Family-Friendly Meal Plan: Week #21

It is hard to believe this will be my last official meal plan shared here on the blog.

In case you missed my announcement at the beginning of May (you can see it here), this comes with an exciting opportunity for me to provide more valuable content in an even better platform than these meal plans via weekly posts. I appreciate knowing how much everyone has used and appreciated these as a weekly resource. I look forward to continuing to make them available soon through another awesome opportunity I am doing as a collective with Feeding Littles!

If you want to be kept up to date about the release of our new project, I encourage you to subscribe here so you get our release date and more importantly, subscriber-only coupon codes!

Together myself, Megan, and Judy (both from Feeding Littles) are so excited about what we have in store for you (make sure you stay in the know here)! I know that if these meal plans have been helpful to you so far, you will love having them all in one place with our new offering.

For now, here is one last meal plan for you to enjoy this spring and into the summer! Thanks so much for your ongoing interest and support.

 

Veggies & Virtue Meal Plan: Week of May 27

 
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STEP 1: PLAN

If you have been following the past 20+ weeks of meal plans, do you feel like you can now plan, pick, pair, purchase, and prep like a pro?

It does take some practice but I hope this outline has helped to equip you with a better understanding of how to walk through meal planning in a way that works for you and your family. If you want more concrete tips and meal planning templates to use from here on out, please check out the link immediately below to grab your copy of my "Meal Planning Playbook." It is an outline of the five steps I suggest for meal planning, as well as details on how to be more successful with each. There are also two varieties of meal planning templates to use and my healthy-family grocery list for you to continue to reprint each week or as needed!

Get my Meal Planning Playbook (currently on sale) HERE!


STEP 2: PICK

A SPECIAL THANKS TO EACH OF THE FOLLOWING CONTRIBUTORS FOR THE DELICIOUS RECIPE IDEAS THIS WEEK!

Dinner Menu:

1 ǁ Seafood Sunday: Cajun Grilled Shrimp (Recipe by @firstandfull)

2 ǁ Meatless Monday: Trader Joe's 1-minute Lentil Salad (Recipe from @traderjoes)

3 ǁ Taco Tuesday: Grilled Fish Tacos (Recipe from @cookingclassy)

4 ǁ Asian Night: Lettuce Wraps (Recipe by @mydiaryofus)

5 ǁ Salad Night: Kale Peach Salad (by @detoxinista)

6 ǁ Pasta Night: Pesto with Cybele's Veggie Noodles (store-bought)

7 ǁ Family Night Out (slash Mom's Night Off!)


STEP 3: PAIR

Want more ideas and encouragement for how to offer #onemealtwoways from this week’s meal plan? You can follow me and check out this hashtag on Instagram to get new ideas of how we are making one meal work for the whole family (apprehensive eaters included!).

Otherwise, email subscribers have gotten a breakdown of how we use "#loveitlikeitlearningit" for any of the meals we offer during the week for every one of the meal plans I have shared in 2018. I will continue to share these on the meal plans offered through my upcoming project with Feeding Littles, so I encourage you to subscribe here if you want more information about when that becomes available!


STEP 4: PURCHASE

What I Buy and Why: A highchair at the right height*

*This post is sponsored by Regalo. All opinions are my own.

As we prepare for baby #3, there are a lot of infant products I look back on and laugh at being so "research-savvy" about in anticipation for our firstborn that later proved to be silly first time mom "mistakes." The saying goes you don't know what you don't know but nothing could be more true than when it comes to infant high chairs and toddler booster seats.

After five years now as a parent and even longer as a feeding professional, I have such a better sense of what I wish I would have considered when I first bought a high chair (before our oldest was born). I have tested SEVERAL out there, keeping some and letting others go, only to learn what I did, and more importantly didn't, want in a high chair.

A high chair or toddler booster seat is synonymous with a daily war zone where mom is 0-497 for winning against food. It is a messy place for exploring food, and don't get me wrong - one of my FAVORITE places to experience children in their element. But I thought I would share this criteria to any new mom who is considering what high chair or booster seat to buy:

1. Ease of clean: This is the big one, but you don't realize quite how much so until you have had kids and see how messy meal times really are - especially when happening so many times a day. Something I could wipe clean without having to disassemble or machine wash is a must to me, especially now with three littles to clean up after each meal.

2. Portability: Is this ONE high chair something you could easily pack up and take to a friend's house, out of town, or even to a restaurant if you wanted to? I love having something I can pack up easily, is compact, and can even fit in with the car seat as checked luggage when we go on a flight. It could be in addition to a more permanent solution at home, but honestly, I find a single adjustable booster seat can dual at home and away just fine. Plus within the home, I want something that is manageable around our current kitchen set-up and doesn't require it's own "space" (often away from the family table). For us, that means my youngest uses a booster like this one both at home and away.

3. Longevity of use: Personally, I hate buying kids products that last for only a short window when others may suffice for a much longer stint. That's why I would love to spare some parents wasting the money that we did when we first invested in a traditional infant high chair when our oldest first began solids. By the time she was a year old, I knew I disliked how much space it took up in our house, how awkward it was to pull up to the table, and the hassle of cleaning all of its nooks and crannies after each time she ate. For this reason, we got rid of it when we moved and immediately transitioned her to a toddler booster seat (like this one). The toddler seat worked just fine for her up until she was 2.5 years old, when my next daughter began using it as we introduced solids again with her.

