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Meatless Mondays: So what do we eat instead?

March 22, 2010

Okay, so you’re ready to try a few meatless meals. Great! But you start to wonder: So what do we eat instead?

The good news is that there are limitless options, and they range from easy childhood classics to “bring-on-the-messy-kitchen, this-meal-is-totally-worth-the-time” favorites. First, you’ll need to stock your kitchen with a few meatless necessities:


  • Buy them dry and in bulk. They are cheap and you can make large batches ahead of time to store in your freezer.
  • Canned beans are okay, but they usually come with lots of unnecessary sodium and the cans are lined with BPA.
  • We usually have a stock pile of garbanzo beans (aka chick peas), black beans, and red kidney beans.
  • Beans are a great source of protein.


  • Again, buy it in bulk when you can.
  • Buy long-grain rice that’s brown. This ensures you’re getting all the nutritional benefits of your rice. Minute Rice is not the best option.
  • There are so many varieties (like 8,000); try a few kinds to see what you like! We always have long grain brown basmati rice in the house. It smells like popcorn when it cooks, which I love, and I think it fits into many meals quite well. We don’t really care for plain brown rice, but some folks love it. Scott doesn’t like wild rice, but I do. We’re also trying long grain brown jasmine rice out now.


  • One of the most versatile, inexpensive, and simple sources of protein available.
  • The possibilities are endless: Scrambled, fried, hard boiled, poached, baked, and so much more.
  • If you’re wondering what kind of eggs to choose, check out this incredibly helpful and insightful article.


  • Beef up your meals with veggies. Try adding more veggies when you’re cutting out meat.
  • When possible, choose fresh, local, and in-season vegetables. You’ll find lots of new favorites.
  • Fresh produce is expensive, so I’m not going to pretend that this is a money-saving option. However, it can be a more healthful way to live.

A few others you might enjoy:

Dairy products: yogurt, cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, milk. Dairy products can help give meals a familiar, homey feel without having to include the meat.

Nuts: You still need protein in your life. Add nuts to salads, yogurt, stir fry, or enjoy as a snack. Also great: plain old peanut butter or almond butter (no salt, no sugar, no additives).

Flour: Whole wheat flour is the basis of many meatless meals for us. It’s in our bread, our pasta, our popovers. It’s for more than just baking cookies (which I didn’t realize until recently).

Another Quick, Meatless Recipe: Stir Fry

  • Rice
  • Vegetables: garlic, onion, carrots, broccoli, peppers, celery, peapods, cabbage, zucchini… etc. etc. Try whatever is in season!
  • Olive oil
  • Vegetable stock (optional)
  • Scrambled egg (optional)
  • Chick peas or another bean (optional)
  • Salt, pepper, and spices of your choosing
  1. Warm oil in a pan. Add chopped garlic and onion.
  2. When those are translucent, add heavy veggies and cook until they are slightly softened (e.g. carrots — they take longer to cook).
  3. Add remaining veggies and cook until they are desired texture (the crisper the better!)
  4. Add rice, beans (if using), and scrambled egg (if using). Add a splash of vegetable stock (if using). I like to use this instead of adding any sauces to the dish. It’s simpler and healthier.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper and spices.

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