How to cook for a family of differing tastes… without wanting to curl up and cry.

Serves: 7
Prep: 10 mins
Cooking: 45 mins
Total: 55 mins
Difficulty: easy
Ideal for: mid-week meal; vegans, meat lovers

Back in my day’

When I grew up you sat down for dinner and had to ‘eat what was put in front of you’. And you weren’t allowed to leave the table until it was ‘all gone’.

Of course, as a child, I had magic mash potato. I used it like Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak to hide my peas under.

Another classic was to leave the table, plate held high above my parents heads. That way they couldn’t see what was left over.

And my third and final, get-out-of-eating-undesirable’s, was this… fill my mouth with, let’s say peas, pop off to the loo and quickly spit them out.

That one was led by my brother – and yes, yes, cheeks full and the inability to excuse myself from table may have given my parents a clue as to our cunning plan.

In fact, looking back, I don’t remember being terribly successful at fooling Mum and Dad with any of those…

Fact is, we just had to eat what we were given.

Present day

I don’t find myself (as imagined would happen when I got to be a grown-up) watching eagle-eyed over the next generation, horrified as they find creative ways to ‘expelliarmus’ the carrots from their plates or flick peas into a pot while the other one distracts us.


Instead, I find myself having to cook 2-3 different meals in the same sitting just to satisfy my own family!

When did we lose that gentle prodding threat, ‘sit-down-and-eat-your-dinner-or-there-won’t-be-any-pudding’??

Sure, I accept the world changes and some people make different choices (or follow the latest food fad). But man, it makes it hard for the cook in the kitchen!

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you may have detected we have three carnivores in the house and one vegetarian; trouble is…

The Veggie... only went and got himself a vegan girlfriend!

It was already hard enough slaving over a Sunday Roast for hours on end, only to realise, last minute, you’d forgotten to whip up a vegetarian dish.

But this, this is a whole new world of pain.

Having said that, one must adapt and learn new things. So it’s now an interesting challenge to find meals that satisfy all our needs without breaking the bank. Or breaking too much of a sweat and still being able to all sit down together for a meal.

So, can change really happen without killing you?

If you find yourself doing battle with multiple tastes that are impenetrable due to some new “admiral belief”… then I’m I here to share my new journey in handling this without losing your cooking mojo.

I hope you enjoy it, whether you are battling with different household food requirements, or you’re just hungry and fancy a new idea for supper…

This really is a winner-winner-vegan-meat-lovers-dinner.

Find my version of a Vegan Soup ‘for meat lover’s, below. Inspired by a mashup of a couple of lentil soup recipes from The First Mess and Jamie Oliver (ref. below).

Spicy vegan lentils recipe
Get all those good veggies in!
Spicy vegan lentils recipe
You have to have a bit of a sense of humour in this household
Ok, so three carnivores, a vegetarian and a vegan all walk into our house for dinner…
They all sit down and enjoy a meal together! Boom.

If you have some great recipes that can be adapted to help households handle different food preferences so families can sit down and enjoy a meal together without the cook feeling exacerbated, drop me a line or leave a comment.

Spicy vegan lentil soup… with bacon

Course Main Course
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 people
Cost £


For the non-vegan members

  • 6 rashers streaky bacon

Vegan + non-vegan

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 3 sticks celery chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped/pressed
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 3 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes but add as much or as little as you like
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 400 g tinned tomatoes
  • 500 g lentils follow the instructions on the back to prepare but go for easy
  • 800 g cannellini beans 2 tins
  • 1 ltr chicken stock
  • 2 handfuls greens or kale
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup vegan mozzarella to sprinkle on top at the end
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella


  • Finely chop the celery, carrots, onion and garlic and add to a fairly deep frying pan, on a medium heat with heated oil.
  • Add the chilli, smoke paprika, cumin and curry powder and cook for 10-15mins or until the vegetables soften.
  • In the meantime (for the meatlovers), in another frying pan with oil, add your bacon to a medium heat and gently cook until the back is oozing its delicious flavours and goes a little crispy. Set to the side.
  • Then once the vegetables are softened, add the lentils and 1 litre water or vegetable stock and bring to the boil, then simmer until soft.
  • Lastly, pour in the cannellini beans (drain first). Pour half the soup into another bowl and add the bacon and the juices
  • Bring both pans back to the boil and simmer for another 10 minutes. You may need to add a little water if the soup is a bit thick.
  • Season to taste then serve in bowls with some chopped parsley on top.
  • Perfect hearty soup for both the meat lover in the family and the vegan or vegetarian.


Be warned: 
Vegan mozzarella doesn’t melt! So if like me, you went full immersion (but still added the bacon), I wouldn’t advise it. Real mozzarella will melt and give a lovely creamy addition to the final presentation and taste.


The First Mess’ favourite lentil soup

Jamie Oliver’s Store cupboard lentil soup