Simple Meatless Meals… for people who love meat!

posted by Andrea | 06/17/2014

meatless meals

I’ve seen lots of chatter about implementing “Meatless Mondays” (a.k.a. not eating any meat for one day a week) as a simple way to cut grocery expenses.

While Dave and I are both big meat lovers, I do think there is some merit in this idea. In fact, I honestly can’t believe how simple it is to go meatless (or at least use a lot less meat) 2 or even 3 times a week.

Just last week, I realized that we had 3 meatless dinners without even specifically trying:

  1. Cheese-stuffed tortellini with marinara sauce, cheesy garlic bread, green beans, and salad
  2. Grilled cheese, fruit salad, chips, raw veggies
  3. Blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes with scrambled eggs, fruit, and yogurt

We also had 1 night where I mixed a small amount of shredded chicken with a bunch of beans, rice, tomatoes, and other “fillers” to make wet burritos.

Without even specifically planning to go “meatless”, we ended up eating little to no meat 4 of the 7 nights last week — and I can assure you we were not left hungry or unsatisfied at the end of any of those meals.

I’m sure that if anyone came up to Dave or to me and asked if we were vegetarians, we would chuckle a little while stating a resounding “no, definitely not”.

If you feel the same way, I’d like to encourage you to just consider how you might incorporate 1 or more meatless meals into your weekly meal plans.

You might be surprised how easy it is to do — and how little you’ll actually miss the meat.

1. ITALIAN:

Everyone in our family LOVES pasta… and while I love a good meaty lasagna, I find that more often than not, our Italian meals are vegetarian.

What’s not to love about a heaping pile of pasta with delicious Alfredo or marinara sauce, crusty bread, steamed veggies, and a salad. This is pretty much our go-to meal of choice any time we’re running short on time or any night we can’t decide what to eat.

Even if you do add a little meat to the sauce (ground beef, ground turkey, shredded chicken, etc. it’s still significantly less expensive than grilling a big steak or burgers.

2. BREAKFAST:

We eat breakfast for dinner roughly once a week — and it’s pretty much a no-brainer for the vegetarian category because there are SO many delicious meatless options.

Smoothies, yogurt, fruit, granola, oatmeal, pancakes, baked french toast, hash browns, any type of omelet or egg dish without the meat, etc. etc.

We love our bacon and sausage, but I could go on and on with all our favorite (and very satisfying) meatless breakfast recipes.

3. MEXICAN:

Mexican food is another area where I can easily substitute extra beans, cheese, tomatoes, rice, or other “fillers” for some or all of the meat without anyone complaining. In fact, Nora often prefers my meatless Mexican options.

Quesadillas, enchiladas, and burritos are all completely delicious without any meat (and yes, even Dave will agree with me on this one!)

4. SOUP and SALAD:

Soup and salad is another really easy way to include a very hearty meatless meal into your weekly menu plan.

I have a bunch of vegetarian soup recipes on my blog — and many of the other soups could easily be vegetarian by simply omitting the meat.

With just a simple loaf of bread or a few rolls, you have a complete (and usually quite frugal) meal!

We’ll also often have loaded baked potatoes with soup or salad to add a little more “bulk” to the meal.

5. PIZZA:

Although we both prefer our pizza loaded with meat, there is something about homemade pizza piled high with cheese and veggies (and maybe some sausage too!) It’s so yummy every once in a while — and such a simple weeknight meal.

These 5 types of recipes are very simple ways we often incorporate one or more meatless meals into our weekly menu plan without feeling like we’re missing out on anything.

Along with noticing a savings on our grocery bill, I’ve also noticed a time savings when it comes to meal preparation since I don’t have that added step of cooking or prepping the meat.

Meatless meals don’t always mean a “sacrifice”… at least not in our house.

 What are your favorite ways to go meatless?

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9 comments

  1. Ashley B

    06/17/2014

    Great suggestions Andrea! Breakfast for dinner is a favorite of mine :D I’ve recently encountered issues with gluten, but before that pasta was my go-to as well! I agree–what’s not to love?? It’s harder to go meatless these days (no pasta or bread to fill in…) but these are all still very doable suggestions!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer P Reply:

    Try spaghetti squash. Easy to cook in the microwave and you can top it just like it is pasta. Has an al dente quality to it.

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    Tara Reply:

    Tinkyada brown-rice pasta is your new best friend Ashley! There are others out there, but this particular brand has the most predictable and normal texture to our tastebuds.Try a package from your health food store and if you like it, order it in bulk from Vitacost.com. Pasta can still be a go-to meal for you. :-)

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  2. Lauren

    06/17/2014

    Great ideas. We had one of our favorite meatless meals last night: homemade mac & cheese, veggies, and rolls. Yum!

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  3. Raquel

    06/17/2014

    Love this. Going meatless for a few meals is a great way to save. We love tomato & mozzarella with pesto panini! You don’t even miss the meat.

    [Reply]

  4. Calliope

    06/17/2014

    Going meatless all days but 2 is very very very normal in Greece, where I live.
    And pasta is just one meal of the week :)
    How is that possible? By cooking in various ways all vegetables and by eating 2-3 times fresh fish and seafood. Legumes are another staple esp in winter. During summer they are substituted by an abundance of vegetables and fruit which are more suitable under the hot hot hot sun.
    Try to find greek recipes for gemista (stuffed tomatoes) and ladera (meaning cooked in olive oil)
    Andrea, I really like your blog :) Due to time difference, usually it’s the last thing I read before I go to bed!
    So…good night!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Great suggestions Calliope — thanks for sharing.

    [Reply]

  5. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    06/17/2014

    I’ve implemented all of these tips, except the breakfast for dinner idea. My boys all really love their meat so stretching it with rice, beans, lentils, and veggies work best for us. When our breakfasts have meat, I just use a little sausage or bacon in our eggs, potatoes, and veggies rather than serving entire pieces on the side. We rarely grill entire pieces of meat anymore. This has helped the grocery budget tremendously. I think my favorite tip is adding lentils to ground meat. Thanks for the post!

    [Reply]

  6. navya

    06/18/2014

    In India we are predominantly vegetarian . I love your blog and I am able to replicate most of your recipes with extra veggies beans lentils and egg substitutes for baking. The results have been yummy food.

    [Reply]

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