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21 Easy Dairy Free Meals For Your First Month

I made this list of easy dairy free meals to make your transition to a dairy free diet easier. These meals are food you can eat while you figure out a dairy free menu that works for your family. 

Many of these meals are considered comfort food or unhealthy, but in those first weeks and months, getting by is sometimes the best we can do, and that’s okay. 

This list of meals doesn’t contain non-dairy replacements. Most of the replacements we tried when we first started out tasted bad to us. Once you’ve been away from the taste of dairy for a while, replacement cheeses start tasting better.

Some of the recipes in this list will be obvious, but the list expands as it goes on. Over time, you’ll learn new recipes that are more delicious, healthier, and more suitable to your dietary needs and preferences. 

If gathering a new set of meals sounds overwhelming, here is a starting point.

Dairy free articles like 20 Easy Dairy Free Meals For Your First Month: 15 Dairy Free Snacks to Get You Through The First Month, and How To Eliminate Dairy From Your Diet: A Practical Guide.

1. Easy Dairy Free Tacos Or Taco Soup

Easy-Dairy-Free-Tacos-Or-Taco-Soup

Tacos are an easy dairy free meal, but they take a little creativity to add to the dish. They can be as easy as seasoning your taco meat and tossing in your favorite taco ingredients (sans dairy), then crunching chips or filling up your favorite taco shell. Or it can be as complex as Tostadas Supremo made with oven-toasted tortillas.

Adding some rice and refried beans is a great way to add filler. If you’re looking for a new recipe, try our easy Instant Pot Taco Recipe which makes tacos that are full of good ingredients and delicious even without cheese.

This easy recipe can be made with an instant pot or on the stove and can be used as a dip with tortilla chips. I promise it’s actually easy.

Another version of the same thing is taco soup. We were skeptical of taco soup, but ended up loving it. It’s the same as the above recipe, with chicken broth added. 

It wasn’t very salty and wasn’t spicy, so corn chips complemented it well. Spicy options are also available in the recipe page.

2. Wraps, Bowls, and Sandwiches

wraps-bowls-and-sandwiches

Lunch meat sandwiches get old fast if overused, but by getting creative, you can accomplish a lot with wraps and sandwiches for dairy free lunches. With lunch meat, all the fixins, chicken salad, bacon, and more. 

Check out Easy Dairy Free Wraps and Bowls for a comprehensive list of prompted ingredients to get creative with dairy free lunches. 

It’s a great place to start and contains both ingredients and a few starter wrap combinations.

3. Spaghetti 

spaghetti

Spaghetti was the first staple dairy free recipe on our list. We kept frozen beef from the butcher and could easily make it on demand.

Base Recipe: Brown 1lb of ground beef or turkey, once it’s cooked add 1 can of spaghetti sauce. Serve with spaghetti noodles cooked according to the package, with spaghetti squash, or bake in zucchini boats.

Frozen meatballs are an easy alternative that you can keep stocked for any time. We like FarmRich brand and originally chose them based on good reviews. 

To replace some of the nutrients lost when cutting dairy, try replacing the pasta with spaghetti squash. Or add zucchini or sauteed bell peppers to the sauce to add a boost of potassium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B6.

For an easy, similar alternative, add goulash to your rotation.

4. Green Beans, Potatoes, & Ham

green-beans-potatoes-and-ham

Base Recipe: Green beans, potatoes, and ham is made with 1 can or 1 and ½ cups of green beans, 2 diced potatoes, ¾ cup diced ham (or desired amount), and 2 cups of chicken broth. Diced onion optional yet adds a lot of flavor. Bring the broth to a boil and add the potatoes. Once the potatoes are soft, add all other ingredients and cook on low for at least 15 minutes so flavors meld.

This recipe is one of my favorite easy dairy free meals because it’s an easy throw-together recipe that gets better as leftovers, and gets exponentially better with better ingredients. 

It’s a great meal with a can of green beans and some lunch meat ham if that’s what you have on hand. It’s a meal to be savored when made from fresh green beans and frozen leftover ham from the holidays. 

For more flavor, try making it with Seasoned Southern Style Green Beans. In this case, southern style doesn’t mean spicy, but the flavor in these improves the recipe tenfold.

5. Sloppy Joes

sloppy-joes

Sloppy Joe base recipe: brown hamburger, add mustard, ketchup, and bbq sauce to taste (start with about 1 tbsp each). Eat on buns or “baked” potatoes. Find the Sloppy Joe recipe card with alternative ingredients on our blog.

While Manwich is always an option, why pay an extra $2.50 when you already have what you need in the refrigerator to flavor a delicious sloppy joe? It’s the definition of a high protein dairy free meal that will keep you full.

