We all fall into cooking and eating ruts from time to time. Vegetarians often wonder how not to get bored as a vegetarian.
In this article, I have many tips that you can implement today to beat boredom as a vegetarian.
There are many ways to avoid getting bored as a vegetarian. Including trying new foods, flavors, cuisines, and restaurants. Find inspiration at your local grocery store or library. Consulting with family and friends and social media.
What Are The Best Ways To Beat Boredom As A Vegetarian
I don’t think being a vegetarian necessarily makes you more likely to get bored with the food you are eating.
Regardless of the diet we consume, many of us end up eating the same few meals all of the time or going to the same take-out restaurants over and over again.
The following tips are ideal for vegetarians but, would also work for all dietary preferences.
- Increase Umami Flavorings
- Try A Variety Of Proteins
- Increase Fermented Foods
- Find Inspiration
- Try New Things
- Use Menu Planning
- Avoid Routine
- Involve Your Family & Friends
- Add Seasonings & Herbs
- Grow Something
- Visit Farmers Markets
How To Increase Umami Flavors In Vegetarian Cooking
If your vegetarian cooking is feeling a little boring and lacks luster, you may be missing out on a key flavor component, Umami.
Umami is that magical flavor that can be considered as the fifth main flavor of taste along with sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.
It can be hard to describe exactly what umami tastes like but, it is a deep savory flavor in our foods.
Although many people reach for meat or fish sauce to bring that distinct umami flavor to a dish as vegetarians we need to look elsewhere.
Adding more umami to your meals can help you feel more satisfied and brings a depth of flavor to your food.
Luckily, there are many different vegetarian ingredients that we can add to bring in lots of umami.
- Worchestershire Sauce
- Tomato Paste
- Sundried Tomatos
- Aged Cheeses
- Nutritional yeast
Adding mushrooms into your dishes especially dried mushrooms like shiitake, and porcini will add lots of umami flavor. Make sure that you pre-soak the mushrooms ahead of time to rehydrate and don’t throw away the soaking water. Use the mushroom water in your dish to add even more umami.
Soy is a classic umami staple that has been used for years. Add a little soy sauce to your vegetables, rice, and soups.
The famous sauce that’s hard to pronounce. Although growing up I remember this sauce as being a dipping sauce for meat it shouldn’t be overlooked in vegetarian cooking.
Make sure that your Worcestershire sauce is vegetarian friendly since some contain fish, you can add this sauce to soups, sauteed, and roasted vegetables.
Miso is a fermented soybean paste that is full of deep salty umami flavors. Besides the classic miso soup, add miso paste to soups, noodles, and sauces.
Tomatoes are filled with glutamic acid which is found in all umami-rich foods. Since tomato paste is made of concentrated tomatoes it is filled with umami flavors.
Make sure to “wake up” your tomato paste when cooking by cooking it in the pan before adding in the additional ingredients.
Tomato paste goes great in sauces, soups, rice dishes, sauteed vegetables.
Remember, a little tomato paste goes a long way.
Very similar to tomato paste, sundried tomatoes have quadruple the amount of glutamic acid compared with fresh tomatoes making them an umami staple.
Beets are a delicious root vegetable that also contains glutamic acid. Roast beets and eat them as a side dish, add them to salads, or pickle them.
Another vegetable is rich in glutamic acid. Roast asparagus as a side dish, add it to salads, or just snack on it.
Besides containing glutamic acid, onions add a lot of flavor and depth to dishes at an affordable price. For even more depth of flavor try caramelizing some before adding them to dishes.
Aged Cheeses are full of umami and are so delicious. Some cheeses like Parmesan-Reggiano become richer with umami as they age.
Add added cheeses to rice, pasta, salads, and soups. Keep your cheese rinds and add them to your soups to add even more umami flavor.
Nutritional yeast has been a pantry staple in many vegetarian and vegan homes for years. It is a deactivated version of traditional baker’s yeast that is full of nutrients and umami flavor.
Since nutritional yeast has a cheesy flavor, add it to dishes where you would want a cheesy flavor to shine like pasta, rice, casseroles, and even sprinkle some on popcorn.
