Healthy Living

Eat Your Veggies: Tips from a casual vegetarian

Guest Post by: Laura Pagles from FatWallet

Vegetarian TipsI’m a vegetarian for all the wrong reasons. I just don’t like meat. Growing up, I was the last of three siblings living at home. By this time, my parents had successful careers and reduced overhead, allowing them to put so much quality animal protein on the table that I grew tired of the labor of chewing up a steak. 

Regardless of how I got here, I love my diet. While many friends believe I’m missing out on the joys of bacon, I see a healthy and simplified diet. I’ve found my own solutions to some common hurdles of the vegetarian diet

Eat your broccoli

I don’t expect the rest of my family to go meatless. However, as nobody else has stepped up to cook, we’re eating meatless. I’m fortunate to have found a partner with a diverse palette. I doubt I would have dated him otherwise. He works with me on encouraging our 3-year old to sample the veggie concoctions crossing her booster seat. We’ve learned to keep her entrées simple, the less mushed together, the less reluctant she is to try. And “try” is the key. Some new flavors take multiple – as many as 15 – tastes for little palettes to accept. So we have a strict “try one bite” rule. Now, our daughter loves zucchini, spinach, asparagus, and even raves about olives – a step up from mac ‘n cheese and chicken nuggets. 

Menu planning

There are two easy fillers in the vegetarian diet that I have to work hard not to overuse: pasta and premade veggie protein products. I love both. Since the pasta doesn’t pack the nutritional punch of the veggies and legumes, I make sure it’s always an accompaniment, rather than a main. As for veggie burgers, crumbles, nuggets, strips, etc., they’re expensive without a coupon. For creative inspiration, I turn to a Vegetarian Times subscription I found on FatWallet for $3.50 a year.  Otherwise if I’m in a rush or not feeling particularly inspired, I can make many classic recipes, like burgers, lasagna, or stuffed peppers, by replacing the protein with mushrooms, beans, or tofu (tofu can be flavorful if cooked with other flavors). 

Cutting costs

Vegetarian cooking on a budget takes forethought. I rarely see a coupon for fresh produce. So I have to keep my eyes peeled (ba dum dum) for seasonal low prices on the veggies I use the most. If I don’t have plans to use it fresh, I chop it up and freeze it for next time. Local coops, farmers markets and friends with gardens are sources for fresh summer produce. I don’t have time for a garden of my own but score organic produce from a sister-in-law who does. She borrows my daughter to play in the dirt and pull the weeds, sending her home with an appreciation and a bounty.

We regularly read new reports of the health benefits of vegetables and whole food diets. When I watched a recent TED talk by William Li listing cancer prohibitive foods, I was excited to see how many are in my fridge, rather than scrambling to supplement my family’s diet.

What obstacles and solutions have you found in implementing a nutritious diet?

Laura is a marketer, mom, and accomplished equestrian – not necessarily in that order. I’ve been at Fatwallet as lpickles since 2004 and a mom since 2006. My job at FatWallet keeps me close (sometimes too close) to the web’s best deals and bargain hunting insights.

Laura mentioned above about organic food. If you have time for a garden check out my earlier post about organic gardening.

Karla Urwitz
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