So you want to try going meatless.
Maybe you have a child who recently decided to become a vegetarian, or maybe you just want to save some money by feeding your family at meatless meal one night each week. Either way, at some point you probably found yourself wondering if it’s possible to make meatless meals that actually fill you up.
For some reason, people often have this perception that if a meal doesn’t have meat it can’t possibly be filling. The good news is that that’s simply not true!
It is true that veggies alone won’t be enough to keep you full. The common meatless meal of veggies and white pasta may not do the trick either.
The secret to a good meatless meal is to make sure it has a combination of protein, fiber, and healthy fat.
First, the protein.
Protein promotes satiety (that pleasantly full feeling you get toward the end of a meal), so many times when people feel like a meatless meal didn’t fill them up, it’s because they didn’t replace the meat (a.k.a. the protein source) with another type of protein.
There are tons of great plant-based proteins to choose from, plus if your family isn’t strictly vegetarian, eggs and dairy are great meatless sources of protein too.
Here are a few options to choose from:
- Beans (black beans, kidney beans, white beans, chickpeas… any kind of beans)
- Milk (cow’s milk, soy milk, etc. However, know that almond milk is much lower in protein than other milks.)
In addition to protein, two other key things most often missing from meatless meals are fiber and healthy fats.
Both fiber and fat digest more slowly than the other nutrients you eat, so both help to keep you full longer after the meal is over.
Here are some healthy sources of fiber and fat to add to your meals:
High Fiber Foods
Many of the non-meat high protein foods are also high in fiber – win-win!
- Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, oats, etc.)
- Beans (any kind)
- Fruits and veggies (especially with the skin on)
- Nuts and seeds
Sources of Healthy Fats
To promote good heart health, we want the majority of fat in our diets to come from unsaturated fats (like those found in olive oil, nuts, and avocado), but reasonable amounts of saturated fats from foods like dairy and butter are okay, too.
- Vegetable oils like olive oil or canola oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter, etc.)
- Dairy (Full fat or part-skim, not fat-free)
Okay. So you know the key components of meatless meals that actually fill you up, but maybe you’re still stuck when it comes to actual meal ideas? No problem! Get started with the awesome recipe ideas below.
Easy Meatless Meals That Actually Fill You Up
Pick a source of protein, pick a source of fiber, and choose a healthy fat. There are ENDLESS options to mix and match, but here are a few of my favorite, filling combos, along with an example recipe for each. These recipes are a huge hit in my house, and I’m sure they will be in yours too!
Nuts + Pasta + Veggie + Oil
Beans + Pasta + Veggie + Oil
Eggs + Veggie + Cheese
Beans + Eggs + Veggie
Beans + Veggie + Cheese
Beans + Whole Grain + Veggies + Avocado
Beans + Whole grain + Veggies + Cheese
Whole grain + Veggies + Cheese
- Brussels Sprout Pizza with Goat Cheese (on whole wheat crust)
Tofu + Veggies + Oil
Tempeh + Whole Grain + Veggie + Nuts
Creating meatless meals that actually fill you up has never been easier. Happy (meatless) meal planning!