Eating Vegetarian Without Cooking – Taco Bar

Build your own taco bar

Build your own taco bar

Build Your Own Tacos

This is a very simple idea and was a really big hit with the kids.  I called it a “build your own taco bar” and they were sold instantly.

I think the idea that they got to choose and assemble the tacos themselves really worked.  After a particularly hard period of at least one child complaining about something I tried to serve, I decided to put the choice into their hands and it worked well.

I found hard taco shells that are flat on the bottom so they stood on the plate while we filled them up.  This would also work with tortilla shells as well.

Taco Filling

Taco shells, rice and beans, black olives

Taco shells, rice and beans, black olives

Find something good for the main filling.  I had some leftover rice so I mixed in part of a can of black beans.  My kids really don’t like black beans so this was barely passable, but the rice made it ok.  If yours like beans, then cooked black beans or other beans would make a good base filling.

Also pictured here are black olives.  These would make an acceptable main taco base in a pinch.

You could get fancy and cook up some meatless ground beef or something like crumbled tofu or seitan as well.  I was going for speed and using what I had on hand.

Taco Toppings

Taco toppings, guacamole, lettuce

Then I put out bowls of taco toppings for them to choose from.  Here are guacamole and lettuce.  I made a rule that they needed to pick at least one green item for their tacos.  One of my sons loves guacamole, but the other two kids hate it.

Taco toppings, cheese, salsa

Finally, some cheese (or cheese substitute if doing vegan) and some salsa.  Here I’ve got some Pace organic which is really good and has been popular with the kids.  They aren’t big on spice, so this is the mild, but after they rejected several other salsas, I was happy to find one they liked.


This was simple and involved no cooking at all.  I mixed beans in with the leftover rice and heated it in the microwave.  The rest was just assembling the different ingredients.  It wasn’t all that different than burritos that I serve fairly often, but the kids really liked the do-it-yourself aspect.  From that point of view it seemed like a completely new idea to them.  I plan on using this one again, and also using the “assemble yourself” idea for other meals as well.

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