Thursday, May 6, 2010

Less Meat Meal Plan

I've written before about my efforts to eat only sustainably raised, pastured meat. I've acknowledged that it is, in fact, very expensive to purchase such meat, and that in order to offset the cost, my family now eats less meat. It occurred to me that while this solution sounds easy, it's not actually easy in practice, so I thought I would start sharing a weekly menu, both to keep myself motivated and to give anyone who's interested ideas on reducing meat consumption. The idea is not to go "meatless", but to go "less-meat". I don't try to have X number of vegetarian meals per week; instead I try to have a good balance of protein from both meat and non-meat sources spread out over the course of the week.

Some practical points - I make no claims that I am saving any money here. I probably spend the same amount on meat as I did before I started buying sustainable/organic meat, and I've always spent absurd amounts on things like fancy cheese and artisan breads. Also, I am feeding two adults and one 3 year old, who will either eat nothing or eat an adult sized portion. I plan on cooking 5 nights a week, and we generally eat leftovers one night and do take-out another. Most meals also make enough to provide at least one lunch the following day. I will post recipes that I've developed myself, and cite or provide links to recipes that I've found elsewhere. Friday is my grocery shopping day, so I'll post the meal plan on Thursdays. Anyone who has ideas or recipes, please share!!

This week's meat was 1 pound grass fed ground beef, and 1 pound organic chicken breast.

Monday - blue cheese burgers made with grass fed beef and (frozen) sweet potato fries

Tuesday - pasta salad with cilantro pesto, tomatoes, avocado, corn, and 1/2 pound of grilled chicken, cubed (cilantro pesto recipe below)

- strawberry spinach salad with blue cheese crumbles, sliced almonds, and 1/2 pound grilled chicken, cubed, with balsamic vinaigrette and rosemary olive oil bread

Thursday - black bean tacos

Friday - homemade pizza

Cilantro Pesto

about 2 cups (loosely packed) cilantro, stems removed
2 cloves garlic
zest of 1 lime
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (use more if you want, or eliminate it altogether)
about 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place the cilantro, garlic, lime zest, jalapeno, salt, and pepper in the food processor. Add about 1/4 cup of the olive oil, and pulse briefly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the cheese. Pulse while drizzling in remaining olive oil until you've achieved the desired consistency. Stop to check your progress frequently - the more olive oil, the thinner the pesto.


  1. Sounds like a great menu! Especially that spinach salad... yummy.

  2. In protest of the "industry", I went meat-free (I ate fish) for over 3 years and then I got pregnant, went back to eating meat but will now only cook sustainably raised pastured meat like yourself. It IS expensive but since I went almost vegetarian for so long, it was easier for me to do without - not so much for my partner, who is THE carnivore of the house.

    Often I cook 5 meals a week, with leftovers for at least 4 lunches. I probably cook with meat twice a week and on other days, there will be fish/shrimp, tofu, eggs or any type of beans/lentils. Cheese also makes an appearance in place of meat as protein. The carnivore usually gets his meat fix whenever we go out or during his lunch out with colleagues. I think it's a pretty good balance, and to not over rely on meat is generally a good thing.

    I love the idea of cilantro pesto and since it often is a key ingredient or garnish in our house, this recipe will come in handy for all that leftover cilantro at the end of the week. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Your menu sounds yummy! We also only cook grass-fed/pastured/free range meat these days, but because it also has to be kosher, we order it in bulk and have not ordered any recently, so we eat mostly vegetarian, with fish twice a week. We eat lentils and tofu,and either grilled salmon or a fish curry once a week each (wild caught or sustainably farmed). We eat salmon burgers from Costco for one lunch a week. I grew up only eating meat on Sundays so it's easy for me to go without.

  4. We're mostly vegetarians here, too.

    Like Justine, I started eating meat again when I was pregnant, and we do serve the kiddos meat on occasion. Plus, my husband is the family carnivore but does prefer eating "happy meat," as we call it.

    And we're having black bean tacos for dinner tonight, too. Yum!

  5. Stacia - we refer to our meat as "happy meat" too! So funny!

    I love that it seems most of us are really making an effort to eat less meat and to make sure our meat is sustainable. I hope everyone will share their ideas and recipes along the way!

  6. Hi Jamie - I've been a vegetarian for awhile. My husband keeps kosher and, since moving to a part of the world where there is no convenient source of kosher meat, he has joined me in my vegetarianism. Our older son has had meat a few times and our baby probably will once he's old enough to chew. :)

    If we do end up serving meat to our boys, I would like to follow your example of using only sustainably raised meat, even if the expense would not allow us to eat it very often. Since reading Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore's Dilemma, it would be hard to buy industrial meat. And it makes me sad that the cost of sustainable meat is beyond so many of our budgets.

  7. I was vegetarian for years, and then went to less meat. But, with a carnivore mate (he'd eat all meat if I let him), and a big girl who loves it too; I've given in. We try to get the best raised meats we can afford. After seeing Food, Inc. Ick.
    But you're inspiring me to try again! Less meat!
    Have you seen the More with Less cookbook? The baked lentils with cheese got rave reviews even from my 1 yr old!

  8. I'm sorry I'm so late to this post!! Five for Ten filled my life for a bit. But I am SO excited you are doing this, because I'm trying to do the same. Reduce the amount of meat we eat in our house. It isn't easy, I have two fussy, fussy kids, so coming up with ideas and feeling good about them bums me out. So now I'm delighted that I'll be able to find more here!