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How To Cook For Vegans, Vegetarians & Meat Eaters All At The Same Time

I’ve always found it incredibly challenging to cook and meal plan with all of my family’s different food preferences.  While I am trying not to be that short-order cook, I still have my not-quite vegetarian hubby to deal with.  And if I want to keep my marriage going strong, I have to be sure to include some non-veg options for him.  (Although I’m proud to say he has come a long way and is slowly converting…slowly!)

So I’ve finally figured out a good system of meal planning, food preparation and cooking while keeping everyone happy.

MEAL PLANNING

Usually on Sundays when I have a bit more time, I meal plan for the week, making a grocery list to go along with that plan and then hit the stores either that evening or Monday morning when the stores are quiet.  Every time I meal plan, I not only save myself time but save the family money on our grocery budget.  It’s worth the 20-30 minutes to plan out a week’s worth of food if you can!

Here’s a sample menu for this week at my house:

PASTA

Tonight, for example, I made a super easy pasta dish loaded with veggies.  The kids and I had ours with just veggies as the whole wheat pasta I used was loaded with protein.  The version I made for my hubby included sausage…something he’s working on giving up but not there yet!
I cooked chopped asparagus, carrots, green onions, zucchini and red bell peppers and sauteed them in vegetable broth, then added in the cooked whole wheat bow tie pasta (I go with whatever shapes my kids will eat!).  Next, I added some fresh lemon juice, non-dairy butter, salt & pepper and fresh herbs.  Viola!  Easy as that.
As for my husband’s version, I mixed in crumbled sausage on top of his pasta.
Everyone was satisfied…for once!

TACOS

I grab two pans, one for the meat substitute or just beans if we’re not using the substitute and one for the ground turkey or chicken breast that my husband sometimes prefers.  Heat the oil in both pans, chop the onions, mince the garlic, prepare the beans and saute half in one pan, half in the other at the same time.  Add the meat substitute in one pan, the real stuff in the other and stir.  Then add seasonings, tomatoes, whatever else you like in your ground taco base.
The fixin’s that go on top should be the same for both versions so all you have to do is assemble!  Over time, you may be able to use half faux meat + half real meat to gradually ease a non-veg into one.

BURRITOS


I do these similar to the way I do the tacos from above where I have two pans going at the same time.  One tortilla gets loaded up with the bean-filled version, the other with ground meat.  Although many times I add way less meat and way more beans and my hubby is none-the-wiser.  Just be sure to use non-dairy sour cream, shredded cheese and whatever else you usually fill your favorite burritos up with.  We love homemade guacamole with ours which I sneak tofu into!  You’d never know it’s there…trust me!

STIR FRY

For the stir-fry version I usually make for my own Veggie Kids, I use a ton of fresh vegetables that you’d find in a traditional recipe, just altered a bit to their liking.  I heat oil in a hot wok (so fun to use-I think I got it as a wedding gift years ago) and cook all the veggies up.  But before I do that, I drain and cube extra-firm tofu (non-GMO) and stir-fry that in oil so it gets crispy on all sides.  Then I remove the tofu from the pan and cook the veggies.  In a separate, smaller pan I cook whatever meat my hubby (or guests) like and add it in to their portion last.  I will say, however, that I’ve used Gardein products throughout this dish and fooled many-a-carnivore!

HOMEMADE PIZZA

My favorite pizza dough to use is not my own recipe, but Trader Joe’s pizza dough.  It’s cheap and so fun to use!  Whatever dough we use, we make it our own with tasty toppings.  I usually buy 2 bags of the dough and form 5-6 mini pizzas so each family member can have their own individual pizza to create what they like.
After the organic tomato sauce goes on (or BBQ sauce, or vegan cream sauce…), the vegan versions will get sprinkled with Daiya style shreds, while the non-veg option will have regular dairy cheese (or 1/2 + 1/2).  Sauteed mushrooms and onions, olives and bell peppers go on all pizzas while those who want real pepperoni or sausage can choose it for theirs.  Sprinkle some garlic powder on top and you’ve got some super easy, fun homemade pizzas for dinner!

The point of all this is that living in a house full of various food preferences can certainly make the simple task of a meal daunting, but once you open your mind to accepting that things are the way they are (either for now or forever) and take a little time to prepare, playing chef can be a lot of fun!

I’d love to hear your ideas as well on how you cope with other members of your household having drastically different ideas of what a meal should consist of and what tips and tricks you’ve used to deal with it all!

In the meantime, happy cooking!
Oh, and I’ll be featuring some sinfully delicious holiday goodies just in time for the Holiday Season in some upcoming posts and on the Veggie Kids You Tube Channel as well!
Who said you can’t be vegan and have your favorite holiday treats?
Now go get your VEGGIE POWER!
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3 Comments

  1. I don’t have any kids YET although my 19 year old brother is here a lot. My brother will normally eat whatever I am eating now but my husband still wants meat, always. So I pretty much make totally different dishes for my brother & I and my husband. For instance, last night I heated up some turkey for my husband and made veg chick n patties for me and my brother. For sides, we all had cranberry sauce, stuffing and homemade herb bread.

  2. Carissa, I’d say your brother may count as a kid at times, right? Mine does! Your meal sounds great too. Good point about making the side dishes something everyone can have.
    Ginnie, thanks! And the kids never ask for their Daddy’s food-the usually give him a hard time and make him feel super guilty saying “you know that you’re actually eating a pig, right? They roll in the mud and have flies buzzing around them…” So appetizing.

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