4. Adequate support: Too often, I see parents go from infant high chair to their child having minimal added support at the table as an older toddler. While some older kids may still benefit from special seats or books on a stool to support their feet, giving young children proper core support to aid in the difficult task of eating is important. As I shared in this post on 7 Ways to Keep Your Child Seated at the Table, a booster seat with straps and proper support can play a big role in trying to move beyond solely "self-feeding" to actual life skills around family meal times and appropriate table behavior.

5. Affordable: As much as I love feeding products and novelty kitchen gadgets, at the core I am still a budget-minded-mom who wants to see what is worth the splurge and where I can save without noticing much of a difference. That's why I often encourage friends to add booster seats like this one to their baby registries and personally gift them at baby showers. I know firsthand that these have met my criteria for the above four items and are something my family has used day in and day out without missing the bells and whistles of other, more expensive high chairs. Plus, beyond boosters like this one by Regalo making a great gift, I feel good giving them as a "mother-tested, dietitian-approved" tool for feeding.

I hope this information provided some helpful food for thought if you are in the market for a infant high chair or toddler booster seat, or something that can function as both like this one by Regalo! If you'd like to try it out, get 10% off a Right Height Booster seat with coupon code "BOOSTER10" on Regalo's website.

What kind of chair does your child use?


Want my free grocery list download? Download it here.

Want your own tear-off pad of my go-to grocery list to keep on the fridge? Order your 6-month magnetic grocery list notepad here.


STEP 5: PREP

Steps to simplifying:

1 ǁ Seafood Sunday: Cajun Grilled Shrimp (Recipe by @firstandfull)

  • Make your marinade and chimichurri sauce in advance. Thaw shrimp within 24-hours before eating.

2 ǁ Meatless Monday: Trader Joe's 1-minute Lentil Salad (Recipe from @traderjoes)

  • Easy-peasy idea! No prep required.

3 ǁ Taco Tuesday: Grilled Fish Tacos (Recipe from @cookingclassy)

  • Make your slaw in advance. Combine all the oils, juice, and spices for the marinade in advance and add to fish prior to cooking.

4 ǁ Asian Night: Lettuce Wraps (Recipe by @mydiaryofus)

  • Make the filling and dipping sauce in advance. Wash and dry lettuce leaves and store with a paper towel in the fridge.

5 ǁ Salad Night: Kale Peach Salad (by @detoxinista)

  • Make salad dressing in advance. Buy pre-washed baby kale.

6 ǁ Pasta Night: Pesto with Cybele's Veggie Noodles (store-bought)

  • Use a premade pesto and toss over noodles while they are still hot for a one-pot meal!

7 ǁ Family Night Out (slash Mom's Night Off!)


Family-Friendly Meal Plan: Week #20

Do you know what you are making for your Memorial Day festivities yet?

I love holiday weekends in the summer when everyone is outside, kicked back, and enjoying the warmer weather. Outside of tasty ideas for what's on the menu (shared below!), I have some other considerations for How to Best Handle Holiday Picnics, Summer Potlucks, and Picky Eaters that may help you with "what to plan" for your weekend fun.

 

Veggies & Virtue Meal Plan: Week of May 20

 
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STEP 1: PLAN

Depending on what your plans for the holiday weekend, you will find a variety of crowd favorites on this week's menu. Ranging from pasta salad to cobb salads (both of which make great sides to bring to any potluck!) or grilled chicken or salmon that can be made as a larger fillet (if you find yourself hosting!), I hope some of the ideas below get you ready for next weekend and the togetherness that three-day weekends bring!


Interested in walking through the steps to meal plan like a pro?

Download your copy of my Meal Planning Playbook. It outlines the following five steps of successful meal planning in more detail so you can achieve "Less Meal Time Stress and More Feeding Success" for your own family!

On sale!


STEP 2: PICK

A special thanks to Fruit Bliss for sponsoring this week's meal plan!

Dinner Menu:

1 ǁ Seafood Sunday: Roasted Salmon with Herbs (Recipe by @InaGarten)

2 ǁ Meatless Monday: Mexican Quinoa Salad (by @minimalistbaker)

3 ǁ Taco Tuesday: Slow-Cooker Carnitas (Recipe from @chewsfoodwisely and shared in this FREE download)

4 ǁ Salad Night: Build Your Own Chopped Cobb Salad (Recipe by @skinnytaste)

5 ǁ Pasta Night: Tuscan Pasta Salad (by @alyssa_therecipecritic)
Made with
these Organic Turkish Tomato Halves from Fruit Bliss (Sponsored)

6 ǁ Grill Night: Marinated Grilled Chicken (by @veggiesandvirtue) 

7 ǁ Family Night Out (slash Mom's Night Off!)


STEP 3: PAIR

Ideas and encouragement for how to offer #onemealtwoways from this week’s meal plan!

Family Meal: Baked cod, roasted asparagus, this Tuscan Pasta Salad made with these Organic Turkish Tomato Halves from Fruit Bliss (Sponsored), and mandarin oranges for dessert.

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Kids plate:
LOVE IT:
plain noodles in EVOO, mandarin oranges
LIKE IT: baked cod
LEARNING IT: pasta salad, roasted asparagus

Parent's plate: Similar to my child's although I ate the savory options together and saved the mandarin oranges for last.

Notes: My oldest tends to prefer no sauce on her noodles, nor other ingredients mixed in so we offered the pasta salad both plain and composed as the recipe calls for so both girls could try it either way. They also just tried their first mandarin oranges recently when eating out on vacation and really liked them. Although they aren't a fruit-alternative we will have often (due to them not being as nutritionally-dense as other options they also enjoy), we serve fruit for dessert Sunday through Thursdays so it was a sweet option the girls enjoyed alongside our family meal. Of note, both girls tried the learning it foods but neither "ate" them, per say beyond their initial touch, lick, or taste.


