Incorporating a few meat-free meals into your weekly menu planning is a great way to save money.
People who are true “meat and potato” lovers may balk at the idea that they should have a meal without animal protein; however, there are many hearty dishes that will make them forget all about the omission.
Here are some meatless meal suggestions that don’t require special shopping trips for “faux meat” and similar products.
Falafel is a Middle Eastern dish made with ground up chickpeas or fava beans that are well-seasoned and formed into small balls for frying.
Line a few up on a platter and serve them instead of hoagie sandwiches during the next big televised football game. Mitchell Davis has an easy-to-follow, delicious recipe in his cookbook The Mensch Chef: Or Why Delicious Jewish Food Isn’t an Oxymoron or you can try Sarah’s recipe that’s embedded in her piece on “Cooking With Gluten Free Garbanzo Bean Flour.”
Black Bean Burgers
Although these are commercially available in preformed patties, the boxes found in the freezer section of local grocers often contain thin discs with portions meat lovers will be insulted by.
They are easy to make at home with low-sodium canned black beans tossed with a can of corn, some breadcrumbs, seasoning to taste, and an egg to bind. The mix can be pulverized briefly in a food processor for a more malleable patty.
The bean burgers are particularly easy to handle once they’ve been shaped and put into the freezer for a few minutes. They’re fried in shallow vegetable oil until crisp, and then served on a bun with all the accoutrements usually found on burgers.
Because bean-and-corn burgers have a distinct texture of their own, devout meat eaters will be less likely to feel like they’re a (perhaps poor) substitute for beef as they might if they were served soy-based patties.
A grilled version is also great. These are particularly delicious served with a spicy mayonnaise.
Already thinking, “Black bean again?” If you’re looking for something a little different in the meatless burger department, check out our recipe for Sweet Potato Coconut Patties.
White Bean Cakes
Southerners worship beans, and serve them an innumerable ways ranging from simple to extraordinary. White bean cakes are a tasty, satisfying, and nutritious lunch alternative to meaty sandwiches.
They utilize leftover seasoned white beans that have been mashed, and bound with flour. They’re fried in butter, and oil and served simply on bread with a dab of mayo and perhaps a slice of tomato. The sandwiches can be served with a hot soup for a particularly satiating meal.
Quiches & Other Egg Casseroles
The classic egg is obviously a high-protein food item and it’s low-cost even when a whole carton needs to be used.
When combined with hearty vegetables like asparagus and potatoes and some leafy greens such as spinach (or kale, or even tasty foraged dandelion greens) and baked until firm in a pie crust, they make a filling meal that’s ideal for lunch or dinner. For a different taste, try making a quiche with peas!
For a quick and easy egg casserole meal, check out our rice cooker frittata recipe.
Vegetable Lasagnas & Other Baked Pastas
Sliced eggplant, zucchini, spinach, and hearty fall root vegetables make saucy baked pastas very filling.
Texture can be improved by gently breading and frying the large vegetable slices before layering into the dish (and people repulsed by “slimy” vegetables will appreciate this added step).
The vegetables are layered with noodles, sauce, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, and parmesan, and then baked until bubbly. As an added benefit, veggie lasagnas can be prepared well in advance and then frozen for a future meal.
What’s your favorite satisfying meatless meat? And what are you making for dinner tonight? Let us know in the comments!
About Lynne Jaques
Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!