A confession to start: I do NOT live on meatless meals alone.
I really love a good burger and grilled chicken. So I haven’t taken the plunge to completely vegetarian.
But as my husband and I were trying to cut back on grocery expenses, we realized meat often makes our meals more expensive.
And it’s better for the environment to lower your intake of meat. Livestock account for over 14% of the world’s greenhouse gasses. (source) As people who want to do better for our planet AND our budget, this was a step we could take.
So my husband and I started adding more meatless meals throughout the week.
People who eat meat regularly are sometimes unsure about adding in vegetarian meals. It can be hard to do. But with some tips and recipes to get you started, you’ll be easing into it in no time.
Now we eat vegetarian meals two or three times a week!
Tips for Eating More Meatless Meals
I’ll be honest that it was hard at first. Mainly because I didn’t know how to create vegetarian meals that kept us full.
I’ve learned to really pay attention to the amount of protein in my vegetarian meals.
Having enough protein ensures my body will stay full until my next meal.
We tend to lean on black or pinto beans, tofu, quinoa, nuts, and chickpeas in our meatless meals. There are lots of other options if you’re wanting to ensure you get enough protein.
We also make sure to stock our pantry.
I add an extra can of black beans and chickpeas to our grocery orders so we have them. And I make sure to have nuts on hand as well.
Over the past year or two of being more intentional about incorporating meatless meals, we’ve found some great recipes.
These are great options to try as you start out incorporating vegetarian meals into your diet.
This is our go-to recipe for adding in meatless meals! We make a veggie bowl at least every other week.
The greatest thing about these is they are versatile!
First choose your base. Pasta, rice, and quinoa are all good choices. We do rice most of the time, but quinoa gives some extra protein. Barley is another favorite.
Then choose your veggies. Our standard is mushrooms, carrots, and onions. Just toss them in olive oil and spices and roast them in the oven. We also love beets and brussels sprouts.
Make sure to add some protein. You can do this with nuts, beans, or chickpeas. We’ve also used baked crispy tofu to switch it up.
Then top it with a sauce!
For a more New Mexican flavor, we use black beans, red chile, and cheese. We also love using a peanut sauce like this one and adding peanuts for extra protein to do a Thai-inspired variation.
Whatever your family’s tastes, this is a great way to start.
Italian Ravioli with Spinach, Artichokes, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes from Julia’s Album
I’m a sucker for a pasta dish. This ravioli dish is one I need to make again!
We put a salad on the side with nuts and other goodies to give some extra protein and more veggies.
I added a bit of balsamic vinegar and oil over the pasta after we dished it up. Skip the capers like we did if it’s not your thing.
And we used premade ravioli . . . because mom just doesn’t have the time for homemade.
Zucchini, Black Bean, and Rice Skillet from Ready Set Eat
We made this for a weeknight dinner, and I think it will become a staple! Those black beans are great protein and it’s loaded with veggies. You could even change the veggies to suit your family’s preferences.
I added an extra zucchini and an additional cup of water so I could use regular rice instead of instant. Just make sure to plan for the extra cooking time if you use regular rice.
Autumn Wild Rice Soup from Give Me Some Oven
Is there anything better than soup on chilly Albuquerque evenings? I love that this one has tons of produce. And the coconut milk makes it creamy.
I love soups on cold days, and they are a great meatless meal. But they don’t often leave me feeling full. To fix this we serve some crusty bread on the side.
And I always add a nice big salad. Throw in some nuts, hard boiled eggs, and other items for protein.
Crispy Tofu with Lemon Dill Cream Sauce from Rabbit and Wolves
I know what you’re thinking. “Tofu, Katie? Really?” Yes. Tofu.
Tofu has a bad reputation. But if you do it right and fill your dish with flavor it’s actually delicious.
This recipe is a bit more work and technically vegan. Sometimes I change up vegan recipes to work with our personal preferences. (You can find more about experimenting with your cooking here.)
We didn’t make any changes to this recipe. The coconut milk and tofu help fill you up. And the cream sauce makes the meal feel decadent.
I’d also highly recommend Rabbit and Wolves’ recipe for Parmesan Herb Crusted Tofu. It’s incredible!
Two Bonus Meatless Meals!
I had so many I love that I just couldn’t choose!
Slow Roasted Mushroom Pasta with Crispy Rosemary Chickpeas from Half Baked Harvest
You know a recipe is good if I keep coming back to it. And we’ve come back to this meatless meal several times.
I love pretty much every recipe I’ve tried from Tieghan’s website. It all feels like a mix of fancy and comfort food but not too difficult. And always delicious.
If you’re not a fan of chickpeas, you might love them roasted. They get extra crispy and when you toss them with spices . . . yum!
This recipe calls for fancy mushrooms but I usually just use a mix of white and crimini mushrooms. And make sure to fry the rosemary!
Beet & Chickpea Pasta with Lemon Tahini Sauce from Dishing Up the Dirt
Did I mention I love pasta and chickpeas? And beets. Beets are gold.
This dish has chickpeas and almonds for protein. A nice hefty salad on the side is perfect. I tossed our chickpeas with olive oil, salt, and pepper before roasting them with the beets.
This could also be a great date night dish.
We love doing this sometimes. I make our daughter an easy dinner (cheese and crackers or quesadilla with veggies and fruit is the usual). Then as she’s eating we make our own dinner and chat with her.
One person gets the child ready for bed while the other finishes dinner.
Add a bottle of wine and enjoy delicious food with your partner!
Even if you’re not a vegetarian, going meatless every once in a while is great for your budget, your health, and the environment.