Cooking is probably one of the single most useful and money saving skills anyone could ever learn. For the cost of one nice meal out, I can buy groceries for a week.
We also know from health class and our moms that protein is a key part of any meal nutritionally and has the added benefit of keeping us feeling fuller longer. But how are we supposed to fill our need for protein in a world of less eating meat and more saving money?
TVP (texturized vegetable protein) is a good option. I first heard about it from the Tightwad Gazette and when I saw a bag of it for $3 at my local discount store a few weeks ago, I thought it was finally time to give it a shot. I’m all about less expensive and nutritious protein sources that are good for the planet.
So the one thing weird about TVP is that it comes in flake form, which would be a bit off-putting or impractical in certain dishes (“My TVP burger is crumbling!”), it is quite fine in other dishes, at least to me.
Here are two I made that were actually good and prepared in under 30 minutes from start to finish.
TVP Steamed Dumplings
1/2 package won-ton wrappers
1 c. TVP (after it’s been rehydrated)
1 tbsp. five spice powder
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 onion, chopped cooked
4-6 shitake mushrooms
1. Rehydrate TVP. Cook onions in a bit of vegetable oil, then set aside. Cook mushrooms in a bit of oil in the same pan, giving them lots of space to breathe. Set aside. Dice once cool.
2. Mix onion, mushrooms, 5 spice powder, rice vinegar and soy sauce in bowl. Add salt to taste.
3. Spoon a bit of mixture into won ton wrapper. Wet the sides and press closed.
4. Steam dumplings 3-5 minutes. Serve with dumpling sauce for dipping.
Additional ingredients you could add to the mix could be cabbage, water chestnuts, or bamboo shoots.
1 packet chili seasoning (or chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper)
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small onion, diced
2 clove garlic, diced
2 c. TVP
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Cook onion and garlic in a pan with a bit of vegetable oil.
2. Add seasoning, TVP, beans, tomatoes. Simmer 20 minutes.
3. Salt and pepper to taste and serve with cornbread.
Additional ingredients could include corn (frozen or canned), bell peppers, and tabasco sauce.
So your turn, have you attempted cooking with TVP? Share some of your favorite recipes if you have!
Some other cool links:
Foods That Cost Less Than $1/pound, from the AARP (Think I’m lame all you want, it’s a good article!)
The Tightwad Gazette book on Amazon (Amy’s a bit hardcore but will give you a lot of ideas I guarantee you haven’t thought of before)