Make “baked” potatoes in the microwave by rinsing, poking shallow holes with a fork, and microwave for 5-7 minutes depending on the size of the potato, add more time for more potatoes.  

For more than 3 potatoes, consider steaming them in the instant pot or on the stove.

6. Sheet Pan Meals

sheet-pan-meals

Most combinations of vegetables can be roasted, both fresh or frozen. Cover in olive oil, season to taste, and toss on a sheet pan at 400 degrees. If your vegetables aren’t coming out right, try increasing the temperature to 425 degrees. Often requires two sheet pans.

To make a sheet pan meal, pick a protein, then choose your vegetables, and coat with oil and seasonings. Seasonings can be as simple as salt and pepper or seasoned salt, or a blend of herbs and spices.

The best proteins to keep this easy is smoked sausage, shrimp, and frozen pre-cooked chicken. Follow a recipe closely for any uncooked meat or seafood.

The number of vegetables that taste delicious when roasted are vast. I had no idea how easy this would be, and I wish I’d found it sooner. 

Anything from root vegetables to freezer vegetables, some fruits, and frozen chicken or smoked sausage. We now plan to have it once a week and sometimes comes entirely from the freezer. 

Roasted vegetables can be a meal or a side. I usually make rice or pasta to go with it. I’ve started making rice in the instant pot in as large of a batch as I can and freezing the leftover rice in blocks. We also add these to meal prepped lunches.

If you’re planning on making chicken and vegetables, it is still as easy as one pan (technically two pans because of volume). This recipe is a great starter recipe for an easy dairy free sheet pan chicken and vegetables, and the seasonings can easily be switched out.

For a reference of all of the different things you can do with a sheet pan meal, check out this list of 25 variations  on this dish.

7. Smoked Sausage and Potatoes

smoked-sausage-and-potatoes

Base Recipe: Slice potatoes into thin slices, approx. ¼-inches. No need to dice. Heat over the stove in your favorite cooking oil until almost soft, then add diced smoked sausage. Heat and brown. Remove when potatoes are soft and some are browned on at least one side. Makes approximately 4 servings.

Obviously, we’re going for convenience over health rating here. With 2 main ingredients plus oil, this one is hard to beat. 

It’s a light meal so if your family will want more, you may want to add an additional side, rolls, or dessert with this one. Or make it a movie night and hit the couch with some popcorn a couple of hours after. 

8. Baked, Grilled, Air Fried, and Smoked Chicken

smoked-sausage-and-potatoes

Chicken is a high protein dairy free main course that is relatively affordable. It’s versatile, too.

However, the easiest way to make delicious chicken is to marinate it first. Our household favorite marinade so far is Caribbean Jerk Marinade

There are many kinds of marinade, from garlic and herb to teriyaki. You can even marinate chicken in leftover dill pickle juice, which will flavor it similar to Chick-fil-A chicken. 

Here are the easiest chicken recipes available to get you started.

  1. Baked chicken thighs recipe
  2. Baked chicken breast recipe
  3. Easy air fryer chicken wings recipe
  4. Fried chicken recipe
  5. Easy grilled recipe (marinated) – recipe with DIY marinade or skip to grilling
  6. How to smoke a whole chicken

9. Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings

instant-pot-chicken-and-dumplings

This recipe is an easy throw together dairy free meal that just upped our chicken soup game. It’s an easy dairy free meal that’s ready in just a few steps.

Base Recipe: Add 4-6 cups of chicken broth to your instant pot, desired canned or frozen vegetables, and raw chicken breast or thighs. Cook on high pressure for 12 minutes. Cut up a pack of dairy free biscuits (like the Pillsbury biscuits) into bite-sized squares and when the instant pot has finished the first round of cooking, add the biscuits and cook for 5 minutes. 

Most recipes recommend sauteeing the chicken and some onions, but we consider this step optional. To make this recipe with frozen chicken, add 4 minutes to the pressure cook time.

If you don’t cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces before cooking it, that’s okay. It can be cut up as you serve it. It will be hot, so be careful, but it should also be fork-tender and easy to cut as you eat. 

Here is a similar recipe with the chicken cut into bite-sized pieces. Ignore the cream of chicken soup bit.

Each brand or flavor of biscuits may have a different ingredient list, so pay close attention to the label when purchasing. 

For frozen vegetables, we used frozen corn, green beans, carrots, and peas. I’m looking forward to trying it with onion and celery in combination with the other vegetables. We also added a dry bay leaf.

