Favorite Meat-Free Meals

In my post yesterday, 5 Ways to Afford Real Food on a Meager Budget, I talked about how we ate less meat but still had high quality meals. In this post I share a few of our favorite meat-free meals.

Creamed Onions

Creamed Onions with Thyme and Sage

This is a dish that we love and I don’t make near often enough. The original recipe is from Food & Wine. I change it slightly work better for us.

2 tablespoons butter
4 large onions cut in 1 inch dice
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup broth
1/2 cup cream
Additional sea salt to taste

Melt butter in a large pot. Add the onions and cook over very low heat until they are soft and slightly caramelized (about half an hour) stirring occasionally.

Add seasonings, stir and cook for a minute or two.

Add the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the cream. Stir well. Add additional sea salt to taste.

Serve over new potatoes, mashed potatoes, spaghetti squash or brown rice for a main dish.

Coconut Soup

Coconut Soup

This is a soup I discovered in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.  It is a super easy and tasty. It is a thin soup so I usually serve it in mugs alongside a salad or a savory custard.

This soup has a small amount of spice. The original recipe called for using dried pepper flakes. The first time I made this soup we didn’t have any pepper flakes so I used a whole hot pepper and removed it at serving time.  That worked well. One day when I was cutting hot peppers for cortido I wondered if I could use the top of the pepper instead of throwing it in the trash in this soup. So I stashed my pepper tops in the freezer and pulled one out the next time I made Coconut Soup. It worked perfectly!

1 quart broth (any type. I’ve used chicken, duck, turkey, beef and antelope. I haven’t tried fish broth, it might work)
1 can coconut whole coconut milk
Pinch of dried chile flakes, or a whole hot pepper, or the top of a hot pepper
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (best) or 1/3 teaspoon powdered ground ginger
Sea salt
Juice of 1 lemon

Boil broth, add remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes.

You could add veggies for a heartier soup to eat with a spoon;

Sautee  2 or 3 peeled and sliced carrots,1 small chopped onion and around 1 cup sliced mushrooms in  2 tablespoons butter until soft. Proceed with recipe as above.


Savory Custard

This is yummy main dish custard was inspired by Nourished Kitchen. A couple of years ago she did a Food Stamp Challenge. Low-Cost Acorn Custard was on her menu plan (click here and scroll down until you find the recipe). I use that concept and make savory custards out of just about anything! This is a meal we especially love during the spring when the chickens and ducks start laying well.

4 tablespoons butter (or combo of butter and coconut oil)
1 onion, diced
1-2 cups cooked veggies (see notes below)
6 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Cook onion in oil until soft. Combine cooked onion, veggies, eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Put mixture into well buttered casserole dish, baking pan, or cast iron skillet. Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes until eggs are solid.


Veggie Notes: You can make this savory casserole out of just about any vegetable as long as it isn’t too wet. I like to use this to use up leftovers that are lurking in the fridge.  The following vegetables are best pureed or mashed; acorn squash, butternut squash, sweet potato, spaghetti squash (I don’t puree this one), and carrots.  Chopped and cooked works well for these; broccoli, summer squash, greens (collard, mustard, chard, etc), and cabbage.

Red Beans: Rajma Style


Substituting beans and legumes for meat is very well known.  Beans are also an excellent source of many minerals and B vitamins (read more about beans here). Almost every week we have a Stretchy Bean of the week.  I’ll ask my husband ‘what kind of bean do you want this week’. Then I’ll make a big pot of beans and we’ll turn that into three or four different meals.  I usually cook the beans in bone broth to help with the nutrition. Sometimes instead of cooking the beans I’ll sprout them out and use them that way.  Some of our bean based dishes do have small amounts of meat added to the final dish but the bulk of them are just the beans cooked in broth.  Check out my 13 week menu plan for lots of ideas.

See pinto beans cooking and favorite meals.
See garbanzos cooking and favorite meals.
See red beans cooking and favorite meals.
See lentils cooking and favorite meals.
Sprouted peas.


Please share your favorite meat-free meals in the comments


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Millie Copper
Millie Copper is a Wyoming wife and mama. After reading Nourishing Traditions in early 2009, her family began transforming their diet to whole, unprocessed, nutrient dense foods—a little at a time while stretching their food dollars. Millie is passionate to share how, with a little creativity, anyone can transition to a real foods diet without overwhelming their food budget. Millie began blogging in late 2009 and has amassed a collection of frugal recipes and methods. Her specialties include cooking with wild game and creating “Stretchy Beans”. Discovering a love of writing, she has penned four books focusing on healthy eating on a budget and is trying her hand at fiction writing. Learn more at MillieCopper.com.


  1. Emma

    I made the creamed onions last night after reading this post and they were incredible! I was in heaven. Thank you so much for telling us about them.

    1. Post

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