Meatless Mondays are not a new trend and many of you have probably heard of the campaign many times. If you’re already trying Meatless Mondays (and even Tuesday, Wednesdays, or any other day of the week), then great! However, if you’re struggling to find the time due a busy schedule, or facing holiday time crunch issues, then we’re here to help you out. We want to make Meatless Mondays seamless for you to implement into your diet. You don’t need a lot of time and don’t even have to be a great cook.

First, Why Meatless Mondays?

Spaghetti-Squash-with-Basil-and-Creamy-Cauliflower-Alfredo-Sauce-1200x761-1200x761

Meatless Mondays are not a form of quick dieting or some health trend that you do just to brag to your friends about (though we totally wouldn’t blame you if you did)! They’re a simple way to try something new, improve your health, and lighten your impact on the earth. Even if you don’t care about the environmental or health benefits of eating less meat, going meatless on Mondays will also help out your budget since whole, plant-based foods are less expensive per serving than meat-based dishes are.

Plus, for those that are short on time, take heart – there’s no chopping meat, worrying about cleaning up bacteria from meat particles on your counter, and of course, there’s less of a need to waste money on trying to buy organic meats to avoid excess hormones, pesticides, antibiotics, etc.

So check out these ideas for the busy family looking to eat less meat – for whatever reason that might be. Not only will you be eating healthier and embracing plant-based nutrition, but you’ll also be saving time and money too!

Prep Tip for Success:

Some of these dishes can be made in a flash while others might be easier if you make a huge batch of ingredients ahead of time one day early on in the week. Set aside an hour on a Saturday or Sunday to make a batch of grains, veggies, beans, or greens. You’ll have simple grab and go ingredients to use in meals all day long and be rest assured that fast food won’t be a temptation.

Breakfast Blasts For Success:

We all know breakfast is “the most important meal of the day” as they say, but we know breakfast time is also the most stressful time too. Don’t stand over the stove and stir with one hand as you send texts or answer emails with the other- just whip up some of these simple options instead:

Smoothies for All

Chai-Chocolate-Green-Smoothie-1195x800

Whip out your blender for a five second meal that boosts your health, energy, and your nutrient intake all day long. It’s smoothie time! Toss in some unsweetened non-dairy milk, a handful or two of spinach or kale (nope, you won’t taste it!), a half cup frozen berries, a tablespoon of chia seeds, and a scoop of plant-based protein powder such as hemp protein or an all in one nutritional protein shake. Blend with some ice, cinnamon if you like, and even some superfoods if you have some on hand. This should keep you full through the morning, but feel free to adds some raw almond butter or a scoop of oats to your smoothie for more staying power. To make extra servings, just blend two to three times the amount and pour into to-go containers for an easy to drink on-the-go breakfast. Also try some of our favorite recipes including: Green Superfood Detox Smoothie, learn the Anatomy of a Filling Green Smoothie, Chai Chocolate Green Smoothie, or The Best Green Smoothie EVER.

Overnight Oatmeal

Overnight Oats
UOFlickr/Flickr

Overnight oatmeal is the easiest breakfast since whipping out a slice of bread and throwing it in the toaster, but so much healthier! The night before, all you do is pop a scoop of oats (1/3 cup) into a glass jar, add some coconut yogurt, chia seeds, vanilla, cinnamon, some non-dairy milk, and maybe some sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds and flax for extra healthy fats and protein, or other creative add-ins of your choice. Why soak oats in coconut yogurt? It increases digestion, provides beneficial bacteria, and helps with the absorption of nutrients in the other ingredients. Feel free to add some frozen berries or other fruit of your choice. Give it all a good stir, pop it in the fridge, and grab and go in the morning. This is great since you can either eat it on the subway if you’re in public transit, or even at the office if you’re commuting. (Please don’t eat and drive – we know it’s delicious, but refrain however possible!)

The Grab and Go Option

MartinCathrae/Flickr
MartinCathrae/Flickr

If you forgot to prepare your oats or your blender goes out, then choose an easy grab and go option instead. A piece of organic fruit, with 1/4 cup natural almonds, and a to-go unsweetened vanilla or unsweeetened coconut or soy yogurt makes a simple, plant-based meal that requires no prep. If you can, stir some protein powder or a pack of plain rolled oats into the yogurt for more nutrition and extra fiber and protein. Add some stevia and cinnamon for a simple, tasty flavor.

 Simple, Snappy Lunches:

Lunches are pretty easy to make in a jiffy, even without that deli ham or turkey you’re used to eating on a sandwich. Try these options instead:

A Savory Hummus and Veggie Wrap

Falafel-Hummus-Collard-Wraps-Vegan-GF-1200x800

A wrap is simple to prepare the night before or even in 5 minutes in the morning. It’s also a bit healthier than typical sandwiches, and much more filling. Hummus is great to include in your wraps since it contains protein, fiber, magnesium to give you energy, and is completely free of harmful fats. It also has a creamy, savory texture that’s a healthier replacement for mayo. Use it in this Hummus Collards Veggie Wrap for a crazy delicious, simple option.  Or, see our other filling wrap recipes that are simple to make, filling, and travel-friendly.