10. Chili

chili

Base recipe: Brown 1 lb of ground beef. Add 1 can of diced tomatoes and 2 cans of chili starter OR 2 cans of plain kidney beans with 1 packet of chili seasoning. 

Make chili to eat as a soup, or to make chili dogs. I prefer to use a can of chili starter, but my husband enjoys cooking chili from scratch. Freeze the leftovers for an easy meal when you don’t feel like cooking.

Soup is a surprisingly versatile way to make dairy free meals. From beef stew to classic chicken and noodles, the possibilities for a delicious throw-together meal are virtually endless.

Soups are also a great way to use up any frozen precooked meat.

11. Teriyaki Cauliflower and Frozen Grilled Chicken

teriyaki-cauliflower-and-frozen-grilled-chicken

Base Recipe: cut a head of cauliflower into thin strips of about 1 inch or less, as if making cauliflower steaks. It gets messy, but the flat sides will be easy to cook and coat with flavor. You can leave the middle cauliflower steaks large or cut them up. 

Cook the cauliflower one layer at a time in a skillet with up to a teaspoon of olive oil and desired amount of teriyaki sauce. As it cooks, the teriyaki will thicken. Cook the small pieces first, and sample as it cooks so you can add teriyaki to taste. 

Our favorite version was made alongside a chopped red onion, and leftover chicken reheated in the pan after the cauliflower. Salt and pepper to taste.

Finding a good teriyaki sauce is a tricky feat. If there’s one you already like, then use it as directed. I’ve found that teriyaki marinade can also be used for cooking cauliflower.

12. Ham and Bean Soup

ham-and-bean-soup

Base recipe: 1 can of great northern beans, undrained. ½-¾ cup of leftover ham. Heat over the stove on medium until flavors combined. Makes 2-3 servings.

Optional ingredients: ½ onion (doesn’t need to be sauteed) or onion powder, garlic or garlic powder, diced carrot, diced celery, bay leaf, chicken broth for a thinner soup, crackers or biscuits on the side.

Not everyone in our household loves this, so I usually prep this as lunch. It’s one of those recipes that is better as leftovers once the ingredients meld together.

13. Potato Soup

potato-soup

Dairy free potato soup sounds like it would be either too boring or too complicated, but it is actually extremely simple. It’s also delicious both in the basic recipe or with the optional ingredients. 

Our 3-ingredient potato soup recipe breaks down potato soup to minimum effort and ingredients, then offers ideas for a few easy additions if you would like to rebuild the recipe into something your household would love. 

14. Chuck Roast – Instant Pot or Slow Cooker

chuck-roast-instant-pot-or-slow-cooker

We prefer Chuck Roast in the instant pot because it gets more tender and takes less time. We still cook it for at least an hour so it’s not a last-minute meal, unfortunately. 

Fortunately, though, most chuck roasts feed at least 4-6 servings. Especially when made with vegetables like potatoes and carrots. 

Base recipe: Place frozen chuck roast in instant pot, add 2 c water, packet of french onion soup mix (check label for dairy). Potatoes and onion are optional, but recommended. Pressure cook for 2-3 hours. 

Chuck roast is more versatile than it seems. As a cut of quality beef, it is extremely versatile.

15. Instant Pot Plov or Pilaf – Vegetable or Beef

instant-pot-plov-or-pilaf-vegetable-or-beef

Plov is an Uzbec dish and is a new favorite in our household. It makes an amazing throw-together instant pot dish and is convenient for using up vegetables on hand. 

Beef pilaf essentially seasons itself, but vegetable pilaf leaves a lot of room for your own spices and preferences. 

This dish makes a lot of food, so even though chuck roast is expensive, it’s going to last. It would make a great meal prep dish.

16. Chicken Salad Sandwiches Or Wraps

chicken-salad-sandwiches-or-wraps

Base recipe: add drained canned chicken to a container, shred, add 1 cup mayonnaise to start, 3 chopped green onion (just the stems), and 3 pieces of crispy bacon. Salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

What makes chicken salad sandwiches so easy is using canned chicken. The bacon can even be microwaved if it’s too much to fry it that day. 

Watch out for Hawaiian rolls, though. Unfortunately, all of them that I’ve seen lately contained dairy. I’ve had luck making Hawaiian bread with a bread machine, but I don’t always have the time to make it. 

Crescent rolls are a great alternative, just pay attention to the label when shopping; some Pillsberry crescent rolls are dairy free. The plus side is that once you find one you like, you’ll know what your staple is.

Chicken salad also makes great wraps.

17. Croissant Ring

croissant-ring

This is one of those weird things I thought only my mom made, but they were always looked forward to.

