As a long-time vegetarian, there are some recipes that I find myself going back to again and again. I love making new things, but there’s something to be said for those tried-and-true meal ideas too.
Because it’s January and a lot of people are cutting down on (or giving up!) meat for the New Year, I’ve decided to compile these dishes here.
These are 15 basic recipes that I think every vegetarian should master. You don’t have to master these exact recipes, but if you have a go-to burrito or veggie burger recipe under your belt, your life (well, at least your life at dinnertime) will be a lot easier!
I stopped eating meat when I was 12, so there were a lot of grilled cheese lunches back then. While it’s hard to go wrong with the classic version, adding greens or veggies ups the nutrition a little bit, like in this Kale, Grilled Garlic, and Cheddar Panini from Panini Happy.
Pile a plate full of veggies and add a slab or two of marinated tofu for a quick meal. When you marinate tofu and bake it in the oven, it’s flavorful and chewy on the outside, soft on the inside. If you think you don’t like tofu, try it baked!
I often use vegetable broth as a substitute for chicken broth and chicken broth is in a lot of recipes, so I pretty much go through broth like water. Using a high-quality broth is important—it can make or break a meal! I make my broth with veggie scraps, but this slow cooker version from Beard & Bonnet is another easy option. Make it in big batches and freeze it for later!
Burritos are the ultimate convenience food! A lot of vegetarian burritos are loaded with refried beans and cheese, but this version from The Garden Grazer is full of quinoa and fajita veggies.
Stir fry was one of the first things I learned how to cook after moving out of my parents’ house—they’re quick, easy, and healthy. This Thai-inspired stir fry from The Roasted Root is made with peanut sauce.
Every vegetarian needs a go-to veggie burger recipe! This Lentil Mushroom Burger works with a variety of different toppings and unlike many burger recipes, it’s made without eggs or dairy.
Veggie soup is a good wintertime staple. Make a big batch and eat it throughout the week or freeze it in individual portions and take them to work for lunch. Beans and kale make this Hearty Vegetable Soup from Henry Happened extra filling!
It’s a cliché that vegetarians only eat salad, but there’s no shame in eating a big healthy salad like this one from The Spicy RD. A power salad packs in a lot of nutrition—no sad wilted iceberg lettuce swimming in ranch dressing here!
I keep my freezer stocked with homemade pasta sauce or, failing that, a good jarred brand in the pantry. Whenever we don’t know what to have for dinner, the answer is almost always pasta, so having sauce on hand is a must.
Meatloaf is good stuff. My favorite thing about it is that it usually lasts a long time in the fridge, which is a good thing because then you have leftovers for a few days. Meatloaf for lunch! Meatloaf sandwiches! Leftovers are great for busy people who don’t have time to cook everyday. This vegetarian meatloaf from The Kitchn is made with nuts.
You need a good, basic lasagna recipe and then you can go to town customizing it. I love this one from Kitchen Treaty because you can make it in a skillet. In! A! Skillet! Add spinach, roasted veggies, a layer of pesto, or whatever else you happen to have on hand to mix things up a little bit.
Make yourself a big pot of chili and have meals for days! You can eat it as-is, use it as a topping for nachos or sweet potato fries, and make chili mac or pot pies. This particular chili is loaded with veggies in addition to the standard beans; it freezes beautifully too.
This is a vegetarian staple for good reason—it’s easy to make, it’s a burger that doesn’t rely on faux meat patties, and portabella mushrooms are juicy and meaty. This recipe from Spicie Foodie can be made on an outdoor grill or indoors on a grill pan.
Green smoothies are perfect for those of us who don’t always eat our greens. And a well-built smoothie isn’t just a drink or a snack, it’s a full, nutritionally-complete meal. Use this guide to build your own smoothie or give Nutrition Stripped’s signature Stripped Smoothie a try.
Bowls are another classic vegetarian staple. Most bowls include a grain, veggies, a protein, and a sauce or dressing. They’re a great way to use up leftovers or odds and ends from your pantry! I love the tahini-based sauce in this recipe from The Muffin Myth.