Oh boy! I am queen! QUEEN OF MEATLESS MEALS.
If you're budget crunching (sounds like you are) this is a great thing to do regardless! So let's talk budget. (I was actually planning to write about this for my own LJ, so this just precipitates that.)
First off, you might find this page helpful: Recipes for Lent.
SEAFOOD: This totally depends on where you are. My personal rule of thumb is that in order to be counted as restrained enough for Lenten Fridays, the protein has to be less than or equal to the price of a meat that would be in the "normal" budget such as chicken breast. For me, that's about $4/lb. At this price point, there are actually several options where I live. I'm lucky enough actually to live in an area where I can get wild Pacific salmon for $4/lb sometimes... lol. But if you're not, definitely check the freezer at your grocer! Sole, tilapia, cod, and basa (Vietnamese catfish) can all be had at very reasonable prices. Then, too, canned salmon and tuna is always a great staple.
WHAT TO DO WITH FISH:
--poach in flavorful liquid and serve with sides/over pasta
--bread and bake
--bread and panfry
--poach, mash with bread crumbs and veggies and mayo, form into patties, and panfry/bake as cakes (I have a recipe for this)
--grill and serve with sauce
--use canned fish in any casserole recipe
--top baked potatoes with canned fish and cheese
Cheese is a little bit of a treat and not THAT economical so I prefer to use it in smaller quantities (like for lunch grilled cheese) or as a garnish rather than main ingredient. That said, you can oomph up grilled cheese with sauces and veggies to make it a bigger meal and serve with soup.
Beans are where it's at, money-saving meatless wise.
--bean tacos (puree black beans or use refried beans)
--use beans in place of meat in casserole recipes, add to macaroni and cheese, etc
--rice and bean dishes such as pilafs (also good in tacos)
--bean hash (use beans instead of meat pan-fried with potatoes and veggies)
--chickpea or lentil burgers (pureed beans + other binders and veggies, baked or panfried)
VEGETABLES AND STARCHES:
Vegetable-heavy dishes are also very cheap.
--vegetable soups with hearty bread
--mushrooms as "meat"--grilled mushroom sandwiches, mushrooms instead of meat in casserole dishes, mushrooms added to pasta, mushroom patties made with bread crumbs and other veggies and fried/baked
--pasta with sauce and tons of veggies
--stuffed peppers/mushrooms, eggplant parmigiana
These are just what come to mind--hope this helps. :)
Vegetarian and vegan cookbooks and websites can be a boon here also.
We go tons with beans too. My daughters favorite food is black beans :-) I am learning to just double the beans in a casserole and leave the meat out. Still taste good and cost way less.
I'm eating on a low-carb diet as part of my Lenten observance, so I've had to get more creative with this in recent years. I'm making heavy use of eggs (boiled, omelets), crudites, hummus and baba ghanoush; plain yogurt and peanut-butter based smoothies sweetened with a smidge of agave nectar and cinnamon; I poached salmon and served it with a yogurt-and-cucumber based sauce and asparagus last week; black bean soup, edamame (roasted or fresh). Tofu and eggplant serve as meat proxies for me pretty regularly (I try to eat meatless one day a week, Lent or not, for budget savings), portabella mushrooms can also take the place of meat in some standard recipes. For budget consciousness, I shop sales for frozen fish all year long and usually have an affordable store of frozen fillets and shrimp to work from (again, Lent or no). If you make a large salad (green or otherwise--- cole slaw, roasted veggies, cucumber-and-tomato, edamame-and-radish), you can serve it as an accompaniment to several kinds of entrees, so you can take some creative pressure off yourself there. Just pick a protein (black bean soup; tofu with beans, salsa and cheese like chili; a fillet of fish) and serve it with whatever salad you have the most of.
There are also some good non-tomato meatless soups out there--- butternut squash, carrot/cashew/ginger, eggplant-based, lentil, minestrone.
If you eat carbs, risotto is good, too. I make a killer crab/asparagus risotto. You can do all kinds of good ones with spring veggies, also with squash and pumpkin and mushrooms.
Yes, I forgot eggs! Eggs are awesome. That also reminds me that I forgot stir-fries.
Stir-frying is simple but not necessarily easy--making mistakes can cause disaster. The big ones:
--overcrowding the pan!!!!!
--not having everything cut and ready to go before starting the cooking
--having the heat too low
--not enough/too much oil, or oil with a low smoke point
--adding ingredients in the wrong order, ending up with some vegetables mush and others still raw
You can decrease a lot of the Complete Disaster potential by using a non-stick pan, however, you'll never get the really crispy texture with it, IME. Overcrowding the pan is the big one! Don't be tempted to do this! Do the stir-fry in two batches instead--the actual cooking time is so brief that it really doesn't matter. It's the prep-work that takes time for stir-fry, so doubling the cooking time is minor.
Some tips for eggs in stir-fries, I always do the eggs by themselves first (basically, scramble until almost but not quite done--set but a little gooshy, if that makes sense) and then reserve to a plate and slice up. Do the rest of the veggies and rice, and then add the sliced egg right at the end, and toss until the egg is perfect. Then serve.
