Turns out venturing away from tried and tested meals is quite tricky in our house.
We have a multitude of reactions to new foods.
“Whats that?” not looking terribly convinced the thing on the plate even qualifies as food
“I’m not hungry, can I have bread and butter?” instead of what ever it is I’ve just served up
“I don’t eat ______________________” looking desperate
Sometimes I think they would be less phased if I served up a locust in sweet and sour sauce.
Anyway, I share this experience because I have realised that I can’t just introduce a ‘meat free’ meal once a week and expect everyone to get behind the concept and eat the thing. The answer in our house has been to start really small.
So, where did we start? At the beginning, of course.
The bigger picture is to reduce the meat we eat. We are starting from a point where pretty much every meal has some meat in it and some meals the meat is totally front and centre. Step 1 was to get everyone to realise this and agree that trying to reduce what we were eating was a good thing. My first change was to try meat from a meat box scheme rather than the supermarket. Same ‘thing’ just from a better farming practice. This is also a nod to shopping more locally and choosing meat from grass fed animals and small farms.
Step 2 was to think of the occasional ‘meat free’ meals we have had in the past and start to slot them into the weekly meal plan. For us this happened to be baked potatoes and cauliflower cheese. Not an auspicious start but everyone ate them!!
Step 3 was to expand our repertoire so we didn’t have baked potatoes every week! We quickly added homemade carrot soup; which then morphed to carrot and sweet potato soup one day when I didn’t have enough carrots! We have also added pasta with a tomato pasta sauce and a variation of pasta with vegetables and pesto. They have gone down less well but have shown the children that we have at least four meals to eat each month.
Step 4 With increased confidence I went looking for new recipes. Or at least I took two recipe books out of the library just before the virus hit. As a result I have some improved homemade pasta sauce recipes I can make from scratch rather than the shop bought versions.
In our weeks of isolation we have extended our skills further with home baked bread and rolls to accompany our meals. The children have helped bake which makes them much more likely to eat the food on the plate!
Hope you find these steps helpful. If you are struggling with recipe ideas I can recommend keeping the food simple – most of the supermarket magazines now have vegetarian recipes in them which try to keep ingredients simple and not too many.
What are you cooking this week?