As a substitute for meat, I have been using scrambled or diced tofu. Eaten with other sides and/or bread, it’s a great source of protein and calcium. My ingredients for an awesome scrambled dish:
- One container of tofu, firm (not super firm)
- 1 tbsp oil (preferably olive)
- 1/2 cup onions
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tbsp salt, or however much to taste
- 1/2 tbsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp chipotle peppers
- Drain the container of water. Once drained, place tofu block in a Ziploc bag. If there is any excess water in the ziploc, go ahead and continue to drain. Once completely drained, begin to squish the tofu together in a close Ziploc. This may take a minute, as you will need to make sure the consistency is like lumpy meal, almost like oatmeal.
- On medium heat, place oil, diced onions and minced garlic on a frying pan to “open” the flavors for about 60 seconds. Pour the scrambled tofu in the pan and mix in with onions and garlic. Mix continuously. Tofu takes has a bland flavor that must be overcome by the onions and garlic.
- Add salt and pepper and continue to stir. The addition of seasoning is done in steps to ensure that the flavors are fully absorbed by the tofu.
- Stir in curry powder. Stir in enough to make the tofu gain a golden hue.
- Serve on toast or as a side dish.
I love this dish because it is a solid sub for scrambled eggs and fits well as a breakfast, lunch, or dinner dish. The key is to season it to your personal preference. The thing about tofu is that it adapts taste well. If you’ve ever eaten plain firm tofu, you might find it wildly bland. Because of this, you will need to overpower the bland taste and make sure that the tofu is properly scrambled before cooking. Also, Chipotle peppers give the eggs a nice meaty flavor. Careful though, they can be spicy! Also, careful not to eat more than 4 servings of tofu a day due to high levels of a chemical that acts as estrogen in your body.
Cost per serving (2-3 servings)
Cost of Tofu: $1.97
Est. cost of seasonings, minced garlic and onions: $0.15
$1.97 + $0.15 = $2.12/ 2 = $1.06; $2.12/3 = $0.71
If eaten with a slice of bread: $0.31 (If avg loaf cost $4 and there are 13 slices)
Est cost for this dish: $1.02 – $1.37. Cost varies due to seasonings, bread, if eaten as a single or side dish.
Since deciding to eat healthy and frugally, I have come to depend on the trusted dry bean to cut costs and make up for the elimination of meat. If you are seeking to cut costs radically, you also may decide to become a vegetarian eater for this reason alone. Be sure to do your research, however, on how to ensure getting the proper nutrients in legumes, grains, vegetables, etc.
But the dry bean!
The dry bean is economical. Not only are the costs low, but dry beans have a loooong shelf life, so stock up! Personally, I find that I am spending around $12 on beans a month, to eat everyday, and beans usually make up 25%-50% of my larger meals. Why wouldn’t I invest in food security and buy a 3 month stash for under $40?
The dry bean is healthy. I would say that the only things you should think hard about are to make sure that the beans are thoroughly rinsed to removes foreign materials or lingering unwanted chemicals, and that you can cook them well. Crock pots are great investments to save you time ad energy. Pop them in, turn the pot on, and leave them alone for the whole day, only to come home to tender, tasty beans! There are so many different types of beans, but most have such high levels of protein and fiber. They fill you up for the entire day and make you feel so good!
The dry bean is versatile. You don’t have to eat beans in the same old way. Research ways to create bean burgers, bean paste, gravy, and/or stuffing.
6-8 cups of water
16 oz dry black beans
Salt or seasoning salt
1/4 cup olive oil
The black bean is something special. I am not using a slow cooker, although this may be a preferred method for you if you want to spend less time cooking and have made the investment in the appliance. I begin by soaking overnight, or for at least 8 hours. I use less water than what the instructions indicate, because I want a thicker soup (5 or 6 cups of water instead of 8). Later, more olive oil will be added to make up. I put a little bit of baking soda in the soak water to cut the acid which produces flatulence! Note: I rinse the beans before soaking. I do this to retain a higher nutrient level. I recommend following the instructions of the bean manufacturer, but I take the risk in order to maintain higher nutritional value in the beans. After soaking, I place on low heat for 1-1.5 hours or whenever beans are tender. When tender, I chop garlic cloves in halves or thirds, add plain salt or seasoning salt, pepper to taste, and 1/4 cup of olive oil. As a vegetarian eater, I usually eat with steamed vegetables. I may end of soaking up the bean gravy with a slice of bread. Also pairs well with rice or as a breakfast bowl. The Google listing of black bean nutritional facts indicates high levels of iron, magnesium, calcium, protein and potassium.
A target listing for 16 oz black beans lists the price at $1.52 I find that I can get up to 6 servings of beans. $1.52/6 = $0.25. Paired with garlic/seasoning $0.20 + Bread $0.30 the cost of this dish could cost you around $0.75.