Here are some substitutions that I have found helpful when converting dishes with meat to vegetarian, as well as other substitutes you may find helpful.
I will add to this page regularly as I discover new things and tips to share.
Ground, browned beef:
Crumbled Morning Star Farms Spicy Black Bean Patties. This substitution is great in things like chili, Sloppy Joes, and other dishes where the texture that is required is a bit more course and irregular. Also note that these patties do have a flavor with a bit of a spicy kick.
Green lintels. Substituting lintels for ground beef works well in dishes like tacos, ‘beef’ enchiladas or burritos. The trick is that the lintels have a mild flavor so they mimic the flavor of the sauce they are in. The texture is good but not overly noticeable, so all you get is flavor.
Flaked, canned tuna
I discovered this little trick for tuna salad–smashed garbanzo beans! Depending upon the brand, they may also be labeled chickpeas. I like Progresso.
If you’re lactose intolerant, vegan, or simply want to omit milk from your diet there are plenty of options on the market. I recommend that you try several as the taste and consistency vary widely from product to product.
I used a milk substitute for years and will still occasionally use them in my smoothies. I really like the taste of real milk and I drink that about 80% of the time. If you choose real milk please choose one that is a from a dairy that doesn’t use hormones and is humane in its treatment of the cows.
I like Blue Diamond Almond Breeze in unsweetened, vanilla flavor. Its great in smoothies that call for milk or soy milk, the flavor doesn’t over power what you’re adding it to. I also like this one over cereal and in baking as well. If making a cheese sauce I would opt for the original, unsweetened flavor. Original flavor is more neutral for cooking than the vanilla.
Blue Diamond Almond Breeze comes in Original, Vanilla, and Chocolate with a choice of both sweetened and unsweetened in each flavor.
I find soy milk, such as Silk, to resemble traditional cows milk in its consistency. The flavor is a bit richer than almond milk and it froths when using it with a cappuccino machine. Silk comes in a wide variety of flavors so it offers a wide range of choices for smoothies, coffee, cereal, baking, and cooking.
Be mindful of the sugar content when choosing a flavored variety as these tend to be a bit high in sugar.
If coconut is a favorite flavor of yours you’ll love coconut milk, if you aren’t too big on coconut flavor, I’d recommend skipping this one. The consistency is very much like almond milk–on the thin side. I would definitely not use this in recipes that weren’t complimented by a definite coconut taste. Coconut milk is made by several of the companies that also make other milk substitutes.
Rice milk has a thin consistency, and while the flavor is a mild one, I find the original flavor very bland. That being said, it does make it a good choice when you don’t want the flavor of what you’re using it in to be over powered. Do be careful though, it does have a distinctive taste. If what you are making is very bland itself you may want to use another option. My favorite brand is Rice Dream, vanilla.
For drinking, over cereal, and in smoothies I much prefer the vanilla flavor over the regular.
All of these substitutes will require some corn starch or other thickener, flour or roux, if you making a sauce as they don’t have the consistency or properties of real milk.
The one you’ll prefer will be based on your personal preference for taste, consistency, and what you’ll be using it for. I recommend that you purchase a couple and try them out. The ones that can be stored on your pantry shelves will last a while and are very convenient. If you cook from scratch, you’ll find that you will need more than one kind as the best one for cereal isn’t necessarily the one you’ll want to add to your savory recipes.