For people who enjoy eating meat, preparing meals that are meatless, well-balanced and filling can be a daunting task. When meat is normally the main item on the plate, you tend to miss its imposing presence when faced with a sea of vegetables. Add the element of family meals and the simple process of menu planning can seem like an exasperating study in patience … and creativity.
When feeding a brood of hungry eaters, parents can be faced with the challenges of diverse tastes and picky taste buds. One child loves string beans but won’t go anywhere near corn; another child will gladly ditch string beans in favor of broccoli; and it appears that you’re the only one in the house who dreams about devouring pork chops, all day, every day. How do you bring it all together in the absence of meat one day a week?
Meatless Monday doesn’t have to be a chore. Maybe you’re not the plan-ahead type and you work better under pressure. If so, then you may enjoy the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants thrill you get in crunching a meal together in the 11th hour. As long as you have great ingredients to work with, you can make this happen. Here are a few ideas for family-friendly Meatless Monday meals.
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Flatbread: We all love pizza. Admit it … you love it, too. Flatbread is a thinner take on pizza and, just like its counterpart, you can top it with a myriad of ingredients. This is the epitome of family food – line up a bunch of your favorite toppings, gather the kids and everyone can build a flatbread just the way they like it.
Grilled Cheese: Cheese, cheese and more cheese! I love fromage. Grilled cheese sandwiches are yet another way to have family fun for Meatless Monday. Not only can you use a variety of melt-worthy and interesting cheeses (cheddar, American, goat, fontina, Swiss, muenster, Havarti, Monterey jack, provolone, mozzarella and more), but the combination of ingredients can be as interesting as you like. This Grilled Goat Cheese with Fig and Honey may not be your average grilled cheese sandwich, but it is a little bit on the adventurous side. Don’t be afraid to toss a few vegetables in the mix, either.
Quesadillas: Mmm mmm mmm. Much like the flatbread and grilled cheese, quesadillas are an “everything but the kitchen sink” kind of meal. Meat is totally irrelevant when building a quesadilla. Crunchy on the outside, moist and full of flavor—and ingredients—on the inside makes for a tasty few bites.
Frittata: Who says you can’t eat breakfast or brunch food for dinner? Frittatas are a great way to while away the day on Meatless Monday. Eggs provide your body with a protein boost, and assorted vegetables—whatever you fancy tossing in—makes a hefty meal of it. Try one of these great frittata recipes:
- Smoked Apple Sage Sausage Frittata
- Beefless Strips Egg White Frittata
- Smoky Gouda and Veggies Frittata
- Spinach, Potato and Corn Frittata
Tacos: Another DIY meal that’s fun for kids and adults alike are tacos. Whether you prefer a soft shell taco or your tastes lean more towards a crisp and crunchy shell, you’ll never be at a loss for what to stuff inside one of these babies. This Roasted Vegetable Tacos recipe from Kids Eat Right is a fresh and healthy approach to a taco that the entire family will enjoy. Cubed marinated tofu is a great addition to tacos. However, if you or your kids have your heart set on noshing on something with a meat-like texture, how about adding add a meat substitute like crumbled seitan or Quorn. PETA features a few meat-free vegan taco recipes which you might enjoy also.
Turn Meatless Monday into an event by getting the entire family involved. Experiment, mix it up a bit, but above all have fun together and enjoy the end result.