Dinner Archives | Stephanie Dreyer Veeg Mama

Dinner

October 21, 2019
Copy-of-Homemade-ish-Meal-Ideas-Blog-min-1280x720.png

I usually call it in for Halloween (literally). With everyone in and out trick-or-treating, pizza has always been the easiest way to feed everyone while getting everyone dressed and out the door for the festivities. This year, however, I’m challenging myself to kick things up a notch or two! I always have a crowd for Halloween so this year, I’ve been scouring Pinterest, Instagram and Google for some simple and fun dinner ideas that are easy to eat on the go as we stroll for treats. I know you’ll be inspired by these plant-based Halloween meal ideas!

But first, a few tips:

    • For instant spooky, use cookie cutters in Halloween shapes. Bats, ghosts and pumpkins in different sizes are all handy to have on hand.
    • Bell peppers and mini pumpkins make great serving “bowls” for your favorite taco fillings, stews, pasta and more.
    • Use strips of dairy-free cheese or pre-made dough to slice strips for mummy wrappings (an easy way to spook-ify a dish.

There is no shortage of Halloween inspiration when it comes to food. A quick Web search will reveal a bounty of creative appetizers, snacks and dessert recipes, but I’m focusing on the main affair: dinner! Since Halloween falls in the middle of the week, I want to be able to prep something ahead of time or be able to assemble it easily while the kids are getting into their costumes. Also, because our festivities always include grandparents, my sis and her hubby and sometimes cousins, I need meals that can feed a crowd. Below are a few plant-based Halloween meal ideas that are up for the challenge.

Plant-based Halloween Meal Ideas

Mummy Meatloaf

How cute is this mummy meatloaf by Annabel Karmel? I’d create a simple vegan version with a plant-powered “meatloaf” using Beyond Meat. Try this one. While the meatloaf bakes, cook the pappardelle. When meatloaf has only 10 minutes of cook time remaining, layer the pasta over the loaf like a mummy. Slice Miyoko’s VeganMozz for eyes and arrange olives inside the slices for pupils. Bake for the last 10 minutes.

Plant-based Halloween Meal Ideas

Pizza

You can get super creative with pizza! Use cookie cutters to cut out veggies and cheese in Halloween shapes or try these mummy pizzas from Veggies Save the Day or these deliciously creepy skull pizzas from Fork and Beans.

Plant-based Halloween Meal Ideas

Mummy Dogs

These mummies are almost too cute to eat. I suggest using Beyond Meat brats as the mummy stand in and instead of pizza dough, try packaged crescent roll dough (the ones at Trader Joe’s are vegan).

Plant-based Halloween Meal Ideas

Stuffed Pumpkins or Peppers

I love the idea of stuffing one of the cute mini pumpkins you see all over the stores this time of year…or an orange bell pepper that’s carved as a jack-o-lantern. There are many ways you could stuff these…The pumpkins are the perfect vessel for a hearty stew with quinoa, rice, beans or lentils, like this one from Simple Seasonal. I think this chili would also be tasty inside. For the peppers, make your favorite taco filling or spaghetti.

Plant-based Halloween Meal Ideas

Salad

A salad isn’t just a salad with this cute graveyard presentation from Fork and Beans.

What are some of your favorite Halloween meal ideas?

Plant-based Halloween Meal Ideas


October 14, 2019
Homemade-ish-Meal-Ideas-Blog-min-1280x720.png

homemade-ish meal ideas

Homemade doesn’t mean you have to make everything from scratch! I’m committed to getting a home-cooked meal on the table 5-7 nights a week, but I take some help from the store when I can to simplify my meal prep and get dinner on the table faster. Homemade-ish is a term I coined for when you cook something but incorporate store-bought prepared foods into your recipe.

When it comes to choosing ingredients for my homemade-ish meal ideas,  I not only look for convenience, but also the opportunity to be creative and inventive with the prepared ingredients from the grocery store. Some of my favorite store-bought recipe helpers include:

Salads in a bag

Salad kits are a plant-based mama’s best friend. You can change these up a dozen different ways into more than just salads. (Check out these ideas for inspiration.)

Sauces and dips

These make for easy meals, such as wraps, entrees and more

Canned beans

When you don’t have time to make them from scratch, a can of beans is a quick and easy protein option, plus they add texture and heartiness to any meal.

Pre-washed and cut veggies

The time saved with these meal helpers and are worth the extra cost if you’re only using them every once in a while.

The homemade-ish meal ideas are limitless once you start thinking outside of the salad kit, can of beans, salad dressing…or whatever store-bought prepared ingredient you’re using in your recipe. Below are a few ideas to inspire you.

Lunch Box Bowls

Bowls

Use an ethnic salad kit, such as Trader Joe’s Southwest Chopped Salad or Sesame Crunch Chopped Salad and add a can of drained and rinsed beans or chopped, baked tofu (depending on the flavor profile). Scoop over rice or sesame noodles, and top with your favorite toppings, such as salsa, chopped avocado, peanuts, nori strips, etc. to match the flavors in your bowl.

Wraps and Sandwiches

Baked Tofu Lettuce Wraps

Cube a package of baked tofu with an Asian inspired slaw or salad kit. Serve with romaine leaves, lime wedges, cilantro, peanuts and a homemade peanut sauce (mixing 1 part peanut butter with 1 part rice vinegar and soy sauce). 

Spring Rolls

Combine an Asian salad kit and shelled, cooked edamame. Spread on rice paper and roll!

Buffalo Hummus Chickpea and Cauliflower Wraps

Let the abundance of hummus flavors inspire a new wrap. The new Buffalo Hummus at Trader Joe’s is tasty when tossed with chickpeas and roasted cauliflower. Layer on tortillas, along with chopped romaine, shredded carrots, chopped celery and dairy-free ranch.

Entrees

Squash Noodles with Bruschetta and Olive Tapenade

Tapenades and sauces such as pesto and bruschetta are a quick homemade-ish meal with spiralized yellow squash or zucchini (or buy pre-spiralized from the store). 

Polenta Lasagna

Slice a roll of prepared polenta. Layer into a lasagna pan and top with traditional lasagna ingredients, such as Beyond Meat Italian sausage, Kite Hill ricotta, spinach, artichoke hearts, canned tomatoes and marinara sauce. Bake for 20-30 minutes until heated through.

Pizzas

White Bean Salad Pizza

Roll out a premade whole wheat pizza dough and spread with one tablespoon of olive oil, three cloves of thinly sliced garlic and a pinch of salt. Bake at 400℉ for 10 minutes. Combine your favorite salad kit along with a can of white beans (drained and rinsed). Top the pizza with the salad combo. Slice and serve!

Yellow Curry Salad Pizza

Cube a block of tofu and toss with your favorite curry sauce. Roll out a premade whole wheat pizza dough and spread with more sauce. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes. Combine a salad kit, such as the Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry Chopped Salad Kit but omit the dressing and toss in 2-4 tablespoons of the yellow curry sauce instead. Spread on top of the pizza and slice!

Greek Pita Pizzas

Spread a store-bought garlic sauce across a whole pita. Add a spoonful or two of prepared tabbouleh on top, along with 1-2 frozen falafels (that have been cooked and chopped).

Get more homemade-ish meal ideas in the video below and tell me in the comments which one is your favorite.

homemade-ish meal ideas


September 3, 2019
Make-Ahead-Meals-Blog-min-1280x720.png

School is back in session and I’m back to make ahead prep mode! I’ve always been a batch cooker on the weekend to simplify my lunches and dinner prep during the week, but in these first few weeks back to school, make-ahead meals become critical in my house. The back-to-school nights and parent meetings go into overdrive making it super challenging to get dinner on the table between work and my kids’ activities.

As any good meal planner knows, your meal plan should work for you (not cause you more work). I plot out my schedule into my meal plan each week so I can grasp when and where I’ll need a little meal prep help. These make-ahead meals are perfect for getting ahead of your schedule and ensuring a delicious home-cooked meal is served!

1. Slow Cooker Vegan Chili

A slow cooker is a busy parent’s BFF. This meal cooks itself while you shuttle the kids around.

Slow Cooker Vegan Chili

2. Tofu Salsa Verde

When the slow cooker doesn’t do the trick, it’s the pressure cooker to the rescue for dinner even faster!

This Tofu Salsa Verde is a Mexican inspired green rice bowl featuring tomatillo salsa, black beans and extra firm tofu. Topped with avocado, cilantro and lime wedges, this is delicious comfort food served straight from the slow cooker or instant pot.

