With protein being the most costly ingredient in most meals, there is no denying that many would like to make the meat in our meals go farther. A simple addition of legumes to your family’s favorite recipe can add nutrients and stretch your protein dollars.
What exactly are legumes? Legumes include kidney beans, pinto beans, white beans, black beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), lima beans (mature, dried), split peas, lentils, and edamame (green soybeans). They can add texture, nutrition, and are mild in flavor making them the perfect ingredient to a variety of recipes. Legumes are full of plant based protein, nutrients, and fiber all the while being low in fat. Here are simple and tasty ways to incorporate them into meals.
Meatloaf: Meatloaf is a staple for many families. An easy way to make more of this meal is to add 1 cup of cooked lentils to the meat mixture with an additional ½ tsp of salt keeping your recipe's remaining ingredients the same. Lentils are soft in texture, mild in flavor, allowing them to blend seamlessly into the meatloaf. Enjoy your meatloaf for more meals with this simple addition.
Spaghetti: Lentils also make a great addition to spaghetti sauce because they combine and resemble the ground meat mixture so well. Next time you are making spaghetti, brown your ground beef or turkey. Then add 1 cup cooked lentils to the mix. Your sauce will go farther allowing you to make more meals out of a single recipe.
Tacos: When time is limited on busy nights, tacos are an easy choice. Many taco recipes begin with 1 pound lean ground beef and a packet of taco seasoning. To make more tacos out of this simple combination, add a can of drained black beans to the seasoned taco meat. This third ingredient makes all the difference in stretching your protein dollar.
Burgers: A family favorite in most homes are burgers especially during warm summer months. An easy way to get more bang for your burgers is to add a can of black beans to the meat mixture then top with cheese and salsa. It's a fun twist on a classic meal that will also allow you to make more out of your meal.
Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans
Chicken Noodle Soup: We all know the fundamentals of chicken noodle soup – onion, carrot, celery, chicken, noodles, and broth. It's a classic! But if running low on chicken you can supplement your soup with a can of drained garbanzo beans. Garbanzo beans have a meaty flavor and great texture making them the perfect addition to soup. They provide fiber, nutrients, and stretch your soup allowing you to save money.
Chicken Curry or Stir Fry: Curry or a stir fry is a great way to use up remaining leftovers of protein and not let it go to waste. To supplement leftover protein, add a can of drained chickpeas to curry or stir fry for texture, protein, and taste. It's an easy, delicious way to enjoy leftovers.
This article has been peer-reviewed.