Stretch your protein dollar

Practice your meat-stretching artistry

  • Mix meats with beans, lentils, rice, pasta, and vegetables.
  • Use beans or a mixture of beans and ground beef in tacos.  
  • Make stir fry and use only 1/2 to 3/4 as much as in a typical meat serving.
  • Add rice to meat balls; bread crumbs or oatmeal to meatloaf.

Choose either dried or canned beans

  • Both canned and dried beans make good meat substitutes and provide the same amount of fiber, protein, and other nutrients.
  • Dried beans are less expensive but take more planning to use.
  • Canned beans have more sodium (800 mg per cup compared to 5 mg per cup for dried). If you’re concerned about sodium but like the convenience of using canned beans, you can drain and rinse the beans to remove about 40 percent of the sodium.

Watch for sale prices

  • Check store ads to see what meats are on sale and base meals on them.
  • Stock up -- if you have the freezer space to do so. Meat and poultry, including unopened vacuum packages, can be frozen in their original supermarket packaging. If storing more than a month or two, place the store package inside a freezer-weight plastic bag or overwrap it with airtight heavy-duty foil, plastic wrap, or freezer paper; label with contents and date.
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