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Feeding a vegetarian household, cutting back on meat, or just trying to incorporate more veggies into your meals is about to get a whole lot easier with this master list of vegetarian meals for kids!
Vegetarian Meals for Kids
It’s so darn easy to get into a food rut, especially when feeding kids who usually prefer to eat their favorites over and over (and over!). I’m always looking for meatless meal ideas to help stretch my grocery budget and help me come up with vegetarian meals that everyone at my table will enjoy.
So this list, which is broken up by type of recipe—is here to help you (and me!).
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Vegetarian Recipes for Families
Each of the recipes here is a great one to share with your entire family. You can of course cook them just for the kids, but they are appropriate for the adults at the table too. Each of these is straight forward and uses ingredients you can (usually) find at mainstream grocery stories.
(I lived in a small town and shopped at my local stores, so I used what was available there as my guide!)
Affordable and packed with nutrition, beans and legumes are also versatile and filling. Here are some of my go-to ways to cook them for kids.
Roasted Sweet Potato Tacos
You can try serving this to your toddler with the components separated if they aren’t quite up to holding and eating a regular taco. Simply arrange the filling, the tortillas, and toppings on a plate and let them eat them however they like!
Prep the rice, beans, and veggies ahead if you can or want to. They store well in the fridge and simply need to be reheated. The nutrition information in this recipe will vary based on the ingredients you choose to use.
You can make and serve these at the same time, or prep them ahead of time and warm up quickly for an easy meal. You can vary the beans in these simple burritos. Serve them with salsa and/or sour cream.
This makes 6 rolled up tacos, so you can adjust this as needed for your family. Taste the refried beans before you make the roll ups and adjust the salt and/or cumin if needed. You can also serve the ingredients in separate bowls and let your family serve themselves.
Before you start, roll a tortilla and make sure it will fit with your baking dish. I call for small ones, but the size can vary a lot depending on whether you use flour or corn and the brand. This recipe was updated and streamlined in October 2020.
With just 5 minutes and basic pantry ingredients, you can make the yummiest Homemade Hummus without tahini. This means that it's nut-free, so it's an option for school and allergy families, and it's just perfect for dunking crackers or spreading on bread.
When I just need one sweet potato for a recipe, I often cook it in the microwave. Dice it, place it in a large 4-cup glass measuring cup, cover with two inches of water and cook for about 5 minutes or until soft. Roasted Sweet Potato or Crockpot Sweet Potato works well too!
If you start with dried beans in this salty-sweet snack, make sure to cook them until they are very tender. If making these for a kiddo under one, use maple syrup instead of honey or skip the sweetener all together.
I like our lentil soup with the veggies pretty blended in, which is why I chop them finely in a blender or food processor. You can also just chop them with a knife. (Recipe updated August 2020 to saute the veggies before simmering to ensure that there’s no raw onion flavor.)
When serving this to a little one, I like to drain off much of the broth. This makes it a little easier (and less messy) for them to eat. If your family likes spice, add in a dash or two of cayenne pepper.
I’ve always been surprised at how much my kids like tofu—and also delighted since it’s such an inexpensive protein option. It also takes on flavors of sauces really well, and can be served up crispy in nuggets too.
Crispy Baked Tofu Nuggets (SO Good and Easy)
Tofu is typically sold in 14-16 ounce blocks. If yours is 16 ounces, you may need 1 ¼ cup panko. The garlic powder is optional, but adds nice flavor.
I like this dish as a way to occasionally serve my family tofu, but you can use chicken or shrimp if you like. And if you want to use different veggies, go right ahead! Just aim to use about 6 cups—snap peas, snow peas, frozen corn, broccoli, bell peppers, cauliflower, and more all work well here. Adults may want to top their servings with hot sauce!
With a simple cheese sauce—no standing and stirring over the stove here!—a solid dose of veggies, and a super creamy final result, this Cauliflower Mac and Cheese is a fast lunch or dinner option for toddlers. (And the rest of the family, too!)
Pick up some salmon, tilapia, shrimp, or other favorite fish or shellfish and try one of these easy fish recipes for kids. While not technically vegetarian, they can be yummy meals to try if your family does eat or have access to fish.
Crispy Baked Fish Sticks (to Share with the Kids!)
This salmon salad is packed with protein, healthy fats, and calcium and can be used as a dip or a spread for sandwiches. We use homemade relish in this recipe, but you can use any that you like the flavor of.
With a quick 20-minute cooking method perfect for a weeknight dinner, this easy Shrimp and Noodles recipe has a flavorful (yet kid-friendly!) Asian sauce with a refreshing hit of citrus. You can use fresh or frozen shrimp in this recipe. If using frozen, defrost according to package directions.
If you’re using Homemade Pizza Dough, make it at least an hour before you plan to assemble the pockets. If using store-bought, let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes so it’s not super cold when you try to form the pockets.
Veggie Grilled Cheese Sandwich (to Share with the Kids)
With just 4 ingredients, including a veggie that blends right in, this Veggie Grilled Cheese Sandwich is a yummy kids lunch to share. It packs extra nutrition in the filling, yet only takes a few minutes to make. Such a great easy meal!
Homemade Broccoli Tots (Better Than the Freezer Aisle!)
Crispy on the outside and tender in the middle, these tots are a seriously fun way to serve broccoli. You can cook the rice up to 5 days ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you're ready to bake the tots.
1½cupbeans(pinto or black beans; or one 14-ounce can)
Salsa, sour cream, hot sauce, as desired for topping(optional)
Place the tortillas on a clean work surface.
Sprinkle some cheese on one half, then beans, then cheese. Use about ¼ each on each tortilla. (It doesn't have to be precise though!) Sprinkle with cumin,.
Warm a skillet over medium heat. Grease lightly with a little neutral oil like canola or nonstick spray. If using oil, wipe it with a paper towel so there’s a very thin coating.
Place two tortillas with fillings on the skillet. After about a minute, fold over the empty side to make a half moon shape. Press down. Add another tortilla or two as you can fit them and repeat to make half moon shapes.
Let each quesadilla cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.