5 Easy and Cheap Vegetarian Eats
You don’t have to be a full-fledged vegetarian to enjoy the benefits of including a meatless meal in your diet. Even the most loyal meat-eater can save money and amp up nutrition by going veggie now and then. Use vegetarian meals to incorporate healthy foods you may not eat regularly. Here are five meat-free staples to consider:
- Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
Chickpeas are packed with 14 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber per cup. Cooking them from scratch and adding rice and vegetables yields a frugal and filling meal. Sauteed chickpeas make a delicious, crispy snack — and kids enjoy them, too.
This stereotypical vegetarian staple is a versatile and inexpensive source of plant protein. Make a savory, satisfying meal by crumbling and cooking tofu on the stove with mix-ins like onions, tomatoes, or hash browns. Top with cheddar, salt, and pepper. Alternatively, purchase silken tofu and add it to a homemade smoothie.
This chickbea-based spread comes in multiple varieties — black bean, red pepper, edamame, etc. — and complements raw vegetables as a nutritious dip. For a filling meal, serve with whole wheat pita wedges, or in wraps with sliced bell peppers, onions, and spinach.
You may not even notice the meat missing when you use black or pinto beans in a restaurant-style Mexican salad. Use ingredients like romaine lettuce, brown rice, or tortilla chips, and top with beans and your dressing of choice. Add guacamole, pico de gallo, and cilantro for a flavor-rich, veggie-packed meal.
5. Pasta alternatives
Most grocery stores now stock pasta made of non-traditional flours, including quinoa, chickpea, and lentil. These alternatives are rich with protein and fiber, especially compared to the refined flour versions. For a balanced meal, pair a legume-based pasta with marinara or alfredo sauce, and serve with a green salad.
If you’re interested in the health and financial benefits of eating more vegetarian meals, try adding one of these simple options to your shopping list this week. Enjoy a nutrient boost and a little bit of savings on your grocery bill!