3. Vegan Beef Lasagna

Casseroles are the perfect make-ahead meal. Just reheat and serve!

This Vegan Beef Lasagna is so tasty that they won't believe it contains no meat or dairy. With all the flavors of a traditional lasagna, this recipe will make your nonna proud!

4. Pinto Bean and Potato Salsa Verde Tostadas

Roast the potatoes and make the filling ahead of the time to get this delicious meal on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Salsa Verde Tostadas

5. Tofu Lettuce Wraps

Use store-bought baked tofu for an easy and fresh no cook meal. The filling can be prepped 3-4 days ahead of time and stored until ready to eat.

These Tofu Lettuce Wraps are an easy family friendly weeknight dinner. Serve alongside steamed rice and let the family have fun wrapping and eating!

6. Tempeh Bolognese 

This hearty sauce is pure comfort food a classic spin on a spaghetti favorite. Make ahead and store in the fridge for later in the week or freeze for even longer.

This Tempeh Bolognese is the only way I can get my kids to eat tempeh. It's crumbled in a rich tomato sauce with onion, garlic and veggies and simmered until tasty! Serve over your favorite pasta for an easy meatless weeknight meal.

7. Tofu Vegetable Fried Rice

One of my favorite Trader Joe’s dinner hacks, this recipe is even faster if you use store-bought baked tofu. Make a batch on the week and enjoy later in the week.

This Tofu Vegetable Fried Rice comes together in 30 minutes with just a handful of ingredients thanks to some help from Trader Joe's!

8. Falafel Burgers 

Batch cook these burgers on the weekend. When it’s time for dinner, just reheat, lay out the pita pockets and slice the toppings.

These Falafel Burgers might just be my favorite Trader Joe's meal hack yet! Top them with my dairy-free dill aioili and pickled onions. #plantbased #vegan

9. Dairy-free Creamy Pasta and Broccoli Bake

Another make ahead casserole that you can just reheat and serve.

10. Vegan Beef & Black Bean Tacos

Taco nights are always a hit. Prep the filling ahead on the weekend and have the kids help prep their favorite toppings for a fun DIY meal.

Want more ideas for healthy, homemade back-to-school dinners? Join my FREE Back-to-School Dinner Challenge and:

  • Enjoy healthy, homemade meals: Create a week of pre-planned, home-cooked meals with my step-by-step planner and recipes
  • Take the thinking out of what to cook: Learn how to set yourself up for meal planning success each week with my proven process that simplifies meal prep
  • Have fun: Create a weekly habit that sets you up for dinner success 

The cooking fun starts September 9th. Get my free Back-To-School Dinner Challenge guide to learn more.

back-to-school dinners

 


August 29, 2019
Back-to-School-Dinner-Tips-Blog-min-1280x720.png

back-to-school dinners

 

Only two of my kids are back in school and I’m already feeling the all too familiar angst of the dinner rush. The first few weeks are always a bit rough with the transition back to after-school activities and carpools, along with the onslaught of school meetings. Gone are the dinners made in a summer haze wearing my swimsuit with a glass of rosé in hand. But even as the luster of summer fades, I’m determined to savor and enjoy my family’s dinner time together.

I truly believe that the dinner table is where all the best stuff happens: celebrating wins, supporting losses and sharing laughter. Special bonds and connections happen around a meal together and I do my best to make the most of them every night. So I’m sharing a few of my best tips to help simplify back-to-school dinners. Read on and ease back into the school year groove!

1. Front load family favorites.

You know it’s going to be a good night when everyone clears their plate! Ensure dinner success by adding a few tried and tried family favorites that you know your family loves. Keep a running list and you’ll never have to think about what to cook.

 

2. Institute a theme night.

I love a good theme! They set the mood for fun times ahead and turn back-to-school dinners into celebrations. From Taco Tuesday to Souper Sunday, there’s something for everyone. They also simplify what to cook by allowing you to rotate a few recipes over the course of the month that fit the theme. Taco Tuesday is a weekly standby in my house and the kids would revolt if I even thought of changing up our fillings!

 

3. Cook from your pantry.

It’s a no brainer to throw together a quick meal (pasta and marinara, anyone?) when you’ve got a few staples on hand. Cooking from your pantry makes simple work for back-to-school dinners with little prep time.

 

4. Do it all in one pan.

Sheet pan meals are a busy mama’s and papa’s best friend! Who doesn’t want to prep everything on one pan, toss it in the oven and serve? And then there’s the minimal clean up. Prep, cook and clean all in one? Yes, please! Check out my Pinterest board for lots of plant-powered sheet pan meal ideas and recipes.

 

5. Make it DIY.

Food bars are one of my favorite family meal ideas because everyone can serve up their dish exactly how they like it. From a pasta bar and tacos to bowls and paninis, you’ve got lots of options for creating interactive back-to-school dinners that will infuse fun into your family’s meal time together.

 

6. Plan to reuse leftovers. 

Serving leftovers doesn’t have to mean eating the same thing over again. Turn those extra meatballs from Monday’s dinner into meatball subs Thursday and no one will realize they’re eating a leftover makeover!

 

7. Prep ahead!

This tip isn’t just for back-to-school. Schedule meal prep sessions into your weekend all year long to ease your prep during the week to get dinner on the table faster and with less stress. Download my free Batch Cooking Starter Guide for tips, tricks and recipes to get started with batch cooking.

 

8. Put your appliances to work.

If I’ve got a lot going on in the evening, I set myself for dinner success with a slow or pressure cooker meal that will do the work for me while I’m out and about! Prep it in the morning while you’re making breakfast or the night before while you’re cleaning up that night’s dinner. Need some inspiration? Check out my slow cooker Pinterest Board or try my Slow Cooker Chili, Jackfruit Noodle Soup or Tofu Salsa Verde.

 

9. Get some help from the store.

It’s no secret that my heart belongs to Trader Joe’s for their great variety of plant-based food options. Their salads, dips and sauces are essential meal helpers for preparing homemade meals in a flash that are so delicious no one will guess you weren’t a slave to the kitchen.

 

10. Make a plan!

No matter what time of year it is, dinner is easier with a meal plan. Set aside time each week to create a menu, select recipes and make your grocery list. I plan on Thursdays, shop on Fridays and meal prep on Sundays. Find a schedule that works for you and mark it in your calendar.

back-to-school dinners

Want more help getting a healthy, home-cooked dinner on the table? Join my FREE Back-to-School Dinner Challenge and:

  • Enjoy healthy, homemade meals: Create a week of pre-planned, home-cooked meals with my step-by-step planner and recipes
  • Take the thinking out of what to cook: Learn how to set yourself up for meal planning success each week with my proven process that simplifies meal prep
  • Have fun: Create a weekly habit that sets you up for dinner success 

The cooking fun starts September 9th. Get my free Back-To-School Dinner Challenge guide to learn more.


TJs-Dips-and-Spreads-Blog-min-1280x720.png

I’m a huge Trader Joe’s fan for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s a 2 minute drive from my house (super convenient!)
  2. It carries lots of great plant-based products
  3. It features several products (including some of tasty dips and spreads) that make great “meal helpers” for making homemade-ish meals (a homemade meal that’s on the table in less than 30 minutes that use prepared products from the store such as sauces, frozen foods, or prepped produce).

Meal helpers are my secret to getting a homemade meal on the table on those busy days when meal prep is super tight (or I’m super exhausted and just need a little help!). Meal planning and batch cooking take me a long way but a helping hand from the store can bring even more ease and joy to my time in the kitchen.

Below are some of my favorite Trader Joe’s dips and spreads and some easy and delicious ways to use them to create meals and snacks.

Vegan cream cheese + vegan pesto ⁣= veggie wrap

Elevate your regular veggie wrap with this quick and easy spread. Just combine Trader Joe’s Vegan Cream Cheese along with their Kale, Cashew and Vegan Pesto to make a spread. Slather it on a tortilla and layer it with mixed greens and all the veggies. Bonus points for avocado and seasonings! 

Bruschetta + lentils = dip

This easy dip also doubles as a salad and triples as a sandwich filling! Simply combine Trader Joe’s bruschetta (in the refrigerated section next to the hummus) and Steamed Lentils (in the refrigerated produce section) together in a bowl and serve with pita chips and sliced cucumbers⁣. To make it a salad, arrange two cups of arugula in a bowl, top with a scoop of the lentil bruschetta and add chopped avocado and cucumber. For an easy sandwich, slide a leaf or two of romaine into a pita pocket and scoop the lentil bruschetta inside. Add sliced artichoke hearts and Kite Hill dairy-free ricotta cheese or Follow Your Heart dairy-free mozzarella.

