Although the tongue weighs very little, very few people are able to hold it. -Anonymous
Question #45187 posted on 05/21/2008 3:01 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Just like everybody else, I like to make meals that are healthy and cheap. Having leftovers is also a great bonus. I've been trying to eat less meat lately (but I'm not going vegetarian). So I'm on a quest for healthy, inexpensive dinner ideas that only involve small amounts of meat, or else none at all.

The problem is, whenever I look around for ideas online and search for "vegetarian" or "meatless" recipes, I end up with recipes using tofu or soy products, or else recipes that involve really weird vegetables and ingredients that either cost an arm and a leg, or don't exist at Maceys.

I'm just looking for normal, inexpensive meal ideas. I don't really need recipes as much as I just need ideas. So, great 100 hour board, can you help me out?

- Beans & Rice

A: Dear Beans & Rice,

My husband and I recently recommitted ourselves to eating but a very little meat as well, and I discovered the same thing. Here are some meals we've come up with that don't have much or any meat and use normal ingredients:

Pasta with marinara sauce and garlic bread
Pasta and cream sauce with sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms
Chinese potstickers (you can use even less meat and more veggies)
Paella with a strong veggie-to-meat ratio
Stir fry using cashews and veggies instead of meat
Chef salad: lettuce, tomato, egg, bacon bits, olives, avocado, cheese, croûtons, etc.
Pizza topped with artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes
Meatless tacos (beans, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, pico de gallo, etc.) with Spanish rice on the side
Lentils with potatoes and carrots (ham bits give more flavor)
Egg salad sandwiches
Tortilla soup with black beans substituted for chicken
Breakfast for dinner: pancakes, veggie and cheese omelet, crepes, etc.
Clam chowder
Vegetable barley soup (you can use just a bit of beef, too)
Vegetable lasagna
Fried garbanzo beans (with tomatoes, onions, and garlic)
Couscous with asparagus and feta cheese
Fish, broiled and topped with lemon, served with simple risotto and mixed veggies
Ramon noodles stir fried with egg and mixed veggies (and seasoning)

Hope that spurs the imagination and the salivary glands. You can also contact me for specific recipes on any of these.


The Cleaning Lady
A: Dear all,

I don't know how you people do it. I would die without meat in my diet. Kudos to you, though? And thanks, because if you eat more vegetables, then that means there are less for me to worry about.

A: Dear Beans & Rice,

An ode to you.

Seriously though, you can do an awful lot with beans and they're cheap.