Base recipe: brown 1lb ground beef. Lay out crescent rolls flat on a sprayed cooking sheet (or a baking stone). Add beef and desired toppings (onions, pepperonis, green peppers, taco seasoning, etc.) onto the wide side of the crescent roll. Fold the pointed side over until it touches the wide point of the crescent dough. Follow the crescent roll package for baking instructions. Optional: Dip in salsa.

Croissant ring recipes are usually made with cheese, so when looking for ideas keep an open mind and remember that the croissant will bring a lot of flavor to the recipe. 

That being said, another reminder to check labels before purchasing prepackaged croissants.

18. Mushrooms and Asparagus with Pasta

mushroom-and-asparagus-with-pasta

Base recipe: Cook the pasta and save 1 ½ cups of the “broth.” While pasta is cooking, fry mushrooms and asparagus in margarine or olive oil. Optional: fry bacon. When almost done, add chopped garlic for 1 minute. Combine pasta, mushrooms, and asparagus and let simmer in the 1 ½ cups broth until cooked down to a creamy consistency. Salt and pepper to taste, and top with bacon bits.

This recipe is a family favorite. We’re always surprised at how good it is because it doesn’t sound like much on the surface. 

It’s nice, too, to make a dish with a creamy consistency that doesn’t have any dairy or dairy alternatives. 

19. BLT or Summer Tomato Sandwich

BLT-or-summer-tomato-sandwich

BLT is a staple. Especially if you have time to go the extra mile and toast the bread on the stove with margarine. Bacon, lettuce, and tomato are the base ingredients, but we always add mayonnaise. 

By summer, it could just be a tomato sandwich for gardeners. A tomato sandwich fresh from the garden with a little salt and mayonnaise is a surprising delight.

20. Chicken and Rice

chicken-and-rice

Oh, the many ways to make chicken and rice. 

Base recipe Mexican Chicken and Rice: cook chicken as desired or use frozen grilled chicken. Cook white or basmati rice. Buy fresh pico de gallo and salsa from the produce section. Combine all ingredients. Add avocado or guacamole for creamy texture.

Bonus recipe: Make a box of Zatarains Red Beans and Rice with sliced smoked sausage – recipe on box. 

Or make it homemade with this Mexican Rice recipe from All Recipes.

Fried Rice: make extra rice, and fry it the next day. You can make everything from chicken fried rice to pork fried rice, and more. Start with a simple recipe, and expand it.

21. IP Beef Ramen

IP-beef-ramen

This savory dish will come to the rescue when you’re craving Ramen. Since everyone’s go-to Maruchan Ramen pouches contain dairy in the pasta, replace it with a throw together instant pot version.

The only downside to homemade ramen is that most recipes use at least one uncommon ingredient for the broth. If you have any on hand, though, it’s a great way to enjoy the warmth of ramen without the dairy.

FAQs

What can someone with a dairy allergy eat for dinner?

-Spaghetti
-Pilaf
-Green Beans, Potatoes, and Ham
-Chili
-Sheet Pan Meals
-Soups and Stews: Ham and Bean, Beef Stew, Vegetable Stew, Potato Soup
-Chicken Salad Sandwiches
-BLTs
-Chicken and Rice
-Whole foods, nuts and seeds, produce, meat, beans and legumes

How do I transition to dairy-free?

Start your transition to eating dairy free by making a list of what you already eat on a regular basis that you know doesn’t contain dairy. Then start reading labels to add to your list and, if possible, take everything out of your kitchen that contains dairy. From there, build your list with easy meals and snacks that you can add to your meals menu.

Are tacos good without cheese?

Tacos can be great without cheese if you get creative with them. If you like all of the usual taco toppings, then eating them without cheese should still be delicious. If your tacos are looking bland, try adding rice, refried beans, salsa, guacamole, or browning your tortilla like you would a quesadilla once the taco is assembled. Try some pork wanton tacos made with coleslaw, and taco soup, then look up other variations on traditional tacos. It may take some creativity and getting used to, but tacos are a great meal to experiment with because they are versatile and the seasoning does some heavy lifting.

Conclusion for 21 Easy Dairy Free Meals for Your First Month

conclusion-for-21-easy-dairy-free-meals

We’ve covered a diverse range of 21 easy and delectable dairy-free meals that prove you don’t need dairy to enjoy dinner. Whether you’re dairy intolerant, vegan, or simply looking for new ways of eating, there’s something here for everyone.

Between this list of easy dairy free meals, and the meals you already make that are dairy free, you should have a good rotation to get through the first month of dairy free eating.

Cooking is often a chore, but it can be easy and even fun. Easy dairy free meals can also be delicious, and these recipes make it just that.

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