STEP 4: PURCHASE

 
  This post is sponsored by Fruit Bliss. All opinions are my own.

This post is sponsored by Fruit Bliss. All opinions are my own.

 

What I Buy and Why: Fruit Bliss Sun Dried Tomatoes (Sponsored)

Parents are always asking me how to get their kids to eat more vegetables or how to expand on a child's existing favorite(s) in a few more ways. Especially with smaller children who can't (or won't!) crunch through raw produce as well, finding safe and enjoyable veggies can be a bit of a trick.

That's one of the reasons I love the products by Fruit Bliss, including these Organic Turkish Tomato Halves. If you saw me share any other of Fruit Bliss's organic dried fruit on my Instagram stories, you might remember my sharing how their products were significantly more tender than most dried fruits I find at the grocery store. This not only makes them more flavorful to eat, but as a mom with young kids it also helps reassure me that my girls can safely chew the foods (which isn't always the case with dried fruit as it can be a choking hazard to small children). The dietitian in me also appreciates that the ingredient list is simple and preservative-free to include only organic sun-dried tomatoes, water, and salt.

These Fruit Bliss tomatoes are tender enough that they resemble a really soft dried fruit and yet they have a savory taste that offers a tasty twist on traditional raw tomatoes. If your child is still learning to like tomatoes in their plain, fresh form, consider trying these sun-sweetened tomatoes:

  • At breakfast: alongside scrambled eggs, avocado, and whole grain toast with butter
  • At snacks: Cut them up into smaller pieces to add into for a "salty  mix" with a variety of snack crackers, pea crisps, veggie straws, freeze-dried veggies, and/or popcorn (again, note choking hazard with small kids)
  • At lunch: Build your own English muffin pizzas. While you make them, have a taste test of fresh tomato slices, cherry tomato halves, pizza sauce, and these sun-sweetened tomato halves. Talk about how pizza sauce is made from tomatoes and all the different ways you can enjoy these, including diced up as a pizza topping! 
  • At dinner: Use them in place of sun-dried tomatoes in the Tuscan Pasta Salad  recipe shared above! We will be making this again for a Memorial Weekend backyard picnic. When doing so, you can make this assembled in advance (as advised below) or offer it up deconstructed with the noodles, sauce, and tomato halves separate and let them self-toss their pasta salad so they can try the ingredients individually. Doing this, they may learn to like the tender, easy-to-chew nature of these sun-sweetened tomato halves much more than they do their raw or sun-dried counterparts!

To get your Fruit Bliss Organic Tomato Halves, be sure to enter my giveaway over on my Instagram account! Otherwise, you can go ahead and order them online or find a retailer for Fruit Bliss products near you.


Want my free grocery list download? Download it here.

Want your own tear-off pad of my go-to grocery list to keep on the fridge? Order your 6-month magnetic grocery list notepad here.


STEP 5: PREP

Want to get ahead?

Pasta salad is one of my favorite items to make the day ahead and keep in the fridge - either for lunch leftovers during the week or to easy grab and go after wrangling our kids and packing up what feels like a million items for a picnic or play date!

If you want an easy idea to take (or make!) this Memorial Day, go ahead and order these Organic Turkish Tomato Halves. Then make this pasta salad up to 24 hours in advance and you'll have the perfect side dish to add to any Memorial Day menu.


Family-Friendly Meal Plan: Week #19

Happy almost Mother's Day!

Knowing that almost all of my audience is made up of moms, I want to personally send my warm wishes to you for a special day of celebrating YOU this weekend! While you may be the main cook in the family (like me!), I hope that you either get a day off from cooking or find a new favorite meal from the menu below to enjoy around the table with those who fondly call you mom/mommy/mama.

 

Veggies & Virtue Meal Plan: Week of May 13

 
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STEP 1: PLAN

I admit, this week's plan was made up of many of MY favorites! Because even though what my kids *will* (or likely will not!) eat drives a lot of decisions around here, many of you know I am not shy to still try to introduce them to new flavors and other's favorites as well. So in honor of mom this week, I planned meals that are ones I often crave and enjoy!

If you want to see how I breakdown each meal to make sure that everyone has something at the table to enjoy (even if the main dish shown below itself isn't their favorite!), be sure you sign up for my newsletter where I give a full meal plan of the main course plus #loveitlikeitlearningit options for what goes with each night's menu.


Interested in walking through the steps to meal plan like a pro?

Download your copy of my Meal Planning Playbook. It outlines the following five steps of successful meal planning in more detail so you can achieve "Less Meal Time Stress and More Feeding Success" for your own family!

On sale!


STEP 2: PICK

A special thanks to each of the following contributors for the delicious recipe ideas this week!

Dinner Menu:

1 ǁ Seafood Sunday: Grilled Snapper Vera Cruz (Recipe by @foodnetwork)
Made with snapper from our Fish Fixe delivery.

2 ǁ Meatless Monday: Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad (Recipe by @natashaskitchen)

3 ǁ Taco Tuesday: Taco Bowls (Recipe by @damndelicious)

4 ǁ Asian Night: General Tso's (Recipe by @skinnytaste)

5 ǁ Salad Night: Blueberry Feta Salad (Recipe by @lemontreedwelling)

6 ǁ Pasta Night: Spaghetti (Recipe by @wholesome_child)

7 ǁ Family Night Out (slash Mom's Night Off!)


