If you're planning a party, event, or even just cooking for a family reunion, coming up with a satisfying, easy, but inexpensive vegetarian meal plan can be a challenge. Here are some meal ideas you can try that everyone can enjoy.
Lentil Tikka Masala
Chicken tikka masala is a traditional Indian dish, but it is easily made vegetarian with lentils in place of the chicken. You can buy the spices (usually paprika, cumin, ginger, garlic, turmeric, and curry) in bulk to help save on the cost of spices. The other ingredients are simply onions, butter, tomato sauce and cream. Serving the meal over rice or on naan bread makes this a satisfying and inexpensive meal option that seems much more sophisticated than it actually is. It's also simple to double or triple the batch for large groups, and leftovers taste even better the next day.
Chowder and Rolls
Usually chowder has chicken or clams, but you can make a vegetable chowder easily by boiling potatoes and carrots, draining off half of the water, and then thickening the water with milk, flour, and cheese. Add in additional mixed vegetables from a frozen blend and you have a cheesy chowder that goes great with crusty kaiser buns or bread bowls. Since potatoes are cheap to buy, enjoyed widely by people with all kinds of differing tastes, and easy to store, this option is one of the best for large groups.
Walnut Lentil Tacos
Instead of using ground beef as a base for the tacos, you can make a savory protein using cooked lentils, taco seasoning, and ground walnuts. Cook the lentils according to the package directions. Use a food processor to grind up the walnuts. Mix both together with your favorite taco seasoning. The lentils give the texture of cooked meat, and the walnuts help absorb flavor and provide the fat that is needed to bring more richness to the meal. Tortillas are simple to provide, and allowing each person to build their own taco helps cut down on prep time; all you need to do is provide toppings like chopped lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and shredded cheese. If you really feel like taking the veggie tacos to a gourmet level, consider providing black beans, cilantro, and guacamole.
Cooking vegetarian meals for a crowd can be a challenge, but with the ideas listed above, you can have great-tasting food that is easy to prepare without breaking your budget.