I had a secret.
There’s nothing unusual about me meal-planning, but one week I had an undercover theme. All my dinner plans had something in common. Or rather lacked something in common.
Meatless Mondays are trendy, and our family already lands way below the national average for meat consumption. But I wanted to put myself and my family to the test and see if I could cook family-pleasing vegetarian meals all week.
I have vegetarian, vegan, and reducitarian (love that word) friends, so cooking meatless is hardly an innovative concept to many who might be reading, but I wanted to do this to encourage families who might think this isn’t possible or who want to cut back on meat for health, budget, or treatment reasons and think their families will protest.
Maybe they won’t notice. Mine didn’t.
Here’s what I did.
Monday: Loaded Fries
These are homemade roasted potato wedges that everyone got to top with their choices. I did sautéed peppers and onions, pickled jalapeños, cheese, and sour cream. Sour cream doesn’t photograph well as it knocks off the color balance, lesson learned.
Tuesday: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas
These were my personal favorite of the week. I loving using Trader Joe’s Wheat & Corn tortillas for enchiladas because they don’t crack apart like corn tortillas but have a better texture than straight flour tortillas. I roughly adapted this from my go-to enchilada recipe from Good Cheap Eats – used roasted diced sweet potatoes, black beans, and pepper jack cheese. Hit the spot on a cold, rainy night, though the kids thought the sauce was too spicy. No objection to the weird filling, just the heat level, haha.
Wednesday: “Sausage” and Veggie Pasta
Did you know Aldi carries a lot of vegetarian and vegan products? Their meatless Italian Sausage is quite tasty, with good texture and flavor. I have one girl who won’t eat sausage, but I get some protein in her by whispering to her that it’s not actually sausage. ;) This was probably the kids’ favorite. I added diced tomatoes, butternut squash, spinach, and basil. Served with Caesar salad mix.
Thursday: Thai Peanut Butter Tofu
This was the only one this week that I actually used a recipe. (I’m not a great food blogger, and this post is intended more for inspiration than instruction) Thai Pra Ram Tofu was Brett’s favorite of the week. It was easy to make, and my kids like Thai dishes with peanut butter. Served with Thai cucumber salad, brown rice, and broccoli.
Friday: Spaghetti Squash Pizza Casserole
This was a gamble for me because my kids didn’t like any recipe with spaghetti squash last year. But this was a good start to fall squash season 2018! I think I won them over with the black olives. Served with garlic bread. I used my usual recipe for spaghetti casserole and just substituted cooked spaghetti squash.
Are we turning vegetarian? No. But this week showed me it’s not as hard as I thought to come up with meatless meals, and they were better-received than expected by the five other mouths I feed.
There are a lot of benefits to cutting back on meat consumption. Budget is a good place to start. Health is another one as meatless meals have more vegetable servings. Very few people get the recommended daily amount, and this is an easy way to get more.
(Keto people, don’t send me hate mail.)
Meatless Mondays are a great place to start as a mindful way to introduce change. And I admit I’ve gotten in a rut! This was a great way to find some new recipes and experiment with new family-friendly meals.
What are your favorite meatless meals?