STEP 3: PAIR

Ideas and encouragement for how to offer #onemealtwoways from this week’s meal plan!

Family Meal: Blueberry feta and almond spinach salad (recipe from @lemontreedwelling above) with red potatoes and a whole roasted rotisserie chicken

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Kids plate (self-served by my 4 yo):
LOVE IT:
blueberries, roasted chicken legs, roasted red potatoes
LIKE IT: shredded spinach
LEARNING IT: feta, toasted almonds

My plate: I had some roasted chicken breast with potatoes and a tossed salad

I love roasting whole chickens. It allows my daughters to eat their favorite part (the legs), my husband to have his favorite (dark meat) and me as mom to eat a small amount of chicken breast while still having plenty leftover for lunches or another dinner during the week!


STEP 4: PURCHASE

 
 

What I Buy and Why: Cybele's Veggie Pasta

If you have followed any of my "Feeding Therapy Thursday" tips on Instagram, you know I am often taking about food chaining and how to gradually introduce more variety into our children's diets using small, singular changes to "love it foods" (or those foods we know our children tend to prefer). While it may seem like changing something as simple as the shape or the color of a pasta noodle is no big deal, any of us with apprehensive eaters knows that these changes can make or break a meal time.

That's one of the reasons I have LOVED introducing Cybele's Veggie Pasta in my home. Unlike a generic box of noodles or even a whole grain option, Cybele's allows me to food chain a favorite food (pasta) in a way that gets key nutrients in as well. With short ingredient lists containing only the foods my kids are otherwise "learning to like" (like lentils, cauliflower, kale, pumpkin, butternut squash, beets, sweet potatoes, and parsnips!), I have been able to swap out a standard noodle for Cybele's to provide a much bigger nutritional punch.

It has taken some time for my oldest to accept noodles in different shapes and especially any noodle made from lentils, but the first time I introduced Cybele's pink "princess noodles" (made from ren lentils, beets, sweet potatoes and carrots - that's it!), she took to them! Ever since, we continue to rotate through the colors as a fun new "love it food" I can feel good about offering.


Want my free grocery list download? Download it here.

Want your own tear-off pad of my go-to grocery list to keep on the fridge? Order your 6-month magnetic grocery list notepad here.


STEP 5: PREP

Suggested things I do to make my mom life easier:

1 ǁ Seafood Sunday: Grilled Snapper Vera Cruz (Recipe by @foodnetwork)

  • Use Fish Fixe for easy thawing. Make Vera Cruz sauce in advance. Wash and snap ends off of asparagus.

2 ǁ Meatless Monday: Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad (Recipe by @natashaskitchen)

  • Make in advance to eat for lunch and on taco night.

3 ǁ Taco Tuesday: Taco Bowls (Recipe by @damndelicious)

  • Cook rice and taco meat in advance. Prep corn to grill.

4 ǁ Asian Night: General Tso's (Recipe by @skinnytaste)

  • Buy pre-riced cauliflower. Make white rice in advance to mix.

5 ǁ Salad Night: Blueberry Feta Salad (Recipe by @lemontreedwelling)

  • Make salad dressing. Roast chicken in advance, or buy an already-made rotisserie if in need of an extra-easy dinner.

6 ǁ Pasta Night: Spaghetti (Recipe by @wholesome_child)

  • Make spaghetti sauce recipe in advance.

7 ǁ Family Night Out (slash Mom's Night Off!)

  • Put your feet up, and make someone else do the dishes!

Family-Friendly Meal Plan: Week #18

Summer is nearing in, the kids are almost out of school, and third trimester is creeping up on me! This has me planning and preparing for the next few months before baby #3's arrival in hyper-efficiency mode!

I am delighted by the overwhelming response to my weekly meal plans and how many of you have shared either publicly (on social media) or privately (via sweet emails and PMs) how much they have helped you and your family achieve variety in what is offered while also striving for less meal time stress and more feeding success. That was my aim and I am encouraged it has been achieved so far!

That's also why I am officially giving the one month countdown.

For the month of May, I will continue to share these weekly meal plans that so many of you are familiar with my doing. Come June 1st, my blog content will be shifting a bit to make room for an exciting new opportunity where my NEW meal plans will be housed each month!

This is an exciting collaboration with other experts in my field and a resource that I know many of you will find even more helpful than the complete meal plans I am sharing in my weekly emails (join here, if you aren't already subscribed!). If you would like to be among the first to know what is coming, when to get in on it, and how to access such meal plans after this month at a discount (as well as tons of other helpful printables and guides!), be sure to join the thousands of other mamas who already receive my newsletter.

I will be sharing more updates and exclusive discounts to my most loyal followers there, and I would love for you to be a part!

 

Veggies & Virtue Meal Plan: Week of May 6

 
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STEP 1: PLAN

Curious - do you plan your family's meals around the main course/protein? Or do the veggies take center stage in your meal planning efforts? Send me a quick note to share!

As I consider what we are making each month, it has me rethinking how I can highlight seasonal produce more in the coming months. I am excited to hear if and how this would be helpful to you!


Interested in walking through the steps to meal plan like a pro?

Download your copy of my Meal Planning Playbook. It outlines the following five steps of successful meal planning in more detail so you can achieve "Less Meal Time Stress and More Feeding Success" for your own family!

On sale!


STEP 2: PICK

A special thanks to each of the following contributors for the delicious recipe ideas this week!

