Non-Dairy Dinner and Food Ideas

Updated on May 05, 2010
A.C. asks from Muncie, IN
12 answers

I am new to a non-dairy diet (I am breatsfeeding a new baby who is not tolerating it well.) I am looking for non-dairy dinner recipes and/or food ideas to try! Also, any restaurant or fast food non-dairy favorites? I have done a lot of research and know what to avoid and to look for hidden dairy on ingredient labels. Now I am ready to put everything together! I am eating eggs and meat. Any suggestions or ideas would be helpful! THANKS!

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Chicago on

I work with a dietitian, and we write a blog that is all dairy free. (It's free of eggs, and vegetarian, too, but you can always add in foods that you can/do eat.) We have recipes and product reviews that might be helpful for you. The address is

More Answers



answers from Portland on

I'm lactose intolerant. I use rice milk in any recipe that calls for milk. I use rice milk in scrambled eggs and omelets. You can make puddings, cakes, cookies with rice milk.

I've started noticing a few foods in stores that state that they are lactose free. The most likely stores are the ones that cater to a healthy, green life style such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Natures. Trader Joe's has a list of lactose, sodium and soy free foods. People who are allergic to the protein in milk are often also allergic to soy. This would eliminate cheese alternatives. Milk protein allergy is not the same as lactose intolerance.

Ask about the ingredients in Dairy Queens' ice cream. I am willing to tolerate gas in order to eat ice cream. I've noticed that having Dairy Queen ice cream never gives me gas. I've not investigated their ingredients. I also can easily tolerate the ice cream at McDonald's. I've not paid much attention to my symptoms at McDonald's but have wondered if the mix that these places use for ice cream is different in a manner that it doesn't trigger lactose intolerance. Having a protein allergy may also eliminate those sources of ice cream.

I've spent most of my adult life "testing" myself for food allergies and intolerances. I've learned over time that I can tolerate small amounts of some foods before I develop a noticeable reaction to the foods. Has your baby's doctor talked with you about testing foods to find ones that your baby may be able to tolerate? If you haven't talked with an allergist I suggest that doing so may help.

My granddaughter has been seeing an allergist that specializes in pediatric allergies since she was a baby. He and his staff have made helpful suggestions. A dietitian may be of good help for you since you're having to deal with your diet because of your baby. Some foods or small amounts of some foods may not get into your milk. I don't know. I studied nutrition in college and know that the way our bodies process foods is complicated. I've learned that I'm not allergic to dairy. I'm lactose intolerant but I can still eat small amounts of cheese and ice cream. Your body does not get feedback from your food intake. You have to rely on what you see in your baby. That makes it all more complicated.

I've discovered that sorbet does not have diary products but sherbet does. I've spent most of my adult life choosing sherbet over ice cream thinking it had no milk in it. I missed out on a lot of good ice cream :)

Of course, meat and vegetables do not have diary. You can fix them anyway you want except for the sauces. If you want to add a sauce to them, there are many really good sauces on the grocery store shelf. Or you can flavor them with any number of herbs and spices. Experiment to find the flavors you like.

I'm either intolerant or allergic to nearly every fruit and vegetable in the raw state as well as being lactose intolerant. I've never felt deprived or found it difficult to eat out. If milk protein or lactose intolerance is all that you're dealing with you'll find it easy to develop a way of eating that is not very different from your old way.

If your baby is just lactose intolerant (s)he may not react to baked goods, such as hamburger buns, at all. If she's allergic to milk protein she may depending on whether or not they use milk in making their buns. I'm lactose intolerant and I do eat commercially backed goods. Many baked goods have so little dairy in them that you may be able to eat them without your baby being affected. This is where a dietitian could be helpful. I want to note that I'm more tolerant of gas than many people are and definitely more tolerant than a baby is able to be.

This reminds me that one of the fast food restaurants is offering a hamburger without the bun. They put everything between lettuce leaves. I don't remember for sure which one does this but it may be Jack in the Box.

I think you'll be surprised at how easy it is to eliminate diary from your diet once you get used to it.

As for recipes: I use several sites on the Internet for recipes. Some are Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Gourmet, Food Network, various Food Channel cooks. I think that if you Google diary free recipes there will be a site for that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

I have had to go dairy-free for my breastfed son, too and my older son has a dairy allergy. So, I understand the challenges.
I don't have any great recipes to share, but I do have a book that I think has taught me a lot and gives good recipes. It is called "Go Dairy Free," and the website is I have made a few things from the book and they turned out well. If you go to health food stores, you can find decent cheese alternatives and soy yogurt. But be careful about the soy yogurts because not all of them are dairy free.
Good luck with your baby. I hope he/she tolerates your milk better now.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Poor mama! Well my husband ins Honduran and we eat a lot of black beans and rice... If you like beans, you can make them many ways and don't have to add dairy at all. You can also have stir fries, salads, or try the fake cheese! Make sure to get your veggies and fruit. Are you seeing a lactation consultant?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I went through this too. It is tough. I made the same stuff, but with substitutions. I used soy milk instead of milk and it worked well in almost all things. I used olive oil rather than butter, which worked well other than baking (I got a vegan cook book for baking, but wasn't wild about it). I used pureed white beans rather than cheese on pizza (I didn't like the soy cheese). I couldn't stand the soy yogurt, so I just skipped that. As far as fast food goes, I don't eat a lot of that, but I do eat a fair amount of Chipotle and Noodles and you can pick stuff without dairy there. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

One way that might be to look for Kosher recipes. They won't have dairy if they have meat in them. I don't know what area you are in, but Kosher resturants or deli's are good for going out.



answers from Indianapolis on

Ugh...been there. It's totally worth it to continue breastfeeding, but it's such a hassle when you're in the middle of it:(
You have to either make everything from scratch, or you have to be scrupulous about reading labels.
Here's what was easiest for me. Go to and look at the top of the page. Click on the "ingredients" link. You can enter ingredients you want and don't want. Enter milk in the "don't want" side and anything else you do and don't want and you'll get lots of options.

