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5 Healthy Plant-Based Dinner Recipes

Okay, we’re trying to eat better and take baby steps towards more healthy living. We’re also trying to be better stewards of the planet and care for the world we’ve been given to live in.

Plant-based dinners are important for so many reasons, but those are just a few. My family’s been eating largely plant-based for 14 years now (we used to just call it “meatless meals”), and it’s been a huge part of our budget-friendly healthy journey.

We still eat meat and love a good burger, but we also see the value in eating lots of plants.

Here are 5 plant-based dinner recipes you can try that take 20 minutes to prepare. They’re perfect for busy nights when you forgot to thaw any meat, or quick meals to help you go meatless (or mostly meatless).

And don’t worry – if there’s a carnivore in your family who doesn’t consider it a meal unless it has meat, you can totally add some to these meals.

5 Plant-Based Dinner Recipes

Mediterranean salad ingredients

Obviously, the focus for each of these meals is the PLANTS. Meat and dairy play a minimal role if they are there at all.

For plant-based meals, since you aren’t relying on meat and dairy products, which are comforting and delicious, I like to focus on a few things to help make the plants extra delicious.

We’ve all tried eating a dry, lifeless salad or a bowl of rice and beans that were just ho-hum. Here are a few tips to help you make your plant-based meals come alive:

Pay attention to the “tang,” or the balance of acid and salt.

If your soup or salad tastes drab or lifeless, add a splash of lemon juice or a sprinkle of salt. These dishes I’m going to share with you automatically do that.

They’re our favorite, family-friendly plant-based dishes because they taste great without the help of lots of meat or cheese.


We don’t want to eat a bowl of mush. Pay attention to the different textures in your bowl.

Is there some crunch? Something soft?

Think of a hamburger or a good sandwich. They have the crunch of lettuce, gooey cheese, and soft bread. Different shapes and textures help make a dish more pleasing and delicious.

Healthy vegetarian salad

Obviously, some of us have texture-sensitive kiddos (or ourselves) who don’t want any textures to touch. If that’s the case, apply some of Katie’s picky eating strategies to help empower your kids. Lay everything out like a buffet and have everyone fix their own plate.

You might be surprised what everyone will try!

Protein, Carbs, & Fat

While plant-based dinner recipes might make us think of salads, if I’m making a meal of it, I serve plenty of protein and carbs for a balanced meal for the whole family. This fills us up and makes us all feel more satisfied.

The carbs (quinoa, beans, rice) satisfy us quickly, and the fats and protein (beans, eggs, avocado, olive oil, olives, broth, cheese if you use any) keep us full until the next meal.

Healthy 20-Minute Dinners

YouTube video

Because we’re all looking for simple ways to keep our family fed and healthy, I’m sharing 5 of my favorite 20-minute plant-based dinners. You can prepare parts of them ahead of time to speed up dinner prep, but for the most part, you’ll get them on the table in about 20 minutes.

These dinners are loaded with vegetables and don’t have any weird ingredients. You can find everything at your local grocery store.

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Mediterranean Quinoa Salad Recipe

Mediterranean salad

Think pasta salad meets greek salad.

We take quinoa (or even pasta works great here if that’s all you have), and load it with all the greek salad veggies: cucumbers, tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese, parsley, and greek salad dressing.

The ingredients here are flexible. In the video, I’ll show you what I used. I love that flavor combination, but I’ve made this lots of different ways (just sticking to a general Mediterranean theme), and it’s always delicious.

Get the full recipe here!

Meatless Meal Salad Recipe

healthy salad with protein and fat

This is a great family-friendly recipe. Simply lay out all of your favorite salad ingredients and dressings, and let everyone top them as they see fit.

Make sure you include some good fat and protein options (chickpeas, avocados, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and olives are our favorites) and their favorite dressings. A salad buffet is an easy, plant-forward 20-minute dinner.

Our Favorite Salad Ingredients:

We like to serve this salad with easy sourdough flatbread or baked potatoes.

Get the full recipe here!

Fried Rice Recipe

bowl of fried rice

This classic budget-friendly meal is the perfect plant-based dinner recipe. You can load it up with whatever vegetables you have (onion with frozen stir-fry or a mix of California mixed vegetables, green beans, and peas), use leftover rice (or make a fresh batch – won’t take long!), some eggs, and a little soy sauce.

Delicious and comforting.

Get Katie’s recipe here!

Instant Pot Vegetable Soup Recipe

Instant Pot vegetable soup

This easy Instant Pot meal is loaded with veggies and flexible so you can use whatever you have in the fridge or the freezer. I even show you some tips to make sure it’s super flavorful and delicious. It’s the perfect plant-based 20-minute dinner.

Get my Instant Pot Vegetable Soup Recipe here!

Lentil Turmeric Soup Recipe

IP turmeric lentil soup

Here’s another soup recipe we love that’s loaded with vegetables. The bulk of the recipe comes from lentils, one of my favorite legumes. We eat these even more than we eat beans! They’re easy to cook, easier to digest than beans, and so delicious. It’s my kids’ favorite soup.

Dry lentils take about 20 minutes to cook, but you can use canned or pre-cooked lentils, and set the Instant Pot to cook for only 3 minutes!

Get the Lentil Turmeric Soup recipe here!

Enjoy These Family-Friendly 20-Minute Dinners

The best part of these 20-minute dinners is that you can make them family-friendly! Every family is different, and every kid has different tastes. But you can adapt these plant-based dinners to your favorite ingredients and lean on the ones that fit your budget.

We’re all trying to eat more plants and stick to our budget. These 5 plant-based dinner ideas are some of my favorite ways to do just that.

Share these plant-based dinner ideas with your budget-conscious friends!

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

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