Giving cheap chilli without meat a go

Chilli without meat? Well this will be a first. Anytime I’ve put together a batch of chilli con carne it’s been heavy on the mince. And the cheese. And the sour cream. Yum!
But now I’ve come across a recipe that’s dirt cheap to make and apparently tastes just as good as the meat based version. And since this year is all about trying new things (and saving some coin in the process), why not give it a poke and see what happens?

The chilli without meat recipe was screen-shotted from Reddit

And annoyingly I’m struggling to find where in the giant repository of anything and everything it came from. I saved it only 9 days ago to my phone and I think it was in a big thread of cheap meals that you can make in bulk or something (possibly in R/Ausfinance). I’ll endeavour to track down the original poster and link them here for their efforts but in the meantime, welcome to my first attempt at a big batch of chilli without meat.


Red and black beans (Excellent start, I’m a big fan of beans)
Firm tofu (Enjoy the stuff but have never cooked with it)
Lentils (It’s been a while)
Diced tomato (used a lot in this house, especially in pastas and usual chilli con carne)
Textured vegetarian protein aka TVP (Now this is a completely new experience for me with my first issue namely being where the hell do I find this thing in the supermarket?)
Chilli powder naturally (And this one is super easy for me because I like to put a dash of chilli power on things like eggs and fish to jazz it up so no worries about that being within reach!)
Carrots and onions (Easy!)

Whoever wrote this, thank you. I will find you and link your work (I hope)

Did I mention how cheap this ingredient list is? The beans, tomato and the lentils were 80 cents a can, the tofu was just $3 and incredibly the TVP is just $2.50 a bag. Throw in an onion, carrot, chilli powder and some beef stock cubes and you’re looking at a sniff over $10 for everything to create quite a bit of freezer filler that’ll keep you going over the space of a week or so.

Chilli without meat – The TVP was a big surprise

Chilli without meat

Because it starts off dry and looks a little like dry cat food. But when you add a couple of cups of boiling hot water to it (as well as some kind of stock flavouring) and come back in five minutes, well suddenly you have a big bowl of imitation mince on your hands. And once fluffed up, it does have the same texture as regular mince, go figure.

Chilli without meat

Time to cook some chilli without meat!

This really isn’t hard at all to bolt together, more the possible hunger pains of having to let it simmer for a couple of hours at the end (up to you if you want to do this, I cooked it for about half an hour before getting into my first bowl.)


-Remember the possibility of tears with the onions
-Tofu really doesn’t taste like anything on its own and looks like feta going crazy when all crumbled up.
-One can of crushed tomatoes doesn’t seem enough personally, maybe I’ll go two if I do this again.
-Keep checking it while it simmers, you don’t want it to dry out.
-This recipe requires a big pot or in my case, pan. I mean look at the size of this batch simmering away!

Chilli without meat – The tasting!

Okay cards on the table here, while it certainly looks appetising steaming away in a bowl in front of me my first impressions are that it’s a little bland. It needs more tomato and I think my big mistake here was just using dashes of chilli powder here and there and not a chilli powder mix which features additional stuff like sugar, salt, garlic and paprika which would improve this to no end and give the TVP far more to it than just the feel of meat with all the flavour cooked out of it. (The recipe did call for this as seen above, I just figured the chilli powder on it’s own would be enough.)
The chunks of tofu feel weird but that’s possibly because I don’t eat much of the stuff to begin with.
What is good is how filling this is – one bowl is more than enough for a meal and funnily enough I do feel like I’ve eaten the equivalent of a meat version. And given how much is left, that’s a lot I can pop into containers and pop into the freezer to work my way through across lunches next week (note: I just about ran out of containers).

Maybe with a bit more tomato and flavour thrown in first though.
It’s possibly the healthiest version of this I’m ever going to eat so points there and good for a protein boost.

Chilli without meat – 2.5/5

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