Fact: Americans consume more meat than just about every other country in the world. Although meat is an excellent source of protein, growing evidence links excess meat consumption with an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other serious medical conditions.
However, a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains can improve your health and lower your risk of disease. Plus, it’s better for your bank account! Meat costs about $4 per pound, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means a family of four that embraces Meatless Mondays — eating a meatless meal just one night a week — could save nearly $35 a month by purchasing two fewer pounds of meat per week. That’s more than $400 a year!
If you think incorporating more plant-based recipes into your diet means you’ll have to say so long to tasty, satisfying meals, think again: These delicious, money-saving Meatless Monday recipes prove that plant-based, vegetarian meals are anything but boring and bland.
1. Butternut Squash with Lentils & Quinoa
This simple butternut squash dish is hearty without being heavy. It requires a bit of prep but still comes together relatively quickly. Quinoa and lentils add protein, fiber, and iron to keep you feeling full, but it’s the delicious combination of Mediterranean spices that really makes this dish sing.
- 1 whole butternut squash
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
- 2 teaspoons allspice, divided
- 1 teaspoon coriander, divided
- 1 teaspoon paprika, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon cumin
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup dry quinoa, soaked and rinsed
- 1 cup dry black lentils, sorted and rinsed
- 2 scallions, trimmed and chopped
- Handful fresh parsley, chopped
- Fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup toasted almond slivers (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425˚ F.
- Prepare the squash. Loosely wrap butternut squash in a dish towel and microwave 2 to 3 minutes to soften slightly. Handle carefully.
- Peel and cube squash. Place squash on its side and peel with a sharp vegetable peeler. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out seeds. Slice each half into strips, and strips into small, bite-size cubes.
- Arrange squash on a large baking sheet. Season with salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon cumin. Add a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and toss to coat.
- Spread squash in an even layer and place on middle rack of heated oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, carefully remove baking sheet and add garlic cloves and another drizzle of olive oil. Toss squash again to cook evenly and return to oven for another 10 minutes.
- Prepare lentils and quinoa while squash is roasting. In a saucepan, bring lentils, 3 cups water, and salt to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes with the lid slightly ajar. Drain.
- In another saucepan, bring rinsed quinoa, 2 cups water, and salt to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until water has absorbed completely.
- In a large bowl, combine cooked lentils and quinoa with remaining spices and more salt to taste. Toss lightly, then add cooked butternut squash. Chop and add roasted garlic. Top with scallions and fresh parsley.
- Toss ingredients to combine. Add fresh lemon juice to taste and another drizzle of olive oil. Add more salt or other spices to taste. Garnish with optional toasted almonds.
Adapted from The Mediterranean Dish
2. Grilled Veggie Burgers
It’s hard to find a veggie burger that tastes delicious and doesn’t completely fall apart, but this recipe passes the test! Plus, these patties can be prepared up to 3 days in advance. Just tightly wrap each patty in plastic and chill until you’re ready to eat!
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained
- 2 14.5-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup almond butter
- 1/4 cup regular or vegan mayonnaise
- 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
- 4 teaspoons salt-free chili powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 cups cooked red or black quinoa, cooled
- 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Toasted buns, onions, tomato, lettuce, pickles, and cheese, for serving
- Heat grill to medium-high heat.
- Prepare the patty mixture. Shred tofu using a box grater. Squeeze tofu between paper towels to drain excess liquid.
- In a large, nonstick skillet, pour 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Cook tofu and black beans for 10-12 minutes, tossing occasionally until beans appear darkened and slightly dried out.
- In a large bowl, whisk together almond butter and mayonnaise until smooth. Whisk in grated garlic, chili powder, and salt. Add tofu, beans, and cooked quinoa. Stir to combine.
- In a small bowl, combine flaxseed meal and 1/4 cup cold water. Let sit until mixture thickens, about 1 minute. Add flaxseed paste and cornstarch to tofu mixture. Stir to combine.
- Wash your hands and rub a drizzle of olive oil between your palms. Working with about 3/4 cup of tofu mixture at a time, shape into 8-10 1/2-inch thick patties.
- Grill about 2 minutes, until slightly charred around the edges. Carefully flip patties using a thin, metal spatula, add a slice of cheese to each, and cook another 2 minutes.
