This year started off with me trying to practice the “Eat Real Food, Mostly Vegetables” theory, and so far my family has taken to it pretty amazingly. Getting kids to eat meatless meals requires some slight of hand at times. Also, it helps if you don’t over think the menu—I ascribe to the K.I.S.S. philosophy (keep it simple stupid). Cooking vegetarian meals for your family can be as simple as subbing out the main player with a veggie option.
I’m going to show you how to take your family’s favorites, “the classics,” and turn them vegetarian with one easy substitution.
Fresh Take on the Classics
Below is a list of the top 5 classic dishes we eat on the regular in my house–with a twist! I’ve managed to substitute out one main ingredient for a vegetarian option that still keeps the familiarity of the classics in tact.
If you’re trying to eat more plant based foods, then this is the perfect way to get your family on board without a lot of kicking and screaming.
Alfredo is now back on the table as a healthy option for your family! Yes, you can ditch the chicken, but there’s an amazing trick to dump the dairy and still get your alfredo fix!
Get ready to have your mind blown by this one…
If you’re new to the “vegetarian” world, then this one may come across as purely impossible. But, thanks to the Vitamix, pretty much nothing is impossible in the kitchen anymore!
It’s called “cashew cream.”
It tastes like Alfredo, smells like Alfredo, looks like Alfredo—but it is actually good for you! Thanks to the cashews, you have a decadent guilt free luscious dinner on your hands. You’re welcome.
The Minimalist Baker’s 30 Minute Cashew Alfredo is a great place to start. (my family devours it)! Added Bonus: if you make too much, just pop it in the freezer and thaw to use on another night.
Meatless meals just got sinfully delicious with this dream sauce!
- You don’t have to leave out the parmesan if you don’t want to! Throw it in the vitamix with everything else for flavor or top it when you’re done! (You’re not going for sainthood, you’re just trying to do a little good at dinner, amiright?)
- You don’t have to use a nut milk. Use what you have in your fridge—all milks work here. Also, you can use stock. (Remember: keep it simple)
- UP THE SEASONING! Add way more garlic than you think & add a good bit of black pepper. If you’re trying to fool them, up the garlic. Just trust me here;)
According to Food and Wine Magazine, 2019 is the year of the veggie burger, and I have to agree. As far as meatless meals go, this is a no-brainer!
I’ve been doing a weekly burger night with these MorningStar Farms® ¼ lb “MEAT LOVERS” Vegan Burgers, and the hubs is ON BOARD! I usually get these because I typically do a Walmart run, and they carry these consistently.
Treat these like a regular handmade patty. They hold up to just about anything. Plus, the best part—they leave you feeling FULL! Yep, these patties actually fill up the bun! Plus, with 27 grams of plant protein, you’re gonna feel pretty good about giving these to the kids!
Speaking of kids—they’ll never know the difference! Don’t even bother telling them that these are veggie burgers. Check out this recipe for Grilled Pineapple Veggie Burgers from Domestically Blissful and get creative with these!
Side note: If you’re a Whole Foods shopper, then you should give Beyond Meat®’s Beyond Burger™ Plant Based Patties a try (these are at Publix, too!). Or, if you’re a fan of Bubba Burgers, then give their veggie burgers a-go.
I’ve been making vegetarian chili since I was in undergrad. Yes, I was in the vegetarian “season” of life then, too, but this meal has stood the test of time. Two decades and still satisfies me every SINGLE time.
This recipe at A Side Of Sweet is SO similar to the one I’ve made for years, and my kids always devour it!
- Add a half can (or whole can) of creamed corn to create a lovely thickness to the chili
- Don’t worry about the seasonings – just grab one of those pre-made Chili Packets in the seasoning isle and call it a day!
- I’ve put leftover chili in everything from quesadillas to baked potatoes (and it freezes beautifully!)
I’ve tried all sorts of just pasta and marinara–and every veggie spaghetti combo I can think of, but no real winners when it comes to pleasing my meat-and-potatoes husband.
So, when it comes to a “traditional” meaty spaghetti feel, I found a winner! MorningStar Farms® Grillers® Crumbles™ is the one ingredient substitute that you need to pull this off without anyone noticing there’s no meat. Trust me, meatless meals are gonna make it into the rotation with this easy substitute!
Just cook your onions, throw in the “Crumbles” till just cooked through and add a jar of your favorite sauce! Done & done!
- Remember: it’s not really meat! Do NOT overcook these crumbles! They will basically disintegrate if you let them simmer for too long in the sauce.
- If you’re making homemade sauce, then do the marinara till it’s perfect then add the crumbles in the last 10 minutes before serving.
The ultimate classic dinner recipe has to be Chicken Pot Pie. And, when you’re trying to cut out the meat but still want that comforting casserole dish, this is the easiest swap-out imaginable!
Prep your pot pie, as you normally do, and instead of pulled chicken just sub in a can or two of Garbanzo beans (chickpeas). Cook as usual.
Check out this Easy Chickpea Pot Pie recipe from Live Eat Learn. She cooks this weeknight dinner all right in the cast iron pan! Awesome. (BTW: you need to spend a little time on her website! Love it and her cookbook For the Love of Popsicles is definitely on my birthday wish list this year!)
- If you don’t want to prep your own sauce, just use a can of cream of celery AND a can of either cream of mushroom or cream of chicken with a little milk to thin it out. (Remember: Keep it Simple!)
- Don’t like Garbanzo beans? Try it with cannellini beans or lentils. Either works great!
One Substitute–Still A Classic
These easy one ingredient substitutes can really help you out when it comes to getting your family on board with eating a little less meat. It’s familiar without being too over the top for those traditionalists.
With these easy meatless meals, that’s what we’re going for right? Just trying to baby step our way into a little healthier lifestyle. This is a great way to start!