Meatless Healthy Meal Ideas

Updated on December 09, 2010
H.P. asks from Woods Cross, UT
13 answers

Hi I am trying to really cut back on my families meat intake and I was wondering if anyone has any tasty, affordable, and healthy meatless meal ideas. THanks!!!!

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answers from Denver on

I didn't eat read meat or poultry for about 15 years. You can simply drop the meat from most meals. Add beans or cheese or nuts for protein. You can also get meat substitutes, but they usually aren't cheap and only some of them are tasty (and things like tofu are only tasty if you know how to prep them:).

We do a lot of rice and veggies at my house. It's hard to get cheaper than that.

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answers from Kalamazoo on

Bean and cheese nachos. Get vegetarian beans, they don't have lard in them (read ingredients). Get a whole grain tortilla chip, look for real ingredients and fiber - I like Snyder brand. Cover a cookie sheet with foil. Spred a glob of beans on each chip and cover with shredded cheese you prefer. Maybe even throw on some jalapenos if you like it spicy. Bake at 375 until cheese melts - 20mins?? watch closely. Top with chopped lettuce, tomato, onions etc. Also, bean and cheese burritos. Anything with beans is great for you - high in protein and fiber.
Grilled cheese and tomato soup is another of our "meatless" favorties. You can do meatless pasta like spaghetti. Use whole wheat pasta because it has protein, whatever sauce and top with some shredded cheese for extra protein - plus if you drink a glass of milk with dinner, that has protein also.

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answers from Denver on

You'll find a lot of Italian dishes don't have meat. I'm good with a plate full of veggies! Sweet potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, beets, squash......most of these can be steamed or baked with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.



answers from Salt Lake City on

A few fast and easy recipes -

Saute chopped onions and carrots in olive oil until fragrant. Add zucchini, cook until mostly done. Add canned chopped tomatoes. Last add rinsed drained canned garbanzo beans and heat through. You're done when the garbanzos are warm. Season with salt and peeper to taste. Also good with a bit of yellow curry powder added in. Serve over couscous.

Saute chopped onion, garlic, and bell pepper in olive oil. Add a can or two of black beans, 1 T of cider vinegar, and about 1t. of oregano (Mexican oregano if possible). Simmer a little to blend flavors. Serve over white or brown rice.

Dinner salad - mixed greens, sliced bell pepper, a little thinly sliced red onion if you like, shredded cheddar cheese, avocado, rinsed drained red or black beans, crumbled tortilla chips, and a dressing of half salsa, half ranch mixed.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Try for bean recipes that have the most star ratings. Beans are cheap, full of protein and easy. You may need t play and soak them ahead of time but they are great. I also have been using quinoa more and we like it. Leftover on salads too.



answers from Los Angeles on

Sundried tomatoe/artichoke pasta-my favorite!

Any wheat pasta cooked
add olive oil and any spices-I do italian seasoning, garlic
sun dried tomatoes cut into small pieces-jar or bag
one can of artichoke hearts cut up
black olives (optional)
I have also put veggies-asparagus or anyother kind cut up
and top with parmesian cheese
I just guess at the amt of olive oil since I made up the receipe myself-enjoy!

I have been a vegetarian for over 15 years and I eat alot of the morning star veggie burgers/foods as well as tofu stir fry with veggies and noodles, different pastas-I just make a separte meat for the rest of the family to add to it.



answers from Phoenix on

Our meatless meal options are:

Chili made with TVP (textured vegetable protein), then add 1/2 can of pumpkin which acts as thickening agent.

Tofu used with stir fried veggies, or fried rice, or soups.

Curry dishes. Indian food I think is one of the best vegetarian tasting options. So I would recommend taking an Indian cooking class, or buying and Indian cookbook or googling Indian food on youtube to learn their techniques and seasonings.

Grilled cheese with hearty soups.



answers from Denver on

This one comes out of my new cookbook: Love More Feed Less,

Oodles of Noodles and Zuchles

Serve 6-8 (think leftovers, or divide recipe in half for a smaller meal!
Preheat oven to 350° F

2 tablespoons combined butter and canola or olive oil butter spread
3 medium-large zucchinis
3 cups of your favorite homemade or bottled sauce Tomato Sauce (pg…)
1-2 teaspoons of minced garlic (if using canned sauces)
6-8 ounces thinly sliced or grated Provolone and/or Mozzarella Cheese
2 tablespoons Parmesan and/or Romano Cheese
12-ounces package Rotini or Penne pasta,

1. Spread the canola based spread all over the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch pan.
2. Slice the zucchini into 1/4 inch slices and layer all over the pan. Pour the sauce over the zucchini, and then very gently mix the garlic only into the sauce. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
3. Prepare the pasta, according to the package directions.
4. Remove the pan from the oven and cover the entire top with the cheese. Return the pan to the oven and continue baking until the cheese has melted and begins to bubble, about 5-10 minutes.
5. Serve over the warm pasta.


