When you start looking for ways to cut your grocery bill, one of the first tips you start seeing is to eat some meatless meals. Meat is usually the most expensive part of your meal, so cutting back is a great way to save some moola (and yes, that is a correct spelling for it, I looked it up!). I think some people think eating meatless means you have to serve tofu burgers and hemp salad, but that’s not the case. I have 21 ideas here for you. Surely out of 21 meal ideas (plus any you readers add in the comments) you can find a few you like. Most of the protein for these meals is coming from either beans, eggs or dairy products. I do apologize to any of you perfectionists for the weird number 21, but I couldn’t decide which idea to cut, so just left it as an odd number. :)

  1. Bean burritos or tacos – Use whatever kind of beans you like, my favorite are refried beans or black beans. You can also add rice, salsa, sour cream, cheese, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes or even eggs to make it a breakfast burrito.
  2. Quesadillas – Pretty much your options are the same as with burritos, they’re just shaped different. :)
  3. Nachos – We sometimes eat them just with cheddar cheese melted on chips, but to make them “super” nachos add beans, olives, salsa, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, sour cream and guacamole.
  4. Stir fry – For the starch you can use rice, ramen noodles or sometimes we even use millet. Throw in any veggies you like and eggs for protein.
  5. Quiche – I love this recipe from budget bytes. To make it even cheaper you can substitute the feta cheese for cheddar.
  6. Pizza – Either plain cheese pizza or top it with veggies.
  7. Vegetarian stuffed peppers
  8. Beans and rice – this can be done many different ways with many different kinds of beans.
  9. Breakfast for supper – Think pancakes, waffles, french toast, muffins, eggs, omelets, fruit, etc..
  10. Grilled cheese sandwiches and your favorite veggie or tomato soup
  11. Salad topped with sunflower seeds and hard boiled eggs
  12. Enchiladas filled with beans
  13. Lentil soup – One of Cameron’s favorites.
  14. Bean burgers
  15. Macaroni and cheese
  16. “Chili” made with only beans and no meat – I had to put the quotation marks because original Texas chili had no beans in it and it bothers Cameron to call these other concoctions chili. He gladly eats them…just don’t call them chili. :)
  17. Savory pinto beans - Topped with crackers and cheese. I do confess the recipe does call for bacon, but it’s a small amount, and you can always skip the bacon if you want.
  18. Egg salad sandwiches
  19. Snack supper – Serve things like popcorn, veggies and dip, apple slices, crackers and cheese, and ice-cream. As a girl we called these Jones suppers, because when my Mom was a girl her Grandma Jones would serve this kind of supper if family was at her house. She would often make a big batch of popcorn, toast with melted cheese and ice-cream.
  20. Pasta salad with Italian dressing, black olives, onions, celery and cheddar cheese cubes (pepperoni is good in it too, but that would defeat the meat-less idea, but it’s good either way).
  21. And of course there’s always the classic pbj – To add variety you can try different kinds of nut butters and substitute the jelly for fruit, like bananas, apples or strawberries.

Let’s make this list even longer! What vegetarian meals do you like to eat?

8 Responses to “21 Meat-Free Meal Ideas”

  1. I’m sure this doesn’t really count because it’s fish… does fish count? Anyhow, I’ve been cleaning out the pantry and came upon a can of salmon… with a recipe for salmon patties on the back. I was skeptical, but decided to give it a try. OMG… totally delicious and cheap too!

    Basically… one can of salmon (remove bones and skin). 2 eggs, a quarter cup of diced onions, 2 heaping tablespoons each of corn meal and whole wheat flour, salt and pepper to taste. Mix it all together, form into patties and fry in a few tablespoons of olive oil until brown on both sides.

    Made about 6 or 7 patties, and I am still shocked at how good they were!

    I’m thinking I may try something similar with mashed beans instead of salmon… garbanzos maybe? Or black beans with some corn and Mexican spices…

    • I’ve made salmon patties before, but not with corn meal and flour. It sounds like it really stretches the salmon though, because the kind I make only makes about 3 patties per can.

  2. 21 is actually perfect, seeing as how that’s many meals one typically eats in a week.

  3. These are great ideas! I do a lot of these for lunches, and at least one meatless meal (or almost meatless) a week for dinner. I can’t think of anything to add to your list right now – you did a great job! I think I need to try those stuffed peppers one of these days.

  4. I am of American/Mexican. So Mexican food is all I knew growing up. I have always been really conscious about my food choices and just generally never liked meat. Therefore, I have adapted many recipes my mother made with vegetables instead of the meat. For example some things you can do that are very good and affordable are:

    Tacos made with mashed potatoes (boil potatoes, mash them with salt and i like them with mozzarella cheese) Put them in the oven with a little olive oil if you don’t like to fry them. Top them off with shredded cabbage slaw (cabbage, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalapeno if you wish, lime juice, and salt). They are soooo good and incorporate lots of veggies.

    Another one is enchiladas made with cheese (queso fresco) or with the same type of mashed potatoes as mentioned above for a different variation.

    Chiles Rellenos this one is more complex you can google it to find out how to do it (basically a roasted stuff pasilla pepper) and fill it with mash potato and cheese, or a mix of vegetables just stirred fried with salt and pepper.

    Vegetable soup- to add color blend tomato, onions, one garlic and strain to remove all the tomato skin and pulp. You can add whatever vegetables you like and then just salt and pepper to taste. My kids love it and even if they don’t eat every vegetable the soup itself is very nutritious.

  5. I like oatmeal and milk for a non-meat based meal, especially in colder weather. I also like cheese grits. We make the bean and rice freezer burritos from tammysrecipes.com. My kids like homemade taco salads. Put tortilla chips on a plate, cover with salad, seasoned beans (season like taco meat), cheese, and salsa. You can also add a bit of sour cream. Yum!

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