I wasn’t vegetarian when me and my husband met so we sometimes joke that I lured him in under false pretences, I would cook steaks and roasts and now I look lentils and tofu. Scott has taken to the diet changes with loving enthusiasm but he is not a vegetarian and I respect that so I make sure I cook him meat a few times a week.
The more I learn about food, and meat in particular, it makes me want to strive for maximum quality in whatever we eat and I try to keep the food we buy as close to its natural state as possible. The changes I have made for Scott are small but significant. For example I have stopped buying processed ham for sandwiches and I now buy an organic free range chicken every couple of weeks, roast it and separate it into portions to go into his lunch (something my mum has been telling me to do for years!). In fact all the meat I buy is organic and British and it is very much about the quality and not the quantity.
Evening meals can be a challenge when planning for us both. I am lucky because I have lots of time in the evenings to potter around the kitchen but it was not always so plain sailing. I have had to work out different menu combinations to ensure I am not cooking two completely separate meals every day. I have found the following tips have helped make meal times satisfying for us both without breaking my back in the kitchen.
I love one pot dishes because not only do they make cooking for different diets easier but it means you always have a portion of something delicious to pull out of the freezer when you know you will be pushed for time. I often make a big 6 portion stew based on vegetables and beans or lentils then I serve it with a portion of meat on the side for Scott and a portion of broccoli or kale for me.
The main base of the dish is made and all you have to do is oven bake or grill some meat and and boil/ steam your vegetables.
If I have time at the weekend then I sometimes make 2 big one pots, one meat based such as beef and ale stew or coq au vin and one vegetable such as lentil chilli or Irish stew. Then during the week all I have to do is heat up one portion of each and cook some vegetables to accompany it.
Curries, tagines and casseroles can all work for this!
Kind of like an Asian one pot, you can easily either make one large vegetable stir fry in one wok with your vegetables, sauce and noodles and then in another frying pan first cook your tofu (or favourite veggie stir fry topping), keep it warm to one side under some foil and then cook your meat. Then you can serve up the vegetables and noodles followed by the separate toppings. Make sure you cook the vegetarian option first!
Of course you could always cook two stir fries in two pans but I personally only have one wok and then a few frying pans.
I cook a big tray of assorted mixed vegetables pretty much every week. They make such a superb base to any meal and you can add bulky root vegetables along with lighter options such as courgettes, peppers and aubergines. Keep it light by using a spray oil and play with the flavours by mixing up spices and herbs or even adding garlic cloves and shallots.
I will often serve beef burgers/ beany burgers on the side or Scott will have a piece of meat and I will have a slice of lentil bake with a vegetarian gravy. The fact you can include the root veg and light veg means you don’t really need any extra sides except your protein.
Leftovers are also great chopped up and stirred into pasta.
We got into a routine of eating my butternut squash enchiladas once a week a while ago. The beauty is that the fillings are individually wrapped so do not mix. Fill 4 wraps (2 per person) with the butternut squash filling and then add some grilled bacon and even some cheese to two of them. Wrap them up, put into a baking tray and top with tomato sauce. Just make sure you remember which side is which
Tacos are also great for multi meal easy options as you can do a “fillings buffet” so everyone just helps themselves to what they fancy. Leftovers can be used to make a taco salad the next day!
Soup is a weekly occurrence in our house, whether it be at lunch or dinner time and it works perfectly at satisfying us both. I make a big batch of vegetarian soup to share and then serve crispbreads/ crackers or toast on the side. My bread will be topped with cheese or salad and Scott’s will be topped with lean meat.
Soup toppings can also vary, add lean chicken breast to bulk the soup up for your partner and add some cooked beans to yours.
I hope some of these tips have been helpful and showed how you can incorporate some easy meal options so that you don’t have to do too much juggling in the kitchen. Let me know what your “multi diet” tips are that you have developed!