Family Dinner Meal Planning Tips

Family Dinner Meal Planning Tips

Sep 01, 2022Margaret Barrow

As summer slowly starts to fade into fall, the kids are beginning to go back to school and engage in after-school activities, which means fall routines are in full swing. Enter busy schedules and crazy calendars.

Do not sacrifice family time by skipping dinner together. Instead, drive past the drive-thru and gather around the dinner table for an evening meal together with these easy family dinner meal planning tips that are perfect for any season. Also, remember, meal preparation is a lifesaver for the busy family. Photo by National Cancer Institute.  

#1 Fill Up the Freezer

During the busy fall months, no one wants to head out to go to the grocery store or endure the crowds when they are already busy enough. Instead, fill up the freezer with already prepared ingredients and meals. A well-stocked kitchen filled with quick meals (even if that means leftovers from your weekend grilling) is the best way to ensure you are always prepared for your weekly family dinners. Photo by millann.

Need some freezer-friendly storage containers? Here are some of our favorites.

#2 Get Groceries Delivered

If the fall weeks are packed with after-school activities, homework, and sports practices do not put pressure on yourself by trying to squeeze all of your weekly grocery shopping and meal prepping into one day. (We get stressed just thinking about it!)

Instead, plan ahead and order your groceries online. There are plenty of grocery delivery services available, so choose a platform that works best for you. Grocery shopping has never been so easy!

Plus, you can have the confidence knowing your kitchen is always fully stocked with food so you can whip up a delicious and nutritious meal for you and your entire family. Photo by DGLimages.

#3 Go to the Farmers Market

Okay, okay, so this tip may not seem like it goes with meal planning, but you cannot make a substantial family dinner without proper produce. The best place to find some of the most delicious produce is at the local community farmers’ market. Find a farmers market near you and stock up on your family’s favorites.  Photo by StockSeller_ukr.

Looking for a farmers market in your community? Check out the USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory.

#4 Pick Up Prepared Food

Nothing tastes better than a homemade meal, but during the busy fall months, planning and prepping a multi-course meal may not always be possible and honestly, dinner does not need to be anything fancy. Instead, pick up already prepared food at your local grocer and if you have an especially busy week ahead, do yourself a favor and pick up two. (Your future self will thank you). Hint: An easy option is rotisserie chicken from your favorite market. Photo by Prostock-Studio.

#5 Roast Vegetables

As you fill-up the freezer, consider batch cooking roasted vegetables too. Each week, choose one or two hearty vegetables like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, or squash so you always have cooked vegetables on hand ready to enjoy.

Simply preheat the oven to 350 degrees then wash and chop your vegetables of choice. Drizzle with avocado oil and your favorite seasonings then arrange the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast them until all of the vegetables are tender to the touch and slightly golden brown. Store in glass containers and place in the fridge then enjoy throughout the entire week. Photo by robynmac.

#6 Stock Up on Already-Cooked Protein Sources

Another easy way to prep for a family dinner meal, stock up on already cooked protein sources to toss together for an easy meal. Here are some of our favorite ideas. Photo by Rimma_Bondarenko.

  • Boil up a batch of hard-boiled eggs and keep them in your fridge for a convenient and easy source of protein on days you really do not feel like cooking. Bonus, they are the perfect salad topper.
  • Extra lettuce leaves leftover from your salad? Try making homemade lettuce cups!
  • Make a batch of vegan or non vegan chicken salad or add it atop a fresh handcrafted salad or try adding a new protein source like plant-based proteins or anchovies or shrimp, which pair perfectly with a Ceasar salad.
  • Sandwiches are good for more than just lunch, so pick one day of the week and declare it sandwich dinner night where everyone in the family can clean out the fridge together and use up any leftover ingredients to make the most culinary creative sandwich. Need some ideas? We have got you covered right here.
  • Spice things up with a batch of homemade salsa or guacamole and add it to a bowl of shredded vegan beef, chicken, or pulled pork for an easy meal. You can even make a homemade grain bowl. Check out the vegan options in your local grocery store refrigerator.

#7 Stock Up on Soups and Stews

Fall is the quintessential season for the slow cooker and that means chilis, homemade soups, and stews. Select your favorite recipe and then double it so you have leftovers to enjoy for lunch and dinner for the entire week. Be sure to freeze a few servings so you can enjoy your savory soup or stew throughout the entire fall season when days get even busier and you are short on time.

The fall season may be a busy time of the year for families, but that does not mean you have to sacrifice family dinner together. Use these seven tips to adjust your weekly meal planning, and prepping, so you can fully embrace and enjoy the fall season with weekly family dinner meals together. Photo by anna avdeeva.

- Stay Healthy and Happy

Need some new recipe ideas for your fall family dinners together? Join our CEO live @itsnolasnacks every 1st Sunday of each month starting in November 2022 (new schedule) at 11am (EST) when she shares some delicious and nutritious vegan recipes. Do not worry, even if you are not vegan, you will still enjoy these dishes.

Tag us @itsnolasnack so we can see all of your fall family dinner recipes.

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