Dinner Menu:

1 ǁ Seafood Sunday:  Salmon with Yogurt Sauce (from @foodnetwork)

2 ǁ Meatless Monday: Avocado Egg Salad (by @gimmedelicious)

3 ǁ Taco Night:  "Build Your Own Taco Bar" (by @veggiesandvirtue)

4 ǁ Asian Night: Sesame Orange Chicken (by @cleanlittleplates)

5 ǁ Grill Night: Honey Chicken Kabobs (by @allrecipes)

6 ǁ Pasta Night: Lentil-based pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, marinated mozzarella balls, broccoli, cucumbers, and berries (from my Costco printable shared here)

7 ǁ Family Night Out (slash Mom's Night Off!)


STEP 3: PAIR

In honor of Cinco de Mayo this weekend, I am bringing back a fun reminder for how to make "one meal, two ways" via tacos!

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I previously shared a post for how to create a "Build Your Own Taco Bar" set up here. You can use the recipe for taco meat or meat alternative shared on the post, or any other favorite your family has for tacos!

Whichever recipe you choose, I encourage you to try this type of set-up with your kiddos. It makes for a hands on meal that kids can customize however they'd like! Plus, as they become more adventurous in eating, they continue to try new flavor combinations and hopefully eat more veggies too!

 


STEP 4: PURCHASE

What I Buy and Why: Product Feature of the Week

I love stir-fry but I loathe having to cut all those vegetables on busy nights before dinner. That's why I love having a bag of frozen veggies on hand, like this one I get at Costco or Costco's big bag of frozen organic broccoli!

I have tried broccoli in this week's orange chicken and a veggie medley in the Cashew Chicken recipe (shared here) using both fresh-cut produce and frozen produce poured straight from these bags and don't know that I can notice a difference with either! Plus, frozen vegetables are often flash-frozen at their prime, so nutrients lost in freezing is not something to worry about.

Do you keep frozen veggies on hand? Which are your families favorites?

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Want my free grocery list download? Download it here.

Want your own tear-off pad of my go-to grocery list to keep on the fridge? Order your 6-month magnetic grocery list notepad here.


STEP 5: PREP

Admittedly, I haven't been doing a lot of meal prep in advance. Between being gone on the weekend and just straight tired on the Sundays I am home, I have been utilizing more shortcuts than my usual for meal prep.

Be it pre-diced onion, jarred minced garlic, or the frozen veggies shared above, these are all easy and efficient ways to make this week's menu items easier to execute!


More Than Mom Summit

I know that you may be used to seeing my weekly meal plans on the blog each week, but this week I am sharing another special offer with you.

If you aren't interested (although keep reading, because it is FREE!), no offense taken. Feel free to hop back on over to my blog and snag a meal plan from the past few weeks and months here.

If you might be interested in learning about a recent opportunity I took part in for the upcoming More than Mom Summit, I wanted to go ahead and share it with you. It is totally free (with no sales pitches), and I get no kickback besides the chance to share info I think is good food for thought with an audience of like-minded moms.

So I hope you won't mind the brief interruption in my usual emails to share a bit more about this summit below.

For me, being a mom has been one of the craziest journeys I’ve ever been on. I’ve learned more about my fears, passions, insecurities, and desires as a mom than I could have ever imagined. I’ve also learned how to release control and embrace the unknown. I wouldn’t trade motherhood for the world, but I admit that sometimes it can be really hard.

That's why I was honored to be asked by fellow mom Renae Fieck to contribute as one of many speakers for The More than Mom Summit: How to Let Go of Mom Guilt, Take Care of Yourself, and Rediscover You.

This is a community of moms who are sharing their knowledge about letting go of mom guilt, finding the space to practice self-care, and acknowledge our deep desires that say we are created for more. I am so excited to be a part of this interview series, and the community of over 20 women (including Leeana Tankersley, Jill Savage, Suzi Whitford, Jenny Layton, and Ashley Willis, just to name a few), to share with you what we’ve learned through our journeys of motherhood.

Like Renae, we’ve all had times in life where we’ve spent more energy and time taking care of everyone else but ourselves...the you inside got lost in the midst of the endless daily to-do’s. We’ve all felt overwhelmed, exhausted, and depleted. We all struggle through wanting to feel more joy each day and have found ways to create space within the chaos of life.

Being a great mom is not about overextending and trying to do it all, but about slowing down and acknowledging that sacred part of ourselves that wants to be seen.

That's why I’m offering you a complimentary ticket to attend the More than Mom Summit here. You can register using this link. The summit starts on April 30th, but you can access these interviews at your convenience anytime after that.

And while it might surprise you, this summit is NOT 100% focused on all things food and feeding.

Our summit is perfect for the mom who:

  • Wants more space
  • Wants to feel more joy, slow down, release expectations, and be fully present
  • Wants to enjoy spending time with her kids and her spouse
  • No longer wants to feel full of regret
  • Wants a deeper relationship with her loved ones
  • Knows deep down she has more to offer the world beyond just doing laundry and dishes

We will cover:

  • How we can break free from the mom expectations, comparison game, and stay in our own lane
  • How to not lose yourself in the season of having young kiddos
  • What to do when you feel like you have no time to care for yourself
  • Tips to streamline your budget and meal planning so you have more freedom to focus on the things you truly love
  • What to do when we feel disconnected from our spouse
  • Raw, mom-life emotions and how we process them

These interviews are real and vulnerable. These are real moms who have learned that mom-life can be a place to thrive, not just survive. And although I know firsthand feeding our families can be hard, I also hope that my interview with Renae will bring some peace of mind to all those fellow overwhelmed mamas out there.

