Meatless January: 31 Days of Meatless Meals

Saturday, February 8, 2014

 February 1st -- Skiing in Steamboat followed by lots of summer sausage for Christian

Well, we survived!  31 days without meat.  31 days full of whole grains and lots of fruits and vegetables!  Its been over a week since our month of meatless meals ended so I thought I'd provide you with a little update.

I still haven't had any meat.  Christian... well he's another story.  We were in Steamboat on February 1st and after a day of skiing, he dug into his favorite summer sausage.  Our friend claims that his eyes rolled back in his head upon first bite... he definitely missed his meat.  That night, I was in charge of dinner so I made sure to include a vegetarian AND meat option -- a big pot of beef chili.  The funniest part -- Christian scooped up a big bowl of Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chili and didn't even notice he didn't have meat!  Proof that some meals are just as good without the beef.

I don't think I ever shared this but I craved seafood all month long.  I missed it.  I finally made salmon for dinner on Thursday night and it was unreal... especially since I made our favorite Panko Crusted Salmon (make this tonight!  so easy and amazing!).  I think my body needed it.  Christian was equally as happy and said the meal was "PHENOMANAL".  Then last night, I had tilapia.  I still haven't had any chicken or beef cravings but I think these foods will come back into our meal rotation once I start craving them.  I only say "I" since I do most of the cooking and grocery shopping.  Although, Christian can make a mean salad and that got us through a lot of nights this past month!  He's also a fab sous chef, especially on taco nights.

Going back to why we did this.  Well, we both love a good challenge.  It was definitely a challenge for Christian and he did great.  It was a challenge for me in terms of creativity and learning new recipes.  I loved it!  I also wanted to see if we'd save money.  Our grocery trips included lots of produce, beans, grains, nuts, dried fruit, yogurt and cheese (remember, we didn't go vegan..).  Did we save money?  Yep -- about $150 on average for the month.  That's nuts!  This is in part due to the price of meat but I was also very diligent about meal planning this month.  I think that helped us save more than anything.  I also read a great post on Green Kitchen Stories about Eating Healthy on a Budget.  It is possible!!

So... the verdict?  Like I said before, meat will be making a return in our household.  I've already discovered that its way too difficult to meal plan and include a meat and vegetarian option every night.  We'll still put a heavy focus on plant-based meals but I want to keep my little family happy and satisfied when we sit down to dinner every night :)

I do want to make it clear that we did eat some really great meals.  Some of our favorites went undocumented.  We had numerous pizza nights -- homemade crust rocks.  Make a big batch, divide into individual portions and freeze.  Homemade falafel with tahini sauce and Greek fries also made an appearance numerous times over the past month.  Any veggies with peanut sauce and grains was also a go-to.  Lastly, a variety of homemade veggie burgers and tacos, of course -- always a win.  Just to be clear, these meals were our favorites.  As for my favorites, I loved everything and could eat a big bowl of White Bean and Kale Soup or Indian Enchiladas all winter long.

Although school is in full swing for me and things are going to be a little quieter around here, we're still eating great meals every night and I'm still meal planning.  I just have a little less time to document the process.  I am going to try to keep posting recipes though, especially if its a recipe worth sharing! 

Vegetarian White Bean and Kale Soup

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Winter has finally made its return to Colorado.  It snowed all day yesterday.  And to think I ran in shorts and a tank on Saturday?!?

The cold weather inspired last night's dinner.  I was craving soup all day as I watched the snow come down.  I had plans to make a kale and tomato pasta so switched gears and made a soup with similar ingredients.  This soup hit the spot!  Warm, comforting and very satisfying with a big, crusty whole grain roll.  I know most of the country is experiencing the same bitter cold so do yourself a favor and make this soup.

12 miles on Saturday... 55 and sunny, shorts and a tank.

4 miles on Monday... slow, snowy and got to test out the new Yaktrax.

...warming up with a hot bowl of soup.

Thai Tacos with Brown Rice and Peanut Sauce

Monday, January 27, 2014

Did I mention we love Mexican?  Oh yes -- last post.  So it will come as no surprise that when I asked Christian what he wanted for dinner one night last week, he requested tacos.  Our dinner the night before was the Tamale Pie so I wasn't really up for Mexican flavors again.  I don't think he was anticipating Thai tacos but we both LOVED these.   

