Miserly Meals

by Jonni McCoy

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Inexpensive vegetarian meals are a great help to the budget and can offer a low fat, high protein meal. Including them in your menu once in awhile can be a healthy and frugal move.

The meal below only costs 64 cents per person (when the supplies are bought on sale). The main dish offers a sensible amount of protein by using an ingredient called TVP (texturized vegetable protein). This is a soy product that is high in protein, low in fat, has no cholesterol, and is inexpensive (costs around 40 cents per pound). It comes in various forms, such as granules like ground beef and small chunks like beef cubes. It is very versatile and can be used anywhere meat is used. It has no flavor of its own, yet it assumes the flavor of the seasonings you add. It is sold dried at most health food stores and is reconstituted with equal parts of hot water and TVP.

Meatless Shepherd's Pie

Serves 6
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

1 cup TVP granules
1/4 cup salt-free broth powder
2 1/2 cups hot water
1/2 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery rib, diced
3 T. flour
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. salt-free Italian Seasoning
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
3 cups mashed potatoes

In a mixing bowl, combine the TVP, broth powder, 2 cups of the water, onion, carrot, and celery. Let rest for 15 minutes. Transfer to a large skillet and turn on low heat. In a small bowl combine the flour, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup of the water, and seasonings. Mix into a paste and add to the TVP mixture. Simmer until it thickens, stirring constantly.

Spread mixture evenly in a greased 2-qt. baking dish.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine the cheese with the mashed potatoes and mix well. Spread the mashed potatoes over the TVP mixture. Bake uncovered at 350? for 15-20 minutes, or until the mashed potatoes are golden brown.

Cost per serving (1 cup): 37 cents

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving

Calories - 212
Fat - 5 grams
Cholesterol - 13 mg
Carbohydrates - 30 grams
Fiber - 4 grams
Protein - 14 grams
Sodium - 434 mg

Honey Mustard Salad

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 10 minutes

1/2 head Romaine lettuce
1/4 cup Honey-Mustard Salad Dressing (see recipe below)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup salted peanuts, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and drain the lettuce leaves. Tear into 1-inch pieces and place the lettuce in a large mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over the lettuce. Sprinkle the green onions and peanuts over the lettuce. Toss well to evenly distribute the ingredients. Serve immediately.

Variation: To make this a main dish, add one cup of cooked diced chicken to the salad.

Cost per serving (1 1/2 cups): 21 cents

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving

Calories - 142
Fat - 9 grams
Cholesterol - 3 mg
Carbohydrates - 14 gm
Fiber - 4 grams
Protein - 5 grams
Sodium - 153 mg

Honey Mustard Dressing

Serves: 10 (Makes 1 1/8 cups)
Preparation Time: 10 minutes

2 T. honey
1 T. prepared mustard
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 T. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. minced onion
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/8 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
pinch of salt

Place all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk together for 30 seconds, or until smooth. Refrigerate in a tightly covered container.

Serve over salad or steamed vegetables, use as a dip, or even as a marinade for grilled chicken.

Cost per serving (2 T.): 8 cents

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving

Calories - 92
Fat - 8 grams
Cholesterol - 5 mg
Carbohydrates - 5 grams
Fiber - 0 grams
Protein - 0 grams
Sodium - 115 mg

No part of these recipes can be reprinted without permission. All recipes are used with permission from Miserly Meals by Jonni McCoy, copyrighted 2002, Bethany House Publishers. All Rights Reserved.

Jonni McCoy is the author of Miserly Meals (2002 Bethany House), Miserly Moms - Living on One Income in a Two Income Economy (2001 Bethany House), and Frugal Families - Making the Most of Your Hard Earned Money (1998 Holly Hall). Prior to motherhood, she spent ten years at electronics firms such as Apple Computer and National Semiconductor. She presents seminars on living for less to women's groups and other conferences. She has been practicing her frugal ways since 1991. Jonni has appeared on several TV shows, including "The 700 Club," and radio programs such as "Family Life Today" and the "Dick Staub Show." She has also been featured in Good Housekeeping and Woman's Day magazines. Jonni and her husband, Beau, make their home in Colorado Springs, Colorado. You can visit her website at miserlymoms.com.

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