 

Hummus + tabbouleh ⁣= Greek wrap

This is a great wrap for your lunch rotation! Pick your favorite Trader Joe’s hummus (mine is the Organic Hummus) and spread it onto a tortilla (or other wrap of your choice). Scoop a few heaping teaspoons of Trader Joe’s Tabbouleh (next to the bruschetta in the refrigerated foods section) on top and add cucumber slices and sliced Kalamata olives. Sliced avocado is optional, but highly recommended! Violife also makes a delicious plant-based feta cheese that is a tasty addition to this wrap.

Hummus + Balela ⁣= dip ⠀

Take your standard hummus to the next level with this easy dip that serves well on a snack platter. Just mix Trader Joe’s Organic Hummus with a container of their Balela (in the refrigerated section next to the Tabbouleh) and serve with pita chips and veggie slices.

 

Cashew Fiesta Dip + beans ⁣+ chopped tomato + sliced olives = nachos

These plant-based nachos are super tasty (no cheese required!). Spread a layer of Trader Joe’s tortilla chips onto a plate or platter. Heat Trader’s Joe’s Cashew Fiesta Dip and drizzle over the chips. Sprinkle with a can of drained black or pinto beans (or both!), chopped tomato, sliced olives (and chopped cilantro, sliced green onions or chopped red onion if you like!).

 

Guacamole (or guacamole hummus) + pico de gallo + refried beans ⁣= burrito⠀

I prefer to make my own guacamole but when short on time, Trader Joe’s Avocado’s Number Guacamole is a quick and delicious substitute. Turn it into a speedy burrito by spreading it onto a tortilla with refried beans. Top it with spoonfuls of Trader Joe’s Pico de Gallo and wrap it to go!

 

Organic Buffalo Style Hummus + Chickenless Crispy Tenders ⁣= Buffalo Chicken Wrap⠀

This wrap has all the flavors of buffalo chicken wings without the animal products! Cook Trader Joe’s Chickenless Crispy Tenders according to package directions. Spread Trader Joe’s Organic Buffalo Style Hummus in a pita or on a wrap or tortilla. Lay a few tenders on top, along with a handful of mixed greens, chopped carrots and celery, and a drizzle of Follow Your Heart dairy-free Ranch Dressing.

 

Garlic sauce + falafel + tabbouleh ⁣= Greek pita pizza

These pita pizzas are prepped in minutes! Spread Trader Joe’s Garlic Sauce across a whole pita. Add a spoonful or two of Trader Joe’s Tabbouleh on top, along with 1-2 Trader Joe’s falafels (that have been cooked and chopped).

Watch the video below for a cooking demo with a few of the ideas above and let me know which of the dips and spreads you like best.

For more meal hacks, check out 15 Quick & Easy Meals With Trader Joe’s Bagged Salads (and download my FREE Salad Kit Meal Helper) and My Favorite Trader Joe’s Dinner Hacks.

Dips and spreads

 


April 3, 2019
Food-Bars-Hero-1280x720.png

Food bars are my favorite way to serve a family meal. With a vegetarian, vegan and 3 omnivores at my table every night, it’s an easy way to satisfy everyone. I introduced the DIY food bar concept to my meal plans shortly after I went vegan as a way to make sure there was something for everyone to eat on the table without having to make 2 or 3 meals. What started out as survival mode has now turned into our favorite way to eat!

So, what is a Food Bar?
Think of your classic salad bar or sundae bar where everything is set out “buffet style” for everyone to make themselves. I focus my food bars around a theme with some main dishes and include a few toppings that allow people to customize their meal (that’s where the fun happens!). I also include a couple of side dishes on the bar. I choose things that complement the main dish and make sure there is at least one thing everyone will eat. 

There is no limit to food bars once you get going. Start with foods that your family loves. (In my house, that’s pizza, pasta, paninis and tacos!). Instead of just making one dish, it’s so much more fun to let everyone make their own!

Watch the video below and get inspired to serve this tasty and easy meal idea for dinner. You’ll learn everything you need to add this to your meal plan, including:

  • The best ratio for mains and toppings in your bar
  • The secret to a successful dinner bar
  • My favorite side dishes for several DIY dinner bar ideas
  • Why DIY bars aren’t just for dinner and how I use them to serve breakfast too!

I also share food bars that we love to make in my home, including my favorites:

Tacos

Veggie Sushi Rolls

Pasta (Check out the DIY pasta bar my family loves that uses Trader Joe’s sauces.)

Get the free downloadable here.

10 ideas for DIY Food Bars your family will love!

Watch the video and comment below with the food bar you’re most excited to try!

DIY food bars your family will love.


March 24, 2019
Sheet-Pan-Dinners-Hero-min-1280x720.png

Sheet pan family meals have simplified my meal prep and clean up, infusing my meal planning with new creativity. Watch the video to get my tips and tricks (and recipes) for making the most of this meal idea.

I only recently discovered sheet pan dinners but I’m hooked! This delicious and creative meal idea has simplified my meal prep and clean up—and has infused my meal planning with new creativity.

A sheet pan dinner couldn’t be simpler: Everything goes on one baking sheet and cooks in the oven at once. No other meal prep or dishes to wash (Sometimes, I’ll batch cook rice or chop lettuce to turn my sheet pan into a bowl or salad.)

Watch the video below to get lots of my tips and tricks for awesome sheet pan family meals, including:

  • Why simple is best
  • What to use to make clean up even simpler 
  • What I do to add extra flavor and zing to my sheet pan meals
  • My favorite ingredients for stacking on sheet pans

I also share some of my favorite sheet pan family meals:

Chimichurri Cauliflower + Tofu Steaks and Potatoes

Spaghetti Squash Chili Bake

Bruschetta Portobellos and Gnocchi

Mediterranean Chickpea and Vegetable Nachos

If you want even more ideas, download a free copy of Sheet Pan Family Meals featuring 10 dinner ideas. Get it here!  

Sheet pan family meals have simplified my meal prep and clean up, infusing my meal planning with new creativity. Watch the video to get my tips and tricks (and recipes) for making the most of this meal idea.

Watch the video and get inspired with this easy and delicious meal idea to feed your family!

 


March 16, 2019
Leftovers-Hero-min-1280x720.png

The key to serving last night's dinner is turning it into something new! Try one of these delicious ideas to turn your leftovers into a meal.

I used to dread leftovers, but as a busy meal planning mama of 3, they have become my lifesavers! There are so many reasons to turn leftovers into a new meal:

  • Saves you time since you’re not starting from scratch
  • Saves you money because you’re repurposing food that you already have
  • Makes your meal planning more efficient and gives you a break from cooking
  • Allows you to get creative in the kitchen and hopefully have a little fun while you’re at it!

After a long love / hate relationship with leftovers, I have found that the key to serving last night’s dinner is turning it into something new! 

In this video, I share lots of tasty info for turning leftovers into a new meal. I know that you’ll be able to incorporate these ideas into your own meal plans and family meals again and again.

You’ll hear:

  • The specific ways leftovers have saved me time and money
  • How leftovers have reduced the amount of time I spend creating my weekly meal plans
  • The types of foods that you should purposely plan for leftovers
  • Three meal ideas and recipes for how to turn leftovers into a new meal.
  • Watch the video below and hear me share my favorite ways to turn leftovers into a meal. 

Want more leftover meal ideas? Download a free copy of Leftover Lifesavers: 10 ideas that turn leftovers into a new meal (including 9 plant-based recipes)! Get your copy here.

Free download to turn leftovers into a meal

Watch the video below for my leftover tips!

 


February 19, 2019
Butternut-Squash-Fajitas-Hero-min-1280x720.png

As much as I love trying out new recipes and experimenting in the kitchen, I have a list of meals I make over and over again each month. I call it my “family’s favorites” list. Each person gives me their top meal selects and I keep a running list (and add to it whenever I have a winner). This is my go-to list and I reference it each week when I do my weekly meal planning.

I plug those meals into the busier days during my week when meal prep is more challenging. Using a choice from this list of meals I make over and over speeds things up since I’m comfortable with the prep and familiar with the ingredients and timing. I might change things up with a different side salad or veg, but the main entree is a meal that my family loves and expects.

