20+ Meatless Meals You Can Make from Your Pantry

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Need some budget-friendly meatless meals? Here are 20+ plant-based dinners that you can make from your pantry!

meatless meals pingraphic

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Okay, who’s working through their pantry and avoiding the grocery store like the plague?

Like the literal plague?

For some of us, we can’t find meat at the store. Or maybe we’re just trying not to go to the store.

No matter the food situation where you are, I hope this list empowers you to save money, eat well, reduce food waste, and use what you have!

Why Go Meatless?

There is so much research out there about the benefits of eating less meat – both for our bodies and for the planet. At our house, we generally try to eat vegetarian during the day, and then half of our dinners are meatless or at least have meat as an option.

This helps keep our meals budget-friendly and plant-based.

Plant-Based Dinners

Keep in mind that plenty of food is meatless. These egg-free brownies, for example, are not only meatless, but they’re also vegan.

When we eat meatless dinners, we try to keep the word plant-based in mind. This means that while pizza is technically meatless, it’s also not loaded with plants – unless we make it one of those pizzas that only moms like.

Our plant-based dinners are loaded with vegetables, with the option of adding more as needed, depending on your diet needs (and picky eaters).

Family-Friendly Meatless Meals

I’ve found 3 ways to make meatless meals for family-friendly.

3 Ways to Rock Meatless Meals

We all know that meatless meals save our budget and the planet. Let’s embrace them and find ways to make them better.

1. Cheese It

I’m not claiming this is the healthiest idea, but if the people at your table (or maybe just you) are rebelling, try adding a little cheese. Not only does it make everything better, but it makes a meatless meal feel more filling.

2. Find Your Favorites

You don’t need a wide variety of meatless meals. Find 3-4 favorites and sprinkle them in throughout the month. No one complains when they get to eat their favorite food.

3. Make it “Mostly” Meatless

A little bit of meat goes a long way. Most of these recipes can handle a sprinkle of diced chicken, ground beef, or crumbled bacon. Make it work for you.

Meat-less Meals

Got someone in your family who doesn’t think dinner is dinner unless something died? (I hate that joke, by the way.)

Everyone’s diet needs are different, so most of these dinners are flexible! You can add as much or as little meat as you need.

Usually, I try to keep both make-ahead chicken and make-ahead beef in the fridge, then I’ll make dinner and add what we need to that mostly meatless meal. This helps us eat more plants and keeps our meals budget-friendly.

It’s also one of the many ways we afford quality meat on a budget.

Dairy-Free Meatless Meals

If you’re dairy-free, many of the recipes below that use cheese have dairy-free alternatives!

Obviously, meals like Macaroni & Cheese are hard to pull off (although you can find plenty of vegan recipes elsewhere online) but don’t skip a meal in the list below just because it has cheese in the title. We were dairy-free for many years, and I try to find dairy-free alternatives for many of our meatless meals!

20+ Budget-Friendly Meatless Dinners

  1. Cajun Beans & Rice
  2. Hamburger Soup (meatless version!)
  3. Cheesy Lentil Pie
  4. Lentils & Rice Slow Cooker Taco Dip
  5. Lentil Shepherds Pie
  6. Cumin Beans & Cornbread
  7. White Bean Chili
  8. Potato Peel Soup
  9. Turmeric Lentil Soup
  10. Githeri (Kenyan Corn & Beans)
  11. Budget-Friendly Salad with Chickpeas
  12. Spring Mix Salad with Chickpeas or Navy Beans
  13. 10-Minute Tomato Soup
  14. 5-Minute Egg & Cheese Muffins
  15. Cheesy Herb-Stuffed Tomato
  16. Easy Frittata
  17. Greek Pasta or Quinoa Salad
  18. Easy Frugal Mediterranean Platter
  19. Homemade Pizza (not loaded with plants, but you can serve it with a big salad!)
  20. Macaroni & Cheese (try the modified versions)
  21. Broccoli Parmesan Pasta
  22. Burrito Bowls (just beans, rice, and all your favorite taco toppings!)

Budget-Friendly Plant-Based Side Dishes

Whether you decide to try meatless meals in order to stretch your budget, avoid the grocery store, or save the planet, these plant-based ideas will help you do that!

What You Can Do Now:

What are your favorite meatless meals?

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