meal plans

Family Friendly Meal Plan for Fall

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.

 
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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.

 

Where to get the Seasonal Meal Planner

You may find the Fall (current) or past (Spring and Winter) meal plans here:

 

If you want a FREE Seasonal Meal Planning template to fill in for yourself, you can get yours here:

 

For help with also streamlining breakfast or lunch rotations, you can learn more about my Combination Cards here:

 

Wishing you and your family a Fall full of less meal time stress and more feeding success with nourishing combos and Fall favorites!

15 Easy Dinners from Costco (ready in under 15 minutes)

It has been awhile since I shared my last post featuring Costco, so I knew it was an appropriate time to list out some of my favorite, easy dinner ideas from Costco again. With Back to School and after school activities in full swing, I know this list of 15 simple yet satisfying dinner ideas will help you make a healthy dinner happen even on your busiest of nights!

You can get this free one week meal plan featuring seven night’s worth of easy Costco dinners too at the end of this post!

 
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The Need for Easy Dinner Ideas

In theory, I enjoy scratch-making recipes and rotating through new, nourishing options at any meal of the day. Many of my family’s staples and most favorite Fall recipes will be on my Seasonal Meal Plan because these are the dinners that I make a habit to prep ahead and pull together on a regular basis.

The reality is though, sometimes my meal planning doesn’t happen, grocery shopping happens AT dinner time, and I need simple options I can literally be pulling off in the kitchen AS I unpack the car of groceries (with three kids on my ankles I might add).

There is what’s ideal (healthy, simple ingredients and well-balanced meals) and then there is what’s real (busy, chaotic nights and rushed grocery runs where we need to grab some easy options). That’s the intersection I hope this post finds us at. Next week, I plan to give you the recipes we PLAN to have over the upcoming Fall quarter. This week, however, I want to give you some easy ideas for your dinner time tool belt that you can easily use on those UNPLANNED nights when we have to operate “off menu” and work with what we’ve got - which is often a Costco run as a catch all.

 

In this post, you have 15 easy dinner options from Costco that you can have ready in under 15 minutes.

With each meal including a balance of food groups and nutrients for a given night’s dinner idea, all you need to do is pick and purchase the listed items to pull off a quick and easy dinner once you are back at home.

Costco also offers bulk packaging of many of the items listed, so many of these ideas will give you a few meals worth from them. So while you pay a bit more up front, if you have the space to store extras (in the pantry, fridge, or freezer), these easy dinner ideas from Costco will come in handy again down the road when you find yourself needing a simple dinner ready in under 15 minutes!

 
 

If you have questions about My 55 Most Favorite, Dietitian Approved Costco Staples, be sure to check out this grocery list download!

In this grocery list, I include images of each product I love to help make it easy on you to find. Just print, put in a page protector, and let your little ones mark it up as you move your way through the aisles filling your cart with many of my favorites. Many of these are ingredients included in the following 15 easy dinner ideas list!


15 Easy Dinners from Costco (ready in under 15 minutes)

1 Chicken burgers with sweet potato fries

2 Spaghetti and Meatballs

  • Coleman Organic Meatballs (in the refrigerated, pre-packaged foods section)

  • Organic Spaghetti Sauce (in the non-perishable section)

  • Zucchini to turn into zoodles (in the refrigerated produce section)

3 Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Veggie tray

  • Cauliflower Cheese Pizza (in the frozen foods section)

  • Veggie Tray (in the refrigerated produce section)

4 Hot Dogs with Slaw Salad

  • Teton Waters Ranch grass-fed beef hot dogs (in the refrigerated, pre-packaged foods section)

  • Sweet Kale salad (in the refrigerated produce section)

5 Tikka Masala with Brown Rice and Stir-Fry Veggies

6 Madras Lentils with Cauliflower Rice

7 Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

8 Mediterranean Quinoa Salad Dinner

9 Caprese Pasta

10 Soup & Salad

11 Teriyaki

12 Salmon Caesar Salads

13 Quesadillas

14 Tuna Sandwiches

15 Breakfast for dinner

  • Make French toast with organic eggs, milk, vanilla, and Alpine Valley Organic Honey Bread


Want more easy dinner ideas with images to shop you just what to shop for? Get my free one week meal plan for Costco here!

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

 
meal plan thumbnail (16).png
 
 

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!

Dragons+Love+Tacos+Taco+Bar.jpg

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?

costco veggies.jpg

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!


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!)