Lent, like everything else in the month of March, seemed to last three years. My experiment with largely meatless eating was a success, although by the end I’ve been racking my brains (and Pinterest) for new recipes.
I was curious to see how a mostly-meatless diet would affect my grocery budget. To my surprise, our grocery bill did not decrease over the month that included Lent. There are a few explanations for this – purchasing our spring stock of allergy medication was expensive, for example. I have also noticed that, at least at my grocery store, vegetables are never on sale the way meat is. My Publix runs a BOGO on chicken every month or so, which brings the cost for boneless skinless breasts down to $2.50 a pound. Thighs and bone-in chicken are even cheaper. Mushrooms, a favorite meat-replacement, are usually $3.99 for 8 oz. Occasionally they will go on sale, but never BOGO. Bags of salad are frequently BOGO, but there’s only so much lettuce a person can eat.
Despite that, I enjoyed adding variety to our menus with meatless dishes, and I hope to continue doing so in the future. So, let’s see how the last couple of weeks went:
Kale, Mushroom & Ricotta Pizza
I love pizza and make it probably once a week. This is a variation on Budget Byte’s Garlicky Kale and Ricotta Pizza, but I added mushrooms and goat cheese (all good decisions).
These sweet babies were featured in this month’s Southern Living, and I was intrigued by their nontraditional baking method (in a cupcake pan instead of smooshed together). When I’ve made cinnamon rolls in the past, in a casserole dish or pie plate, they tend to be done at the edges and near-raw in the middle. This solved that problem AND cut down on baking time – genius! Plus, they were delicious.
Healing Bowls with Sweet Potatoes, Greens, and Lemony Herb Dressing
This is a recipe from Pinch of Yum, with several variations. Instead of mashing, I like to cut my sweet potatoes in chunks and roast them with olive oil, salt, pepper, turmeric, and chili powder. I used cracked bulgur for my base grain, spinach for my greens, and made the dressing as written in the recipe. Because I was making eggs for five people, I simply used my method for ramen eggs – put 1/4″ water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, then add eggs. Steam for six minutes, then put eggs in an ice bath. They come out with set whites and runny/fudgy yolks, and they are awesome.
Tuscan White Bean Skillet
I spied this on Pinterest and threw it on the meal plan, not expecting to be that impressed. It’s from Nourish & Fete, a blog I’d never heard of, and involved many cans of foods. It was surprisingly awesome! The flavors were incredible, and it was very filling. I served it with homemade bread, to the thunderous applause of my family. The leftovers were great, too.
Tomato Bisque and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
With the leftover bread, I made grilled cheese sandwiches with fresh mozzarella and provolone cheeses, for lots of gooey, stringy cheese. I made a tomato bisque to go with it. It’s a recipe I made up years ago, and every iteration is slightly different.
Butternut Squash Risotto
The Pioneer Woman taught me to make risotto, and this is still my favorite recipe for it. I enjoy the time it takes to get the risotto done, especially if – say, for example – we’re under a stay-at-home order and I have hours to prepare dinner. I usually serve this as a side to meat, but it performed admirably as a main course. The role of side dish was played by massaged kale.
Roasted Cherry Tomato Carbonara
I saved this one for last, since it technically contains meat. However, I think the prosciutto could be omitted and it would be good – but adding the prosciutto takes it over the top. This is a recipe from Half Baked Harvest, who is the source for my go-to naan recipe. It was so, so, so good. There were no leftovers.
Thank you, meatless Lent, for making me think long(er) and hard(er) about the way I feed my family. I am grateful for the new recipes I tried, as well as for the recipes I dusted off from the archives. It was a good experiment that took place during a weird time.