I can’t cook your dinners for you. I wish I could, but if that were the case, I wouldn’t be wishing someone would cook mine for me too. I need family-friendly meal ideas for Fall just like you do.
So even though as a dietitian mom, “food is my thing” (in theory), coming up with ideas for what to offer my family for dinner EVERY DAY, week after week still takes up a lot of mental energy - even for me.
That’s why I have created another Seasonal Meal Plan.
Similar to how my breakfast and lunch Combination Cards are intended to add variety without the mental overwhelm, so too is this Seasonal Meal Plan supposed to help you achieve less meal time stress and more feeding success this Fall.
Family Friendly Meal Plan for Fall
What to expect
For my family as well as many of the families I work with, a seasonal meal plan can be a helpful tool in your feeding toolbox. This gives you the chance to cycle in seasonal favorites that fit the flavors and styles of food you enjoy eating without having to come up with something new each week or month. In doing so, you can batch cook certain dishes or aspects of a recipe to cut back on the amount of work you have to do each time it is up on the menu. This helps you to save time (by making duplicate batches the first time) and save money (by planning ahead and shopping sales). Then when it is time to re-offer a given menu item, you have it one step closer to being ready!
My seasonal meal plan also gives you three months to continue to re-expose your child to these family-friendly dinner ideas for Fall. In doing so, you’re reminded to expose your child to new meals and seasonal produce every few months so you don’t get so stuck in a rut or routine of only offering old favorites. As I work through with families in The Academy, you can use the general dinner ideas listed for a given day to come up with variations of a given combination that works for your family’s Love it, Like it, Learning it ® framework.
What not to expect
The Family-Friendly Seasonal Meal Plan is a simple tool intended to take the mental energy out of what to make for you so that you have some family-friendly combinations you can make fit for your family. This Seasonal Meal Plan for Fall is not for parents who want to join a more robust meal planning community full of involved recipes or adventurous meal ideas.
Our families also may eat differently than one another too, and that’s okay. As mentioned, this meal plan is the one I created for personal use and not a one size fits all Fall dinner menu. By request, I have decided to share it for anyone who would also like to have one step of meal planning done for you. I am not advocating this is the best meal plan for everyone. While I do believe this meal plan helps promote a wide variety of nutrients, flavors, cuisines, and options that I see value in helping my kids learn to like based on our culture and social norms, you are welcome to use the ideas as is or modify them based on your own preferences and beliefs.
What’s on the Seasonal Meal Planner?
Here is how I structured my meal plan for Fall, based on our current preferences and schedule:
Sunday: sheet pan meals or items that require more time to cook in the oven or on the stove since we are home and able to take longer to cook. Usually it is a chicken or fish dish with a grain or starch of some sort with veggies.
Monday: Mexican food, much of which is prepped once and eaten three times throughout the Fall season due to batch cooking items like our taco meat, enchilada sauce, or fajitas mix for the crockpot.
Tuesday: My kids have soccer practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so these are dinners I know need to be know they either need to be passively cooked. On Tuesdays, they eat early before practice (then my husband and I eat later).
Wednesday: Italian food, each with another freezer-friendly way to make ahead and store and/or you can take shortcuts to buy premade sauces (instead of making your own).
Thursday: Due to soccer, my kids eat beforehand with another passive meal option I can make in the crockpot or Instant Pot featuring Asian foods on Thursdays. My kids get a bedtime snack on these nights when dinner is bumped ahead before practice.
Friday: My husband and I are newly doing date nights on Friday, so I share a few simple ideas we keep on hand for the babysitter to give the kids for dinner.
Saturday: We are a football-watching family in the Fall, so some classic comfort foods or pizza are usually on the menu for weekends.
How long do these recipes take to make?
Some of these recipes are more involved than others. However, as a mom of three myself, none are intended to be overwhelming or unnecessarily complicated. Instead, by rotating through and repeating each month, the dinner recipes become easier to make with practice. Plan for most of the recipes shown to take 15-30 minutes to prep plus cook time. If you need dinner ideas you can have prepped AND ready in under 15 minutes, check out this post.
For this meal plan, I encourage you to prep and freeze any elements you have time and storage space for in advance (i.e. you can make three lasagnas at once and freeze the remaining two month’s worth). What I find works best is to pick a couple of meals from each week that I can do that with; then, I have at least 2-3 meals prepped and ready in the freezer so that the next time that week is up on the menu, I can prep elements of the remaining menus. This cuts back on the number of times I have to plan, shop, and prepare each given meal while also ensuring I have a constant flow of meals ready to cook or reheat in our freezer.
How to use the Seasonal Meal Planner
The meal plan is a one month calendar download with hyperlinks to family-friendly recipes for Fall. Because of security purposes, the download is available for 24 hours after you purchase it here. You are then encouraged to download that to both your computer and your device. I prefer using the Dropbox app on my phone for storing PDFs like this one, my Combination Cards, etc. Then, whether I am meal planning from my computer or my phone, I have the files handy.
From there, it is up to you how you want to use the meal plan. I like to print out each of the recipes included and put them in page protectors in a “Favorite Recipes” binder. For me, this is easier to access when in the kitchen than having my laptop, phone, or iPad out and needing to open up browsers. It also allows me to have a method for keeping favorite recipes ready year after year to reference. If you are more tech-savvy and prefer to use less paper in printing, you are welcome to simply access the Meal Planning download from your computer or device and click through to the recipe links as needed that way. Find a method that works for you!
Not knowing which menu items you will choose to actually offer on a given week, it does not come with a grocery list. You are encouraged to adapt any of the given combinations for your family’s dietary needs and Love it, Like it, Learning it ® preferences.
Additionally, the options listed may be modified to accommodate for food allergies (like dairy, soy, or gluten) or vegetarians. Please note the recipes included are not specific to these dietary needs, however.