If you follow me on Twitter you’ll know that I am very keen on Meat Free Monday. Meat tends to be one of the most expensive items in our grocery baskets each week. One big way to save money on groceries is to plan some meat free meals. So for those of you who have dabbled in the idea of becoming vegetarian – you don’t have to do it completely. Having one or two meat free meals a week can still give you health benefits.
Some benefits of meat-free meals are:
- Save money: Meat-free options are generally cheaper than meat.
- Health: Meat-free meals are built around vegetables, beans and grains. These foods are good sources of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Cutting down on meat will reduce the total saturated (unhealthy) fat in your diet. This has the combined effect of helping you to lower your risk factors for lifestyle diseases.
- Variety: Having meat-free meals is a great way to introduce a wider variety of foods, flavours, textures and colours into your diet.
- Eco-Friendly: UN figures suggest that meat production puts more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than transport. So, including meat-free meals in your week, and thus cutting down your meat intake, is a great way to help combat global warming.
Tips to implement meat-free meals:
- Make in bulk and freeze – to lower the workload and time spent preparing meals.
- Soak beans and lentils in advance – to shorten cooking time.
- Alternatively, use tinned options e.g. tinned lentils and chickpeas – just as good as fresh.
Some meat alternatives you can try:
- Legumes e.g. soya, tofu, lentils and beans.
- Nuts e.g. pistachios, pecans, hazels, brazils, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pine kernels, etc. Choose unsalted, raw nuts.
- Seeds e.g. sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, linseeds.
- Milk and dairy products e.g. milk, cheese, yoghurt.
Example meat-free day:
Breakfast: Muesli with low fat yoghurt and fresh fruit salad (e.g. banana slices, mixed berries and grated apple)
Snack: Trailmix (dried fruit and mixed seeds)
Lunch: Sandwich made with low GI or rye bread, hummus (to spread), avocado, rocket and cherry tomatoes.
Snack: Fruit kebab with probiotic yoghurt drink
Supper: Mediterranean pasta – wholewheat pasta mixed with roasted vegetables (red peppers, red onions, tomatoes, chilli and garlic). Top with reduced fat feta cheese and olives.