The Best Vegetable Alternative For Chicken Cutlets

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If you haven't noticed, food inflation is sticking around. The USDA reports that food prices will continue to go up as we head into the new year — and one of the categories that will experience the highest increases is meat. This is sad news for your chicken cutlets which, according to U.S. News, have increased in price by nearly 20% in the past 12 months. Fueled by avian flu outbreaks and historically low frozen chicken stocks, there's no better time than now to look into substitutes.

Tasting Table surveys have shown that respondents have changed the way they shop in response to rising food costs. Not only are more people switching to private label brands (per Forbes), but The New York Times predicts that the rising costs of meat will also drive shoppers to reduce their consumption of it — a win-win situation for the climate and their wallets. In the last year, fruits and veggies have only increased in price by 8%. That's more than half the amount that the prices of chicken cutlets have climbed.

So, even if it's only once or twice a week, incorporating more meatless ingredients in your grocery shopping lists is a proactive way to keep your costs down. And when it comes to finding a veggie alternative for your chicken cutlets, there's really only one you need to look out for.


Dana Smith, the campaign director for Meatless Monday, told U.S. News that, "When prepared properly, eggplant is a great alternative to a number of traditional chicken recipes," a surprising suggestion that really isn't that surprising — at least not to vegans and vegetarians. Eggplants are found in a number of meatless dishes, but one of the most famous is eggplant parmesan, the vegetarian version of chicken parmesan. As Domenica Marchetti writes in their cookbook, "The Glorious Vegetables of Italy," when eggplants are sliced and dipped in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, they fry up in a way that does their chicken counterpart justice (via The Washington Post).

But the eggplant's unique texture and mild flavor aren't limited to your chicken parmesan. In fact, they'll work as a substitute in any recipe that calls for crispy chicken cutlets. Whether they're coupled between two slices of toasted ciabatta, chopped up and tossed into your cobb salad, or broiled and thrown on top of your spaghetti pasta – Food52 says that, in some cases, the crispy eggplant cutlets are actually better pre-casseroled. 

It's something you'll have to see, or in this case, taste, in order to believe. But once you do, your belly and your wallets will thank you.