to start this section with this – I am NOT a fan of meat substitutes. Typically, these are overly processed packages of chemicals and fillers that use a bunch of water and energy to produce. No matter what your reason for going meatless, there is an argument against these packaged meats.
To which you say, “uh, duh… I’m doing this because I care about the animal”. Cool. But we can still let the animal live a healthy, happy life and enjoy a homemade black bean burger, cauliflower steaks, mushroom ragu, or lentil sloppy joes. Pinterest is your (vegetarian) oyster for this! There are a million and one deliciously hearty meals to be found with vegetables standing in for the meat.
When you’re going meatless: Pretend Meat Doesn’t Exist.
In related news, search out recipes that never had meat as part of it in the first place. Indian food is a great place to start for organically occurring meatless, vegetarian (and probably even vegan!) meals. Asian stir-fries and baked sweet potatoes stuffed with roasted veggies are delicious, nutritious, and filling meals, as are quinoa casseroles and spinach and tomato gnocchi.
Before you know it, you may find it works for your family to go meatless more days than not.