Veggie Soup

Minestrone-Soup-1200x800

The easiest way to ensure you have a healthy lunch is to make a big batch of filling veggie soup at the beginning of the week. You can easily throw this in your slow-cooker so there’s no stirring or over-boiling. Some filling, flavorful, and healthy options include: Toasted Quinoa Mexican Soup, Red Lentil Soup with Fresh Cilantro and Lemon, Kale and Dill Soup with Rice, Vegan Chili, and Minestrone Soup.

A Warm Grain or Root Veggie Salad

Warm-Potato-Salad-21-e1397103353159-768x800

Salads are a typical go-to meal that we happen to love. They fill you up, provide you with tons of nutrients in one serving, and let’s be honest – they’re a lazy (yet healthy) way to pack in tons of nutrition into one bowl. Plus, the mixing and stirring all the flavors together is pretty awesome, we have to admit. But chilly salads can get old during the winter months, so try a different approach instead: warm salads. Ever had ’em? We love them! Warm salads are basically some greens with warmed grains or root veggies on top if you don’t eat grains for whatever reason. You also add other cooked veggies like broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc. If you have a batch of soup, you can warm the veggies and just place on top of the greens. Or, you can prepare a batch of grains (rice, quinoa, barley, teff), veggies, or root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, or beets at the beginning of the week and heat right before to place atop your bed of greens. This is one of the fastest, healthiest, and most filling lunches you could imagine. It also makes a stellar dinner option and is great for a new approach to the traditional healthy lunch. This Warm Potato Salad with Spinach and Chickpeas is a great way to try this idea out.

Dinners in a Dash:

Healthy, Easy Spaghetti

Mondays are a typical spaghetti night for many since it’s one of the easiest and tastiest meals people enjoy. But most people include the traditional beef-based spaghetti – definitely not Meatless Monday approved. So we suggest trying a healthier, less timely option that requires no browning meat whatsoever. Prepare a batch of whole grain spaghetti, such as rye, sprouted grain, or even whole wheat. Keep some roasted veggies on hand (perhaps those you might use for warm salads), or just use a bag of organic frozen veggies instead. Warm them up on the stove in a pot with some organic tomato or pasta sauce (preferably those in glass containers that are BPA-free) and in literally 10 minutes or so, you’ve got a simple, whole foods, plant-based meal that will keep you full all evening long. Try Rye Spaghetti with Hazelnuts, Zucchini, and Pumpkin for something new and delicious, or try grain-free noodles for a lower carb approach.

Buddha Bowls

Meatless Monday Dinners

Heard of these fun masterpieces? A Buddha bowl is basically a bowl filled with some grains, veggies, and beans or greens, all tossed together with condiments, herbs, and seasoning of choice. Choose between brown or black rice, quinoa, barley, oats, teff, wild rice, amaranth, buckwheat, couscous or another grain you enjoy (choose whole grains, not refined grain products). Add any cooked veggies that you like, and a can of BPA-free beans or beans or legumes you prepared earlier in the week. Frozen edamame, lentils, and green peas are also all easy options that require little time prep at all. If you didn’t have greens earlier in the day, be sure to toss some into your Buddha bowl so you can be sure you get them in. You can warm this up on the stove or even place it in your slow cooker and leave for 30 minutes to warm. Toss all your ingredients together in a bowl and season as you wish. Warmed mustard, kimchi, and hot sauce with herbs and black pepper all make excellent choices.

Family Time Favorites

Chipotle-Maple-Sweet-Potato-Burgers-Vegan-1200x800

This is where things get fun and cozy! Go for some traditional dishes made from whole foods (not meat alternatives) if you’re looking for the ultimate, most natural nutritious dinner option. These can include simple burgers, tacos, or even Sloppy Joes (all of which can be made vegan for ultimate nutrition. Or try veggie pasta and pizza! Who says traditional favorites have to include an animal? Let’s keep things healthy and plant-based instead (while also saving you time and money too). You can either prepare these ahead so you can just heat and go, or ask your family to step in and help you prepare them for a quick meal in minutes. keep sauces in the fridge for easy meals, and whole grain buns or whole grain taco shells on hand for simple meals that also provide nutrition.

Going meatless is pretty easy these days, and hopefully even for those that have a lot on their plate (no pun intended), going meat-free is easier than ever. Do you have any favorites for Meatless Mondays that you prepare in a busy schedule?

Also see 13 Meatless Monday Ideas for the Beginner Cook

Lead Image Source: Curry Chick’n and Gnocchi Soup