Does your family go meatless on Monday? If not, it’s worth considering! Why? Designating one day of the week as a meatless day is a great way to improve your family’s health, help the environment and breathe new life into your tired old dinner routine.
We’re here to help you pull it off with some of our favorite family-friendly meatless meals. The important word here? Family-friendly! Meatless Monday doesn’t have to turn into everyone’s least favorite night—you won’t find any Tofu a la King on our list! We’re parents just like you, and we know that no kid’s going to go for a portobello mushroom posing as a burger. So if you think you’re ready to take the plunge, check out some of our favorite meatless Monday meals.
Why Meatless Monday?
In general, Americans eat way too many animal products. According to a 2018 study by the US Department of Agriculture, we’re tossing back a record 223 pounds of red meat and poultry in the span of just one year. My quick calculation shows that’s close to 5 pounds each week. And while meat is a valuable source of protein and vitamin B12, too much can cause health issues like heart disease and high cholesterol. That’s reason enough to switch it up a bit just one night each week.
But it’s not just about health! Here are some of the other benefits of skipping the meat once per week.
- It’s good for the environment. A study published in the journal Nature found “the food system is a major driver of climate change, changes in land use, depletion of freshwater resources, and pollution.”
- It can save you money. It’s true! Kicking your daily allotment of meat to the curb completely can save you as much as $750 in one year, reports a study in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition. Of course, you may not keep quite that much money in your pocket by going meatless only once a week, but hey, it can’t hurt, right?
- Monday is a great day for a change. It’s normal to relax the rules a bit on the weekends. And that’s okay! Friday night pizza? Later than normal bedtime? These are the things families look forward to on the weekend. So when Monday rolls around, it’s a great day to commit to a healthy habit.
Best Family-Friendly Meatless Monday Meals
Without any further ado, here are some of our favorite meatless options to incorporate into your family’s dinner routine. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
If your kids love the cheesy goodness of enchiladas, there’s a good chance they’ll be all in on this meatless version that incorporates sweet potatoes and black beans instead of chicken or ground beef. Even my super picky kids will eat these, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re even better than chicken or beef enchiladas. Yes, really!
Here’s another classic favorite that leaves out the meat but keeps all the yummy flavors we’re used to. Here, lo mein noodles and a rainbow of vegetables are cooked in soy sauce for that familiar full-bodied taste we know and love. If your kids are serious non-veggie eaters, they can simply opt for the noodles alone.
For some, meatless means no fish. But I’m of the opinion that it’s okay. Maybe that’s my Catholic upbringing, or maybe it’s the fact that fish supplies critical Omega-3 fatty acids to your diet, but either way—if you choose to go the Pescatarian route, these delectable fish tacos are a must try. They come together pretty easily and make for an absolutely delicious meal your family will look forward to all weekend (just WAIT till you try the sauce!). For the super picky set, try serving the fish outside the taco as “fish sticks.” Yep, it works!
In the spirit of keeping things kid friendly, we’ve included this super-simple spinach and ricotta stuffed shells recipe. It may not be the healthiest recipe on our list, but it definitely checks the meatless box! Plus, these are so good, picky eaters may not even notice the spinach.
Burritos? Yes, please! If you’re starting to think this meatless Monday thing isn’t actually much of a sacrifice at all, you’re right! There are delicious recipes out there that don’t require any meat at all. And this is definitely one of them—this yummy bean and cheese burrito from Six Sisters Stuff is one of our favorite meatless Monday meals.
If you’ve got a brood of mac and cheese lovers, then you’re already one step ahead of the game. This broccoli shells and cheese recipes levels up the childhood favorite into official mealtime status. The cruciferous veggie and the whole wheat pasta make it a somewhat healthier choice you can feel good about.
Here’s a dish you can enjoy meatless or with added chicken on non-meatless nights. The sun-dried tomatoes and cheesy tortellini pair perfectly in this crowd-pleasing dish. Plus, it comes together in a snap with only five ingredients. We’ll call that an all-around win!