Kid Friendly Recipes

Hearty Recipes for Hungry Teens (Vegan and Vegetarian)

Avocado Tempeh Reuben Sandwich recipe

If you’re feeding teenagers, especially the male variety, you know that they go through mountains of food, and your grocery bill mounts alarmingly. Here are a handful of hearty, filling dishes that won’t break the bank. Now I’m not saying that young women won’t like these hearty dishes, but in my experience, at least, they don’t eat in nearly the quantity of their male counterparts.

Kids dinner recipes cover newIf you like this post, you may enjoy Easy Vegan Dinner Recipes. It collects VegKitchen’s most popular family-friendly recipes into one compact, affordable 48-page pdf e-book that you can view on your computer or print out, pop in a binder, and keep in your kitchen. For more information, go to Easy Vegan Dinner Recipes; explore our other pdf e-books as well.

Some recipes to explore for those bottomless teen stomachs:

And make sure to explore the entire Veg Kids and Teens page on VegKitchen for lots of easy, healthy recipes for vegetarian and vegan kids and teens. For hearty meals for the entire family, please see the array of choices on VegKitchen’s Vegan Dinner Recipes page.

skillet black beans with potatoes and tortillas

Skillet Black Beans with Potatoes and Tortillas
Here’s a hearty bean dish for families that enjoy lively south-of-the-border flavors. Serve with baked sweet potatoes and a salad. Adapted from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook.

Serves: 4 to 6

  • 4 medium-large potatoes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-large onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • One 4-ounce can mild diced green chiles
  • One 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • One 16-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 6 corn tortillas, cut into short, narrow strips

Toppings (any or all):

  • Grated vegan cheese
  • Salsa
  • Vegan sour cream, homemade or store-bought

Microwave the potatoes until done but still firm. when cool enough to handle, peel and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Set aside until needed.

Heat the oil in an extra-large skillet. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and bell pepper and sauté over medium heat until the onion is golden.

Add the chiles, tomatoes, black beans, and cumin. Bring to a simmer, then simmer gently, covered, for 10 minute.

Stir in the lime juice, tortillas, and potatoes and cook briefly, just until heated through. Serve at once.


Sweet-and-Sour Seitan and Vegetables
This easy stir-fry makes a delicious and nourishing one-dish meal. Adapted from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook.

Serves: 4

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium broccoli crowns, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 medium Roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
  • One 16-ounce can pineapple chunks in unsweetened juice,
    drained, juice reserved
  • 1 pound seitan or Homemade Seitan, cut into strips


  • Reserved pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Heat the oil in a stir-fry pan or wok. Add the onion and sauté over medium-high heat, covered, until limp, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the bell peppers and zucchini and sauté, covered, another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomatoes, pineapple chunks, and seitan.

Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and stir until the cornstarch has dissolved. Pour the sauce into the skillet, bring it to a simmer, and cook at a steady simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste, and if needed, adjust the sweet-sour balance with more honey and/or vinegar.

Serve at once over noodles or rice, topping each serving with a small amount of peanuts or cashews, if desired.

pasta and cauliflower curry

Curried Pasta with Cauliflower and Chickpeas
I’ve always loved the offbeat combination of pasta and curry, and my family always liked it, too. The addition of chickpeas makes this a filling meal. This is a good dish to try out on older kids and teens open to new adventures at the dinner table. Serve with a fresh flatbread, a green vegetable (broccoli, green beans, or leafy greens) and a simple salad of tomatoes and cucumber. Adapted from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook.

Serves: 4 to 6

  • 8 to 10 ounces pasta twists (cavatappi, or cellantani),
    rotini (spirals), or medium shells
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, optional
  • 4 cups bite-sized cauliflower florets and stems
  • 15- to 16-ounce can diced tomatoes (try fire-roasted)
  • 2 teaspoons good-quality curry powder, more or less to taste
  • One 16- to 20-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/2 cup dark raisins
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
  • 1 cup rice milk
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook the pasta in plenty of steadily boiling water until al dente, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wide skillet or stir-fry pan. Add the onion and garlic sauté over medium heat until golden.

Add the cauliflower, tomatoes, and curry powder, plus 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is just tender.

Stir in the chickpeas, raisins, and peas, and milk.

Dissolve the flour in just enough rice milk to make a smooth paste. Stir into the skillet with the remaining milk. Cook for 5 minutes longer, or until the liquid has thickened and everything is well heated.

In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked pasta with the cauliflower mixture. Season with salt and pepper and toss together. Serve at once.


Baked Tofu Fajitas
Chewy baked tofu  stars in this super-easy fajita. You may not find this wonderful product in the supermarket; look for it in natural foods stores. Serve with an easy quinoa dish, like Simple Quinoa Pilaf with Peas and Almonds.

Serves: 4 (2 fajitas per serving)

  • 8 fajita-size (6- to 7-inch) flour tortillas
  • Red or green (tomatillo) salsa, to taste
  • Vegan sour cream, homemade or store-bought, or nondairy yogurt, as needed
  • One 8- to 10-ounce package baked tofu, cut into strips
  • 2 cups finely shredded lettuce

Wrap the entire batch of tortillas in foil and warm in a preheated 400-degree oven or toaster oven, just until needed.

Wrap the tofu strips in foil and heat in the oven or toaster oven briefly until warmed.

Spread a little salsa and vegan sour cream down the center of each tortilla, and arrange a few tofu strips over them. Sprinkle with some lettuce, roll up snugly, and eat out of hand.


Pasta with Hearty Lentil and Spinach Sauce
This filling and nourishing pasta dish needs little else to make a complete meal. You need only serve a big green salad and a steamed green vegetable such as broccoli or green beans to make a satisfying for eaters of all ages. If you want a little something extra for big appetites, garlic bread is wonderful with this. Adapted from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook.

Serves: 6

  • 3/4 cup raw brown or green lentils
  • 8 to 10 ounces penne, ziti, or other short, chunky pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup sliced white or cremini mushrooms, optional
  • 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and lightly drained
  • 28-ounce jar good-quality marinara sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Rinse and sort the lentils and combine them in a small saucepan with 1 1/2 cups water. Slowly bring to a simmer, then simmer very gently, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until they are tender but still hold their shape. Drain any excess water. This step can be done ahead of time.

Cook the pasta in plenty of steadily boiling water until al dente, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium-low heat until the onion is translucent. Add the bell pepper and optional mushrooms continue to sauté until the onion is golden.

Stir in the cooked lentils, spinach, and marinara sauce. Slowly bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently, for 10 minutes.

Combine the lentil sauce with the cooked pasta in a large serving container and toss together thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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  • Reply
    February 19, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    I am looking for a good vegan recipe great for kids lunches without any peanuts or Gluten.

  • Reply
    February 21, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Elle, check out our article on healthy school lunches:

  • Reply
    February 2, 2017 at 11:36 am

    The recipes look yummy and simple. Will try it out.

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