You are worth the time to hear from these 20 women about how to slow down, feel restored, live intentionally, pursue your passions, and still have time for your loved ones. Will you join me?!

I look forward to participating along with you and our community of women, to learn and grow together!

Register here with your complimentary ticket to listen in!


I hope this makes for a refreshing change in content to share. If this isn't your thing though, fear not as I'll be back next week with more on creating less meal time stress and more feeding success!

Family-Friendly Meal Plan: Costco Faves

Hey Hey! It is my birthday week, which also means it is officially one year since I started Veggies & Virtue LLC! So since nothing says "Happy Birthday" like a meal I don't have to make, we are going back to some of these tried-and-true Costco favorites for this week's EASY, EFFORTLESS meal plan!

 

Veggies & Virtue Meal Plan: Week of April 22

 
 

STEP 1: PLAN

Knowing that we would be out of town visiting my mom and stepdad in Florida this week and into next, I wanted something EASY to come home to. For us, that means a Costco-run with lots of ready-made favorites. All I have to do is shop for the menu below, unload the groceries, and then reheat and/or assemble each night's dinner. This is exactly my kind of plan after returning home from a week away!

Be sure to share or pin this post so that YOU can reference it later when you are returning home and wanting some effortless meal ideas already assembled!


Interested in walking through my five steps to meal planning like a pro?

Download your copy of my Meal Planning Playbook. It outlines the following five steps of successful meal planning in more detail so you can achieve "Less Meal Time Stress and More Feeding Success" for your own family!

ON SALE!


STEP 2: PICK

Each ready-made item is available at Costco and included as a free download here.

Dinner Menu:

1 ǁ Seafood Sunday: Smoked salmon Caesar salad (with added spinach), gluten-free rolls, and apple slices

2 ǁ Meatless Monday: Quinoa salad with hummus cups, healthy dippers, and grapes

3 ǁ Taco Tuesday: Southwest salad with nacho bar and corn on the cob

4 ǁ Asian Night: Teriyaki chicken meatballs with brown rice noodles, broccoli, edamame, and pineapple

5 ǁ Breakfast for Dinner: Superhero scrambled eggs with all-natural sausage, toast, and a pomegranate chia smoothie

6 ǁ Italian Night: Pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, marinated mozzarella balls, broccoli, cucumbers, and berries

7 ǁ Burger Night: Chicken burgers with sweet potato fries and satsumas

STEP 3: PAIR

One Meal, Two Ways!

 Kid's plate only shown

Kid's plate only shown

Kid's Plate:
LOVE IT: Brazi Bites, Honey Smoked Salmon, apple slices, water
LIKE IT: croutons
LEARNING IT: Caesar salad

My Plate: Smoked salmon Caesar salad (with added spinach and no croutons), gluten-free rolls, and apple slices

A lot of parents may assume there kids wouldn't eat "salmon salad ceasar salads" for dinner. But break it down in kid-friendly way by making preferred foods stand out with non-preferred foods, and this is a great family-friendly option with something everyone can enjoy!

Want the breakdown of how we use "Love it, Like it, Learning it" with EACH meal idea shared for the week? 
CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP.

My newsletter subscribers benefit from seeing how EACH meal plan menu item is broken down with "Love it, Like it, Learning it" suggestions (based on my children's preferences). This is free for subscribers and removes the guesswork with what (or how!) to serve each of the weekly menu items.


STEP 4: PURCHASE

What I Buy and Why: Block Cheese

I get asked A LOT about what items I buy at Costco versus elsewhere, so I am going to share one I get asked about a lot: block cheese!

It is so much more cost-effective to buy a large block of cheddar cheese and then to self-shred it. They have several varieties and brands at Costco; most coming in 2-pound loaves but all less-expensive in unit prices than what the equivalent cheese costs at the store. Shredding this cheese technically adds a prep-step to this week's meal plan, but I find that the result is such fresh, flavorful cheese compared to pre-shredded cheese bought in a bag (since often in that cheese, there are added fillers that act as anti-caking agents so the cheese appears nice and shredded vs as one big clump).

What I do is shred one-quarter to one-half of the block at a time. I use our grater attachment on the food processor for this, so it keeps it super easy to grate up. Then, I usually store with a paper towel (just to be safe in case there is any moisture in the bag) in a bag with the shredded cheese. This allows us to have fresh shredded cheese on hand that's less expensive and tastes (and melts!) better! I find it stays fresh once shredded for easily a week in the fridge, allowing us to buy about one block a month instead of a smaller block at the standard grocer each week.

For more ideas on What I Buy and Why - Costco edition,
get your copy of this free Costco dinner ideas download here!


STEP 5: PREP

None! This week's meal plan is intended to be nearly effortless outside of making a trip to Costco in and of itself! Also, by stocking some of these staples at your home, you will have them on hand for future nights when you need easy meal ideas.

So be sure to put these items on your grocery list, or better yet - use either the free download or magnetic grocery list below to color-code which items you will pick up from Costco next time you go! I find it to be so helpful to use these to help organize which grocery items I need to buy where.

 

WANT MY FREE GROCERY LIST DOWNLOAD? DOWNLOAD IT HERE.

WANT YOUR OWN TEAR-OFF PAD OF MY GO-TO GROCERY LIST TO KEEP ON THE FRIDGE? ORDER YOUR 6-MONTH MAGNETIC GROCERY LIST NOTEPAD HERE.