We do meatless tacos with "veggie ground round" quite a bit, they're very tasty.
Eggs are also good: omelettes, or simply scrambled.
We've also had pancakes or french toast.
2011-03-18 11:34 pm (UTC)
I love this site for recipe ideas: http://www.theppk.com/recipes/
I find many folks get stuck on the idea of eating fish and seafood and don't consider that vegetarians have been doing this every day, very creatively, for generations. Why not borrow from them? :)
Being of Italian descent, I love me my seafood, but in our house we also get creative with tofu stir-fry and Indian vegetarian dishes (dal makhani is a favorite). A Mexican cooking show offered an idea I'd like to try: tacos filled with scrambled eggs and chopped roasted poblano peppers.
Grilled cheese and tomato soup, egg salad sanwiches, cheese pizza on Friday nights!
2011-03-19 08:11 pm (UTC)
Favorites and New Finds
Wow! there are a lot of great ideas in the comments already!
Some of my favorite standbys are:
Kaleidoscope Egg Salad on Toasted Wheat (pulse bits of colorful, crunchy veggies in food processor: carrot, various colors of bell pepper, sweet pickle, scallion or chives, broccoli, jicima, radish, etc.—be careful not to puree them);
Oyster Stew (canned oysters in milk or half-and-half);
Red Beans and Rice (canned beans, cooked rice, and choice of seasoning);
Toasted Cheese Sandwiches with Tomato Soup (I put basil in the soup);
Waffles with Shrimp Sauce (cooked salad-sized shrimp in cream of mushroom);
Tuna over Rice or Toast Points (tuna in cream of mushroom);
Cold Tuna or Salmon Noodle Salad (make it with shell or ring pasta and lots of crunchy diced veggies like scallions or onions, bell peppers of various colors, frozen green peas or edamame, celery, and radishes);
Pantry Pasta (a bag or two of fresh or frozen cheese ravioli topped with your favorite jarred meatless pasta sauce);
’Tater Nuggets Casserole (frozen hash nuggets with large sour cream, cup of shredded Cheddar, optional frozen mixed veggies, and can of mushroom soup, topped with French-fried onions); and
Seafood Alfredo (shell pasta again, with a jar of Alfredo sauce, and a mix of seafoods such as tiny salad shrimp, scallops, clams, or canned salmon).
But this year, I’d like to try some new recipes, so I did an online search.
I found 15 recipes that I'd like to give a try. If you would like the actual recipes and links to their online sources, go to this link in my Google Docs: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jBbbfCR1d8x3ZHpSIxDAB5TL3gHOsVQee_ycVE56jmE/edit?hl=en&authkey=CJ3Gz6EB
Moroccan Vegetable Stew
New England Pasta Bake
Portobello Burgers with Roasted Pepper Paste and Smoked Mozzarella
Meatless Balls in Tomato Sauce (a German recipe)
Tomato and Spinach Crepes Recipe
Garbanzo and Pepper Stew
Mushroom & Onion Stew
Pureed Split Pea Soup
Stuffed Vegetables with Rice
Just as a warning though, make sure you read before you cook . . . some of the recipes I found are quick, some are not so quick. One recipe must even be started the day before (to soak dry peas)!
Remember, too, that unless you’ve chosen some other penance for Fridays in Ordinary time, this recipe round-up could be very useful throughout the year!
Potato soup is a good one (just make sure you don't add any bacon, lol).
Egg salad is also pretty easy - hard-boil some eggs, chop 'em up and mix with mayonnaise, a bit of mustard if you like, and some diced celery if you have it for a little extra texture. It's good plain or on bread.
Tuna is my big "oh crap I forgot it's Friday what am I going to make for dinner!!!!" fish, lol. It's easy to keep a few cans of tuna in the cupboard, and there's a couple of really quick and easy meals you can make with it besides casserole. You can mix it with a little bit of mayonnaise to make tuna salad - diced celery goes well in it but I usually don't have any celery on hand, and you can also eat it plain or on bread - or you can spread it on toast, top with a slice of cheese, and heat it for a few seconds (in an oven or a microwave) just enough to melt the cheese, to make "tuna melts."
Another option is what we call a "Mediterranean meal" where you cut up fresh veggies and a block of cheese. Serve it with crackers and maybe some bread and butter. Fresh fruit rounds out the meal nicely!
PS: see my icon? these are all easy menu options that even *I* can make! lol!
By the way: it is no longer required to avoid eating meat on Fridays during Ordinary Time. Just in case anybody was confused after reading the previous poster's comment.
It depends on where you are. Here in Canada, as you can see if you go to the Canadian bishops' site, skipping meat on Friday is still the norm. It can be substituted with another penance, but you must do some penance on Fridays, and the "default" is still "abstain from meat".
Not even a lot of Canadians know this, sadly. :(
In the US the situation is more confused. It is still definitely not required to not eat meat on Fridays, but the question of whether another penance must be performed is a little shaky.
In any case, it is laudable to do penance on Fridays, and perhaps extra-laudable to do them when they are NOT required.
Thanks everyone the meals sound great.
I should have added I have an almost 3 year old, and we have shrimp allergies. There are still a lot that I think our entire family would enjoy though.