I balance these favorite meals with a few new ones to keep our menus fresh. I also crave the variety of cooking new dishes so the mix of old and new is a nice balance for my creativity and schedule. Read on below for the meals I make over and over again — and then, be sure to share the meals you make frequently for your family in the comments at the end of this post.

10 Meals I Make Over and Over

1. Tacos

Taco Tuesday is a thing in my house! I really like the idea of using themes to plan my menus and this is one that makes it on my meal plan every week. My kids are creatures of habit so they’ve come to expect my Vegan Beef and Black Bean filling, but I’ve also made a Soyrizo and Potato mixture with delicious reviews.

2. Chili

Whether it’s a chili bowl, chili potatoes, or chili tots, my family loves their chili. I mix it up a lot of different ways but it always starts with either a pot of my homemade Vegan Beef and Bean Chili or a couple of cans of Trader Joe’s vegetarian chili.

Meals I Make Over and Over

3. Vegetable Sushi Bowls

Sushi bowls (or rolls) makes the menu for lunch or dinner every other week. I usually serve it with Trader Joe’s frozen vegetable gyoza. My kids LOVE this meal and I love what a great way it is to get vegetables in their stomachs!

4. Enchiladas

We celebrate Shabbat every Friday night and I always try to make something special for the occasion. I usually fall back on some type of enchiladas at least twice during the month. They are so quick to throw together with canned refried beans and jarred tomatillo salsa; or I’ll roast a big patch of potatoes earlier in the week and reserve some for my Black Bean & Potato Enchiladas.

Meals I Make Over and Over

5. Noodle Stir Fry

This Tofu Stir Fry is so simple and delicious that it’s hard not to make this every week! My kids love soba noodles so I can bribe them to eat their veggies with the promise of more noodles!

6. Pasta!

Whether I’m serving a DIY Pasta Bar, some kind of casserole, or a pasta toss with some version of this sauce, pasta is usually on my menu once a week. It’s a family favorite and a comfort food for this half Italiana!

7. Mixed Grill

This is one of  my easy go-to meals for Friday Shabbats or Sunday evenings. I marinate and cook tofu for me and Gaby, while my hubby prepares chicken for himself and my other two kids. I roast potatoes and some other kind of vegetable and serve it alongside some salad I’ve bookmarked on Pinterest.

8. Beyond Meat Burgers

Burgers make the menu once a month (I usually rotate some kind of sandwich / burger into our meal plans twice a month.) Burger bars are always fun and a hit (especially when served with fries!).

9. Pizza

Sometimes it’s a frozen pizza from Trader Joe’s and a simple side salad. Other times, it’s a DIY pizza station where everyone gets to make their own or these fun vegan Pizza Rolls. Caesar Salad is a favorite in our house so I usually make some kind of variation to keep things interesting. It’s also a built-in opportunity to expose my kids to more vegetables. I recently made a Brussels Sprouts Caesar that I swear they only ate because of the Caesar dressing!

Meals I Make Over and Over

10. Soup

Sunday is batch cook day and you better believe that I’ve always got a pot of some kind of soup on the stove or in my Breville Fast Slow Pro. I save it for a day in the week that I have no time to meal prep and eat the leftovers all week long for lunch. I serve the soup with ciabatta bread and a simple side salad.

And there you have it: the 10 meals that I make over and over each week! What makes your meal plans every month? I’d love to hear what your family loves to eat. Please share in the comments below.

Meals I Make Over and Over

 


February 12, 2019
What-To-Cook-When-You-Dont-Want-To-Cook-Hero-min-1280x720.png

What To Cook When You Don't Want To Cook

Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook but even this meal planning mama has those those days when the last thing she wants to do after a long day is cook it up in the kitchen. I have those days at least once a week so I always plan a “no cook” type meal into my family’s weekly meal plan.

So, what does one cook when you don’t want to cook? Check out the list below and rotate one of the meal ideas into your plan once a week to give yourself a night off from cooking.

What To Cook When You Don’t Want To Cook

1. Snack Board

Snacks for dinner! Who doesn’t want that? Laying out a huge snack platter as the main meal is one of my favorite ways to feed the family when I don’t want to cook. Add a variety of vegetables, dips, crackers and fruits for texture and color.

What To Cook When You Don't Want To Cook

2. Burritos

Turn taco leftovers into big, fat burritos the next day. I love this easy meal solution that repurposes last night’s dinner into something new. I get the huge flour tortillas for easy stuffing and load leftover rice, beans, and filling on top. It’s like our own in house Chipotle!

3. Pasta Bar

Take a little help from store-bought sauces to get an epic pasta bar on the table in less than 30 minutes. Heat up some store bought sauces, boil some pasta and spoon a few add-ins into bowls. My family loves this DIY spread that I serve with sliced ciabatta and a simple salad (or buy a salad in a bag for even more ease).

What To Cook When You Don't Want To Cook

4. Sushi Bowls

These are simple to make if you buy frozen rice and reheat it. I chop baked tofu, cucumber and avocado for toppings and serve alongside edamame (cooked and shelled from the store) along with shredded carrots, peanuts and sesame seeds. Super easy and the kids love it. They often ask for leftovers to eat for lunch the next day. There’s no cooking involved (unless you count reheating the rice) and everyone makes their own bowl.

What To Cook When You Don't Want To Cook

5. Paninis

Instead of cooking, press it! My family loves our panini press. It makes an appearance for dinner at least a couple of times a month when I don’t want to cook. I lay out breads, toppings and sauces and let everyone do their own thing. It’s dinner and an activity! If I’m feeling fancy, I may serve it with a slaw or salad I’ve prepped or batch cooked on the weekend. Otherwise, it’s potato chips and fruit for sides.

What To Cook When You Don't Want To Cook


February 5, 2019
Portable-Meals-Hero-1280x720.png

I was having a DAY last week. You know the ones when you’re running from one thing to the next? I finished work only to rush to pick up the kids from school and then run home to host two back to back meetings. The second meeting was a philanthropy work session with a few girls and their moms. (My daughters and I are in a mother-daughter philanthropy organization called National Charity League). We were writing letters to heroes stationed away from their families. As we wrote, girls and moms popped in and out as they flitted to and from their next commitment on the schedule for the evening.

Half the girls arrived straight from school, attended the meeting, then stayed to write letters and were then off to dance and tutoring. As I watched everyone come and go, I became unsettled. I completely get all the hustle and bustle, and unfortunately have come to accept it as a way of life as a mom of three kids! In fact, my own Gaby would be rushing in late to letter writing because she had theater rehearsal after school.

But something else was bothering me. As I observed these girls going about and doing their thing, I kept thinking: “When are these girls going to eat dinner?” And with that question, followed: “When are these moms going to have time to make dinner in between rushing them to their activities?” What was everyone doing about dinner?

I wrestle with those same questions every week as I map out my meal plan and prep strategy for the week. It’s the only way I know I’m able to get dinner on the table (along with a dinner hack or two!). But beyond meal planning, I worried that the girls wouldn’t actually have time to eat and worse, it looked like dinner would be in the drive-thru on the way to the next thing.

It got me thinking about meal solutions, as I tend to do (!) and I rounded up a few easily portable meals that the kids can eat on the go without having to go through the drive-thru. All of these dinners can be prepped in advance and assembled in minutes before it’s time to head out the door. They’re also easily consumed in the back seat of a car in transit! (A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do!) None of them require reheating so no need to worry about keeping the food warm.

Check out the portable meals to feed the kids below. I’ve included suggestions for meal prep to make assembly even quicker, as well as ideas for store-bought ingredients that can save time. Now go feed those kids before the next activity!

Easy Portable Meals to Feed The Kids On The Go

1. Hummus Bowl

My name is Stephanie and I’m addicted to hummus! Seriously, I could live on just that and avocado. One of my favorite easy meals is a hummus bowl. Pack a container of hummus (which is completely shelf stable without refrigeration for hours!) along with a colorful assortment of carrot sticks, cucumber, bell pepper strips and pita chips. For added protein, stir in some chickpeas or steamed lentils (Trader Joe’s sells some in the refrigerated section) into the hummus.

Prep in advance: Hummus (if making your own) and vegetables (store in jars with water)

Store-bought help: Hummus if not making your own

2. Vegetable Sushi Rolls

These not only can be made and stored in advance, but they also travel really well! Make them the night before to save even more time the next day. Spread sushi rice across a nori sheet, leaving a 1/4-inch border all around. Lay tofu and veggies on top. Using a sushi mat, roll the nori as you squeeze the mat. Slice!

