7 Meat-Free Mains to Get You Through the Week

See how easy it is to extend your meatless movement beyond Monday.

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We're officially two weeks into the new year, and while some of you may have wholly forgotten you even made a New Year's resolution, I'm sure there are others out there holding strong. (Here's to you, #newyearnewyou Instagrammers.) One of my intentions for the new year? You guessed it: to eat less meat in 2018. 

While it's true there are nights I think, "It'd be so easy to just brown up some ground meat and make these people tacos," I've realized that not eating meat really isn't that hard. You simply need a plan — not a whole lot more pasta in the pantry.  

Soup is a no-brainer this time of year. It's warm. It's comforting. It's easy. Ellie Krieger's Tuscan Vegetable Soup is all those things and more. Filled with carrots, celery, zucchini, spinach and cannellini beans, it's a filling vitamin- and protein-packed main. Serve it with a nice, crusty bread for sopping up any leftover broth. (Don't forget to use vegetable broth instead of the chicken variety.)

Food Network Kitchen’s Nut Meat Tacos with Pickled Red Onions.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

Now, about those tacos. These meatless beauties are made with walnuts and slivered almonds instead of ground meat. Simply pulse the nuts in a food processor with sun-dried tomatoes, seasonings and a touch of red wine vinegar until you have a mixture that resembles ground beef (in texture and color). Chili powder, paprika and cumin deliver all the traditional taco flavor you crave.

Food Network Kitchen’s LentilMushroom Meatballs.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©© 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, © 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Meatballs are a staple in our house. You can serve them solo, as sliders, over pasta, on toothpicks — the options are innumerable. But they're, obviously, usually made with meat! Lentil-Mushroom Meatballs are packed with ingredients that make them taste meaty, but because lentils contain tons of protein and fiber, you'll easily fill up without ever missing the meat.

Weeknights often require quick and easy meals. It takes 35 minutes to make Curried Potatoes and Chickpeas, and you probably have all the necessary ingredients on hand. The butter potato-chickpea mixture is hearty enough on its own, simply topped with a limey yogurt sauce. But it'd also be great over rice or with protein-packed peas.

FNK_WEEKNIGHT_TWO_BEAN_CHILI_H_.jpg

FNK_WEEKNIGHT_TWO_BEAN_CHILI_H_.jpg

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Another super-quick option is Weeknight Two-Bean Chili. It tastes like it simmered for hours on the stove, but it comes together in only a half-hour. Set up a chili bar with brown rice, shredded Cheddar and any other pairings your family members enjoy. Some nights you need only chili and a corn muffin to please a whole crew (trust me).

Rachael Ray's Quinoa Stuffed Peppers As seen on Food Network

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Stephen Johnson, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Quinoa is a complete protein, which means it's a must-have for anyone going meat-free. It provides more protein than any other grain, and its mild flavor pairs well with just about anything. Rachael Ray's Quinoa and Vegetable Stuffed Peppers are flavored with garlic, mint and parsley. Fill the beautifully roasted peppers with the hearty quinoa-eggplant-zucchini mixture, then top with lots of salty feta or ricotta salata for an easy all-in-one meal.

FN_FN Kitchens Vegan Sloppy Joes.tif

FN_FN Kitchens Vegan Sloppy Joes.tif

FN_FN Kitchens Vegan Sloppy Joes.tif

©2012, Television Food NEtwork, G.P. All Rights Reserved

2012, Television Food NEtwork, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Mushrooms are a great stand-in for meat in many dishes, especially Spicy Sloppy Joes. Finely chopped cremini mushrooms, cooked with sauteed onions and the usual ketchup and tomato paste, help these sandwiches taste and look like the real thing. And just as you do with the classic, you'll need extra napkins with these!

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