11 Plant-Based, High-Protein Meal Ideas for the Whole Family
The one thing you’ll notice when you begin your search for high-protein meal ideas is that most of them are meat-based.
That’s all well and good if you’re into meat, poultry, or fish. But if you prefer your protein without animal products, we’ve got great news: There are plenty of plant-based foods that pack a protein punch.
Get ready to find crave-worthy recipes that will make healthy meal planning easier, especially on those busy weeknights. (Can we get an amen, parents?) But before we share some high-protein meal ideas, let’s clear up a few things about protein.
So … Where Do You Get Your Protein?
If you’re rolling your eyes right now, we feel you. “Where do you get your protein?” is a question most people who follow a vegetarian or strictly plant-based diet get asked regularly, followed closely by another favorite question:
Do you get enough protein?
While it’s true that animal products like chicken breast and ground beef are high in protein, it’s a myth that you can’t get enough protein from plant-based sources. The more obvious plant-based sources like legumes (lentils, black beans, chickpeas), tofu (and other soy products), pea protein, hemp seeds, and quinoa are totally protein-packed.
Soybeans have more than 28 grams of protein per cup, lentils have about 18 grams of protein per cup, and black beans boast about 15 grams of protein per cup! There are also many other veggies and meat-free substitutes that contain an impressive amount of protein per serving. Keep reading for some more inspiration!
Bonus tip: For a complete breakdown of meat-free nutrition values, don’t miss our guide to plant-based meat alternatives and their protein content.
High-Protein Recipes with Nowadays Nuggets
Here at Nowadays, our goal has always been to create the most nutritious plant-based nugget that could stand up to the taste and texture of its animal-based chicken nugget counterpart.
With only 7 simple ingredients, the star protein powerhouse in our recipe is pea protein. This high-protein source is made with organic, non-GMO yellow peas grown by U.S. farmers. Each serving of nuggets packs a whopping 13 grams of protein, so it won’t take long to reach your daily protein goals.
When you’re looking for some fun high-protein breakfast, lunch, or dinner ideas, consider spicing up some Nowadays nuggets and turning them into an even greater masterpiece with these recipes.
Chicken Teriyaki Comforta-Bowl
What the cluck?! A fun take on a healthy weeknight stir-fry recipe, this comforting “chicken” bowl packs an even higher protein punch with added miso, peanut butter, and sesame seeds. Don’t be surprised if this becomes one of your favorite high-protein dinners for the family.
Nugget Pot Pie
Chicken pot pie is one of those quintessential comfort foods. But just because you’re not eating real chicken — or cream, for that matter — doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this old-time classic. With cashews as the base for the creamy sauce and our nuggets in place of chicken breast, you’ll wonder how on Earth this pot pie recipe could possibly be plant-based.
Easy Corn and Cheese Fritters
Savory, cheesy, and oh-so-delicious, you’d never know these cheesy fritters are totally dairy-free. You can keep things traditional by frying them up or opt for a healthier twist by baking them in the oven. Either way, you’ll have crispy, fluffy, high-protein perfection.
Crispy Tacos with Pico De Gallo
The great thing about tacos is that it’s incredibly easy to make them plant-based. You can saute any veggies you have on hand — zucchini, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms are always a good idea. But this high-protein recipe kicks things up a notch by using Nowadays nuggets as the main player. Simply fill crispy corn tortillas with a yummy mix of sliced nuggets, shredded cabbage, cilantro, lime juice, and pico de gallo for a taco-tastic weeknight meal.
Chicken & Waffles
When you’re feeling extra fancy — or simply feeling like breakfast for dinner — you can’t go wrong with this easy recipe for chicken and waffles. Get ready for a protein-packed meal that’s sweet, savory, and seriously scrumptious.
More High-Protein Recipes
When it comes to meal prep, dinner recipes are probably the most important. It’s easy enough to throw some protein powder, nut butter, and greens into a blender and make a smoothie (or turn it up a notch with our chicken and waffle recipes). But planning nutritious high-protein dinners is probably where you’ll get the most bang for your buck.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite one-pan, one-pot, slow cooker recipes that your entire family will love.
Ina Garten’s Vegetable Lentil Soup
We love this lentil vegetable soup from The Barefoot Contessa herself. It’s a one-pot wonder that can yield enough servings to feed a large family for a few days. It freezes well too, so feel free to double the batch and save some for the next busy weeknight when you don’t have any time to make something fresh. Just swap out the chicken stock for veggie stock, and the parmesan for plant-based cheese to make it completely vegan.
Bonus tip: Check out our guide to the best vegan cheese and other plant-based food brands for tasty ways to update your pantry.
Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili
Whoever invented the crockpot should be given a medal of freedom. OK, maybe not quite but … no … actually … yes. Why? Because that person has effectively saved parents and families time and time again. This meal idea for sweet potato black bean chili takes the wonders of a slow cooker and builds on the nutritious, high-protein content of black beans and sweet potatoes to make a wonderful meal any night of the week.
Mung Bean and Coconut Curry
The wonderful thing about curry is that there are so many variations. You can alter the flavor based on the kind of curry powder or paste you use, and you can throw in virtually any kind of protein you want: tofu, seitan, vegetables, beans, and even Nowadays nuggets! This warm and spicy vegan curry uses mung bean as a delicious source of protein. It’s creamy and savory and another one-pot wonder your entire fam will love.
Vegan Lasagna Bolognese
In the absence of ground beef or meatballs, walnuts make for a fantastic substitute. This meat-free bolognese is filling, hearty, and sure to be a palate pleaser. You can amp up the protein content (and avoid nuts) with some simple swaps like using shelled hemp seeds or pumpkin seeds for the sauce.
Cheesy Mexican Quinoa
This cheesy recipe isn’t just vegan, but it’s also a one-pan meal. With high-protein plant sources like chickpeas, black beans, and quinoa, this gluten-free (and low-calorie) recipe is sure to be a crowd favorite.
We couldn’t resist adding a recipe for protein pancakes into the mix because, well, pancakes! Also, sometimes (especially if you’re trying to be a really cool parent), you have pancakes for dinner. To increase the amount of protein per serving, top these flapjacks with a heaping serving of nut butter and hemp seeds.
Let Them Eat … Protein!
No matter your reason for seeking out high-protein meal ideas, we hope you got what you were looking for today — and then some. As you can see, the options are endless for enjoying a plant-based, high-protein diet.Use this article as inspiration to dive deeper into the world of plant-based protein, and if you feel inspired to add some Nowadays nuggets to your recipes to level up the protein content, you can order yours now. Bon appetit!