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Can you help us eat less meat?

(57 Posts)
ilovetosleep Thu 03-Dec-15 20:05:59

We are DH and I, Ds1 who is 4 and Ds2 is 18mo. I think we have a really good repertiore of meals and the kids are great eaters (the 4 year old less so but thats a very recent thing. His appetite just isn't huge and he is a little distrustful of new things) I really want to eat less meat for numerous reasons.

The problem I have with cutting back meat is that DS2 and I are dairy and egg and gluten free, so protein is a real issue. I really want to continue cooking one meal for the whole family rather than separate dishes.

At the moment our meals consist of (all homemade):

Spag bol
Lamb or chicken tagine
Roast dinners
Shep pie
casseroles and stews
Various chicken tray bakes
Sausage and mash
sausage casserole
various pastas eg tomato veg & bacon, pesto etc
Teryaki salmon
Prawn stirfry

etc. That sort of thing anyway.

Lunches we always have soup or bits and pieces - cold meat, avocado, salad, crackers, etc etc.

I have managed to get away with lentil curry, I've been making that for years and they love it. I tried subbing lamb mince for puy lentils in a shepherds pie and the 4yr old didn't like the 'seeds' (they were a bit al dente but I know he was a bit suspicious of the whole thing). Other than that, any vegetarian adaptations of the above meals lack any sort of protein. We can't afford to eat fish every day.

Any ideas?
Thanks in advance!

lljkk Thu 03-Dec-15 20:16:47

More veg & less meat in what you do make.
Not sure how much protein you think you need. Vegans manage, anyway.

Onykahonie Thu 03-Dec-15 20:19:36

As you're dairy, egg and gluten free, it would be worth looking at some vegan blogs for ideas.

Most of the dishes you like are easy to veganise. You need to add more herbs and spices than you would add to meat-based dishes though.

For spag bol I add chopped veg (peppers, courgette,mushrooms and some dried red lentils to the tomato sauce.) I make a chickpea and veg tagine; swap meat for veggie sausages if you can find gluten free ones; use chickpeas and veg in your curries, or make various dhals with different pulses. I also cook different beany stews and casseroles.
Some Quorn products are now vegan (they used to contain egg),some of which I assume are gluten free and would add extra protein.

lastqueenofscotland Thu 03-Dec-15 22:31:11

Bean burgers are super easy to make and lots of protein.
Veggie stir fries
Chickpea curry
Vegetable paella
Bean stews (could have with a few chopped sausages might help them go further)
Making bolognese with red lentils
Vegetable byriani

ilovetosleep Thu 03-Dec-15 22:45:25

Like the sound of lentil bolognaise, not sure why I haven't thought of that. And bean burgers. We do dhal but chick pea curry is good too. Dh and I eat veggie stir fries and paella etc but I'm sort of in this mindset that the kids need lots of protein esp DS2 who doesn't have much in the way of milk - at least DS1 can have milk and him and DH can add cheese to pasta and risotto etc which is obviously fine.

Maybe I'm totally overestimating how much protein small children need. I'm not so worried about me. Obviously vegans do manage but would my kids like a totally vegan diet - I think to be healthy and vegan a huge amount of beans and pulses would be consumed surely? And DS1 is suspicious of 'seeds'! Although that could be a passing fad as he does like chickpeas in tagine and kidney beans in chilli. Oh and that is another obvious one that has slipped my mind - bean chilli. Exactly the same as my own recipe (kidney and black beans) but without the need. Doh.
I think an entirely bean based dish like a bean stew might not be such a hit but my mum makes an awesome one so I might nab her recipe.

Thanks everyone for reminding me of things I should have been able to think of myself....

YogaPants Thu 03-Dec-15 23:05:44

If your goal is to eat less meat rather than completely cut out meat you can do it by cutting back on meat in what you currently make and serving more veg side dishes.


Make shepherd's pie with half the mince you normally use and bulk it out with extra carrots, peas and onions, then serve with steamed veg.

Make your normal chicken curry and a lentil curry. Serve half of both together and freeze the other halves for another meal when you don't feel like cooking.

Use nuts and avocados to make salads more interesting and serve along side a veggie pasta or tomato-based pasta sauce made with only a little bacon or anchovies.

4merlyknownasSHD Fri 04-Dec-15 09:54:37


PhoenixReisling Fri 04-Dec-15 14:41:52

Use Quorn mince instead of meat.

Pad dishes out with lentils/beans/vegatbles so you use less meat (or that the dish can be frozen in portions for other meals)

RatherBeRiding Fri 04-Dec-15 15:28:12

Quorn all the way. I use the mince in curries, spag bol, Shepherds pie, chilli. I also use the chicken-style pieces in curries and stir-fries and fajitas, casseroles etc. Red lentils aren't as chewy as the green lentils - if DCs don't like the texture of the green lentils might be worth trying the red ones?

ilovetosleep Fri 04-Dec-15 15:49:26

I don't really like the idea of quorn, it seems so fake and manufactured, and I don't really like the texture or taste either. No reason for that really...

PitPatKitKat Fri 04-Dec-15 16:02:03


Dairy, egg and gluten free here also, plus of low fodmap so beans/pulses are out too and have to say no to some kinds of nuts too, so have found some things that have allowed to reduce fish/meat intake, mostly by finding higher protein carbs/vegetables than finding something to swap in as a protein

Dove's Farm Brown Rice pasta- nearly 8g protein per 100g
Quinoa, again quite high protein for a carb
Peas about 5g of protein per 100g, so rice and peas as a side dish makes abig difference to overall meal
Sweetcorn about 3.5g per 100g
list of high protein vegetables here

Did you know that combining lentils with rice makes that meal a complete protein source? So maybe that's why your children like lentils with rice but not shepherd's pie with lentils, so maybe stick to combining pulses with rice (3 bean chilli with sweetcorn and rice for example, lentil curry with rice etc).

