So you have a vegetarian friend or family member, and you never know what food to make them when they come over. You google some ideas and everything seems so complicated and requires so many ingredients that you don’t own, but you choose a recipe anyway. You go to the grocery store and spend a bunch of money on your vegetarian guest’s meal; and then, because you and your family want a hearty, meaty meal for dinner, you end up making two separate dinners. The vegetarian dish you have, maybe successfully, made is enough for an entire vegetarian family and all of their distant relatives so there is a ton of leftovers. Because you know your family probably won’t eat the meat-less leftovers, you casually try and pawn them off on your guest and lose a tupperware container in the process. Trust me… there’s an easier way!
Before sharing some easy meal ideas to feed your vegetarian guest, I should mention, the most common definition of a vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat. This means they don’t eat any beef, pork, poultry, or fish. Unless your vegetarian guest has told you differently, this is most likely what you need to avoid when you cook them a meal. The meal ideas for this article are aimed towards this common definition of a vegetarian.
** There are other types of vegetarians, such as pescetarians, who eat fish, but no other meat. There are also some vegetarians who choose not to eat meat and eggs (lacto-vegetarians) and there are some who do not eat meat and dairy products (ovo-vegetarians). A vegan’s diet is different from a vegetarian’s in that they do not eat any meat, dairy products, eggs, or any foods containing animal products whatsoever.
Let’s get started!
There are a lot of meals out there where the meat is optional or it can be added in later, making a delicious meal for both you and your vegetarian guest. This lessens your workload and uncertainty when making dinner because you can avoid making two entirely different dishes for one meal. Plus, your vegetarian guest will feel included in the dinner discussion, as everyone talks about how delicious the meal is, and like less of an inconvenience to you.
Spaghetti is a fantastic example of a meal that can either contain meat or be meatless and still be tasty. There are tons of different ways to make spaghetti; maybe you make your spaghetti sauce with ground beef; or maybe you add meatballs on top. If spaghetti is your choice of dinner on the day your vegetarian guest comes over, I’ve got your back! Go ahead and make spaghetti however you usually do, just leave a portion meatless for your vegetarian guest. Check out this recipe for a delicious easy homemade spaghetti sauce. For this recipe, you will need to make two separate sauces, but they will contain mostly the same ingredients. It’s easy! Just add everything, except the ground beef, to your second skillet to make your vegetarian spaghetti sauce. Alongside some toasted buns with butter, garlic bread, or a fresh salad and you’ve got a delicious meal planned for both you, your family and your vegetarian guest.
If you are lazy, like me, and buy your spaghetti sauces, make sure you buy a meat-free jar for your vegetarian guest’s dinner. My favourite store-bought spaghetti sauce is the CLASSICO Fire Roasted Tomato & Garlic. It has a ton of flavour and it tastes just as good as homemade sauce. If you love your spaghetti with meatballs, you can either leave them off your vegetarian guest’s plate, buy frozen meatless meatballs (Gardein brand is my personal favourite), or make your own vegetarian meatballs. Here is a fantastic vegetarian meatball recipe.
Other Pasta Dishes can be served to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians in the same manner as spaghetti. For example, this broccoli chicken fettuccine Alfredo with the chicken cooked separately can easily be a delicious vegetarian broccoli fettuccine Alfredo.
With lasagna; unfortunately, you have to add the meat in before you bake, of course. The solution is to try making a one-serving dish for your vegetarian guest alongside your large meaty lasagna. You can opt to make a cheese lasagna for your vegetarian guest; or, if you usually add some veggies to your lasagna, then even better! Check out this vegetable lasagna recipe. Whatever pastas you usually make at home, try turning them into a meatless meal for your vegetarian guests!
Stir-fry is another meal that tastes delicious whether it contains meat or it doesn’t. To please your vegetarian guest, you can cook the meat of your choosing separate from the vegetables. Then, add the meat to the meat-eaters’ plates after you have served everyone their rice or noodles, and vegetables. If you are feeling adventurous, you can add some firm tofu to your stir fry. It can usually be found near the produce section of your grocery store. Don’t be frightened; it’s relatively inexpensive and easy to cook. Take a look at this scrumptious recipe for a terriyaki tofu and veggie stir-fry.