Prep in advance: Sushi rice

Store-bought help: Baked tofu, pre-shredded cabbage, carrots, and other julienned veggies

Finger Foods

3. Pasta Salad

Mix it with any pasta and veggie combo for a variety of easy portable meals at your disposal. Some of my favorites are this Mediterranean Pearl Couscous Salad and Kale Harvest Grains Salad.

All you need is your kids’ favorite pasta (macaroni, bow tie, penne), some chopped raw or blanched veggies, some cubed dairy-free cheese, white beans or garbanzos and salad dressing. Toss it all together in a mason jar and watch them eat it on the go!

Prep in advance: You could prep the whole salad ahead of time, or just cook the pasta and veggies and then assemble it all the day of or minutes before you need to go.

Store-bought help: Salad dressing

Who’s ready for carpool?!

4. Hummus Tabbouleh Wraps

These are super simple but full of flavor with the layers of hummus and tabbouleh. Just use a regular flour tortilla and spread generously with your kids’ favorite hummus. Add a few romaine or spinach leaves on top and add a scoop of tabbouli. Roll and slice in half!

Prep in advance: Tabbouleh (if making your own)

Store-bought help: Trader Joe’s has a vast variety of hummus options as well as a tasty tabbouleh if you’re too busy to make it homemade.

If you're shuttling kids from one activity to the next and worried about when and how to feed them, try one of these easy and delicious portable meals that they can eat on the go and you can prep in no time!

5. Mason Jar Italian Chopped Salads

These are just as fun to make as they are to eat! Start by pouring your salad dressing on the bottom of the jar (any Italian, balsamic or lemon vinaigrette will do!). Then layer chickpeas, and chopped vegetables one at a time (cucumber, kalamata olives, tomato, pepperoncinis and / or capers, or any other assortment of your choice). End with chopped lettuce on top. Seal with a lid and store until ready to eat. I recommend assembling these the morning of the same day your kids plan to eat them.

Prep in advance: Salad dressing (if making your own)

Store-bought help: Salad dressing (if not making your own) and pre-chopped lettuce

If you're shuttling kids from one activity to the next and worried about when and how to feed them, try one of these easy and delicious portable meals that they can eat on the go and you can prep in no time!

 


January 17, 2019
Sheet-Pan-Dinner-Hero-min-1280x720.png

Last week was a busy one. After picking up the kids from school and shuttling them to activities and appointments, I raced off to my own appointments and conference calls. Then, I picked up the kids and raced home to make dinner, with any other spare minute in between used to finalize preparations for Alex’s bat mitzvah in 3 weeks. Every moment seemed to have a task to complete!

The last thing I wanted to do at the end of the day was cook dinner or think about meal prep for the next day. Still, I managed to get a home cooked meal on the table every night (and lunch made for me and the kids). Thank goodness for batch cooking on the weekend! My other saving grace was the sheet pan dinner. I’m kinda new to the sheet pan dinner party. In case you are too, let me explain.

Sheet pan dinners are where you place some combo of veggies and protein on a sheet pan and let the oven do all the work for you. When the sheet pan is ready, dinner is served. It’s easy and convenient (You only have to wash one pan!). It’s also a great way to clean out your fridge and use up whatever produce is lying around.

As I prepped the Italian Roasted Veggie Bowls below, I started thinking about all of the other fun ways you could mix up sheet pan dinners. I challenged myself to come up with four more. Check them out below!

It takes about 20-30ish minutes to roast the contents on your sheet pan. If you batch cook your grains and prep your dressings or sauces on the weekend, you can get your meal on the table in less than 40 minutes. Healthy, homemade and fun. Dinner is served!

Change up what's for dinner with one of these plant-based sheet pan dinners. Your family will love these roasted veggie bowls, pita pockets, nachos (and more!) and you'll love the easy prep and clean up.

5 Quick & Easy Sheet Pan Dinners

1. Italian Roasted Veggies + Tofu Orzo Bowls

On the sheet pan:

Cherry tomatoes

Cubed tofu

Broccoli

Cremini mushrooms

Whole garlic cloves

Toss all of the above with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, an Italian herbs seasoning blend, salt and pepper. Roast at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve over cooked orzo and top with one or more of the dressing and toss-in options below.

Dressing and sauce options:

Italian dressing

Caesar

Lemon-garlic tahini sauce

Tasty toss-ins:

Kite Hill Ricotta

Pine nuts

Freshly, chopped basil

 

2. Greek Quinoa “Tabbouleh” Pita Pockets

On the sheet pan:

Cauliflower florets

Chickpeas (drained, rinsed and patted dry)

Kalamata olives (pitted)

Artichoke hearts

Pita bread

Toss all of the veggies and chickpeas with olive oil, dill and oregano (or Greek seasoning blend), garlic powder, salt and pepper. Roast at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (Place pita on the sheet pan about 5 minutes before the veggies are done. Toss the veggies and chickpeas with the quinoa and serve inside sliced pita halves with one or more of the dressing or toss-in options below.

Dressing and sauce options:

Red wine vinaigrette

Tahini sauce

Hummus

Tasty toss-ins:

Chopped cucumber

Fresh dill

Sun-dried tomatoes

 

3. Southwestern Tempeh & Corn Burritos

On the sheet pan:

Cubed tempeh

Corn (cut off the cob or canned, drained and rinsed)

Red bell pepper, chopped

Red onion, sliced

Toss all of the veggies and tempeh with olive oil and your favorite taco seasoning. Roast at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. About 5 minutes before the veggies and tempeh are done, place the flour tortillas on the sheet pan. When done cooking, scoop the tempeh and vegetable filling into the tortillas and top with one or more of the dressing and toss-in options below.

Dressing and sauce options:

Salsa

Taco sauce

Dairy-free sour cream

Tasty toss-ins:

Black beans (drained and rinsed) or refried beans

Sliced black olives

Sliced avocado

 

4. Black Bean & Vegan Beef Nachos

On the sheet pan:

Tortilla chips

Black beans (canned, drained and rinsed)

Veggie ground “beef”

Dairy-free cheddar cheese

Spread the tortilla chips out across the sheet pan. Srinkle the remaining ingredients on top, with the cheese last. Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. When done cooking, top with one or more of the sauce and toss-in options below.

Sauce options:

Taco sauce

Guacamole

Dairy-free sour cream

Tasty toss-ins:

Cilantro

Chopped tomato

Chopped red onion

Chopped avocado

What do you think of this fun and easy meal idea for the family?

5. Cauliflower, Potato + Chickpea Curry Bowls

On the sheet pan:

Cauliflower florets

Chickpeas (canned, drained and rinsed)

Potatoes (scrubbed and cubed)

Toss all of the above with olive oil, curry powder and garam masala. Roast at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve over cooked jasmine rice and top with one or more of the dressing and toss-in options below.

Sauce options:

Bottled curry sauce (My family loves Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry)

Lime juice

Dairy-free Greek-style yogurt

Tasty toss-ins:

Cilantro

Peas

Peanuts

What do you think of this fun and easy meal idea for the family?


January 14, 2019
Pasta-Bar-Hero-min-1280x720.png

My family went crazy for this easy pasta bar that I put together last week! I received countless “Mom, this is really good!” enthusiastic compliments from the kids about how much they loved dinner…and all I did was heat up a few sauces from Trader Joe’s, boil some pasta, and chop up some veggies. That’s it! Easy, healthy, and kid approved. That’s what I call dinner success!

This easy pasta bar is one of my weeknight solutions to serving a healthy, homemade dinner five nights a week. Over the years, I’ve introduced several changes to my family’s meal plans, but food bars are one my favorites. They are fun, interactive, and customizable for picky eaters and family members with different likes and dislikes.

This meal idea came together even easier with store-bought sauces from Trader Joe’s. My daughter, Alex, loves pesto while my son Jake prefers Miyoko’s butter and my eldest, Gaby loves bruschetta. This pasta bar made it possible to please all 3 of them with one meal. Score 1 for me!

When it comes to putting together your own pasta bar, keep the following tips in mind.