R./The Muffin Lady



answers from Salt Lake City on

One of my favorite new found foods is Quinoa. You get it at Costco it comes in a small bag. It is a grain that is great protein and takes on any flavor you want. I usually boil it like rice only lots more water, and put in taco seasoning and make tacos or any other Mexican dish as a meat substitute. My family will eat this even though they are meat eaters. A little goes a long way. You can get quite creative with it too



answers from Boise on

Just make sure you dont go absolutely meatless as some people do. Children cannot make the conversion to retinol from beta carotene (in fruit/veggies) they need animal fat to be able to make the conversion so they dont get a vit A deficiency.



answers from Las Vegas on

Mmmm, I just stir fried some fresh zucchini, fresh spinach, corn, onion, and green pepper with salt and pepper. Yummi! I add a little green chili to mine too.



answers from Denver on

Here's a quick and easy dish that my family always asks for. Get the premade cheese tortellini (or mini ravioli), cook as directed, then add steamed broccoli and garbanzo beans. I add some pesto sauce (either premade or if I have time I make it myself). If your family doesn't like pesto, you could sub regular pasta sauce or just olive oil and garlic. It is so fast and easy.



answers from Seattle on

Tons. And tons. Breakfasty foods are easy, so I'll skip belgian waffles & eggs benedict & omelettes. One trick, I've found however, is to *always* have something that requires real chewing or that sits solid in a stomach. So if something seems "light" a thick slice of crusty bread or focaccia that's been toasted with pepper or swiss melted all gooey, or a side like cauliflower au gratin, or homemade mac'n'cheese, or box stuffing... aka "biting" food like thick bread or "filling" food/ comfort food with the "light" food quenches carnivorous appetites. Here are some house favs:

- Quiche
- Enchiladas stuffed with green rice (recipe follows for green rice) and cheese
- Peppers stuffed with red or green rice and cheese and baked or grilled
- Dolmades & spanikopita, & other greek appetizers
- Antipasto (italian appetizers)
- Artichokes Roman Style
- Artichokes boiled and leaves dipped in butter (or mayo)
- Eggplant Parmesan
- Lasagna
- Gnocci
- Manicotti stuffed with ricotta & marscapone & herbs and baked w marinara
- Pesto pasta with garlic roasted cherry tomatoes (love cherry tomatoes sauteed with garlic and "mashed" just barely to split them also on scrambled eggs in the morning, yum).
- Focaccia sammies w/ thick slices of fresh mozzarella, basil, spinach, roasted red pepper and a swipe of spinach
- Paninis
- Calzones
- Toasted Egg Salad Sammies
- Portabello Burgers & fries
- Gaspacho
- Butternut squash soup
- Lentil soup
- Chili
- Split Pea (IF you're still eating some meat, toss a ham hock in)
- Sushi (a vast number of nigirizushi are vegetarian... I go for sashimi myself, but hubby prefers cooked sushi or sushi without fish)
- Udon
- Nearly any indian dish. I'm particularly fond of tomato butter curries with potatoes or cauliflour or paneer, but also like a lot of the stir fries and coconut curries).
- Most Thai noodle dishes... like Phad Thai or Phad sie iew

(Arroz Verde)
This Mexican holiday rice is adapted from Aída Gabilondo's Mexican Family Cooking (Fawcett Columbine, 1986).
1 small white onion, peeled and quartered

2 poblano chiles, deveined, seeded, and quartered (optional... I never add peppers because my son doesn't like heat)

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 cup fresh cilantro

1 cup chard, deveined and cut into slices (optional)
2 cups Chicken Stock (or veggie stock)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup long-grain white rice

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1. Place onions, chiles, garlic, cilantro, chard, and 1 cup stock in a blender. Blend, strain, and season with salt and pepper.
2. Rinse and drain rice. Heat oil in a  heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add rice and sauté, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add sauce and remaining 1 cup stock. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove pot from heat, but keep covered, allowing rice to cook for another 10 minutes

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