Family-Friendly Meal Plan: Week #16

We are heading out of town this week, so I won't make it through each of these meal ideas before we do. I love knowing these will be favorites for our Spring line-up though, as each are tried and true favorites around here whether we crave cold quinoa salad, grilling, an easy option in the oven, or a convenient take on fajitas in the crockpot.

I hope the menu for this week offers you and your family some new favorites as well!

 

Veggies & Virtue Meal Plan: Week of April 15

 
meal plan thumbnail (15).png
 
 

STEP 1: PLAN

We are excited to be diving into grilling season! Living in Houston, we are blessed to grill majority of the year. I know in terms of sharing these meal plans though, that many of you may lie in colder climates! So while we will still be busting out the Crockpot to save us from turning on the oven in Spring and Summer months, I am excited to also begin integrating more recipes that can be grilled!


Interested in walking through the steps to meal plan like a pro?

Download your copy of my Meal Planning Playbook. It outlines the following five steps of successful meal planning in more detail so you can achieve "Less Meal Time Stress and More Feeding Success" for your own family!

On sale!


STEP 2: PICK

A special thanks to each of the following contributors for the delicious recipe ideas this week!

Dinner Menu:

1 ǁ Seafood Sunday: Asian Salmon (Recipe by @DamnDelicious)
Made with salmon from our Fish Fixe delivery.

2 ǁ Meatless Monday: Mediterranean Quinoa Salad (Recipe by @veggiesandvirtue)

3 ǁ Taco Tuesday: Steak Fajitas (Recipe by @geniuskitchen)

4 ǁ Asian Night: Shrimp Curry (Recipe by @thepioneerwoman)
Made with shrimp from our Fish Fixe delivery.

5 ǁ Pasta Night: Trader Joe's Bruschetta Chicken (Recipe by @feedinglittles)

6 ǁ Grill Night: Grilled Lamb Chops (by @GiadaDeLaurentiis)

7 ǁ Family Night Out (slash Mom's Night Off!)


STEP 3: PAIR

Ideas and encouragement for how to offer #onemealtwoways from this week’s meal plan!

Family Meal: Asian salmon, roasted red and sweet potatoes, an avocado strawberry spinach BYO salad bar, with half of a whole grain baguette from Angelic Bakehouse with Kerrygold butter. Served family style!

one plate two ways.jpg

Kids plate (self-served by my 4 yo):
LOVE IT:
strawberries, bread with butter, roasted red potatoes
LIKE IT: Asian salmon, sugar snap peas
LEARNING IT: spinach/kale salad base, roasted almonds, feta, roasted sweet potatoes

My plate: Composed salad with salmon and a side of mixed roasted potatoes

My youngest ate all of her spinach/kale mix and my youngest ate the roasted sweet potatoes - each for the first time EVER!


STEP 4: PURCHASE

 
  *I received our first Fish Fixe shipment for free.   All opinions are my own. This post is unsponsored.

*I received our first Fish Fixe shipment for free. All opinions are my own. This post is unsponsored.

 

What I Buy and Why: Fish Fixe

Y'all know I tend to buy a lot of our animal products in bulk at Costco so I always have at least something in the freezer I can cook up on a whim. While I find the prices to be better on organic chicken, grass-fed beef, etc., I admittedly have never been a huge fan of the seafood I buy at Costco.

I also don't always want to have to spend time standing at the seafood counter to watch and snag sales on local or higher-quality seafood on a weekly basis, especially since I do majority of my meal planning BEFORE I head to the store.

That's why I got so excited when I heard of Fish Fixe. While it is local to me in Texas (hence the excitement over them offering Gulf shrimp!), it ships anywhere to simplify how to keep quality seafood on hand and even better, in stink-free packaging.

This is not a sponsored endorsement* (nor are any in this weekly product feature unless I disclose so), but rather a genuine mom-hack I feel has helped us to both eat AND enjoy seafood more since we got our first "fixe."

Besides enjoying each of the seafood products we were sent, I am semi-obsessed with the packaging. It helps for mess-free food prep but also to give last minute meal ideas if I don't know what I want to do to prepare it. I love seafood, but admittedly don't always feel like I know how to cook it. So simplicity always wins and makes for a healthy, EASY meal in under 30 minutes with whatever simple sides we have on hand.

If you want to include more seafood in your family's meal rotation this Spring and Summer, hop on over to Fish Fixe and use code VEGGIESANDVIRTUE at checkout for $10 off your first order. I hope you enjoy this "fixe" to your seafood dilemma as much as I do!


Want my free grocery list download? Download it here.

Want your own tear-off pad of my go-to grocery list to keep on the fridge? Order your 6-month magnetic grocery list notepad here.


STEP 5: PREP

Tips on items to prep ahead:

1 ǁ Seafood Sunday: Asian Salmon (Recipe by @DamnDelicious)

  • Remove Fish Fixe shrimp from freezer and thaw according to package instructions

2 ǁ Meatless Monday: Mediterranean Quinoa Salad (Recipe by @veggiesandvirtue)

  • Chop veggies and make vinaigrette in advance. Cook and cool quinoa. Assemble in advance to eat over the week, or keep elements separate until ready to serve.

3 ǁ Taco Tuesday: Steak Fajitas (Recipe by @geniuskitchen)

  • Slice peppers, onions, and steak the night ahead so it can be tossed into crockpot in the morning. Shred cheese block, if needed.

4 ǁ Asian Night: Shrimp Curry (Recipe by @thepioneerwoman)

  • Remove Fish Fixe shrimp from freezer and thaw according to package instructions. Dice extra onion when cutting onion for fajitas.

