Planning Quick and Easy Dairy-Free Menus

By Suzanne Havala Hobbs

Part of Living Dairy-Free For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Planning your meals ahead of time can help make the transition to a dairy-free lifestyle that much easier. When you plan your menus, look for ways to add dairy-free variations in flavor, texture, color, and food temperature (hot and cold) to each meal. Variety adds interest and helps to ensure that your meals include a range of valuable nutrients.

The samples in the following list vary in calorie content, but they’re all low to moderate in calories. Mix and match these simple meal ideas to create your own healthful dairy-free menus:

  • Menu ideas for Day 1:

    • Breakfast: Two whole-grain waffles with pure maple syrup, a scoop of vanilla soy yogurt, and a handful of sliced strawberries

    • Lunch: A small green salad with vinaigrette dressing, a slice of quiche, and a small whole-grain roll with trans-fat-free, dairy-free margarine

    • Dinner: A small green salad with vinaigrette dressing, vegetable lasagna, a thick slice of Italian bread with garlic spread, and a small dish of nondairy ice cream

  • Menu ideas for Day 2:

    • Breakfast: Shredded Wheat with rice milk (plain or vanilla-flavored), two slices of whole-grain toast with trans-fat-free, dairy-free margarine and jelly, and a small glass of orange juice

    • Lunch: A bowl of potato and leek soup, several carrot and bell pepper sticks with hummus dip, and several whole-grain crackers

    • Dinner: A cup of soup, plate of whole-wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce and nondairy Parmesan cheese, a slice of whole-grain bread with trans-fat-free, dairy-free margarine, and a dish of nondairy ice cream

  • Menu ideas for Day 3:

    • Breakfast: Yogurt parfait made with layers of vanilla soy yogurt, fresh berries, and granola

    • Lunch: Two slices of nondairy cheese (or cheeseless) pizza and watermelon chunks (when in season)

    • Dinner: A panini filled with nondairy cheese and sautéed vegetables, a scoop of nondairy cole slaw, and a cup of dairy-free chocolate pudding

  • Menu ideas for Day 4:

    • Breakfast: A breakfast burrito made with a whole-wheat flour tortilla wrapped around a scrambled egg, black beans, cooked potato chunks, avocado slices, and salsa, and a cup of fruit salad on the side

    • Lunch: A nondairy cheese and spinach quesadilla, a small green salad, and a piece of in-season fresh fruit

    • Dinner: A black bean burrito, steamed broccoli, and melon slices (when in season)

  • Menu ideas for Day 5:

    • Breakfast: A bowl of hot oatmeal with brown sugar, cinnamon, and almond milk (plain or vanilla-flavored), and a small glass of orange-pineapple juice

    • Lunch: A dairy-free grilled cheese sandwich, a cup of tomato soup, and apple slices

    • Dinner: A small green salad, shrimp paella, and a slice of banana bread

  • Menu ideas for Day 6:

    • Breakfast: Two whole-grain pancakes with pure maple syrup and a slice of fresh cantaloupe (when in season)

    • Lunch: A big bowl of marinated three-bean salad, two slices of whole-grain toast with trans-fat-free, dairy-free margarine, and a glass of unsweetened iced tea

    • Dinner: Vegetable curry with steamed rice, steamed bok choy or Chinese cabbage, and a dish of nondairy rice pudding

  • Menu ideas for Day 7:

    • Breakfast: Two slices of French toast with pure maple syrup, fresh orange slices, and a cup of coffee or tea

    • Lunch: A luncheon-sized plate of nachos and a cup of in-season fresh fruit chunks

    • Dinner: A bowl of chili, a square of cornbread, broccoli florets and carrot slices with nondairy Ranch-style dip, and a frozen fruit bar