I pinned a recipe a while back for  shrimp Thai tacos but had yet to make them because our meatless month hasn't included fish.  Christian's request for tacos was the perfect opportunity to try them out.  I eliminated the shrimp and swapped it for a base of brown rice and sauteed peppers.  The slaw gets great flavor from soy sauce, honey and ginger and the peanut sauce is just plain awesome.  I'm even incorporating the leftover sauce into one of our dinners this week.  Christian actually said the peanut sauce was "spot on".  This is coming from a guy who doesn't love peanut butter and has always made claims that he doesn't like Thai food.

Vegetable Tamale Pie

Thursday, January 23, 2014

As I've mentioned before, we love Mexican flavors so they regularly make an appearance in our house.  While I do love tacos and Christian could probably eat them every single night, I try to mix things up.  This tamale pie was delicious and a nice change of pace.  We served it with small salads and it was the perfect, satisfying meal.  We both ate leftovers today for lunch and loved 'em -- and we typically loathe leftovers...

To make this "pie", you start with a base layer of homemade polenta... top it with a perfectly seasoned pinto bean, corn and tomato mixture and top that with a final layer of cheese, of course.  It looks and sounds like a casserole but I hate to call it that.  I've never been a fan of "casserole's" BUT one-dish, make-ahead, oven-baked meals like this are slowly becoming my best friend.  Bottom line -- meals like this make my life easier and keep us happy with a tasty dinner on the table every night.  If you have any awesome, make ahead {meatless} meals, please send them my way!

Eggplant Parmesan Burgers

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


From Day 1 of meatless month, I have been itching to make numerous recipes that call for eggplant.  Christian kept telling me he did NOT like eggplant.  I'm pretty sure he had never tried eggplant.  Finally, I found a way to mask it in the form of a burger.  I thought this was the best method since he loves burgers and this would avoid any texture issues (he's a big texture guy).  He declared this burger as "AWESOME" after dinner.  SUCCESS!  

I can guarantee even the meat-lovers in your life will love this recipe.  We ended up eating our burgers on a bed of mixed greens but I also ate one for lunch as an open-faced sandwich.  Anything works!  

Spicy Peanut Vegetable Bowl

Monday, January 20, 2014

Spice Peanut Sauce with Veggies and Pearled Barley

This was the very first meal I made for our meatless month -- spicy peanut sauce with veggies and noodles (see first dinner below).  It is still one of our favorite meals we've made this month.  We loved it so much that we've made it again but swapped the rice noodles for pearled barley.  You can really use any grain you prefer.  The sauce is what makes this dish!  Its so flavorful with a few simple ingredients making it the perfect dinner for busy nights.

Spicy Peanut Sauce with Veggies and Rice Noodles

 If you want to add some protein, it would be great with chicken.  If you eat Paleo, you could easily swap the grains for spaghetti squash and peanut butter for almond butter.  Make it your own :)

Indian Infused Enchiladas

Friday, January 17, 2014

Happy Friday!  This whole meatless month challenge has really pushed me to expand my horizons.  You know, get uncomfortable in the kitchen.  Cooking with Indian spices is extremely outside of my comfort zone.

Eating Indian flavors is also extremely outside of Christian's comfort zone.  That is exactly why I bookmarked this recipe as soon as I saw it.  We love Mexican, so why not infuse a Mexican dish with Indian flavors?  The end result -- awesome.  Christian is definitely not a fan of curry and he loved it.  WIN! 

These are a great start if you want to start spicing things up in the kitchen because the curry is very mild.  The filling is so easy to throw together and calls for a few simple ingredients -- potato, onion, corn, tons of spinach and cheese.  No need to worry about a laundry list of ingredients for the enchilada sauce because this sauce only uses two ingredients!   

I loved 'em plain, with a sprinkling of cilantro.  Christian topped his with salsa.  Whatever suits you!

Easy to throw together, short {and cheap!} ingredient list, meatless, delicious -- I will make this again and again!  So although we've had some not so great meals this month, all of the new, great recipes we've discovered have been well worth the challenge!

Raw Brussels Sprout and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Raw brussels sprouts?  I thought the same thing.  For someone who is obsessed with roasted brussels sprouts, its weird that I haven't tried them raw until this week!  If you're hesitant about raw brussels sprouts, go ahead and make this salad.  It is pretty much my ideal lunch.  All of my favorite ingredients in one bowl -- brussels sprouts, pecans for crunch, cranberries for sweetness and the smoked gouda...  oh so good!

