With the cost of groceries — and practically everything else — at record highs this year (thanks, inflation!), you’re probably looking for smart ways to save on feeding your family. One of the easiest ways to cut your bill without skimping on flavor? Opting for the occasional meatless main.
Don’t worry, you don’t need a whole new recipe playbook. It’s pretty easy to make direct swaps on many standard dishes without tons of extra adjustments. By shopping in season or prioritizing canned or frozen plant-based proteins, you can make your grocery dollar go even further. Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Use mushrooms instead of ground beef
If you’re making a saucy dish that typically uses ground meat (like Bolognese or our favorite One-Pot Spaghetti with Meat and Mushroom Ragu), try using some finely-chopped mushrooms to reduce your ground beef intake. They add lots of rich umami flavor while ensuring the final product is still moist and delicious. Once browned, the texture is surprisingly similar to ground beef — ensuring even your pickiest eaters won’t know the difference.
Love to replicate takeout favorites at home? Make it even easier on your wallet by swapping out meat with diced tofu. The vegetarian staples will easily absorb the flavors of a sauce while still filling you up with protein. (New to tofu? A can of chickpeas works perfectly here — especially in our Cauliflower-chickpea curry.)
While jackfruit has been a staple food in Southeast Asia, Americans are finally catching on to the tropical plant. The immature fruit pulls apart just like meat, making it an easy substitute for anything requiring shredded chicken or pork. You can even find it pre-seasoned and pre-packaged, making it a cinch to use in Vegan Tortilla Soup, sandwiches, soups, and more.
Make lunchtime easy — and less heavy— by substituting beef for a can of chickpeas or black beans to make the ultimate veggie burger. (We’re partial to these Chickpea Veggie Burgers.) The ease of canned chickpeas, frozen riced cauliflower, and broccoli, make these burgers easy to make anytime.
Let’s be real: Tacos can be enjoyed any night of the week, not just Tuesdays. Make your next taco night budget-friendly by cooking a pot of lentils, then flavoring them up with your go-to taco seasoning. Make it all in the Instant Pot to make your life even easier.