Simple Meatless Meals… for people who love meat!

posted by Andrea | 06/2/2016
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meatless meals

I read a few money-saving blogs — and one cost-cutting method they always suggest is to cut back on the amount of meat you eat in order to reduce your grocery bill.

While meat is most likely the most expensive part of almost every meal, our family isn’t necessarily the vegetarian type (read: we LOVE meat!)

However, I’ve recently noticed how easy it has been to go meatless 1, 2, or even 3 meals a week without any drastic change in our diet.

Just last week, I realized we had 3 meatless dinners even though I had absolutely no intentions of planning a “meatless” menu!

  1. Cheese-stuffed tortellini with marinara sauce, cheesy garlic bread, green beans, and salad.
  2. Bean and cheese quesadillas, chips and salsa, salad, fruit.
  3. Blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs, fruit, and smoothies.

 

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, marinara, or pesto sauce, crusty bread, steamed veggies, a salad, and some fruit. 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.

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 prefer some meat our pizza, there is something about homemade pizza piled high with cheese and veggies. It’s so yummy every once in awhile — and such a simple weeknight meal.

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These 5 meals 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 meatless meals?

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21 comments

  1. Jennifer

    06/02/2016

    We love black bean burgers! We make a Tex-Mex bean salad that is super yummy with red and black beans (or any). We also love three-bean soup. We have great recipes for each of these, so I can’t say that any one you try will be yummy! I’ll share our recipes if there is interest.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Sounds yummy Jennifer! I’m not sure I could convince Dave to do a black bean burger, but the soup sounds wonderful!

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    Cathy Reply:

    We love black bean burgers, I buy them frozen (Morningside or Boca) and have on hand for a quick ‘burger meal’. You can load them up like a regular burger or put avacado and salsa and cheese on top. We also like a little bacon 🙂 Not veggie anymore, but darn delicious!

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  2. Beth

    06/02/2016

    Have you ever tried using TVP (texturized vegetable protein) in your meatless meals? I think it’s made from soy, but sort of looks like little ground beef crumbles. I made some taco salads for our lunch today and made “TVP taco meat” for them. My kids loved it, and it’s very good for you.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’ve never even heard of TVP Beth! I’ll have to check it out!

    [Reply]

  3. Becky

    06/02/2016

    I am 60 and started eating less meals with meat. I love refried beans on tacos instead of hamburger. I make my own lentil soup and don’t put ham in it. I make hummus with garbanzo beans for lunch and dip tortilla chips in it, probably with kids would have to add other stuff for the meal like a fruit and vegetable. I am definitely not a vegetarian, just had a steak the other day LOL.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Our kids LOVE refried beans with cheese for quesadillas, tacos, etc. They are also good about eating fruits and veggies (and we just had steak the other night too!)

    [Reply]

  4. Kelly

    06/02/2016

    Great ideas!

    A few others we do at our house are:

    Grilled cheese and tomato soup
    veggie stir fry + rice
    egg salad sandwiches

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Oh egg salad sandwiches. I LOVED these growing up, but Dave will not touch hard boiled eggs to save his life. He is VERY easy-going when it comes to food, but hard boiled eggs will not touch his lips 🙂

    We do grilled cheese and tomato soup a lot in the winter… everyone loves that meal!

    [Reply]

  5. Lee Cockrum

    06/02/2016

    This post didn’t show up in Bloglovin today. At least I’m so addicted to your posts that I notice, and go looking for you!! My husband will allow a meatless meal very occasionally, but not too often!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh shoot — that’s weird that it didn’t show up! I’m glad you clicked over to check up on me though! Hopefully tomorrow’s post will show up as normal 🙂

    [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]

  7. 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]

  8. 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]

  9. 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]

  10. Lauren

    06/17/2014

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

    [Reply]

  11. Ashley B

    06/17/2014

    Great suggestions Andrea! Breakfast for dinner is a favorite of mine 😀 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.

    [Reply]

    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. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Julie Reply:

    If you have an Aldi’s grocery store try their G free line of food. Most are pretty good. They have both spaghetti and curly pasta and is brown rice and very good. The trick is to fine the exact cooking time. All rice noodles can easily be cook too much and basically turn into mush.

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