Most articles and blogs on eating more frugally emphasize the financial and health benefits of cutting back on meat and filling up instead on alternatives like beans or tofu — or suggest using meat as a flavoring, rather than as a main dish. If, like me, you live with a committed carnivore, this type of advice becomes hard to follow/swallow — your meat-lover or Atkins-follower will just ignore your healthful alternative and raid the fridge for piles of cold cuts or hot dogs.
In the interests of family harmony and frugality, here are some tips I’ve picked up over my years of living with a carnivore.
Eat together — but separately
Eating together is a great goal, but doesn’t mean that everyone in the family necessarily has to eat the same thing. Here are a couple of tricks we use:
1) Make main dishes that can be modified. I’ll make a big batch of chili, for instance, and let dh scoop out his bowl before I add the beans (use canned beans if you’re going to do this) at the end. Result: he gets a big bowl of meat-full, bean-less chili, and everyone else’s is stretched with beans.
2) Make main dishes with which everyone else can fill up on the sides. When I cook up potroast in the crockpot, I’ll include a bunch of potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and onions — dh fills up on the meat, everyone else gets less meat with a bigger helping of the filling sides. I’ll make a spinach-smoked-sausage-potato soup and leave the potatoes cut in huge chunks so he can easily pick around them; he gets a sausage-filled bowl of soup, everyone else gets less-sausage-filled (but still delicious!) soup with a side of bread.
3) Feed the kids something different. Ours (at 6 and 2) are young enough that they don’t generally care — or will sneak a couple of bites of Dad’s food and be happy.
Fill up on other animal products
Cheese and eggs are generally also fair game for meat-lovers. Have an omelet or scrambled eggs for dinner — heck, scramble him up 6 of them when they go on sale. (They’re often $.88/dozen at Ultra — that’s some cheap protein.) Throw cheese on his veggies to make them more filling (and attractive), then you can cut down on the meat he eats with them.
Use overage wisely
When local stores run catalina/coupon deals that give you overage on other products, invest that overage wisely… in MEAT. For instance, Jewel-Osco in my area is currently running a catalina deal which, when combined with coupons, gives you $2.25 overage on each $10.00 purchase of certain products. If you know you’re going to be getting a certain amount of overage, drop by your deli and have them package up around that amount worth of deli meat; pick up a pound of hamburger; buy a pack of hot dogs. If you repeat this across multiple orders, you can pick up a week’s worth of meat either for free or very cheaply on super-deal weeks.
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