Q & A: Meatless Meal Ideas

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I’m so thrilled with the Fundamentals eCourse forum. We’ve got some great lesson discussions going; that’s a given. We also share interesting and inspiring on-the-side conversations. We’re sharing what’s cooking in our kitchens on any given day and getting ideas from each other. Recently, Tara brought up what natural things she’s doing outside of the kitchen, like hair care, skin care, and cleaning. I’ve learned so much! (Because of what she shared, almost my whole family is giving this oil cleansing method a run for its money.)

If you’re already an eCourse member, stop by the forums to say hi and chime in! And check out our new “do” and new full-featured forum.

If you’re not in the eCourse yet, why not? :) My husband and I are really excited about having re-opened our eCourse in traditional cooking. This time around, there’s no set enrollment period; you enroll when it works for you. If you’re only interested in a couple lessons, that’s fine. You can see all of them from the get-go. And finally, we want  you to be the judge of what you’ll pay for the experience. We ask that you donate based on what the experience is worth to you.

My post today started out as a question from Jessica on the eCourse forum.

“I am trying to stretch all my grass-fed meats because they cost quite a bit more. I have been trying to do a few meatless meals a week to save a bit. I know I can use good chicken or beef broth easily in recipes to get some of the benefits of the meat without the actual meat, but does anyone have ideas for meatless (skillet) dishes? For some reason it seems harder to think of things that go together without the meat.”

This is a great question. We can all do with budget stretching, nutritious and delicious meals. I have a few ideas to share, and then it is your turn to share your ideas to help Jessica out.

  • Sloppy Joe’s or Sloppy Joe’s in a bowl. These dishes can be made entirely with lentils or with half lentils and half ground beef. They are so amazingly tasty and satisfying. Don’t let the lentils scare you. Avowed lentil haters love these dishes.
  • Mujedderah (Arabic lentils and rice). Again with lentils (I find them really meaty tasting), I’ve enjoyed this dish all my life. Last night I made it by cooking the lentils and rice in broth. I carmelized the onions in tallow, and added a bit of cinnamon to the whole dish. It is really yummy, and the changes I made yesterday made it really flavorful. I updated the original post with those options — so if you print the recipe, the changes will be there.
  • Cold Grain Salads. Use eggs in place of meat, use cheese, or use meat sparingly, or make this as a grain and bean based dish.
  • Fasooli (Arabic White Beans and Rice). Another favorite dish from growing up. :) My mom always made this with lamb, but used sparingly. Even though the meat we ate growing up was very good, there was never enough of it. :) This recipe is not written with meat, but you always have the option of allowing chunks of lamb to simmer with the beans.
  • Eggs. With homegrown eggs or even local eggs, eggs are an inexpensive protein source for a meal. Fried, scrambled, egg drop soup (another eCourse forum idea from Tara!), egg salad, hard-boiled, poached in marinara sauce, quiche
  • Sprouted Lentils. As Erin showed us not too long ago, sprouted lentils make delicious, varied and nutritious meals! Her guest post shows off 3 dishes from sprouted lentils.

Now it is your turn! In the comments, please share your budget-stretching, meatless meal ideas so we all can benefit from your ideas, tips and wisdom. Feel free to add a link to a post on your blog or website.

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!


  1. ...t. says

    The last time I made chili I used half of the beef and added in extra beans. Not just kidney beans either, chick peas and pink beans. Even my picky husband didn’t notice there was less meat, he just noticed the different beans…and LIKED it!!!

    We also used to do tacos once a week and have started having been burritos instead. No one really seams to mind as long as we have REAL tacos once in a while

    Now I’m looking for a way to add some bulk in w/ other veggies, our diet seams to be a bit bean heavy lately LOL.

  2. says

    …t – Thanks for the great chili idea. I love a chili with lots of different beans. You’re reminding me how much I love bean burritos, too! Thanks!

    Kara – No kidding! Stretching from 4 to 16 is quite significant. Your spice mix sounds awesome! I just printed it so I can try it.

  3. says

    A Frittata! My kids favourite – it’s like a quiche without the pastry base. I sautee onion and garlic in an oven-proof large fry pan, then add some chopped veges such as capsicum, grated zuchini, corn kernels or peas. Cook off for a few mins and then add 6 or 7 eggs beaten with a cup of milk or cream, and pour over veges. Cook the bottom on the stove top, then add some grated cheese or crumbled feta or goats cheese over top and place in oven to cook thru and get the cheese a little golden. Slice and serve with big green salad. Delicious!