Here's a quick and easy one to start you off, you can make it in a crock pot or dutch oven:
1 can of pineapple chunks or tidbits and juice
1/2 bottle favorite cheap BBQ sauce
1/2 pork loin or tenderloin

Cook in crock pot on high for 4-6 hours, low for 6-8 hours. You can even start the meat from frozen! Cook in a covered dutch oven 3-4 hours at 300 degrees. Serve over egg noodles or rice.
You can also use a can of apple pie filling instead of pineapple but it's not as healthy:)

Also, you may get tired of certain things or feel like you have to have rice all the time. Try other types of grains. Quinoa is extra high in protein, couscous is really yummy, there are lots of options out there:) Just read your labels!!



answers from Columbus on

I reciently had to go through this to. My daughter is now 7 1/2 months old and it has gotten a lot better. Soy milk is a good substitute for most things but I also used rice milk on things I was worried that the soy milk would be to thick for. You might want to try goats milk to see if there is a reaction, I never found a good cheese substitute but you can use feta cheese if it is not made out of cow's milk, it will be expensive because most domestic feta is made with cow's milk so you most likely need to buy imported. Two other name brands of butter that you can use Fleschmanns makes a non dairy cheese and Willow Run makes a organic soy butter. At first she couldn't handle even butter baked but at 6 months I tested her again and we found out that as long as it was baked and you couldn't see it it was ok. Heat breaks down the proteins. One thing to watch that tripped me up store bought meatballs have powdered milk in them. The good news is Oreo's don't have dairy in them so that is a sweet treat and Lindt makes a 70% cocoa chocolate bar that does not contain dairy. I encourage you to stick with it because your baby will out grow thier allergy faster if breastfed.



answers from Lafayette on

I am in the same situation and am eager to read the answers you get. I realized my daughter was being effected by the dairy I ate in December and my diet is now pretty limited. One thing I discovered is that yogurt doesn't seem to effect her. Both her and I can eat yogurt without her having any symptoms. I have been told this is common in lactose intolerence and that the yogurt can actually help their systems to digest other dairy products (though I haven't tested this out.) Plain nonfat yogurt can be used as a substitute for sour cream and cream cheese in recipes.



answers from Columbus on

Hi A.,

I feel your pain. I did this for my son who has an intollerance to dairy and soy proteins. You may want to watch your soy intake because about 30% of infants with dairy protein intollerances also have soy protein intollerances. There are a lot of things you have to be watchful of when breastfeeding--at least at first. Some other moms have suggested beans, but I would be careful of downing too many beans because they can cause your child to be gassy and quite miserable.
I have learned a lot in this process. At first, I was pretty miserable and eating Rice Dream "ice cream" made me cry. But after a few months, you'll really get used to it and you end up eating incredibly healthy (bonus for you and baby!!!).
I got pretty sick of looking for options at the grocery and decided it would be faster and easier to make things from scratch. Here are some helpful substitutes that I've found. I use canola oil and bananas and occassionally apple sauce when baking. I use olive oil when cooking. Pam has 100% canola oil cooking/baking spray. Whole Foods has some great options for breads (although if you only have to do diary-free your options for breads are much greater than mine). Whole Foods also has some vegan pizzas that are good but pricey in a crunch. You can do some lunch meats but you have to be careful because some are processed with dairy (caseine) and some are cut with the same blades as the cheeses. As far as restaurants go, any of your higher end restaurants are likely to be flexible and make your dishes from scratch. The best two restaurants we've found have been "Bravo" and "Digger and Finch". In fact, the chef at Digger and Finch came to our table and talked with us for several minutes to try to figure out what we could order. And he did this on more than one occassion. (Love them!!) Panera has a couple of dairy-free options and stores often have an ingredient/allergy book that you can look through before ordering. Max and Ermas can work with you, but they aren't my dairy-free favorite.
If you end up making foods from scratch, I would recommend getting a Vitamix blender. Then you can make your own sorbet or use rice milk and make yourself some fun milk shakes. Plus, if your little one still has issues, you can make your own baby foods!
Good luck and let me know if you need any additional advice or words of encouragement.



answers from Dayton on

With my two youngest i had to stay off dairy while i breastfed for a year. My youngest is almost 8 months, and i am still off dairy. I know its hard, but its so worth it. I use the plain silk soy milk, with recipes that call for milk (you really cannot even tell the difference), the soy cheese tastes really bad, i think. There are a lot of recipes out there without cheese. I go to and then type in the ingrediants i dont want, like cheese, cream soups, etc. and there usually are a lot of delicious recipes for dinner. McDonalds and Arbys menu all has milk in it, except McDonalds hamburgers. Wendys is a good place to try, most of their menu is non dairy. You can go to their websites, and look at their nutrition menu, it will tell what has dairy in it. Smart balance has a butter that is Olive Oil based and dairy free. I purchsae it often. There is also a soy ice cream that tastes good. Good luck and hang in there, sounds like you are doing great!


answers from Columbus on

I would recommend lots of beans & rice. Lentils, hummus or guacamole and healthy tortilla chips for a snack. I put avacados on just about everything and it has a creamy texture, so if you like it, try chunks in your food, salads, spread on sandwiches, etc. How about fajitas, stir fry, spaghetti.....
If you'd like an extremely healthy soy milk that is powdered form (convenient when you don't want to waste the liquid kind, or can't keep it cold), let me know and I'll get you some info.

Next question: Easy, Simple Receipes Without Milk

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

More Questions About