Thursday, May 3, 2012

Where's the beef? (or chicken, or pork)?

You'd have to be a very, very careful reader of this blog to have noticed that the only meat we've bought since early March was 2 lbs of turkey bacon and an occasional package of hot dogs.  If you are observant to the point of being a stalker, you'd probably remember that 2012 included (in addition to the turkey bacon and hot dogs) exactly two purchases of pork, one pound of corned beef, and one whole chicken.  And no other mentions of carnivorous commerce.

In fact, it was back in August 2011 that our family last bought a significant amount of beef (40 pounds of it), and it was in September that we bought a large stash of turkey kielbasa (30 pounds worth).  Buying 70 pounds of meat at one time might sound like a lot, but it has translated into less than 2 lbs of meat per week for a family of 5-going-on-6.  Put another way, the average daily meat consumption at the Miser Mom dining-room-table is less than a half pound per person per week.  That's about 1/8 of what USA Today says the average American eats.
I'll do the [very important] caveats.  My sons get school lunches for free; I don't monitor how much meat they eat there.  My husband eats a lot of meals at work, and I'm not including any of his restaurant food in this total -- it's just too hard to calculate.  And this doesn't include restaurant or other out-of-home meals, which probably happen (to be extremely generous) on the average of once a week for our family.  So that half-pound-per week is probably low, but not by very much. 
I am not going to rant about whether people should give up all or even most of their meat.  (It's true, though, that I've been a vegetarian in the past, and if I weren't surrounded by carnivores I'd go back to a meatless existence in a heartbeat).

I am also not going to rant on why some meat eating is moral/necessary/healthy.  (My husband and all of my kids would lead the marching band on this particular parade).

I'm not even going to pretend that I've found the magic balance point.  Me, I'd be happy with less meat; my husband on the other hand whispers sweet-meat-things in my ear.  He would love to sit down to a more meals where the meat is the main event, not the garnish to an otherwise green-and-grain dish.  (The boys would love to have hunks-o-meat, wrapped in doughnuts, deep-fried in lard, slathered with corn-syrup, and topped with artificially-orange-snack-chips and maybe some soy sauce, but their opinion is officially ignored.)

No, this is just to give a picture of our own life.  To say, even if we don't lead a meat-less existence, we've managed to lead a less-meat existence with a bit of longing, but without any major sense of deprivation.  This is possibly better for our health; it's certainly helped a lot with our wallet.  Especially because, when I have a bunch of kids who shovel in the food the way that mine do, healthy-yet-inexpensive-yet-filling food is important.

So I'll just sum up with some our favorite meals:
Chili with a lot of beans and a little hamburger.
more pizza.
crustless quiche.
peanut butter pasta.
Zambian squash.
Did I mention pizza?
stir fry.
scalloped sweet potatoes.
burgers on the grill.

And here are two shout-outs to posts that get my juices flowing:
Adrienne Urban over at the Balanced Platter published an Indian Lentil Recipe her kids love; she claims it takes 9 minutes to make.  And Cilantro Lime Pesto with black beans . . . I'm going to try that!

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