Since school has started back up, I'm back to packing lunches every day.  Its always nice to have a new option to add to the mix and this will be sticking in my rotation.  If you're worried about dressing the salad when you make it, don't be.  The brussels sprouts don't wilt the way lettuce does.  This is great on day 1 and even better on day 2... the brussels sprouts get a little softer from being dressed, know what I mean?

This would also make a great entree salad by adding quinoa to the mix or topping with broiled salmon or grilled chicken!  Enjoy :)

Simple Tomato Spinach Pasta

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The #1 thing that I have learned from tightening up our grocery budget and making sure we have edible meatless meals on the table every night -- PLANNING IS KEY!  I could easily spend hours looking at recipes every day debating what to make each night but who has time for that?!?  Sitting down to write down our dinners for the week and create a grocery list has, seriously, made my life so much easier.  It also eliminates impulse purchases at the grocery store -- win.  I do my planning on notepads like the ones below :)  Oh and in case you're wondering, I do still spend far too much time browsing blogs, magazines and cookbooks for recipes... you can never have enough!

My friend, Lauren, also wrote a great post on Meal Planning.  She has some great Pinterest boards which can help you get started!

Planning also eliminates excess ingredients which also saves us big bucks.  I can't handle wasting ingredients.  Nothing gets thrown away in our house... ever.  If vegetables have reached their peak, I chop them up and freeze them.  If we have leftovers, those serve as lunches for the week.  I actually found myself eating cold leftover pizza at work recently.  I haven't done that since college.  These days I try to keep our leftovers a little classier than that.  Two people who used to loathe leftovers, have quickly learned to appreciate them :)

Anyways, back to saving ingredients.  Tomato paste.  I appreciate that is it sold in a smaller can, but most recipes still only call for a tablespoon or two.  If you don't make recipes with tomato paste all week, you end up throwing the whole can away.  Well, Iowa Girl Eats introduced me to this genius way to freeze leftover tomato paste.

Now back to planning.  For those nights we don't have a plan, its great to have a few standby simple, tasty meals that we can throw together on the fly.  This creamy tomato pasta fits in this category.  It is so easy and I bet you already have the ingredients in your kitchen.  If not, go get 'em for those hectic nights.  It would be great with grilled chicken or shrimp.  Feel free to play around with adding different veggies too.  We loved it with the spinach and tomatoes -- sometimes the simplest ingredients work best!

Breakfast + Cranberry Pear Fruit Compote + Updates

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Breakfast is most definitely my favorite meal of the day but I tend to keep things pretty consistent.  It was after Thanksgiving when I had leftover cranberry pear compote that I started using it as a topping on my standard plain Greek Yogurt and oatmeal.  Since then, there is always a batch in the fridge.  I've decreased the sugar so I have shared the new recipe below.  So here you have it -- MY perfect breakfast bowl -- plain Greek yogurt, a sliced banana, cranberry pear compote and homemade honey vanilla almond granola.  I also finally convinced Christian to try it and he's a fan.  I plan to try other fruits in the near future!

So how are things going 12 days into meatless month?  I worked Friday and Saturday and was supposed to work today but woke up in the middle of the night sick as a dog.  So I'm spending my Sunday on the couch, bored out of my mind.  I haven't been sick in like 5 years -- welcome to health care?!?  I was also supposed to knock out my long run but that ain't happening.  A great Sunday dinner won't be happening either...

As for last night, I was pretty beat after work so dinner was thrown together -- a big 'ole salad for me with roasted sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts with dried cranberries and roasted pistachios (best salad combo ever) and dinner for him was a homemade margherita pizza with homemade wheat dough that I pulled from the freezer.  

We also have a confession... on Day 10, I told you that things were going great!  Well, not long after I posted that, Christian came home from work with a confession... "So I accidentally ate a ham sandwich today... I ate my lunch, that leftover shepherd's pie, but then around 2 they put sandwiches out and I wasn't thinking..." ;)  So there was one little slip-up but we're going to stick with the plan and continue to January 31st.  Until then, Christian will still be fantasizing about his first meaty meal.

Mag-Pie's & more All rights reserved © Blog Milk - Powered by Blogger