7 Flexible Meals to Please Both Vegetarians and Meat-Eaters

Since most meals seem to center around meat, it can be daunting to plan a menu that vegetarians can enjoy. Instead of cooking multiple meals, opt for a dinner that can be customized to accommodate everyone at your table. Here are seven meal ideas that will please both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Stir-Fry

Stir-fries are one of the most easily customized dishes you can cook, as you can use virtually any vegetable and many different sauces. For a classic stir-fry taste, chop your veggies into bite-sized pieces and saute over medium-high heat with ginger, garlic, and soy sauce. Served over rice or noodles, stir-fried vegetables should be a filling and satisfying meal for all your guests. However, you can also cook chicken or beef in a separate pan for the non-vegetarians to enjoy.

Nachos

Nachos are usually an appetizer, but if served with a salad, they can become a full meal. Fully load your nachos with cheese, black beans, jalapeños, bell peppers, olives, and tomatoes, with salsa and sour cream for dipping. The black beans will serve as a source of protein other than traditional chicken or beef. For extra flavor, spice the beans with taco seasoning while cooking.

Pasta

When it comes to pasta, there are endless combinations of sauces and noodles to try. Have fun experimenting with different flavors, or try a classic combination like fettuccine Alfredo or spaghetti with tomato sauce. To bulk up a meatless pasta dish, don’t forget the vegetables! Onion and celery complement almost any pasta dish, but you can also try broccoli, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers.

Chili

Although chili is traditionally cooked using ground meat, meatless versions can be just as delicious. To make meatless chili, add red kidney beans, celery, onion, corn, and seasonings to a large pot or into a crock pot. For variety, add a can of mixed beans as well. Since beans are high in protein, the meal will be filling on its own, but you can also add cornbread or garlic bread on the side. Serve each bowl with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese.

Soup

Vegetable soup is the perfect meal on a cold night. It’s also simple to make. Just chop your veggies, add vegetable broth and spices, and simmer all afternoon. If you’re short on time, you can even use frozen vegetables instead of fresh. To make the soup extra hearty, you can also add beans or pasta noodles. Serve each bowl with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and crusty bread for dipping.

Barbecue

Hosting a barbecue cookout is a great way to please your guests. Veggie burgers and hot dogs are an easy substitute for vegetarians; just be sure to keep them completely separate if you plan on cooking any meat. Vegetables like asparagus, bell peppers, and zucchini barbecue well. Try tossing them in olive oil and spices, and roasting them on the grill. To round out the meal, serve salad, fresh fruit, and potato chips on the side.

Breakfast for Dinner

Serving breakfast for dinner may be unconventional, but it’s a great way to have a fun, filling meal. Cook a large skillet full of scrambled eggs with cheese, spinach, and bell peppers, and roast potatoes in the oven with onion and spices. If your vegetarian guests don’t eat eggs, you can also make eggless pancakes with chocolate chips or fresh fruit, along with the roasted potatoes. For the meat-eaters, you can cook some bacon or ham on the side.

The best way to accommodate both vegetarians and non-vegetarians is to choose a meal that is flexible. Stir-fries, nachos, and pasta dishes can all be bulked up with extra vegetables, and chili and soups are simple to cook and can easily be made meatless. If you like to have options, try a barbecue or breakfast meal with plenty of different foods for your guests to choose from. By keeping your guests’ dietary preferences in mind, you can serve a meal everyone will enjoy.