- Prepare burgers and top with onions, tomato, lettuce, pickles, or whatever other toppings you prefer.
Adapted from Bon Appétit
3. Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos
These vegetarian tacos are so good you just might find you don’t miss meat! In this easy Meatless Monday recipe, roasted cauliflower and seasoned lentils add a ton of flavor, and a creamy chipotle sauce really packs a punch.
For the cauliflower:
- 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the lentils:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion, yellow or white
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 3/4 cup dry brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
- 2 cups water or vegetable broth
For the chipotle sauce:
- 1/3 cup regular or vegan mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 to 3 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers or chipotle hot sauce, to taste
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the tacos:
- 8 small corn tortillas
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- Preheat oven to 425˚ F.
- Prepare the cauliflower. In a large bowl, toss cauliflower florets with enough olive oil to coat with a light, even layer. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange florets in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast 30-35 minutes or until florets are deeply golden on the edges, tossing halfway.
- Prepare the lentils. Warm olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Sauté onion, garlic, and a dash of salt for about 5 minutes until onions are softened and translucent. Add tomato paste, cumin, and chili powder, and sauté for another minute, stirring constantly. Add lentils and water or vegetable broth. Raise heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook uncovered 20-45 minutes until lentils are tender and cooked through. Reduce heat to maintain simmer and add more water or broth if liquid evaporates before lentils are done. Once lentils are cooked, remove pot from burner, drain excess liquid, cover and set aside.
- Prepare the chipotle sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lime juice, adobo sauce, salt, and pepper. (If using whole chipotle peppers from a can, purée mixture in a blender or food processor.)
- Warm tortillas in a pan over medium heat. Stack tortillas and cover with a towel to keep warm.
- Assemble tacos. Add lentils, roasted cauliflower, chipotle sauce, and top with chopped cilantro.
Adapted from Cookie + Kate
4. Baked Eggplant Parmesan
Eggplant gets a bad rap. It can be bitter, but that’s nothing a quick salt sweat can’t fix. This eggplant parmesan recipe is cheesy, saucy goodness. Pair it with a side of spaghetti squash for the ultimate Meatless Monday meal.
- 2 medium eggplants, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
- 1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, homemade or store-bought
- 2 eggs
- Cooking spray
- 1 24-ounce jar tomato sauce
- 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
- 2/3 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
- Prepare the eggplant. Slice into 1/2-inch rounds, place them in a colander, generously sprinkle with salt, and allow them to sweat for 30-90 minutes. Rinse off and pat dry.
- Preheat oven to 425˚ F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Prepare breadcrumb coating. In a shallow bowl, combine Panko breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, and 1 teaspoon salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until smooth. Dip eggplant into egg mixture, coating both sides, then dip into breadcrumb mixture, coating both sides. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining eggplant rounds.
- Place baking sheets in oven and bake for 20 minutes, flipping once halfway. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Spread an even layer of 1/2 cup tomato sauce on the bottom of an 11×8-inch baking dish. Arrange an even layer of cooked eggplant rounds on the bottom of the dish. Spread an even layer of 1 cup tomato sauce over eggplant rounds, sprinkle 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, and 1/4 cup fresh basil. Repeat steps until all eggplant rounds are used.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly golden. Remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining basil, and serve.
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
5. Homemade Falafel
This falafel recipe puts your summer herb garden to good use. Fresh parsley, mint, and dill pack a ton of flavor, but the real secret ingredient is baking soda: it helps create a fluffier texture. These falafels would be delicious served over a bed of greens topped with hummus, tahini, or tabbouleh. You could also enjoy them inside a pita.
Of course, you can always opt for canned chickpeas, but if optimal flavor is what you’re after, dry chickpeas are the way to go. Soaking dry chickpeas overnight, like the method used in the following recipe, will ultimately lead to more flavor, but if you’re short on time, do a quick soak. It only takes about an hour, and you can use this method in any recipe that calls for dried beans.