  4. Jed says

    After this post and the recent 3 Dishes From Sprouted Lentils, I’m convinced it is time to order a 25 lbs bag of lentils from my co-op this weekend. Nothing like another bag of stuff in the kitchen to get me motivated and everyhing sounds so good–can’t wait.


  5. says

    I have made your Fassoli and your Mujedderah and both are delicious.

    We like garbanzo beans. I make a big pot cooking the beans in broth with the intention of using the beans for a few meals. The first night we have a Curry (http://realfoodforlessmoney.blogspot.com/2010/02/garbanzo-bean-curry.html), the second night Garbanzo Bean Patties (sort of like Falafel) with Sourdough Pita’s, lettuce, cucumbers and a yogurt/garlic dressing. The third meal is usually a Hummus Platter with Pita Points, Cheese slices, Olives, Spicy Carrots, or whatever veggies I have on hand to add to the Platter. Any leftover beans go in the freezer for future Salad or Soups.

    And of course Pinto’s are wonderful. We will be enjoying those tonight. I’ll cook a large amount of them in Antelope Broth (you could use beef or chicken broth) in the crock pot. Tonight I’ll serve them simply with sauteed onions, and a Green Salad. Tomorrow night we will have Beef, Bean and Cheese Burritos. I’ll use 1/2 pound of hamburger and ‘refry’ the beans. Thursday night will be Navajo Tacos using the rest of the beans and the other 1/2 pound of burger (http://realfoodforlessmoney.blogspot.com/2010/05/navajo-tacos-with-sourdough-fry-bread.html)

    We also enjoy Breakfast for Dinner sometimes. It is a nice treat and if we make something like a German Pancake (Dutch Baby) which is egg heavy, I feel like it is still a good source of nutrition and so delicious when served alongside fried potatoes. YUM.
    .-= Millie @ Real Food for Less Money´s last blog post… Menu Week of June 6 =-.

  6. Kathy says

    Do you live anywhere near an Amish community? I know they don’t all raise everything organically and grass-fed, but we buy our beef from an Amish gentleman who does. We only pay $0.95/pound live weight plus the processing for a half beef. It comes out to a little over $2.00/pound for our final product. It might be worth checking out.

  7. Christina says

    Hi Everybody!
    I just made the beet soup recipe in Nourishing Traditions, and it was tasty.
    I did add a bit sweetener to bring out the beet flavor, don’t know if my beets were sprouting or something so it wasn’t sweet. Just thought I’d mention that :)

    Anyway, making meat stretch…
    Look into traditional Mediterranean style cooking, here is the concept:
    For steak dinner, get one thick steak and slice it thin. Fry on high heat in an oiled pan, salting it as it cooks (just a quick moment on each side). When all the steak is done and piled in a dish, pour about 2-3 Tbs of cream into the pan and stir vigorously with your fork until it is browned and bubbly and thickened. Pour over your meat and serve immediately. YUM!
    But one steak feeds the whole family instead of one person :)

    How to get three meals from one chicken:
    Roast the chicken. Pull off one breast before serving and refrigerate for a future meal.
    Serve for your Sunday dinner (or whatever). Later, pick off the meat reserving for soup, cook down the bones and make your soup. Don’t forget gravy with the original drippings.
    Three meals: Roast dinner, soup, and casserole or something with the reserved breastmeat.

    I was cooking this way for awhile, but I realized if I want my boys to grow into brawny men, it takes a lot of protein! I read a story written by a French soldier about his positive experiences working with US soldiers and he described them as all being like Rambo, being so strong and able to carry huge loads of gear tirelessly. Anyway, lots of meat does make a difference in growing boys, although I would say that eggs were essential when they were small to prevent growing pains.

    Hope this helps!
    Blessings~ Christina

  8. Terri says

    We eat a lot of pasta in the spring and summer with wonderful fresh greens from the Farmer’s Market and our garden. My husband likes to sauté garlic slivers in oil and uses fresh tomatoes and spinach or arugula. He then adds grated cheese. Or we caramelize onions and use tomatoes and fresh parsley. I also have lots of thyme and oregano in the garden to vary the flavor. And in the winter we roast beets and other root vegetables.

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