Being from the South I was raised in a family of vegetable gardeners who either grew a lot of what they ate or knew someone else who grew it in town. I’m confident my grandparents could have lived on tomatoes and butter beans (baby lima beans) alone. We had a lot of meals that consisted purely of black eyed peas, rice, potatoes, or okra (with corn bread or cat head biscuits of course). Even when it came to making meals that would generally consist of meat my mom left it out.
Though I’m not currently vegetarian I’m just not a big meat eater due to my upbringing. My husband on the other hand is a different story. When we first moved-in together I told him we’d have a few nights a week where our meals would be meatless. With a concerned look on his face he said “But how am I going to get full?” He quickly realized this was a misconception and it’s something we joke about today. I secretly think his favorite part of eating less meat is how much money we save at the grocery store!
Choosing more plant based meals helps to give your digestive system a break and helps add more nutrients to your diet. Meat is harder for the body to digest compared to fruits and vegetables. If you’re having digestive issues it’s smart to incorporate more meatless meals into your day.
Picky eaters are often much more eager to try vegetarian meals that are familiar to them. Trying meals that look like their old favorites can help sway judgement of the meal being made with more veggies and less meat. Whether you’re transitioning to a vegetarian diet or a seasoned vegetarian trying to make everyone in your household happy these recipes will be a hit.
Black Bean & Corn Quesadillas
Quesadillas and fajitas are a staple in my kitchen. They’re cheap, easy and I almost always have everything on hand in the pantry to make them. These vegetarian quesadillas by Girl Heart Food are probably the most flavorful quesadillas I’ve ever tried. They are a great meal for new vegetarians or children who might be on the picky side. If you’re someone who meal preps or is searching for healthy kids lunches these are so easy to wrap up and freeze for meals throughout the week.
Creamy Sundried Tomato Pasta
This creamy flavorful sundried tomato pasta by Platings + Pairings is the ultimate comfort food. I used to make chicken alfredo all the time before I found this recipe. There was just something about it that made everything feel okay. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think anything could ever fill the shoes of chicken alfredo but I was wrong! Replacing the meat with spinach and sundried tomatoes created an even more flavorful version of the creamy pasta I love so much.
Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
Did you know tomatoes are one of the best foods to eat for mental health? I wasn’t a tomato fan until I started using food against my mental illness fight. Now, I try to incorporate them into my diet daily. This rich roasted tomato basil soup from Be Greedy Eats is a a great way to get in all the nutrients of tomatoes for those who may not be huge tomato fans. Everyone loves tomato soup right? This soup pairs perfect with a vinaigrette salad, or my personal favorite smoked gouda grilled cheese on Dave’s Killer Bread.
Sweet Potato Chili
Is it even possible for chili to taste better when it’s vegetarian? YES! This sweet potato black bean chili from Chelsea’s Messy Apron is super filling and oh so warming during the cooler months. I like to garnish mine with a small dollop of soup cream to give it a little creamy texture. It’s also one of those meals that tastes even better the next day! So, if you’re a left-over fan you’ll definitely want to make extra for lunch the next day.
Margherita Naan Pizza
This is a vegetarian recipe I’m sure everyone in your family can get behind. Making flatbread pizza is a great way to include your kids or partner in the kitchen for some fun bonding time! This margherita naan pizza from The Blond Cook is a delicious take on pizza night. Once you start making these pizzas you’ll think twice before ordering out on Friday nights. They are so quick and easy!
Chickpea Veggie Nuggets
I’m not a huge fan of pre-packaged meatless meat products due to the high amounts of preservatives and chemicals. One of my top nutrition rules for our kitchen/ pantry is minimal preservatives and additives. This cuts out pretty much everything in the freezer section that isn’t frozen veggies and fruit. Sometimes a girl craves a chicken nugget though! These chickpea vegetable nuggets by The Natural Nurturer are so delicious and filled with whole food ingredients. I like to pair mine with sweet potato fries and spicy garlic mayo. They are perfect for chicken nugget loving kids and make a great healthy school lunch option.
Loaded Broccoli Cheese Potatoes
Not just your favorite grilling side dish! Potatoes make great filling additions to vegetarian meals. This baked potato with broccoli cheese sauce from Classy Cooking is a creamy cheesy dream! To make a full meal out of this one I love to pair it with a garden salad.
Lasagna is one of my favorite meals to make for others. Whether it’s for a loved one going through a tough time or a friend who’s just had a baby. It’s the perfect meal to pre-make for others to simply heat and eat. This spinach lasagna by Dinner at the Zoo is the perfect recipe for picky kids or dinner parties with with vegetarian guests.
Black Bean Burgers
Black beans make yet another tasty appearance on our list with a spin on classic burger nights. Since I’m not a fan of pre-packaged meatless meat products that are pumped with preservatives and chemicals I’m all about homemade veggie burgers. These black bean burgers by Build Your Bite will make you do a double take at first glance. For picky eaters they look so close to beef patties but actually pack so much more flavor. Serve on a warm summer day with your favorite potato salad recipe!
Creamy Veggies & Noodles
If you’re a household that loves chicken noodle soup you’ll love this creamy veggies and noodles recipe by I Heart Vegetables. It’s packed with flavor that your kids or picky partner are sure to love. If you’re new to becoming vegetarian or trying to slide in a few meatless days to your week it’s great to try new recipes that feel familiar like this one.
It can be a tricky task finding vegetarian meals that the whole family loves. These recipes provide a bit of nostalgia to those who might be transitioning to a plant based lifestyle. I hope you enjoy these as much as my family and I have!