We're on an increasing trend toward vegetarian meals in this house. I am a vegetarian, but I am willing to cook meat for my family if they wish. So why all the extra plant-based meals? I would love to say that it all comes down to health and making better choices for our bodies. I would be lying. It all comes down to cost.
Here's some ground beef I saw in the store today. At $3.38/lb, it's actually even a little cheaper than the national average, which I last saw hovering around $3.80. Remember, depending on where you are shopping, some of what is in this package isn't pure beef (remember pink slime?)
I'm not going to force anyone to stop eating meat. If vegetarianism is for you, you'll get to it. That being said, stretch your meal budget. Stop putting meat where you don't really taste it. A steak dinner? Yeah, you'll taste the meat. Chili? Not so much.
I make a good vegetarian chili. I mean, GOOD. You'll love it. Trust me. And of course, you know it's cheap.
Side note: When I have brought my chili to functions, people have often thought that it was mislabeled as 'vegetarian'. At one point someone moved my 'vegetarian' sign and stuck it on a salad bowl. Poor guy didn't realize that plant-based foods are not all salad.
Ordinarily, I make this with something like MorningStar Farms Meal Starters. While this is certainly healthier than meat, it's just about as expensive right now.
This time, I'm using straight up TVP (textured vegetable protein).TVP is a soy product. It is a good source of protein, has no fat, 80 calories per serving, and is REALLY CHEAP. The bag in the picture cost me $2.50 at Job Lot, and makes the equivalent of over two pounds of meat.
Today, I'm making a double batch of chili. Let's compare:
4 cups of ground beef (cooked) = $6.72
4 cups of TVP (cooked = $2.50
Let's get started!
Vegan Chili Recipe (double batch)
2 cups TVP (dry)
2 medium onions (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 large can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
2 small cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (undrained)
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cans beans of your choice (rinsed and drained)
Add the rehydrated TVP and stir. Cook for about a minute.
Add the tomatoes and spices. Cover and cook on low for about 40 minutes.
Add the beans and cook an additional 10 minutes.
Serve with cheese, or sour cream, or whatever you would usually choose to serve chili with.
My carnivore Husband just polished off a big bowl of it - and he has a deep and abiding suspicion of soy. Believe me; if he doesn't miss the meat, you won't either.