Mexican and Italian foods are my favorites, and they are some of the easiest vegetarian meals that I make. Stock up on a few key ingredients that every vegetarian should have, and you’ll never be left asking, “What’s for dinner?”

Quesadillas

I could probably eat a quesadilla every day for the rest of my life without getting tired of it, and that’s probably because most days I do! When I run out of tortillas, I freak because I always count on a quesadilla as an option. It’s so simple to make: vegetarian refried beans, Mexican cheese, tortilla…and bam!

I’ve tried the 365 tortillas from Whole Foods, but so often they’ve gone moldy before the expiration date, so I’ve recently switched to Nature’s Promise tortillas from Giant. I really prefer a natural, organic tortilla with only a few ingredients as opposed to Mission — or other big brand names — tortillas with an ingredient list that’s a mile long! I go for any brand of beans, though, as long as they don’t contain lard.

Sometimes I mix it up and use refried black beans with mozzarella cheese. Whatever way I make it, it’s always quick, easy and delicious!

Pro tip: Cook quesadillas on a cast-iron skillet to get a bit of extra iron with your meal.

Want to get creative? Add peppers, corn or whole beans to your quesadillas. Try different types of cheeses, too.

Pasta

I know, I know — pasta is the typical go-to dish that restaurants have for vegetarians, and that one option sure does get old. However, I love making pasta at home because I always have the ingredients needed to throw together a unique dish. If I’m feeling simple, I’ll keep it at diced tomatoes and red onion. If I’m feeling more daring, I’ll grab cans of olives or artichoke hearts out of the cabinets, and I’ll check my fridge for peppers and/or mushrooms. Balsamic and red wine vinegar are my secret ingredients — they really add flavor!

To find a happy middle between my desire for whole wheat pasta and my fiance’s desire for white pasta, we stock up on boxes of whole grain noodles — penne and angel hair are my favorites!

Need extra protein? Add veggie crumbles or veggie meatballs. You can also try adding beans — white beans make great Italian dishes!

Chili

My cabinets are loaded with canned beans — black, pinto, kidney, cannellini, garbanzo. They’re also loaded with tomato products — crushed, diced, fire-roasted. I always keep cans of diced jalapenos and green chilies on hand, too. So within minutes I can have a delicious smelling chili simmering on the stove.

If all I have in the way of vegetables is a bag of onions, then an onion and a variety of beans and spices can make for an interesting chili. If I have vegetables in the fridge, peppers and zucchini are typically what I’ll toss in. My freezer is always stocked with Boca crumbles, so sometimes those get thrown in as well — as long as my fiance is not around because he’s convinced that too much soy will give him man boobs.

 Want to come home to a completed dinner? Throw everything in the Crockpot and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

vegetarian

So there you have it: three easy meal ideas that require no cookbooks. Happy eating!

What are your go-to vegetarian meals?

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