I am not sure how much of an alternative TVP is in your plans, but if not, it is something you should consider.
TVP® is a food product made from soybeans. It is produced from soy flour after the soybean oil has been extracted, then cooked under pressure, extruded, and dried. TVP® has a long shelf life if stored properly and is an excellent source of protein and fiber. Many public schools use TVP® as a food source in the breakfast and lunch programs. It meets standards of nutrition but is economical as well. Plain TVP® has zero cholesterol. However, some flavor variations do have partially hydrolyzed oil in them for flavor and texture changes. Hydrolyzing the fat extends the shelf life as compared to using vegetable oil. However, even though the fat content is increased in some of the flavored varieties, with such a high fiber content, the balance is still very much on the healthy side — especially if you are making a comparison to ground beef or sausage. For example, Sausage TVP® is 17% fat, but it has an incredible 11% fiber! It is a good source of the essential amino acids, and also contributes calcium and magnesium to one’s diet. It can be fortified with vitamins, including Vitamin B12. It is very high in potassium, is a good source of the essential amino acids, and also contributes calcium and magnesium to one’s diet. TVP® is dry and has a very low bacterial count. On the other hand, meat products can be easily contaminated with bacteria such as E. Coli and Salmonella. TVP® contains absolutely no meat or meat byproducts — so those who are on strict vegetarian diets can use this to supplement their protein. TVP® products are also Kosher approved when you purchase them by the box, which we sell. The certification is lost, however, if we repackage it in smaller containers for long-term storage. Storage is a breeze — TVP® can sit in a cupboard in a sealed container for at least a year. If sealed airtight (without oxygen), the shelf life is greatly extended (although, with its great taste and ease of preparation, you won’t leave it hiding anywhere for very long!) As always, for the longest storage life it should be kept in a cool, dry place. Due to the moisture in many varieties of TVP®, storage after opening is better in a dry place away from excessive heat.
Sounds yummy right?
I see TVP as a ground meat version of tofu. It is made from soybeans and you buy it in a dried form. To use it, you will need to rehydrate the TVP either by soaking it in some hot water or by adding it to your dish and allowing the liquid in the dish rehydrate it. If you were making chili or spaghetti sauce, the hot liquid portion would rehydrate the TVP and you would have a ground meat type texture in the dish. Sounds easy right.
I say it is like tofu in that that has no flavor unto itself. You can buy flavored versions of TVP, but the unflavored version will absorb the flavors from whatever you cooked it in. This is one reason that spices should be part of your cooking plan when it comes to prepping and in every day cooking.
TVP is healthy and has zero cholesterol in the unflavored form. It comes dry so it automatically has a longer shelf life than traditional ground meat. I am not sure how many people fully consider the cooking aspect of their prepping plans, but eating nothing but beans from a can will not go over very well with your family or yourself after a while. TVP allows you to get protein from a less perishable source while allowing flexibility in your meals.
From a cost perspective, you are looking at roughly $10.00 for over 10 ounces of dried TVP. After it has been rehydrated, you are looking at less than $0.50 a pound which beats the price for most of the other proteins that people save up.