Doenjang is a fermented soybean paste that is similar to miso but, it is much darker and deeper in flavor.
Koji is a fermented grain that can add an umami flavor that is a bit fruity and sweet when added with water to make a slurry.
Marmite is a yeast extract paste that is often used in beer brewing, it can be added to soups and stews for an enhanced umami flavor.
Kombu is an edible sea vegetable that is full of rich umami flavor. Use kombu to make broths for soups.
How To Add More Vegetarian Protein To Your Cooking
As a vegetarian protein is often a topic that people can obsess over. It is important to make sure that you are eating complete meals and feel full afterward.
We can sometimes get stuck in a routine of only eating the same vegetarian proteins and get bored with a lack of variety. Try eating a different vegetarian protein with each meal of the day. Eggs with breakfast, hummus wrap for lunch, and a tofu stir-fry for dinner.
- Ezekial Bread
- Greek Yogurt
How To Add Soy Protein To Your Meals
Adding a mixture of soy foods to your meals like tofu and tempeh can help you bring in different textures to your protein-rich meals.
Cut tofu into cubes and roast it in the oven after you toss it with coconut oil and a bit of maple syrup. You can add this to many other dishes or just dip it in barbeque sauce.
Marinate tempeh after it’s cut into cubes then roast it. Mix it into a burrito filling or sandwiches.
How To Add Seitan To Your Meals
Seitan is wheat gluten that has been shaped and cooked, that has been around for many years.
Think of seitan as pre-cooked meat when thinking of how to add it to your meals.
Add seitan to casseroles, stir-fries, and stews.
How To Add Beans To Your Meals
Beans are a classic vegetarian protein. To mix up the beans in your meals try using different types of beans, make bean dips and spreads like hummus, add beans to soups, salads, casseroles, and pasta.
How To Add Nuts And Seeds To Your Meals
There are so many wonderful nuts and seeds that you can eat to add protein and variety to your meals.
Try hemp, chia, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, and pecans.
Add them to smoothies, salads, sauces, and roasted veggies.
How To Add Peanutbutter To You Meals
I could’ve included peanut butter along with nuts and seeds but, I wanted it to stand alone.
We often forget about this childhood staple that is not only delicious but, very filling.
Add peanut butter to smoothies, sauces, sandwiches, and don’t forget to use it as a dip for fruit like granny smith apple slices.
How To Add Lentils To Your Meals
Lentils are often overlooked and forgotten about but, they are a wonderful vegetarian protein.
Make dal and soups with lentils. I also like to use green lentils as a replacement for ground beef in recipes.
Adding Peas To Your Meals
Peas are a wonderful source of vegetarian protein. They can be eaten as a side, added into soup, casseroles, and salads.
I enjoy eating peas warm or cold.
How To Add Protein Rich Grains To Your Meals
Use protein-rich quinoa as a replacement for rice in recipes and as a base for both warm and cold salads.
Many other protein-rich grains like amaranth, teff, and buckwheat can be an easy replacement for your usual grains. Cook these grains according to the package.
Use Protein Rich Ezekial Bread
Swap your standard bread for protein-rich Ezekial bread for a more filling meal.
Add Protien Rich Dairy To Your Meals
If you consume dairy consider adding eggs, cheese, and yogurt to your meals.
How To Add Fermented Foods To Your Meals
Fermented foods are not only good for you but, they are delicious and full of flavor. Try adding some of these fermented foods to your meals.
- Sour Krout
- Fermented pickles
- Fermented Soy
Adding Fermented Condiments To Your Meals
Fermented sour kraut, kimchi, and pickled vegetables add so much flavor to any meal. We enjoy the occasional veggie dog loaded with sour kraut or a sandwich that includes fermented pickles.
The tang and texture that you get from eating fermented vegetables will make any meal anything but, boring.
Add Fermented Beverages To Your Day
Add in a fermented beverage like kombucha or kefir to add some flavor to your daily beverages. My favorite is a mango-flavored kombucha. It almost feels like you are drinking a soda but, it’s good for you.
