Meatless dinners are great for many reasons. Meat is relatively expensive, so going without it once in a while (or always, if that’s your thing) is a budget-friendly choice. Cutting back on meat is also good for the environment, since meat has a much larger carbon footprint than plants. Plant-based meals are also often healthy since they’re heavy on nutrient-rich vegetables, whole grains and beans — all of which are low in saturated fats.
The one thing that trips people up about meatless meals is protein. Meat is an obvious protein source, and going without it means you need to be a little more creative about where your protein is coming from. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to throw together a high-protein meatless meal when you know how to combine the right ingredients. Soy is a vegetarian protein standby, and both tempeh and tofu make it easy to add lots of soy protein to a meal. Beans and legumes are also great sources. Whole grains, seeds and nuts also have some protein, so combining them with other plant proteins (or each other) in meals can up your protein intake.
For reference, the USDA’s dietary guidelines recommend eating at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For a 160-pound woman, this comes out to about 58 grams of protein per day. It’s a good idea to eat protein throughout the day instead of just eating a lot at once, so aiming for 15 to 20 grams per meal is a good bet. The 15 easy meatless dinners below have at least 15 grams of protein per serving and are all super-tasty and easy enough for beginner cooks. Next time meatless Monday rolls around, pick one and give it a whirl.
Pan-fried sesame tofu with broccoli
This pan-fried sesame tofu and broccoli dish has tons of plant-based soy protein, plus a little more from the rice.
Quick red lentil & spinach curry
This red lentil and spinach curry comes together quickly, but it doesn’t cut corners where protein is involved. One serving has 16 grams.
Cheesy quinoa-vegetable casserole
Craving cheesy carbs but don’t feel like pasta? This quinoa-vegetable casserole will do the trick, all while giving you 25 grams of protein.
Eggs aren’t just for breakfast. Shakshuka is made by baking eggs in tomato sauce until the whites are set but the yolks are still soft. Serve it with a chunk of whole-grain bread for dipping, and you’ll get even more protein along with some healthy carbs.
Thai peanut tofu Buddha bowls
These tofu Buddha bowls are brimming with plant-based protein from tofu, brown rice and peanutty sauce.
Asiago white beans with farro, kale & tomatoes
Beans are a great source of plant protein, and Asiago cheese is a good way to get a little animal protein without meat. Whip up these Asiago white beans with farro for a dinner partyworthy vegetarian main.
Fried chickpea gyro bowls with tzatziki sauce
Yes, chickpeas and rice are good vegetarian protein sources. But the real star player in these chickpea gyro bowls is the Greek yogurt-based tzatziki sauce.
Maple-balsamic tempeh bowls
Never had tempeh? It’s made with fermented soybeans, and it has a nutty flavor and soft, seedy texture. In these maple-balsamic tempeh bowls, the tempeh is the perfect combination of sweet and salty.
Thai tempeh-stuffed sweet potatoes
Tempeh mimics ground meat in these herb-topped, spice-filled, Thai-inspired stuffed sweet potatoes.
Vegan avocado tempeh tostadas
Another great use for tempeh? In Tex-Mex-style dishes, like tacos or these vegan tostadas.
Baked butternut squash mac & cheese
Use a chickpea-based pasta like Banza for this baked macaroni and cheese, and you’re guaranteed to surpass your protein requirement.
Baked ravioli with asparagus & peas
This baked ravioli is a real crowd-pleaser. In addition to plenty of green vegetables, it’s got enough cheesy protein (about 20 grams per serving) to keep you full and satisfied.
The ultimate veggie burger
No flimsy store-bought veggie burgers here. The ultimate veggie burger is made with beets, quinoa and a slew of other tasty mix-ins. The best part? It’s served on a grainy bun with avocado and sweet potato as toppings.
Baked eggplant Parmesan
Eggplant Parm is a crowd favorite for a reason. It’s got a ton of melty, stringy mozzarella — which contributes significantly to the dish’s 22 grams of protein per serving.
Vegan Philly cheesesteak
Seitan, a super-high-protein vegetarian meat substitute made of vital wheat gluten, is perfect when shaved into a meatless Philly cheesesteak like this one.
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