DIY Pasta Bar Tips

  1. Presentation is everything: Kids eat with their eyes so lay everything out on a pretty platter. Make a spread that is inviting and fun. Since you’re using store-bought ingredients, you can spend a few extra minutes on setting up your spread!
  2. Variety is the spice of life: Include lots of color and variety in your pasta and toppings options.
  3. Less is more: Variety is great but you don’t have to go crazy. Too many options can overwhelm kids so stick to no more than 3 sauces and 5 add-ins for your pasta bar.
  4. Round out the menu: A simple salad and sliced ciabatta are winning sides to accompany your meal.

The key to this pasta bar is incorporating your family’s favorites. Create your own with these three simple steps.

Easy Pasta Bar in 1-2-3!

1. Select your sauces.

I mentioned above that I catered to my kids’ faves. I used the following Trader Joe’s sauces:

Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto (in the refrigerated section)

Trader Giotto’s Fresh Bruschetta Sauce (in the refrigerated section)

Trader Giotto’s Genova Pesto (in the refrigerated section)

(Although Jake loves plain butter on his noodles, he tried the bruschetta and loved it. I reinforced how great it was that he tried something new and discovered he liked it.)

When it comes to making healthy changes to your family's meal plan, do it with ease. Try one or more of these suggestions to clean up your family's diet this year.

2. Prep your noodles.

I did a combo of zoodles (zucchini noodles) and traditional pasta. Although Dave and I were the only ones who ate the zucchini, I always offer and keep reintroducing it (the key to winning over picky palates).

My kids’ favorite noodles are penne and farfalle (aka bowties in our house). I also love all the fun twists and spirals that Trader Joe’s offers in their pasta aisle. I could have included 5 different kinds of pasta in our bar!

Get a homemade meal on the table that your whole family will love with this easy pasta bar using Trader Joe's sauces and your favorite toppings.

3. Choose your toppings.

I kept it simple with sliced cherry tomatoes, olives, and Gardein meatless meatballs. I also included turkey meatballs for Alex, Jake and Dave.

This is where you can have a lot of fun with your pasta bar: sun-dried tomatoes, capers, roasted vegetables, chickpeas, marinated artichoke hearts, hearts of palm…go to town!

And don’t forget the Parm! Violife is my favorite dairy-free brand. I love that you can grate it like traditional Parmesan cheese. You can find it at Whole Foods. Follow Your Heart also makes a great grated product.

With all the options to choose from, you can change up this pasta bar a dozen different ways to refresh this meal idea again and again. It’s definitely going into the my meal plan rotation!

I’d love to hear what you think of this meal idea. Tell me in the comments below and for more plant-based meal ideas, check out my 21-day online course for meal plan ideas and recipes.

Get a homemade meal on the table that your whole family will love with this easy pasta bar using Trader Joe's sauces and your favorite toppings.

 


November 25, 2018
Trader-Joes-Dinner-Hacks-Hero-min-1280x720.png

I’m fiercely committed to getting a home cooked meal on the table for my family every night (well, at least 5 out of 7 nights a week!). But sometimes that means taking a little help from the store. While planning ahead and batch cooking can take me a long way on busy weeknights, sometimes I’m really short on time for meal prep and need one of my go-to Trader Joes meal hacks to get dinner on the table.

Thank goodness for Trader Joes! These dinner hacks make it possible to get a homemade-ish meal on the table. Ready in about 20 minutes, these meals use prepared foods and take advantage of the delicious offerings available at my favorite grocery store. And…these happen to be some of my kids’ favorite dinners.

Watch the video below for some of my favorite Trader Joe’s dinner hacks and let me know which one you’re trying in your meal plan next week!

My Favorite Trader Joe’s Dinner Hacks

Chili Potato Bowls

Vegetarian Canned Chili + Russet Potato + Chili Toppings

This is one of my kiddos’ favorite meals, and it’s so simple. I use the canned veggie chili from Trader Joe’s. Amy’s Kitchen also makes a great one. Bake (or microwave) potatoes. Split and carve them open into a bowl-like shape and top with a ladle full of chili and your favorite accompaniments. This meal also works great with tator tots in place of Russets (and also with sweet potatoes for added nutritional value).

 

Tofu Vegetable Fried Rice

Trader Joe’s Vegetable Fried Rice + Tofu + DIY marinade or Soyaki + kale + broccoli florets

This is one of my favorite comfort food meals. Trader Joe’s fried rice mix is already delicious on its own but when you add more plant power with kale, broccoli and marinated tofu, it gets a major flavor upgrade. Marinate the tofu in the morning while making breakfast to speed up the meal prep even more.

 

Short on time but still want to get a home cooked meal on the table? Try one of my favorite Trader Joes dinner hacks for a delicious and quick homemade-ish family meal.

Falafel Pitas

Frozen falafel + bag of pita + bag of Organic Mediterranean Style Salad Kit + hummus

Hold the cheese in the Trader Joe’s Mediterranean Salad Kit and this meal is vegan! Spoon a heaping serving into a pita, top some chopped falafel and a dollop of hummus.

Trader Joe’s also has a yummy tabbouleh and balela (chickpea salad) in the refrigerated foods section by the carton salads that would also make delicious sides or fillings for the pitas. I serve these with their stuffed grape leaves (located in the spaghetti aisle next to the olives).

Short on time but still want to get a home cooked meal on the table? Try one of my favorite Trader Joes dinner hacks for a delicious and quick homemade-ish family meal.

Italian Sausage Calzones

Trader Joe’s Italian sausage + pizza sauce + pizza dough + dairy-free cheese

This is a fun twist on pizza! Divide the pizza dough into 4 balls. Roll out each ball of dough and spread with sauce. Top with the sausage, cheese (and any other toppings). Fold in half and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Spaghetti and “Meat”Balls

Bag of meatless meatballs + can of marinara sauce + spaghetti

This is one of the easiest Trader Joes dinner hacks on the list! Just heat the “meat” balls in a pot with the marinara sauce. (I love their can of marinara sauce.) Serve over your family’s favorite pasta. Toss up one of Trader Joe’s bagged salads for an easy and healthy side dish. (They have a Caesar salad in a bag that’s vegan without the cheese.)

Short on time but still want to get a home cooked meal on the table? Try one of my favorite Trader Joes dinner hacks for a delicious and quick homemade-ish family meal.

Italian Pasta Primavera

Linguine + bruschetta + can of artichoke hearts + olives

My kids love for bruschetta and olives inspired this quick and easy dinner hack. We love the bruschetta from Trader Joe’s in the refrigerated section. Combine cooked linguine with the bruschetta, artichoke hearts and sliced Kalamata olives. That’s it and dinner is served. Sometimes I add cannelinni beans to the mix. The most time consuming part of this meal is cooking the pasta. If you’re feeling fancy, toss together a salad and slice some ciabatta while the pasta cooks.

Pizza Roll Ups 

Trader pizza dough + pizza sauce + dairy-free cheese + sliced olives (or any other topping)

With just 4 ingredients, this fun and easy dinner is prepped in 10 minutes (and cooked in another 10). My kids love these packed for lunch too!

 

Tofu Curry

Bottle of Yellow Curry Sauce + block of firm tofu + bag of cauliflower florets + box of jasmine rice

My eldest daughter, Gaby, is obsessed with this sauce from Trader Joe’s. It’s mild so it’s very kid friendly. She doesn’t love that I add in the cauliflower, but a vegan mom’s gotta do what she’s gotta do! Saute chopped garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, along with the cauli florets. Cook for about 7 minutes and stir in the tofu (chopped into bite size squares). Pour in the sauce and cook until heated through.

My daughter loves it served over the jasmine rice, but it’s also equally tasty served as a lettuce wrap. Top a lettuce leaf with with a spoonful of Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry Chopped Salad Kit. (It’s vegan without the dressing.) Spoon some of the tofu curry on top. Dress with a squeeze of fresh lime.

Short on time but still want to get a home cooked meal on the table? Try one of my favorite Trader Joes dinner hacks for a delicious and quick homemade-ish family meal.

Vegetable Sushi Bowls

Box of frozen jasmine rice + block of teriyaki tofu + edamame + shredded carrots + avocado + Persian cucumber

These are a family favorite and make it in our dinner or lunchbox rotation at least twice a month. The most time consuming part of this Trader Joes dinner hack is chopping up all the veggie toppings (which only takes about 10 minutes).  I serve this salad bar style and let the fam build their sushi bowl as they like. I serve tamari (soy sauce), dulse flakes, nori strips and gomasaio (seasoned sesame seeds) on the side for extra flavor and fun!

