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Looking to spend less at the grocery store while still getting the protein-infused nutrition you need? (And already tried all of our other bean recipes?)

Consider the savings that comes from choosing soy and other vegan-friendly food products.

You don't have to be a hippie to eat vegan. Michael Rhodes, a 34-year-old financial services consultant from Chicago,  made the switch more than a year ago. Now, instead of buying a rib eye steak for $4.99 a pound, he pays $3.46 for a five-pound bag of soybeans that can be used to make a healthy equivalent, such as tofu.

The Soybean Solution
Few people have the time to make their own tofu at home. However, you can pick up a one pound block for about $2.

Here are a few recipes that you can use to cut your food costs and create delicious (and healthy) fare for your family. (All recipes are enough to feed four people, and assume the chef doesn't already have flour and other basics in hand.)

Stir-fried Vegetables with Tofu

According to the folks at it just takes a  little creativity to turn an ordinary block of tofu into a Chinese delight. All you need is a tablespoon of oil, a pound of sliced tofu and vegetables such as bok choy, scallions and garlic.

Heat the oil in a wide skillet, add tofu and wait until it is golden brown. Add your vegetables along with two tablespoons of water and, in as little as three minutes, your stir-fry will be ready to serve.

Total estimated cost (using tofu):  $12.90
Total estimated cost (using beef): $15.97
Savings: 19%

Baked Tofu Steaks

Thrifty consumers can make tofu steak from scratch instead of spending as much as $4.99 a pound for the cow kind, with this recipe from the United Soybean Board’s,

The first thing you need is a 14-ounce block of firm tofu. Cut the tofu into 1-inch x 4-inch strips and coat them with a mixture of soy sauce and garlic using a small bowl. Add flour and roll the strips together until they stick. Put the tofu in a 450-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes and voila! Your tofu steak is ready to eat.

Total estimated cost (using tofu):   $10.21
Total estimated cost (using beef): $13.28
Savings: 23%

Edamame Pilaf

With this dish from, you can turn a plate of rice and beans into a riot of flavor using a tomato, an onion, some rice and a cup of edamame, which are baby soybeans served in the pod.

Start out by heating two tablespoons of oil in a pan. Next, throw in chopped tomato and onion, taking care to save any juice. Add a cup of white or brown rice and let it cook for 15 to 35 minutes. Add a cup of shelled edamame and cook until the beans are tender. Let it cool and serve warm.

Total estimated cost (using edamame):  $5.80
Total estimated cost (using chicken stock): $7.38
Savings: 21%

Where to Find Soy Products
If these recipes have your taste buds tingling, but you don’t want to brave the crowds at Whole Foods (Stock Quote: WFMI) or Trader Joe’s,  here are a few resources that you can use to start saving:



Check our our Food and Drink section for more recipe ideas for the budget chef.