Quick and easy vegetarian entrees the whole family will love

While I'm not officially a vegetarian, I eat like one 75 percent of the time. But the only way I can get my meat-loving family to join me is by having an arsenal of meat-free recipes on hand that are easy, quick, and most importantly, delicious. 

Have you found yourself in a spaghetti and tomato sauce rut when trying to come up with a meatless meal? If you're looking for some new, meatless meal ideas, I have a slew of ideas for you that promise to make your next vegetarian meal a snap.

Veggie burritos, tacos, and enchiladas

If you're going to stuff a burrito full of wholesome veggies, you may as well make them as yummy as possible by roasting them. That's what Beth at Budget Bytes does, with her roasted vegetable burritos that are brimming with zucchini, bell peppers, onions, and black beans. Her completed recipe comes to only $1.42 per serving, making it a meatless bargain of a meal.

Sarah at Making Thyme for Health mimics her favorite fish tacos using firm tofu as the protein. Her crispy blackened tofu tacos are topped with a zippy cole slaw and creamy avocado-lime crema. 

At Two Peas and Their Pod, creamy spinach and cheese green chile enchiladas are made easy with the use of canned green chile sauce. This hearty vegetarian meal can also be frozen and reheated, providing you with an even easier vegetarian entree waiting in your freezer.

Creative noodles

Nailing a quick and easy recipe for vegetarian sesame noodles gives you a fantastic option for weeknight vegetarian dinners, whether you serve the noodles on their own, or enhance them with the addition of stir-fried veggies. Pickles and Honey make an easy vegan version you're sure to love, using rice pasta, soy sauce, coconut sugar, minced garlic, and rice vinegar, topped with fresh green scallions.

My own personal chef-crush, Jamie Oliver, makes sure his family gets their veggies by serving his veggie-noodle stir fry, complete with loads of veggies, ginger, tofu, cashews and chopped cilantro. 

Of course, nothing veggie-fies noodles quite like using veggies to make the noodles themselves. Check out Eating Well's collection of recipes for making spiralized vegetable noodles at home.

DIY pizza

Sure, you can order a pizza from the local pizza joint, and have a vegetarian meal on the table with no work other than making a phone call. But make the pizza yourself, and you can ensure that you and your family are getting a healthy dose of wholesome veggies, while having a little fun along the way.

Want to make your own dough? Good for you! Check out Martha Stewart's tutorial for achieving quick, homemade pizza dough in your very own kitchen. If you're seeking an easier option, you could buy a pre-made grocery store pizza crust, or even stop by your favorite local pizza place and ask to buy a ball or two of their dough.

Once you've figured out your dough, there are endless varieties for a vegetarian pizza party. Try this spinach and artichoke pizza from Sally's Baking Addiction, or maybe this grilled pizza with ricotta, corn, and broccoli from Yes to Yolks. Better yet, assemble some veggie options on your kitchen counter, and let the whole family make their own, custom-made veggie pizza pie.

Falafel

Ever tried your hand at making your own falafel? It's not as hard as you may think, and provides a delicious departure from your ordinary weeknight meals.

According to Serious Eats, dried chickpeas, not canned, are the secret to a good falafel. But don't let that daunt you. All you have to do is let your dried chickpeas soak in water overnight. When you're ready to prepare your falafel, grind the soaked chickpeas with herbs and spices in your food processor, and let the mixture rest while you prepare the rest of your meal. The mixture will come together easily into little balls, which you then cook in hot oil for barely a few minutes before you have perfectly tasty and crispy balls of falafel. Once you've mastered the basics of falafel, check out this round-up at Connoisseurus Veg of 25 creative falafel recipes that are all 100 percent vegan, including sweet potato falafel burgers and roasted poblano with kale falafel.

Pasta

So many different varieties of pasta… so little time to make them all!

When it comes to ease and options, it doesn't get much better than cheese tortellini. Keep a bag on hand from the freezer or fresh pasta section, and you can have dinner ready in ten minutes. Toss hot tortellini with your favorite tomato sauce, stir them into butter and thawed frozen peas, or do what my grandmother did — add them to hot chicken broth with some torn greens and small white beans for a hearty and satisfying soup.

If you have a bit more time to prepare your vegetarian pasta meal, consider this vegetable lasagna from Inspired Taste filled with roasted peppers, zucchini, squash, and ricotta cheese. At Eat Yourself Skinny, stuffed shells are made easy by making them in one stove top pan, using jarred tomato sauce and plenty of fresh veggies.

Chili and stew

Chilis and stews don't need to contain meat to be hearty and fantastic. Just take this vegetarian stew from Real Simple, that's loaded with beans, spices, and sweet potatoes. It's made all the easier by cooking in your slow cooker.

Keep the slow cooker out an extra day, and you can make this recipe from The Kitchn for curried vegetable and chickpea stew, with the flavors of creamy coconut milk, cauliflower, spinach, ginger, and cloves.

The Pioneer Woman knows that a great chili doesn't need to include meat. She shares her favorite recipe for a veggie chili that's loaded with veggies, spices, and four kinds of canned beans.

Mac and cheese

Who could possibly say no to mac and cheese for supper? A meatless meal the whole family is sure to go gaga for, mac and cheese is a cinch to whip up homemade, or you could take it even easier on yourself, and jazz up a store-bought variety.

The beauty of mac and cheese is that there aren't many limits to which pastas and cheeses you can use. If you're making homemade, all you need to do is start out with making a roux in a pan. That roux then gets built into a cream sauce, and then you whisk in your cheese, until it melts into a gooey sauce. Throw in your cooked pasta, give it a stir, and you can serve it as is, or transfer everything to a baking dish and pop in the oven to develop a browned crust.

Check out Ina Garten's recipe for her classic baked mac and cheese using gruyere and extra-sharp cheddar, and topped with sliced tomato and bread crumbs. For a dose of healthiness added in, try my very own recipe for butternutty mac and cheese (trust me, they won't taste the butternut squash!). If you're looking for ways to improve on store-bought mac and cheese, try adding in thawed frozen peas, cooked broccoli florets, or roasted bell peppers.

Soup and sandwiches

There's nothing boring about a good old soup and sandwich night. You could keep it super simple by opening your favorite can of tomato soup and firing up the griddle for some grilled cheese sandwiches, or you could get a bit more creative with some fun homemade soup and sandwich options.

At Oh My Veggies, we find a round-up of 50 vegetarian sandwich recipes like "sloppy lentil" sandwiches, creamy havarti and apple slice sandwiches, and a panini stuffed with kale, garlic, and cheddar. Pair your choice with one of the 17 homemade vegetarian soups we find at Country Living, including cauliflower bisque with brown butter croutons, mushroom soup with winter vegetables, or pumpkin chowder.

Loaded baked potatoes

Ah yes, the vegetarian meal that I would not have survived my broke 20s without. There were many nights that I microwaved a huge russet or yukon gold potato, split it open, mashed up the insides, and topped it with piles of steamed broccoli and whatever kind of shredded cheese had been on sale that week. Back in the microwave it went until the cheese was just melted. If I was feeling extravagant, it might even get a dollop of sour cream.

Skinny Ms makes twice-baked veggie-stuffed potatoes using zucchini, roasted peppers, and low-fat cheese for a lighter dish. Dana at Minimalist Baker stuffs sweet potatoes with quinoa, salsa, pumpkin seeds, and avocado-cilantro sauce. At Eating Well, we find this mouth-watering combo of spinach, garlic, oregano, and feta cheese stuffed into spanakopita loaded potatoes.