Trader Joes dinner hacks

 

Tofu & Veggie Stir Fry

Bag of coleslaw mix + broccoli florets + baked tofu + Asian sauce + frozen Jasmine rice

The teriyaki baked tofu from Trader Joe’s is a tasty choice for this stir fry. I get jasmine rice from Trader Joe’s. Saute a few cloves of garlic in your oil of choice, along with the vegetables. Cook until desired tenderness. Drizzle in Soyaki (or your favorite sauce). Stir in chopped baked tofu. Serve over the rice.

 

Easy Vegan Miso Ramen 

Trader Joe’s Miso Ramen + baby bok choy + edamame + shiitake mushrooms + green onions

With just a few fresh veggies and TJ’s cup of ramen, you’ve got a delicious soup in 5 minutes. Yes…5 minutes!!!

 

I’d love to hear which of the Trader Joes dinner hacks above is your favorite. Tell me in the comments below!

Falafel photos by Canva.


March 31, 2018
Matzah-Recipes-Hero-min-1280x720.png

The Passover seder is my favorite part of the holiday, but we’ve still got a week’s worth of matzah to eat. With so much matzah, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite matzah recipes to share with you! From recipe classics like matzah ball soup, to inspired creations like Mexican Matzah Casserole, you’ll find something for your family’s meal plan this week.

Try one of these family friendly matzah recipes for all the matzah there is to eat during Passover. From recipe classics like matzah ball soup, to inspired creations like Mexican Matzah Casserole, you'll find something for your family's meal plan this week.

Matzah Pizzas

Eat them plain with your favorite sauce and dairy-free cheese, or get creative and try one of my 10 deliciously easy recipes.

Try one of these family friendly matzah recipes for all the matzah there is to eat during Passover. From recipe classics like matzah ball soup, to inspired creations like Mexican Matzah Casserole, you'll find something for your family's meal plan this week.

Matzah Tater Tots

These Matzah Tots (so cute!) from Jewish Food Hero are fun for little hands and taste delish dipped in your favorite sauces.

Try one of these family friendly matzah recipes for all the matzah there is to eat during Passover. From recipe classics like matzah ball soup, to inspired creations like Mexican Matzah Casserole, you'll find something for your family's meal plan this week.

Matzah Nachos

This has to be my family’s favorite way to eat matzah. You can change these up a dozen different ways depending on the toppings, but I love it sprinkled with Tofurky’s chorizo, homemade pico de gallo and guacamole. Oy-le!

Try one of these family friendly matzah recipes for all the matzah there is to eat during Passover. From recipe classics like matzah ball soup, to inspired creations like Mexican Matzah Casserole, you'll find something for your family's meal plan this week.

Mexican Casserole

Matzah makes a great layer in casseroles. This Mexican inspired recipe is a little different than the other matzah casseroles out there.

Try one of these family friendly matzah recipes for all the matzah there is to eat during Passover. From recipe classics like matzah ball soup, to inspired creations like Mexican Matzah Casserole, you'll find something for your family's meal plan this week.

Matzah Ball Soup

This recipe on World of Vegan from Vegan: The Cookbook by chef Jean-Christian Jury is an elevated take on this classic Passover soup and matzah staple.

What are your family’s favorite matzah recipes to eat during Passover. I’d love to hear in the comments below!


February 12, 2018
Ways-To-My-Familys-Hearts-Hero-min-2-1280x720.png

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, which explains why I tried to seduce mine with a homemade meal of Fettucine Alfredo and Chocolate-Vanilla Marble Cheesecake when things started getting serious! I remember sitting on the phone with my mom as she walked me through how to prepare the cheesecake, drizzling the chocolate into the base layer and swirling it into formation. It was really important to me that he thought I was a good cook. That meal was my showcase! I guess I passed the test, because 25 years later, he’s still raving about my food (thanks, honey!).

Five kids later, I am trying to win over my entire family’s hearts, not just my husband’s! I was raised that food is love, so I spend a lot of time thinking about what to feed my family – and I spend a lot of time planning and preparing meals. I think Valentine’s Day is a great occasion to show your love with food, so I’ve rounded up 5 of husband’s (and family’s) favorite recipes that are sure to win over your family’s hearts (and stomachs!).

These plant-based recipes are full of flavor. My kids and hubby aren’t vegan so it’s always a win when I get the thumbs up from them. The recipes below are family tested and approved!

Win over your family's hearts this Valentine's Day with one of these five plant-based recipes that will please omnivores and carnivores alike. #vegan

1.Vegan Scallopini with Lemon-Garlic Pasta

This is a classic. I use Gardein for the “Scallopini” and my husband chooses it over chicken. The lemon-garlic pasta is zesty and delish on its own, (which is a safe bet since my kids are not always the biggest fans of faux meats).

Win over your family's hearts this Valentine's Day with one of these five plant-based recipes that will please omnivores and carnivores alike. #vegan

2. Vegetable Wellington

The roasted veggies in this filling are delicious on their own, but wrapped in fluffy puff pastry, this is a taste bud winner. You can customize it with your family’s favorite veggies, but the olives in this recipe are a must on my family’s list.

Win over your family's hearts this Valentine's Day with one of these five plant-based recipes that will please omnivores and carnivores alike. #vegan

3. Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo

This is a throwback to that first meal I made my husband. This creamy sauce is a family favorite. Pour it over your kids’ favorite pasta for a healthy and delicious weeknight meal.

Win over your family's hearts this Valentine's Day with one of these five plant-based recipes that will please omnivores and carnivores alike. #vegan

4. Vegan Italian “Meatballs”

The Beyond Meat Beyond Burger (the base in these “meatballs”) is the only hamburger my husband eats now. This recipe is a vegan twist on the family recipe my grandmother used to make us as kids.

Win over your family's hearts this Valentine's Day with one of these five plant-based recipes that will please omnivores and carnivores alike. #vegan

5. Vegan Lasagna Rolls

These are a fun twist on my family’s favorite meatless and dairy-free lasagna.

What’s the one dish you make to win over your family’s hearts and stomachs? Please share in the comments below.

 


September 25, 2017
Fall-Family-Meals-Hero-min-1280x720.png

Autumn is officially here and although the weather doesn’t quite feel like it yet, I am ushering in the season by breaking out my slow cooker and cooking heartier dinner fare. Pumpkins and squash are making big displays in my local market and I am craving stews and soups with crusty bread and simple green salads. This season is one of my favorites because family cooking is so easy. My Le Creuset dutch oven and slow cooker get lots of use with meals that I prep in the morning and forget about until a delicious dinner is ready for us. Comfort foods like pastas with homemade sauces, and casseroles are also big favorites of mine this time of year.

These make-ahead and one-pot meals make it easy to cook for the family. The prep is minimal. All you need is a bit of time to do some meal planning the week before to make sure you have the right ingredients on hand. This list of my favorite plant-based fall family recipes will ensure your family is well fed this season. If you make any of these recipes, please tag @VeegMama and #VeegMama. I love to see your creations with my recipes.

Cheers to Fall!

My Favorite Plant-Based Fall Family Recipes

1. Dairy-Free Three Cheese Rigatoni

This recipe has been passed down from generations and generations on the Italian side of my family. It’s served at almost every family gathering and is always a crowd pleaser. I have given the family recipe a plant-based makeover with delicious results.

This list of my favorite plant-based Fall family recipes will keep your family well fed this season with minimal work and time in the kitchen for you.

2. Easy Bean Soup

I love making this soup again and again. You can change it up a bunch of different ways by varying the beans you use. Top with fresh spinach leaves for extra green power!

Easy Bean Soup

4. Lentil Tomato Soup

This is my all-time favorite comfort soup. I love to top it with avocado.

Lentil Tomato Soup

4. Lasagna Rolls

This is my fun riff on lasagna because everything is more fun in a roll! They are a little more work than lasagna, but I love that I can prep and assemble everything ahead of time, and then pop in the oven a half hour before I want to serve dinner. Make it on the weekend and bake it for a great Meatless Monday meal.

This list of my favorite plant-based Fall family recipes will keep your family well fed this season with minimal work and time in the kitchen for you.

5. Slow Cooker Vegan Chili

You’ll love this “throw it all together” slow cooker recipe. Serve alongside the traditional toppings – dairy-free cheese, sour cream and green onions. I like to add a dollop of salsa on top too!