- 1 cup dry chickpeas
- 1 cup split board beans/fava beans (or substitute for additional 1 cup dry chickpeas)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/3 cup red bell pepper chopped
- 2/3 cup fresh parsley
- 2/3 cup fresh mint
- 1/2 cup fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon anise
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup rice flour or chickpea flour
- Grapeseed oil or other high smoke point oil for frying
- Soak chickpeas and fava beans. In a large bowl, combine beans with 2 teaspoons baking soda and cover with water. Let soak overnight.
- Drain and rinse beans. Add beans to food processor with celery, onion, red bell pepper, fresh herbs, salt, spices, baking soda, and rice flour. Pulse until ingredients are well combined and a coarse texture takes shape. Scrape sides of food processor and pulse until texture becomes a finely ground meal, similar to couscous. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
- Transfer mixture to a large bowl. With clean hands, shape small falafel balls or thick discs and place on a plate lined with parchment paper. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight to fully allow flavors to develop.
- In a large pot or skillet, add at least 1 inch of oil for frying. Heat over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Fry a few falafels at a time, 2-3 minutes per side.
- Once falafels are cooked, remove from oil using a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Full of Plants
6. Vegetable Lasagna
Try your hand at this low-carb take on a comforting classic. This easy vegetable lasagna recipe swaps pasta for layers and layers of zucchini noodles. The key to this delicious veggie lasagna is salting the zucchini slice first — it prevents the vegetables from turning mushy.
- 4 medium zucchinis, sliced 1/4 inch thick lengthwise
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 3 cups tomato sauce
For the ricotta filling:
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 fresh basil, chopped (substitute 2 tablespoons dried basil)
- Preheat oven to 350˚ F.
- Prepare zucchini. Carefully slice zucchini with a knife or, for best results, use a mandoline vegetable slicer. Salt and dry zucchini. Place sliced zucchini noodles on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 10 minutes and dry with paper towels to absorb moisture.
- In a small bowl, combine ricotta, parmesan, egg, salt, pepper, and basil. Add oregano, thyme, and other Italian seasonings, if preferred.
- In a 13×9-inch baking dish, layer lasagna. Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of zucchini noodles, a layer of ricotta filling, and top with mozzarella cheese. Repeat steps until complete. On final layer, top with sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan.
- Bake uncovered for 40 minutes, then broil 1-2 minutes until cheese is browned. Sprinkle with fresh basil.
Adapted from A Simple Palate
7. Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce
Tender, caramelized sweet potatoes and red bell peppers are made even more delectable with a generous drizzle of homemade spicy Thai peanut sauce. Serve over a bed of rice for a filling meal, or swap the grains for greens for an even more veggie-friendly dish.
For the spicy Thai peanut sauce:
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/4 cup low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons water
For the vegetables:
- 2 sweet potatoes, peels and chopped into 1-inch long, 1/2-inch thick chunks
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped into bite-size pieces
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- Salt, to taste
For the rice and garnishes:
- 1 1/4 cup jasmine brown rice or any variety long-grain brown rice
- 2-3 scallions, sliced into thin rounds (green and white parts)
- Handful cilantro, torn
- Handful peanuts, crushed
- Sriracha sauce (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425˚ F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over heat.
- Prepare the vegetables. On a large baking sheet, toss sweet potatoes with coconut oil, cumin, and salt. Arrange in an even layer and set aside.
- On a separate baking sheet, toss bell peppers with coconut oil and salt. Arrange in an even layer.
- Place sweet potatoes on middle rack and roast for 35 minutes, tossing halfway. Place bell peppers on top rack and roast for 20 minutes, tossing halfway.
- Prepare the rice. Once water is boiling, add rice, salt, and stir. Boil uncovered for 30 minutes, turn off heat, and drain. Return rice to pot and cover with lid. Let steam for 10 minutes. Remove lid and fluff with fork.
- Prepare the spicy Thai peanut sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together peanut sauce ingredients. If sauce is too thick or too spicy, gradually whisk in more water.
- Serve roasted vegetables over rice. Top with spicy Thai peanut sauce and a sprinkle of scallions, cilantro, and peanuts.
Adapted from Cookie + Kate
Save Money With Meatless Mondays — and Affordable Car Insurance!
These Meatless Monday meals are delicious and affordable, and you don’t have to worry about feeling hungry after all is said and done. Another thing you don’t have to worry about? Wondering whether or not you have enough car insurance.