Add Fermented Soy Products To Your Meals
Fermented soy like tempeh, natto, and miso will not only add protein and umami flavor to your meals but, you can enjoy the added benefits of consuming fermented foods.
Add Fermented Yogurt To Your Diet
You can add both dairy and non-dairy yogurts into your diet to add variety.
Find Inspiration To Beat Boredom As A Vegetarian
Inspiration is everywhere around us. Gathering that inspiration and organizing it in a way that we can use it is key.
Some of my favorite ways to beat boredom in the kitchen are.
- Taking pictures of products at the grocery store
- Getting cookbooks from the library
- Food brand websites
- Socal media
- Family and Friends
How To Get Inspiration At The Grocery Store
The grocery store is abundant with inspiration if you look past the ingredients staring at you.
There may be a kiosk in your store with recipe cards that you can take for free.
As you shop be aware of the pretty pictures of meals on product packaging. An example that comes to my mind is a new bowl product that one of the major tex-mex brands is selling.
There were three tasty bowls staring right at me. Instead of just buying that product full of processed ingredients I took a picture to inspire me to create similar bowls from scratch.
In the list above I also mentioned magazines. The glossy covers grab my attention every time at check out. Occasionally grab one and try some of the recipes inside.
Cooking Inspiration From The Library
Instead of buying some cookbooks that you may not even enjoy, go to your local library and browse the cookbook section.
At my library, we can even preorder books from the entire county’s system and have them waiting for us on a hold shelf.
Meal Inspiration From Food Brand Websites
Visit the websites of your favorite food brands for inspiration. They often have a section filled with recipes to make with their products.
Find Cooking Inspiration On Food Blogs
I had to mention it but, search for and save your favorite food blogs for endless recipes and inspiration.
Find Meal Inspiration On Social Media
Instagram and Pinterest are my go-to social media outlets for cooking inspirations. They are both visual which is perfect for food inspiration.
Get Inspiration From Family And Friends
Ask your family and friends what they have been eating lately and what some of their favorite meals are. Even if they aren’t vegetarians you may be inspired by their meals.
Try New Things To Avoid Getting Bored As A Vegetarian
Besides trying new recipes try going to new restaurants and trying completely new cuisines.
If you have never tried Indian food as a vegetarian start there.
Use Menu Planning To Avoid Getting Bored Eating Vegetarian Food
Plan your menus ahead of time to avoid eating the same thing over and over again.
Make a list of your favorite meals gather at least 15 to 20 to avoid boredom.
Note which meals use some of the same ingredients so you can easily gang them together in a week.
Make sure to have a variety of preparations within the week. You don’t want every meal on your weekly plan to take an hour to prepare.
Avoid Routines To Help Combat Vegetarian Boredom
Yes, I just told you to menu plan and now I am saying to avoid routines.
You can do both successfully. If you only have a handful of meals on your plan you will get bored.
Mix up your meal plan and throw in some dining-out options.
Involve Family And Friends To Avoid Cooking Boredom
Besides, asking just asking your family and friends about their favorite foods you can involve them in preparing and the sharing of meals.
Have your family join you in the kitchen to spark fun, bonding, and inspire creativity.
Host a potluck with family or friends.
Have a recipe exchange, you can even make this digital if you wanted.
Add Different Seasonings And Herbs To Your Food
Explore the spice aisle at the store and try some new flavor combinations.
Try adding fresh herbs if you haven’t already.
Grow Some Of Your Own Foods
It sounds like a big undertaking but, it doesn’t need to be. Grow some herbs or a pot of tomatoes and peppers.
There is nothing comparable to the flavor and texture of homegrown produce.
If you can try growing something it will add more flavor and life to your meals.
Head To The Farmers Market To Beat Cooking Boredom
The farmers market is a great alternative or addition to growing your own food.
The fresh locally grown produce can not be beaten. If you are not sure how to prepare something, ask the farmer I am sure they would be glad to give you ideas.
Eating vegetarian food does not need to be boring with so many different foods, flavors, and textures to enjoy all it takes is a little effort and the addition of the perfect ingredients or methods to spark joy.
I hope you found a few suggestions in this article that you can try today to beat cooking boredom.