Monday, 19 March 2012

A Tale of Two Lists

I said I would write more about how we eat less meat.   I always think it's hard to do less of something without identifying what one will do more. Towards this end, I made up List One and List Two.

List One
beans, poultry, fish, veggie/grain, lentils, FISH

List Two
cheese, eggs, combo, nuts, liver, meat, other treats

My weekly menu includes a fish, a FISH and something from List Two with the other four days filled in with beans, poultry, lentils and vegetarian meals. I don't tend to plan any more detail than the chosen protein. For example I know that tonight I will start with some frozen cooked turkey. Nearly everything I cook starts with dicing an onion and some garlic and whilst I know we are out of tinned tomatoes, I know we have tomato paste...and some vegetables that can be steamed or stir-fried. If I get stuck I can always pull out a recipe book or two for ideas.

Regarding List One
  • It might help to know that 'fish' is tinned fish; FISH is not-tinned fish... I get pretty tired of tuna and salmon out of cans and living nearly next door to a cheap source of fresh and frozen fish, it seems foolish not to use the advantage.
  • I separated lentils from beans because I never remembered to choose lentils on a bean night and there are many delicious lentil recipes.
  • We tend to soak dried beans a cup or two at a time and then cook them in plain water in the crockpot and freeze, but I do keep a few emergency tins in stock in case we get behind.
  • In order to make a veggie night more interesting I thought I'd try to explore more grains: couscous, barley, kasha, quinoa, wild rice on veggie night. It often just ends up with regular old rice dish, but sometimes I get more adventurous.
  • Veggie night might also include roast veg, but this tends to be an exception as I don't know a low fat approach to this.

Regarding List Two

  • These foods aren't quite as healthy as the ones on List One and some of them are quite fattening.
  • I specified liver because we found a bargain price and stocked up on it, but because it's not my first choice of meat we could find ourselves ignoring that supply if left to my own devices (then again, this is my device, isn't it?).
  • Combo refers to any recipe that calls for two proteins, ie 'beans and cheese' or 'chicken and cheese' or 'beans and minced beef'.
  • I do tend to treat small amounts of Parmesan cheese as a condiment rather than as a protein.
  • The biggest challenge to finding new recipes is that so many call for more than one protein.
  • The next biggest challenge was to find an egg dish that Bill thought suitable for dinner instead of breakfast (quiche calls for cheese and so it is a 'combo'). I found over time that ignoring his views on the matter was the best solution for this; I noticed he happily ate the dishes I produced from recipes that were largely fried egg added to stir-fried veggies. It sounds a bit weird, but it actually tastes quite nice.
  • I'm aware that eggs are quite inexpensive as a source of protein and they are in themselves low fat. They might actually belong in List One, but I haven't caught up with the latest position on these re: cholesterol. Also, our most inexpensive source of eggs isn't convenient and so I buy loads when we go and eek them out. We do sometimes have an omelette for lunch instead of soup and I sometimes use an egg to bind together ingredients I want to 'pattify' (a word from The Tightwad Gazette).
  • I don't tend to serve 'white stuff' (potatoes, pasta or white rice) any more than I have to. However, nut sauces work best on pasta (whether white or red pesto sauce or peanut butter sauce). Beans and potatoes or beans and rice are also quite nice occasionally.   We have toast or oatmeal / porridge most days for breakfast.
  • Most nights are either something stir-fried or baked along with a large pot of steamed vegetables. These are my stock-in-trade selections. When Bill takes over the cooking he's more likely to make a casserole in the oven or to roast something, which is usually quite nice.

What are your strategies for reducing the amount of meat in your diet?


Suburban Princess said...

I dont really spend a lot of time thinking about how to reduce meat...I just eat what I feel like at that moment. I dont eat much meat to start with but I do eat a lot of quinoa and tempeh. Both are inexpensive and yummy!

Beryl said...

This is a terrific post!
I have always used TVP (textured vegetable protein) or frozen grated tofu instead of most or all of the beef in lasagne, chili, spaghetti sauce, etc. (And yet my children said that they had never eaten tofu! They just didn't know.) I use the most aged cheddar cheese I can find for cooking since I can use half the amount of mild cheddar and get the same taste. And like Parmesan, Feta cheese can also be used as a condiment.
I also avoid the white items, like rice. There was an interesting bit on the news in Oklahoma about rice possibly being responsible for the huge increase in diabetes in the world.
Maybe it's my French half speaking, but shouldn't they add alcohol as a food group. I always told my children that it wasn't some special thing to overindulge in, any more than any other food group. I laughed the first time I heard one of them use that term to their friends.

Anonymous said...

We eat loads of beans. I'd be curious to know more about the ways in which you cook lentils. We purchased a 25 pound sack last year...and I've run out of ideas! I must say though that I still crave white stuff, like potatoes.

I'm almost to the point that I eat no red meat.

Rick Stone said...

Reduce meat in the diet? Not sure I comprehend the question. Of course I live in beef country and am the son of a retired beef producer. Ideal meal is a Royal Red Robin Burger at the Red Robin Restaurant chain. 1/3 pound hamburger patty (medium well), bacon, American Cheese, lettuce (so I can say I had a vegestable), topped with a fried egg. With this is all you can eat refills of large cut French Fries and a big glass of sweet tea. Does not get any better than that.

Lacey R said...

We try to eat beans, veggies, etc so we are not eating as much meat. We also try to not eat too much bread, pasta or rice (once or twice a week). Just this past year I have incorporated leeks in our diet (love leek tart now) and kale with potatoes, DaniBP had a great recipe on her blog that turned out really well when I made it. Aren't lists great? I am totally a list person!