Every week in my group, the Semi-Crunchy Mama™ Club, we have a Meal Planning Monday post to share weekly menus, recipes, and other food inspiration.
Lately there hasn't been much engagement, so I asked why. Everyone said they're just too overwhelmed to even think about meal planning, grocery shopping is stressful, and it just feels like too much. But the whole point of meal planning is to AVOID feeling overwhelmed, because when you have to make decisions about what to eat (and feed your kids) multiple times per day, it's draining.
So I came up with 17 ideas for breakfast, snacks, and dinners to share with you for inspiration. Use them as a jumping off point, substitute as needed. I have a simple list--you can even print the graphic out--and I'll add details, recipes, and dietary restriction advice in these posts.
Hopefully this will save a few of your brain cells so you can use them for navigating sibling squabbles, or remembering what day it is. Let me know which idea is your favorite or the most helpful!
17 Easy Kid-Friendly Ideas for Breakfast
Make ahead! Easily made gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan. Already egg-free and vegetarian.
Most basic: Combine 1/2 cup oats, and 1/2 cup milk (or alternative) in a container and refrigerate overnight. That's it.
I use gluten-free oats and almond milk, add cinnamon, shredded coconut, and raisins.
Get fancy with chopped nuts, diced fruit, chia seeds, nut butter, or even cocoa powder.
Scrambled eggs and toast
Use gluten-free bread if needed.
Or eggs over easy. Whatever!
Can't have eggs or want to make it vegan? Use scrambled tofu.
Many gluten-free/vegan options available.
Lazy but effective!
Make ahead! Gluten-free, dairy-free unless you choose otherwise, vegan.
Similar to overnight oats, chia pudding is an easy make-ahead option that's slightly more hippie-dippy. The base is just 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, 3/4 cup of almond milk, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Combine well and let stand for at least 15 minutes, but overnight is easier.
Here are 6 different ways to jazz up chia pudding. I like mine with fresh fruit.
Gluten-free, easily made dairy-free and vegan.
Smoothies aren't new, but have you made smoothie PACKS? Prepping smoothies ahead of time can be a game changer. Pack all your ingredients in a zip-top bag and toss it in the freezer. Bonus points for multiple bags. Then just grab one, dump the contents in the blender, add your choice of liquid, and you're set!
My favorite green smoothie is frozen mango, a peeled orange, a peeled lemon, 3 giant handfuls of leafy greens, almond or coconut milk, and I throw in a scoop of collagen (not vegan) and half an avocado if I have it.
My kids will only drink "pink" smoothies, so they like frozen cherries, strawberries, and mango in theirs.
Use non-dairy yogurt if needed, and not all granola is gluten-free.
Yogurt is an easy source of fat and protein, and adding granola and fresh fruit make it more filling, and more fancy! Serve in fancy bowls or jars if you need a little boost.
Bagels with cream cheese
We get gluten-free bagels and vegan cream cheese for one kiddo. We have not had luck finding GF vegan bagels ourselves (most contain eggs), but they do exist.
My oldest who needs a lot of sensory input does well with a chewy whole grain bagel in the morning, plus the fat in the cream cheese.
Lots of options depending on the bread.
My oldest has recently discovered the wonders of avocado toast and loves it. I like that he will eat whole grain bread with healthy fats. Use gluten-free bread if needed. I love mine with salt and pepper, and a poached egg.
Some people like sprinkling theirs with chili powder and lime juice, or Everything But the Bagel seasoning. Make sure you add a dusting of salt to kick up the flavor.
Sweet potato hash
So many options. Gluten-free, easily vegan or vegetarian.
This is my current go-to breakfast since I can't eat eggs (the baby reacts to eggs, and she loves this, too). The way I make it is a little fussy, so adjust, or prep the night before.
I sauté 1/4 of a small onion and a handful of sliced mushrooms in an oiled cast iron skillet while I peel and dice a medium-large sweet potato. Smaller pieces cook faster. Add the sweet potato and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. When the sweet potato is starting to soften, I add diced chicken-apple sausage (omit if desired, or sub diced tofu, beans, or top with eggs at the end), broccoli florets or a pile of leafy greens, and a minced clove of garlic. I cover the pan to steam the sweet potatoes a bit. It's done when the sweet potatoes are fork-tender.
I top mine with a small scoop of vegan kale-cashew pesto, and a dollop of garlic spread, both from Trader Joe's. Salsa or hot sauce are also delicious toppings.
Bacon and hashbrowns
Check that your bacon is gluten-free if needed. Tempeh is a good vegan option!
This is my kids' current favorite. We get frozen potatoes and toss everything in the oven.
Make ahead! So many choices for food restrictions!
Make a big batch and freeze, and it's a possible activity for your kids to help with. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Aussie Bites (Costco knock-off!)
Paleo GF Pumpkin Muffins
Anti-Inflammatory Coconut Sweet Potato Muffins (vegan, GF)
Trader Joe's has frozen gluten-free vegan waffles which my kids eat with jam. Or make a big batch and freeze your own. If you're one of the many people with a new sourdough starter, sourdough waffles are awesome.
We've used the paleo Birch Benders mix from Costco (though now I can't have it because it contains eggs), or it's easy to make your own. It's time consuming, so this is another one to make a double batch of, then reheat the next day (or freeze and toast).
Oatmeal with nuts and/or fruit
We get gluten-free oats, and my kids love adding cinnamon, raisins, and almond milk. One likes peanut butter an chia seeds; the other does not.
You can make chewier steel cut oats in the Instant Pot, or using this cheater stovetop method. Bring 3 cups of water and 1 cup of steel cut oats to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, cover, and turn off heat. Let stand overnight. In the morning, turn the burner on low to reheat, and serve warm.
Make ahead! The egg version is gluten-free and dairy-free. Vegetarian optional.
It's like muffins, but with eggs. They're basically mini quiches and you can customize the fillings for various preferences.
Here is a recipe for you.
And I found a vegan option for this one!
Again, very customizable.
Here are two vegan omelet recipes:
This one uses silken tofu.
This one uses chickpea flour.
Or just use crumbled/diced tofu--or actual eggs--and sauté some veggies with them. Top with salsa or hot sauce and enjoy.
That's 17 ideas for you!
Let me know if you were inspired to make something new, or add more ideas in the comments. Join us in the Semi-Crunchy Mama™ Club for weekly inspiration and support.
Next up: 17 dinner ideas, then snacks...