5 ǁ Pasta Night: Trader Joe's Bruschetta Chicken (Recipe by @feedinglittles)

  • Thaw chicken. Prep sides, as needed, so all can be thrown in the oven together.

6 ǁ Grill Night: Grilled Lamb Chops (by @GiadaDeLaurentiis)

  • Make rub in food processor. Store in a glass jar until time to cook.

7 ǁ Family Night Out (slash Mom's Night Off!)


Family-Friendly Meal Plan: Week #15

I am out of town this weekend to celebrate two of my very best friends! One is having her daughter's first birthday and the other and I are doing a "mini bachelorette party" to make up for me having to miss her real one in May! So getting to go away to my home state of Washington for some quality time with friends a real treat. Here is how I am planning for it!

 

Veggies & Virtue Meal Plan: Week of April 8

 
meal plan thumbnail (14).png
 
 

STEP 1: PLAN

Anyone ever find that when they return home after being away that things are a bit crazy back at home?

All hands raised, right?!

Husbands are awesome partners but there are just certain things that I know at least in my home are going to go undone while away: grocery shopping and meal planning, to name just two.

So while there isn't much I can do to plan in advance for the piles of laundry that will be awaiting my return, I can have this meal plan ready to go before I get home! This allows me to not only get off my red-eye on Sunday night with a plan, but also the chance to pick-up groceries that I already ordered from my plan on the way back from the airport. Win-win!


Interested in walking through the steps to meal plan like a pro?

Download your copy of my Meal Planning Playbook. It outlines the following five steps of successful meal planning in more detail so you can achieve "Less Meal Time Stress and More Feeding Success" for your own family!

On sale!


STEP 2: PICK

A special thanks to each of the following contributors for the delicious recipe ideas this week!

Dinner Menu:

1 ǁ Seafood Sunday: Tom Douglas Salmon (using rub available on Amazon (affiliate link))

2 ǁ Meatless Monday: Chickpea Avocado Salad (by @twopeasandpod)

3 ǁ Taco Night:  Meat & Mushroom Tacos (by @100daysofrealfood)

4 ǁ Asian Night: Cashew Chicken (by @eaturselfskinny)

5 ǁ Grill Night: Cheeseburgers (by @geniuskitchen)

6 ǁ Pasta Night: Shrimp Scampi in the Instant Pot (recipe featured on Copy Me That)

7 ǁ Family Night Out (slash Mom's Night Off!)


STEP 3: PAIR

 Kid's Plate from dinner: cashew chicken, rice, edamame, and grapes

Kid's Plate from dinner: cashew chicken, rice, edamame, and grapes

Kid's Plate:
LOVE IT: 
edamame, grapes
LIKE IT: rice, cashews
LEARNING IT: cashew chicken

My Plate: I had a shallow bowl with rice at the base and the cashew chicken piled on top. I put the edamame into my bowl, then ate the grapes separately as "dessert."

Having a preferred food at the table like edamame in the pod is a great way to keep kids engaged and eating on a night that might not be their "favorite" meal. Fine-motor practice plus plenty of nutrition packed into the edamame, making for an enjoyable meal where everyone enjoyed at least something!

 

Want the breakdown of how we use "Love it, Like it, Learning it" with EACH meal idea shared for the week? 
CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP.

My newsletter subscribers benefit from seeing how EACH meal plan menu item is broken down with "Love it, Like it, Learning it" suggestions (based on my children's preferences). This is free for subscribers and removes the guesswork with what (or how!) to serve each of the weekly menu items.


STEP 4: PURCHASE

What I Buy and Why: Product Feature of the Week

Shortcuts. I looooove them. I rarely did before motherhood because the frugal, past-Grad-student in me was convinced I could "make it myself for cheaper." As a mom though, I live by these products that are all the ingredients I would otherwise use, already all in one!

That's why this is one simple salmon-lovers dream! Shared out of inspiration for the fact I am in Seattle myself this weekend, this Tom Douglas' Salmon Rub is a staple in our home (affiliate link). It makes whipping out a delicious salmon effortless...not to mention inspiring a meal that my mom-brain may not otherwise be up to putting much effort or inspiration into!

Try it out, and tell me what you think (affiliate link)!

Want my free grocery list download? Download it here.

Want your own tear-off pad of my go-to grocery list to keep on the fridge? Order your 6-month magnetic grocery list notepad here.


STEP 5: PREP

Tips on items to prep ahead:

1 ǁ Seafood Sunday: Tom Douglas Salmon (using rub available on Amazon (affiliate link))

  • Thaw salmon. 

2 ǁ Meatless Monday: Chickpea Avocado Salad (by @twopeasandpod)

  • Make in advance to have as a side on Sunday, as well as for lunches during the week.

3 ǁ Taco Night:  Meat & Mushroom Tacos (by @100daysofrealfood)

  • Dice onion and garlic, or buy pre-diced. Use pre-sliced mushrooms. Brown meat in advance and cook with vegetables, then store in glass container until the night this is to be eaten.

4 ǁ Asian Night: Cashew Chicken (by @eaturselfskinny)

  • Use frozen stir-fry veggies from Costco to save time!

5 ǁ Grill Night: Cheeseburgers (by @geniuskitchen)

  • Thaw meat the night before.

6 ǁ Pasta Night: Shrimp Scampi in the Instant Pot (recipe featured on Copy Me That)

  • Cut shallots in advance and add in with the garlic when cooking!

7 ǁ Family Night Out (slash Mom's Night Off!)