Western culture calls for a meat entrée to be the centerpiece of any major meal. This practice is so ingrained that it just isn’t a meal unless there’s a substantial entrée of beef, pork or poultry. Unfortunately, this practice is a source of high calories, saturated fats and a big chunk of your monthly food budget.
Too Much Meat Can increase Health Risks
The Center for Disease Control reports that obesity in children from six to eleven has doubled and that that percentage has tripled in adolescents over the last 30 years. It further states that as of 2010, one third of adolescents and children were either overweight or obese.
The CDC goes on to state that 35.7 percent of U.S. adults are obese. Medical costs that can be associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion in 2008, and average medical costs for these individuals were $1,429 higher than persons of normal weight.
A number of the leading causes of preventable death can be attributed to obesity. These conditions include type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease and some types of cancer.
Reduce Meat Purchases To Trim Your Budget
As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012, a typical trip to the grocery store will have the average family spending approximately 21.5 percent of their weekly grocery budget on meat, poultry and pork. That’s the second largest category of food purchases, exceeded only by processed foods at 22.9 percent.
Making meat less of an entrée and more of a flavoring can go a long way to cut your monthly food budget and help to reduce the amount of calories and fats in your diet.
Enjoy Meat – Just Less of It
Instead of planning an eight to twelve ounce portion of meat for each person, cut that amount back by half. If you’re serving four, just buy one pound of meat. You can even add some meatless meals on occasion without being branded as a vegetarian. Beans and tofu provide significant protein and are very versatile in creating a wide variety of meatless main dishes.
Stir fries are a great way to stretch your meat dollar and still provide an ample main course serving of protein. Get creative with vegetables, spices, seasonings and serve plenty of steamed white or brown rice.
Hearty stews and chowders can be flavorful, filling and rounded out with fresh breads or biscuits. Start with a crunchy salad for a complete meal.
Meats can be used in sauces for pasta and noodles. Combine them with gravy and serve with dumplings or biscuits.
Always have plenty of vegetable side dishes to round out your meal and fill you up. A variety of sides enhances your meal and adds important nutrients and fiber.
When you’re planning your weekly menu and shopping list, try spending a specific amount per person on your meat ingredients. Prices vary throughout the country, so you’ll need to determine an average for your locale. Use this figure to help you reduce your meat expenses and control your budget. It can also reduce your waistline and, perhaps, even lower your family’s health risks.