the Lenten recipe thread on spirituality has a lot of good non-meat recipes
I well remember the 70s when meat prices went through the roof (so did gas prices, plus long lines for gas, which we have not seen yet, but it is coming).
Thanks to TV home ec experts we learned ways to extend meat. You only need an ounce of meat per meal to get the flavor and enough protein, if it is accompanied by beans and/or whole grain and/or small amount of dairy.
for instance buy a whole chuck roast 3" or more thick, bone-in. if you lay it out on the counter you can see how by using your good butcher knife you can cut out the round or oval middle section for 4 small steaks (cut in half lengh-wise, then in half again, you will have 4 (3-4 oz steaks) tenderize by marinating or pounding with a meat tenderizer mallet or both. Cut the meat along the bone in a strip, then in chunks for stew or soup. the strip you cut on the opposite side of the bone, around the center, cut in cubes and marinate for shish-kebob or beef tips. Calculate 2 good size cubes per serving. Marinate in wine and call it beef bourgionon, who’s to know the difference? A $3 bottle of red wine goes a long way as a marinade, and as a splash in your gravy.
this gives you 3-4 meals for a family of 4, remember the meat is 1-2 oz per serving, enough for a protein boost, not a plateful. better for your heart, too.
Use the bone to make stock, along with all the meat and veggie trimmings you have been saving in the freezer, and veggies you overlooked now too limp to cook. Bring just to a boil in your big pot, simmer for 2 hours with a TBSP of vinegar, tomato juice anything acid, and a couple of bay leaves (don’t buy them if you don’t have them). Strain everything. Cool the bone and give it to the dog. Remove the slivers of meat, but toss the fat and gristle. Toss or compost the veggies they have no nutritional value, it is all in the stock, which should set to a gel in the refrigerator. Skim off the fat, freeze in 1 qt containers for soup and stew base. Add boullion cubes or powder for flavor. You now have a rich protein based stock. When you shop buy a pack of bones or just ask the butcher for them, cheapest thing in the store.
every culture has its meat extenders: rice, rice pudding, noodles, spaetzle, dumplings, pierogi, pasta, yorkshire pudding etc. Mix yours with a bit of cheese, milk etc. for additional protein and your family will not suffer. Don’t waste anything, freeze it and add it to whatever. If cheese is getting hard, grate it and freeze it, add to white sauce for veggies, with powdered milk, you are also satisfying protein needs.
same thing with a whole chicken, esp if you can by stewers for less, or split broilers plus a very cheap pack of necks and backs. Stew in your big pot, with an onion, celery and carrots cut up (rememer you are saving celery tops and all veggie trimmings and leftovers for this purpose). When cooked, strain, cool and remove all meat. Larger pieces will go in pot pie with either mashed potato, mashed turnip or piecrust topping. Smaller bits will go in a casserole with pasta, veggies and cheese or cream sauce (mushroom soup base plus powerdered milk). Shreds are for soup, extended with rice or noodles. Again you are looking at 1-2 oz meat per serving, not whole pieces of chicken. One whole chicken should render at least 4 meals. Plus you still have a few quarts of protein rich stock.
Our markets have whole wings which look gross, but much cheaper than the cut up wings. Just buy a cleaver and cut them up yourself. throw the tips in the stock pot, serve the wings instead of fried chicken, at a fraction of the cost of pre-packaged pre-seasoned wings.
Ways to extend protein and add more veggies
grate carrots, celery etc. in your food processor or buy hand, mix with leftover chicken or canned tuna or salmon in proportion of 1/3 meat to 1/3 veggies to 1/3 cooked drained pasta for hot casserole or cold salad.
get whey protein powder and/or powdered milk and add to everything to boost protein.
power mashed potatoes (or mashed cauliflower, turnips or rutabaga if you are low-carbing):
Add 1/3 cup whey powder or powdered milk (veggies will be watery enough, potatoes may need a couple TBS milk), plus grated carrot, broccoli and cabbage. Grandkids call it confettie potatoes and don’t seem to mind getting veggies this way. Use more powdered milk to make cream gravy with stock as base.
when you are baking muffins, biscuits, pancakes etc. add 1/4 to 1/3 cup powdered milk or whey protein for each cup of flour to add protein.