Incorporate cheaper proteins into meals

Yet there are some savvy ways to incorporate some cheaper proteins into your meals without causing a food fight.

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Beans and lentils, tofu and soy products -- vegetarians love them, and with skyrocketing food prices, meat eaters are taking a second look as a healthy way to cut food costs. A bag of beans cost less than $1 and tofu costs about $1.50.

"Those tend to be on the lesser expensive side of the scale. Even though they have seen a dramatic increase in price, they're clearly not as expensive as high fat meats and high fat cheeses," said Jackie Keller, owner of NutriFit catering company.

Keller has to watch the bottom line to stay in business, but she's always used these proteins to deliver good health. One of her favorites is combining tofu with peanut butter.

"It's light, it's less fat, less sugar, more protein that regular peanut butter and also less expensive," said Keller.

Silky tofu with a jar of natural peanut butter blended until smooth works great on cinnamon toast for breakfast. Or try it stirred in oatmeal topped with fruit.

Keller also extends animal protein with vegetable sources as a way to introduce them to the family. She suggests blending tofu into chili and soups or combine beans with pasta in lieu of ground beef in meat sauce.

"Season it up with the rest of the pot and they're never even going to know it's there," said Keller.

Meatless products are also rising in price, but remain a healthy source of protein, free of cholesterol and saturated fat. One fun product to try is pre-cooked Shiritaki noodles, a great way to minimize carbohydrates and maximize protein.

"They're a soy noodle essentially. And they taste like noodles and they have the texture of noodles. They work like noodles in a dish," said Keller.

Vegetable proteins also offer fiber which in turn helps keep you satisfied longer when consumed in proper portions. Animal or vegetable aim for 15 to 20 grams of protein per meal.

"One or two days a week go faceless. Go to plant foods and you'll be happier and healthier as a result," said Keller.


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