Slow Cooker Vegan Chili

6. Tamale Pie

This Mexican casserole is an oldie but goodie. I veganized my mom’s recipe that I loved as a kid. It still comforts and satiates me all these years later.

This list of my favorite plant-based Fall family recipes will keep your family well fed this season with minimal work and time in the kitchen for you.

What are your favorite things to cook in the Fall?

This list of my favorite plant-based Fall family recipes will keep your family well fed this season with minimal work and time in the kitchen for you.


September 11, 2017
Serving-Casserole-min-1280x720.png

Now that my kids are back in school, parent meetings and activities are filling my calendar. The evening hustle to get dinner on the table while I juggle carpool is real! Getting a healthy, home cooked meal on the table during these busy nights never happens by chance, but I do make sure it happens. I plan ahead and build a few dinner hacks into my family meal plan on nights when I know I will have only 30 minutes or less to get a meal on the table. This way, I can make sure I get the ingredients during my weekly shopping trip to throw a quick meal together.

These dinner hacks are not fancy, but they are healthy and tasty. They each include about 5 ingredients and minimal prep. The recipes take some help from the store with canned or prepared ingredients, which I am happy to take when the thought of making dinner just feels like too much. The assurance that one of these meal hacks will get dinner on the table in about 20 minutes is a gift from the dinner gods.

5 Plant Based Dinner Hacks for Busy Weeknights

1. Vegetarian Canned Chili + Russet Potato + Chili Toppings = Chili Potato Bowls

This is one of my kiddos’ favorite meals, and it’s so simple. I use the canned veggie chili from Trader Joe’s. Amy’s Kitchen also makes a great one. Bake (or microwave) potatoes. Split and carve them open into a bowl-like shape and top with a ladle full of chili and your favorite accompaniments.

These plant-based dinner hacks get a healthy and delicious homemade dinner on the table on busy weeknights when you only have 30 minutes or less to spend.

2. Bag of coleslaw mix + broccoli florets + baked tofu + Asian sauce + frozen Jasmine rice = Tofu & Veggie Stir Fry

The teriyaki baked tofu from Trader Joe’s is a tasty choice for this stir fry. I get jasmine rice from Trader Joe’s. Saute a few cloves of garlic in your oil of choice, along with the vegetables. Cook until desired tenderness. Drizzle in Soyaki (or your favorite sauce). Stir in chopped baked tofu. Serve over the rice.

These plant-based dinner hacks get a healthy and delicious homemade dinner on the table on busy weeknights when you only have 30 minutes or less to spend.

 

4. Can of chickpeas + chopped veggies + salad dressing + pita = Greek Pita Pockets

Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas and combine them in a bowl with chopped cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, and Kalamata olives. Drizzle with your favorite Greek dressing (or red wine vinaigrette). Serve alongside sliced pitas.

These plant-based dinner hacks get a healthy and delicious homemade dinner on the table on busy weeknights when you only have 30 minutes or less to spend.

5. Linguine + bruschetta + can of artichoke hearts + olives = Italian Pasta Primavera

My kids love for bruschetta and olives inspired this quick and easy dinner hack. We love the bruschetta from Trader Joe’s in the refrigerated section. Combine cooked linguine with the bruschetta, artichoke hearts and sliced Kalamata olives. That’s it and dinner is served. Sometimes I add cannelinni beans to the mix. The most time consuming part of this meal is cooking the pasta. If you’re feeling fancy, toss together a salad and slice some ciabatta while the pasta cooks.

These plant-based dinner hacks get a healthy and delicious homemade dinner on the table on busy weeknights when you only have 30 minutes or less to spend.

What are some of your favorite dinner hacks for busy weeknights?

These plant-based dinner hacks get a healthy and delicious homemade dinner on the table on busy weeknights when you only have 30 minutes or less to spend.

 


August 14, 2017
Familly-Outside-min-1280x853.jpg

On these warm summer nights, the last thing I want to do is cook! To keep things simple and easy, I turn to fresh vegetables and finger foods to help me get a homemade meal on the table for my family. By the nature of finger foods, the meals are fun and interactive. You can lay out everything family style in the middle of the table and let your crew go to town, putting together their own plate however they like it!  Below are five of my favorite no cook family meals.

1. Raw tacos

Use your food processor to pulse walnuts and taco seasoning together for a crunchy filling. For another option, drain a can of beans and corn, and mix together with lime juice and taco seasoning. Add fresh chopped vegetables, avocado or guacamole and salsa. Instead of fried taco shells, use romaine leaves.

2. Lettuce Wraps

Cube baked tofu (I love the teriyaki flavor from Trader Joe’s), and toss with shredded carrots, cabbage and green onions. Add snow peas or edamame for additional green fun! Stir it all together with a drizzle of your favorite Asian ginger or teriyaki dressing (such as Soyaki). Serve alongside iceberg lettuce leaves, peanuts, and sesame seeds.

 

No Cook Family Meals

3. Zucchini Noodles and Sauce

My spiralizer is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets. You can have dinner on the table in 10 minutes by spiralizing a few zucchini and heating up a store-bought marinara or pesto sauce.

4. Spring Rolls

My kids love making spring rolls. Slice, julienne or chop your family’s favorite vegetables on a cutting board, along with strips of seasoned tofu or shelled edamame, if you’d like. Wet rice paper, layer on the veggies and roll. Serve with your favorite store-bought dipping sauce.

No Cook Family Meals

5. Snack Platter

This is my favorite way to eat on long summer days. I put out a cutting board (or two) full of fruits, veggies, crackers, dairy-free cheese, nuts, and dips (olive tapenade, garlic sauce, hummus). Everyone can pick off the boards directly as they run around outside, or make a plate and lounge while they eat. It is the ultimate summer lazy meal!

What is your family’s favorite no-cook meal? I’d love to know in the comments below.

No Cook Family Meals


July 24, 2017
Meal-Planning-min-1280x853.jpg

Dinner’s ready! For the last two weeks, I have been sharing resources and strategies to help you with your dinner meal planning. First, I shared strategies for deciding what to make for dinner, and last week, I shared 8 ways to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less. Today, I have rounded up some of my favorite experts to share their best meal planning tips for dinner. They have some great ideas, so take note! I hope they go a long way in helping you plan your family’s dinners so that you can easily and joyfully proclaim, “Dinner’s ready!”

Read on and let me know which of these dinner meal planning tips is your favorite.

Dinner Meal Planning Tips

“While it’s fun to experiment with recipes, keep most meals very simple. Focus on foods your family already loves, and build around these items. For instance, if you all love potatoes, pair with baked beans or a wholesome veggie burger. Or, top with beans, veg, and guacamole or plant-based cheese for loaded spuds! If pasta is a favorite, add cooked lentils to your pasta sauce, or a heaping amount of sauteed veg. There are ways to ‘amp up’ easy-prep meals for variety and also satiety. Keep it simple through the week, then have some fun with new recipes when time is more flexible.”

– Dreena Burton, best-selling cookbook author and founder of Plant-Powered Kitchen

 

 “I like to make something that is customizable so that everyone enjoys it. For example, tacos are great for letting each person choose their own toppings.”

– Amy Katz from Veggies Save The Day

 

“Take some time to do your food prep each weekend. That way, when it’s dinnertime during the week, you’ve already got a soup, sauce, and some chopped veggies ready to go – making it much easier to put a healthy meal together in a snap!”

– Tess Challis, author, vegan chef and wellness coach

 

“I’d say my biggest tip for a fast family dinner is freezing sauces. Whenever I make sauce, whether it be marinara, pesto, my cauliflower Alfredo, I always make plenty of extra so I can freeze it in small portions. That way I can use however I like in a variety of recipes.

– Leslie Durso vegan chef

 

“Have weekly menus that you cycle through every month. It takes the guessing out of what to make for dinner and helps streamline grocery shopping and prep time.”

– Michelle de la Penna, owner of Michy’s Foods 

(Download a free meal plan menu HERE.)

Dinner Meal Planning Tips

“Build around one or two ingredients. For example, if you build around chickpeas and sweet potatoes, you can prep those two things at the beginning of the week and then make a quick, easy, and different meal for each night. You could make a curry, tacos, a Buddha bowl, and more out of those two ingredients.”

– Linda and Alex from Veganosity

Special shout out and thank you to all of the wonderful experts above for sharing your knowledge!

Now, I’d love to hear from you. Which of these tips is your favorite? For more dinner help, sign up for my free newsletter.

Dinner Meal Planning Tips


Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On PinterestVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On Instagram