If you can have nuts, then a veggie stirfry with a homemade satay sauce or cashew nuts added can have a fair amount of protein.

By the way Tesco now do gluten/dairy/egg free ice cream cones now that are coconut based and lovely. Really off topic and you might know about them already but I tried them yesterday and it made my week!

PitPatKitKat Fri 04-Dec-15 16:22:54

Oh just remembered oatmeal, so porridge made with e.g. quinoa milk. And homemade popcorn is fairly high in portien for that kind of thing.

glacierchick Fri 04-Dec-15 16:56:23

Quorn uses egg as a binding agent so it's not vegan.
Tofu is brilliant, I cook it quite a lot, just make sure to press out the water and dry it as much as possible before you fry it, otherwise it tends to go squishy.

fabulousathome Fri 04-Dec-15 17:48:07

You seem to have hardly any fish. Fish is good protein so what about fish pie or cod, topped with lemon and pesto, in a foil parcel in the oven?

fabulousathome Fri 04-Dec-15 17:49:08

Whoops, pesto has dairy so that's no good. You could use another sauce to top the fish.

cruikshank Fri 04-Dec-15 17:59:46

I used to cook really very differently to now when I was a veggie. It's not just about replacing meat with something, iyswim - it's a different approach to food entirely. One recipe book that I went to again and again (and still use now) is Madhur Jaffrey's Eastern Vegetarian cooking - you can get it cheaply enough second-hand. There are lots of lovely ideas for lentils, other pulses and so on, a lot of them far more simple than you might think, and a fair few vegan recipes too and it encompasses recipes from all over the East (where meat-free eating has a long and noble tradition) including Japan and the Philippines.

AnotherEmma Fri 04-Dec-15 18:05:13

BBC Good Food has dairy- and gluten-free categories in their healthy recipes section.
There are some tasty meals with quinoa. You could also have stir fries with vegetables, tofu and rice noodles or wheat free soba noodles.
Lastly buckwheat flour is gluten free (it doesn't actually contain wheat) and buckwheat pancakes are delicious.

AnotherEmma Fri 04-Dec-15 18:10:12

You could also do veggie spag bol with gluten-free pasta. This recipe is so delicious that I think I prefer it to beef bolognese!

HopefulHamster Fri 04-Dec-15 18:12:32

I made a dairy-free fish pie last night that was all right, did the sauce for the fish with vitalite, flour, oat milk, herbs.

I agree with bulking out the meals that do have meat, especially things like spag bol.

Following for ideas as we are dairy/egg/most soy (not flour or lecithin) free and I am HUNGRY!

LauraMipsum Fri 04-Dec-15 20:33:24

1 omnivore, 1 veggie and a pescatarian baby here.

We do use quorn mince, and quorn "chicken" pieces which are really good. Other than that

Thai green curry using onion, peppers, quorn chicken OR braised tofu, butter beans and cashew nuts

Veg tagine

Nut roast - Delia has an AMAZING one which I'm doing at xmas this year but there are simpler ones too.

Bean chilli

Saag aloo, saag "paneer" using tofu instead of paneer, dhal, Bombay potatoes, samosas, pretty much any Indian recipe can be vegan-ised.

Fish pie

Stir fry

Pad Thai (okay, this is the most bastardised Anglicised pad thai there is, but noodles, strips of pepper and carrot, tofu, whip in an egg and serve with crushed roast peanuts and a wedge of lime)

There are some really good vegan recipes by Rose Elliott, I think they're online as well as in her recipe books.

BugritAndTidyup Fri 04-Dec-15 20:44:09

I really like the cookery book Less Meat More Veg, which is based around the idea of massively reducing the amount of meat in a recipe, but keeping at a level high enough to satisfy protein requirements, and replacing it with veg.

IonaNE Fri 04-Dec-15 21:47:28

I went vegetarian about 10 weeks ago for the umpteenth time in my life. Previously I had never lasted long and after about 2 weeks I found myself wanting to eat eggs with eggs, and lots of cheese, I was craving protein so much. Then a friend told me that the point was that essential amino acids can only be combined from plants (as opposed to being all there in meat) but that you can live forever on rice and beans. I started eating rice and beans together (Uncle Bens wholegrain microwave rice and tinned red kidney beans or mixed bean salad) and I am not missing meat or animal protein at all.

Uncle Bens whole grain rice, mixed with some raw-cut peppers, string beans, mange-tout etc, and tinned beans, put some thai curry sauce on top, microwave the mixture for 4 mins and ready. Yum. smile

ImogenTubbs Sat 05-Dec-15 07:30:45

I would do most of those meals with chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans or quorn mince - as suggested above.

And don't forget that rice and quinoa are both good sources of protein (and gluten free, I think...?)

(long-time extremely healthy veggie here)

ppeatfruit Sat 05-Dec-15 08:24:19

Yes Imogen But whole org rice is the best for health. Cooked really well it's delicious with cannelloni beans and fried garlic and nions (i don't fry hard though).

Ilovetosleep Tamari sauce (which is wheat\sugar free soya sauce) is packed with protein and gives a lovely flavour to the meal. You can have it cold with chopped avocado, celery etc. too.

ppeatfruit Sat 05-Dec-15 08:25:27

Annoying spell checker can't spell cannellini !!!!

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