Burgers, hot dogs, and sausages are popular foods for barbecue get-togethers, but what will your vegetarian guest eat? Just like tofu, many meatless meat products are sold near the produce section of grocery stores. This includes vegetarian burgers, hot dogs, and sausages. Some of these products may have to be pan-fried, but many can be done on the barbecue. Check the cooking instructions on the package before you cook the product. Most vegetarians aren’t picky about having their food cooked on a meat contaminated grill; however, you can ask your guest beforehand, just to make sure. If your guest would prefer his/her food to not be cross-contaminated with meat products, you can cook their burger, hotdog, or
sausage on a piece of aluminium foil on the barbecue. The problem with store-bought vegetarian food items is that you get more than just one serving (at least 4-5 servings). Most products can be frozen, but only up to
one month. You could send the extra servings home with your guest, or; the
other option is to make their meal from scratch Instead. This way you can (somewhat) control the amount of food you are preparing. There are a ton of different vegetarian hot dog and hamburger recipes online to experiment
with; but this chunky portobello veggie burger recipe is my favourite.
Tacos! Uh oh, it’s Taco Tuesday and you have a vegetarian guest coming over. No worries! You can make hard or soft tacos for them, too. All you have to do is provide a vegetarian friendly option to add to their taco while you stuff your taco with ground beef (or whatever meat you usually use). You have a few options. You can buy meatless ground beef in that special meatless meat section near the produce at a grocery store. Just add taco seasoning to that and heat it up. There are also many alternatives to taco meat, such as in this delicious quinoa, black bean, and corn taco recipe. You can also try putting rice, black beans, chick peas, refried beans, potatoes, or tofu into tacos. Serve with your favourite taco toppings and everyone’s hunger will be satisfied! In a similar manner, you can experiment with burritos, as well.
Quesadillas are a personal favourite of mine. They can be made so many different ways, including vegetarian, and they’re so easy to make. Obviously, if you have a vegetarian guest over, you will want to avoid cooking the vegetables and meat together. Tofu can be used instead of the meat that you have chosen, or you can just forget the meat altogether for your vegetarian quesadillas. A delicious cheese and vegetable quesadilla will suffice. Check out this is delicious easy cheesy vegetable quesadillas.
Pizza is a usually a safe food that you can serve anyone for dinner and they’ll enjoy it. Of course, if you have a vegetarian guest for dinner, you may want to offer something other than an extra large meat-lovers pizza. Whether you’re ordering the pizza, buying it frozen, or making it from scratch, cheese pizza is the safest option out there. Then, there’s vegetarian pizza, with the rainbow of vegetables laying on delicious bed of cheese and sauce. Here is a great roasted vegetable pizza recipe if you plan on making homemade pizza on the day your vegetarian guest comes to visit. If you want to explore some really good vegetarian-friendly frozen pizza, I recommend Ristorante. The best part is that it’s a thin crust pizza and it’s small enough for one or two people to eat. There is assorted kinds that suit your vegetarian guest’s tastes; including, Pizza Spinaci (spinach), Pizza Vegetale (vegetable), Pizza Formaggi & Pomodori (cheese and tomato), Pizza Quattro Formaggi (four cheese), Pizza Mozzarella, and Pizza Fungi (mushroom).
Shish kabobs are probably the most fun meal to make from scratch, if you get creative. Not only do you get a tasty meal, you get to take your frustrations out by skewering any food item you can find. Seriously, ANY food item. You could serve a full course meal all on skewers. Start by stabbing some meat and potatoes. For your vegetarian guest, you could have simple vegetable shish kabobs or you can add some tofu, as well.
Gradually, your shish kabobs can get crazier. Salad kabobs are hilarious. Watch your guests try to eat lettuce, cucumber, croutons, cheese, baby tomato, and boiled egg off of a skewer. Finally, dessert to end the shish kabob night; fruit skewered, with chocolate brownies and marshmallows. Mmm!
Subs, sandwiches, and wraps don’t make the most sophisticated meal, but they sure are scrumptious casual lunch options. The best part is that there are so many different kinda of sandwiches to make. For example, egg salad sandwiches, veggie and hummus sandwiches, or you can buy meatless sandwich meat for your subs, sandwiches, or wraps. The possibilities are endless. Check out these unique sandwiches: Grilled Mushroom Cheesesteaks, Curried Chickpea Salad Sandwich, Rainbow Veggie Pinwheels.
There you go! You now have some easy meal ideas for the next time you have a vegetarian guest.. besides just serving them salad. Salad is great because there are so many kinds, but you always worry about if it’s filling enough for your guest. Now you don’t have to worry. Your vegetarian guests will be full and satisfied by the time the meal is over. If you have any other super easy, barely-need-a-recipe vegetarian meal ideas, feel free to share in the comments section below!