I was a vegetarian for 13 years and as long as you are just vegetarian and not vegan there are a lot of options. (i tried the vegan thing too, but it was too limiting).
Any kind of pasta dish with meatless spaghetti sauce, or pesto, or just gently sauteed vegetables and parmesan cheese.
I really like red beans and rice with a side of corn bread.
Just make the stuff you usually make, but skip the meat. There are loads of good vegetarian websites with recipes, or you can go to allrecipes.com and just select the vegetarian option.
1. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
They're very easy to make and they're pretty healthy. They can be made on all different types of bread. Different types of cheese can be used. Different methods of grilling can be used. These provide a good variety of meals with just one dish.
Manicotti is traditionally meatless, anyway. Manicotti is stuffed noodles. They are stuffed with a cheese mixture and often baked in tomato sauce. A white manicotti can also be made. Only cheese and spices are in this version.
Who doesn't love pancakes? A variety of fruits and flavorings can be added to them to make different flavors.
Waffles give the same options as pancakes.
5. Macaroni and Cheese
It may not be the healthiest option, but a big serving can be just as good as grilled cheese. Plus, kids will eat it.
So, it sounds pretty bland. However, it can be paired with those grilled cheese sandwiches, have different things in it, and it can even be served with sides so it is a decent meal for both picky eaters and more sophisticated eaters.
Nachos can be just cheese and chips. That's great for picky eaters. Refried beans and other vegetables can be added. They are an easy customizable dish.
Omelets are great meatless meals. They are easily customizable as well. That is, if you're up to making them. A cheese omelet is a great dish. If not up to making omelets, just make scrambled eggs.
While these may traditionally have meat in them, they don't have to. Make cheese quesadillas. Vegetables and salsa can be put on or in them for those more sophisticated eaters, too.
Make spaghetti, but just don't put meat in it. In fact, this can work for any Italian dish that usually has meat. Just eliminate the meat and you've got a meatless meal, usually in minutes.
Here is somemore ideas
Salads: Salads are filling and healthy. This meatless meal choice can also come with added protein. Adding nuts, beans, or cheese to your salad will add several grams of protein and flavor to an otherwise boring dish. When making this meatless meal, think of a theme. One night you could have Mexican salads topped with chili beans, pepper jack cheese, salsa, and sour cream. On another night you could turn this meatless meal into a Greek feast with feta cheese, olives, red onion, and cucumber. Be creative and turn this meatless meal into something fun.
Beans: Southerners love soup beans served with cornbread, fried potatoes, and fresh cucumbers and tomatoes on the side. This is a meatless meal that satisfies and provides protein as well. You can take beans, rice, and cheese and wrap them up in a tortilla for a delicious Mexican wrap. Black beans are also wonderful when served with scrambled eggs and make the perfect late night meatless meal.
Soups: Plain vegetable soup is an okay option for a meatless meal, but vegetable stock with cheese tortellini tossed in is even better. You could also make a cold soup, such as a fruit soup or gazpacho. If you don't like soup without meat, try adding Portobello mushrooms for a meaty taste. Another popular option is potato soup, which is very hearty and perfect for the cooler months
Pasta: Pasta can be made into several different meatless meals. You can make lasagna with spinach and a cream sauce. You could also take spaghetti and toss it with olive oil with roasted vegetables. Another wonderful meat free pasta dish is Broccoli Alfredo. There are so many meatless meals that can be made with pasta. Be creative and take your normal pasta dish and turn it into a delicious meatless meal.
Mexican: You can make several meatless meals using Mexican ingredients. Nachos, for example, are wonderful when you serve them with a cheese sauce, refried beans, sour cream, tomatoes, and green onions. Another great option is bean burritos, which can easily be prepared with finely chopped onions, cheese, refried beans, and tortillas. You can even prepare roasted vegetables with Mexican seasonings and then turn them into vegetable enchiladas.
I haven't tried this and don't know where I got it, but it sounds good to me...
3 C water
1 C lentils (rinsed)
salt to taste
1 C chopped onion
3 T olive oil
15 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic- minced
1/2-1 (6 oz can tomato paste)
1/2 C ketchup
1 t mustard powder
1 T chili powder
3-5 T rapadura, molasses or honey
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1-2 T BBQ sauce
salt and ground pepper to taste
4 hamburger buns, split
Soaking step, optional: Allow lentils to soak overnight in warm filtered water with 2 T acid medium (vinegar). Rinse and cook as described below.
Combine water and lentils in a saucepan; season to taste with salt if desired. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, cook onions with olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the onions have softened and turned translucent, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, ketch, mustard powder, chili powder, molasses and Worcestershire sauce; simmer 5-10 minutes until thickened.
Drain lentils and reserve cooking liquid. Stir lentils into sauce mixture, adding cooking liquid or water as needed to obtain the desired "sloppy Joe" consistency. Serve on buns.
You say mac anc cheese "isn't the healthiest option." Are you referring to the stuff in the box?
I make a homemade mac and cheese that has 'real' cheese in it, along with milk (I use non-fat instant). I also use whole wheat noodles and top it with lightly buttered whole wheat bread crumbs. I serve it with a vegetable of some kind.
Isn't it interesting that if you say "mac and cheese " People automatically assume you are taking about the junk in the box. Probably happened about the time "hamberger helper" started being considered a home cooked meal.
Dh and I are on a diet to help lower blood pressure. It's very light in protien and higher in whole wheat products, veggies and fruit. Some of these ideas here will be great for us.
We rarely have meatless meals just because we raise most of our meat, so it's plentiful. And good. Having said that....how about a vegetable lasagna? You can use a wonderful variety of cheeses, there are many different types of noodles available now, too. Layer some spinach inside it. And lasagna is always better the next day.
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