40 Kid-Friendly Vegetarian Meals (That They’ll Actually Want to Eat)
Try as they might, kids can’t survive on nuggets alone. And if your family is vegetarian, good news: Veggie-forward dishes can be colorful and fun, with a mix of so many different fruits, vegetables and textures. Even better, skipping meat is good for the environment, easy on your budget and nutritious. Here are 40 kid-friendly vegetarian meals they won’t just push around on the plate.
1. Vegetarian Sushi Cups
All the finger-friendliness of sushi, without dealing with any raw fish? Sign us up and pass the soy sauce.
2. Grilled Peach and Halloumi Salad with Lemon-Pesto Dressing
Once your kids discover the deliciousness of grilled peaches, they’ll never want to eat them any other way. Luckily, this dinner is delicious enough to make on repeat.
3. Watermelon Poke Bowls
A colorful, fish-free poke bowl is a fun feast for your budding foodie.
4. Colorful Peanut Noodle Jar
Anything in a jar is way cooler than what’s served on a plate. Bonus points for creamy peanut butter and sweet coconut, two flavors kids love.
5. Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Bites
Up the ante with this quick and easy soup topped with double-decker mini sandwiches. We guarantee your kids will go bonkers.
6. Greens Mac and Cheese
For them, this has the same appeal as green eggs and ham, but it tastes so much better.
7. Sweet Potato Rosti with Fried Eggs and Greens
If you don’t eat eggs, no big deal. These sweet potato pancakes are just as delicious on their own.
8. Johnnycakes with Rhubarb and Sour Cherries
Johnnycakes are like pancakes with cornmeal, so they have a delightful texture that’s crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Plus, who can argue with pancakes for dinner?
9. Creamy Sweet Corn Pappardelle
Squiggly noodles + sweet corn = dinnertime magic. It’s just math.
10. Portobello and Avocado Quesadillas with Magic Green Sauce
If you ask us, the fewer utensils you need, the better. These are tangy, spicy and sweet (not to mention a breeze to make).
11. Carrot Pasta
This colorful and slightly healthier take on gnocchi (you know, those hearty potato-based pillows of heaven) is simple to make and too fun to pass up.
12. Crispy Baked Cauliflower-Corn Nuggets
Not today, chicken fingers. These meatless nuggets are baked instead of fried, so slather on the ketchup.
13. Cacio e Pepe
Tell your kids this is fancy mac and cheese, and watch them gobble it up.
14. Avocado and Black Bean Pasta Salad
Who said guac gets to have all the fun? It turns out that avocado and pasta are meant to be together. This one is good for all ages.
15. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Blue Cheese Crema
Save the blue cheese crema for the adults (or serve it on the side as a dip for more adventurous eaters).
16. One-Pot, 15-Minute Pasta Limone
Not only will everyone devour this lemon pasta, but you can make it in minutes. Skip the herbs if your kids hate green stuff.
17. Cauliflower Sweet Potato Burgers
They’re crispy on the outside, moist on the inside and a great vehicle for smashed avocado (or, fine, ketchup).
18. Carrot Pigs in a Blanket
Tell them they’re a new kind of hot dog and see what they say.
19. Easy One-Pan Baked Ziti
It’s one of our childhood favorites and soon to be one of theirs too. The only difference? This one is way easier to execute.
20. Crispy Cauliflower Tacos
The cauliflower florets get baked until crispy, drizzled with an easy homemade queso and wrapped in warm tortilla blankets. In a word, yum.
21. Mac and Cheese with Crispy Parmesan-Phyllo Crust
This is just as kid-friendly as the kind in the blue box, but so much tastier.
22. Baking Sheet Quesadillas
Things we love: quesadillas. Things we don’t love: standing at the stove making dinner. That’s what our trusty sheet tray is for.
23. French Toast Sticks
Nothing will win you “parent of the year” faster than making brinner, aka breakfast for dinner.
24. Easy Veggie Enchiladas
These are filled with sweet potatoes, peppers, onions and broccoli, but truthfully, you could use whatever’s on hand (or whatever your kid will eat).
25. The Cheesiest Grilled Cheese
It’s a classic for a reason: easy to make, crowd-pleasing and even better when dipped in a little ketchup.
26. Pesto Roasted Veggie Breakfast Burritos
Suzy is about to get a good helping of veggies without even realizing it. Make a bunch of these in advance and store in the freezer for easy reheating.
28. Southwest Sweet Potato Tater Tot Hotdish
Your kid will do a double take when you tell him he gets to have tater tots for dinner. (You don’t have to tell him how many servings of veggies he’s actually eating.)
29. Mediterranean Stuffed Zucchini Boats with Quinoa
What’s great about this meal, besides the ease of prep, is that you can get the kids in the kitchen to help prepare it. You do the knife work then let your sous chefs assemble.
30. Broccoli Cheese Quesadillas
Go ahead, sneak some extra broccoli in there. We have a good feeling no one will mind.
31. Healthy Mexican Sweet Potato Skins
Roasted corn, black beans, fresh cilantro and sweet potato are a match made in kid-dinner heaven. Even better, they make excellent leftovers.
32. Falafel Balls
Serve these bites with hummus and pita for a hands-on meal that’s also packed with vitamins.
33. 30-Minute Quinoa ‘Fried Rice’
Nothing against rice, but quinoa packs in a lot more protein—and that’s essential when you’re feeding hungry kids.
34. Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchilada Skillet
Thanks to store-bought enchilada sauce, you can have a tasty, healthy dinner on the table in 30 minutes. Who needs tortillas?
35. Broccoli Grilled Cheese
If you’re dealing with a particularly picky eater, ease her into trying something new by pairing it with something she already loves (like cheese, of course).
36. Farfalle with Creamy White Bean and Roasted Garlic Sauce
When your kid gets tired of buttered noodles (don’t worry, she will), whip up this creamy number. Psst: It’s actually dairy-free.
37. Homemade Spaghettios
This one is getting filed under “no-brainers.”
38. Savory Cheese Waffles
Yes, they are as amazing as they sound and look. And yes, you can make them ahead of time and freeze them for hectic weeknight dinners.
39. Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
Pop quiz: If your meal isn’t conveniently nestled in a bell pepper, are you even really eating?
40. Sesame Noodles
It’s better (and healthier) than takeout, and it takes 20 minutes to make. What more could you want?