Meal Planning Archives | Stephanie Dreyer

Meal Planning

November 11, 2019

Ultimate Guide to Plant-based Meal Plannng

As the solo vegan in my household, I know a thing or two about introducing your family to a plant-based diet! Whether you’re looking to incorporate a few vegan meals into your family’s weekly menu or go plant-based all the way together, a plan is essential if you’re going to be successful—and enjoy the journey. (Going vegan on Sunday and then declaring the rest of the family must follow on Monday isn’t going to work—trust me, I tried!)

This Ultimate Guide to Plant-based Meal Planning is my heart and soul! It’s what I wish I had when I went vegan and brought my family along for the ride 10 years ago and didn’t have a clue what I was doing. It’s the go-to checklist I wish existed when I was struggling to plan healthy, whole foods meals for three kids while juggling work, life…well, everything! I needed a step-by-step plan to teach me how to meal plan to save time and stop being a short order cook. I needed someone to share their favorite tips, products and brands. I needed meal ideas and recipes that my whole family would eat.

This is it, friends! I hope the Ultimate Guide to Plant-based Meal Planning will answer all your questions to make your plant-based meal planning dreams come true!  

Download it for free (my gift to you!) and receive:

  • A step-by-step guide to introducing your family to plant-based foods
  • A meal planning 101 checklist
  • Fun worksheets
  • A blank meal planning template to plan family menus week after week
  • Plant-based food essentials
  • A list of my favorite meal prep tools and containers
  • 13 meal ideas and 10 recipes

Ultimate Guide to Plant-based Meal Planning

Before I created a meal planning process, mealtimes were stressful and tiresome. I struggled A LOT. Now (with the process I outline in this guide), I look forward to dinner prep, enjoy my Sunday batch cooking sessions, and prepare breakfast and lunches quickly and easily without breaking a sweat. Download your copy of The Ultimate Guide to Plant-based Meal Planning and start experiencing the magic of meal planning just like me!

Ultimate Guide to Plant-based Meal Planning

October 14, 2019

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


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.


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.


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.


Want more meal ideas? Check out my weekly meal prep membership, Batch Cooking Club.


homemade-ish meal ideas

October 13, 2019

weekly dinner plan

I love to meal plan! Mapping out a weekly dinner plan in advance is the only way I’d ever get a homemade meal on the table 5 to 7 nights every week. Trust melife is better with a meal plan! It takes the thinking out of what to cook and it allows you to streamline your daily meal prep. With a weekly dinner plan, you can also organize your grocery shopping once during the week, instead of having to run to the store every other day (or daily!) for what you need.

The key to creating a weekly dinner plan that brings more ease to your daily routine is to make a meal plan that works for you! Incorporate family favorites, existing ingredients in your pantry and recipes you enjoy making. Ideally, you want to schedule a weekly date in your calendar to complete your dinner plan and make your grocery list. You want to select a date that allows you enough time later in the week to grocery shop and meal prep. For example, I create my meal plan and grocery list on Thursdays, shop on Fridays and meal prep for the week on Sundays. (I call that Batch Cook Sunday).

When it comes to actually creating a weekly dinner plan, follow these steps.

weekly dinner plan

1. Review your schedule for the week.

Make your meal plan a working document. You can set up your weekly dinner plan in your calendar or create your own worksheet to map out your meals. (I offer a free blank dinner plan template in my Dinner Plan Challenge.) Add notes to your dinner planner to include info about meetings and activities that will affect your meal prep and cooking time.

2. Assign a night off from cooking.

Whether you work leftovers into your weekly dinner plan or plan to dine out or take in, give yourself a night off from cooking. Maybe it’s a night where you’ll have little or no time to prep, or a night that follows an active day where you’ll appreciate an easy reheat and serve meal.

3. Assign meal ideas and / or themes to each night.

Looking at the schedule notes you put in your planner, assign meal ideas or themes to each night that work for your schedule. Meal themes help organize your thoughts about what to cook by giving you some structure to narrow down your recipe choices. Some of my family’s favorites include Taco Tuesday and DIY Pasta Bar. Check out my Pinterest boards for ideas and inspiration.

4. Gather and select recipes.

Once you have your meal ideas completed in your planner, review your recipe library and select a few that fit the categories or themes you assigned to each day. My library includes recipes from email newsletters from food brands I love, Instagram food feeds, Pinterest, food blogs, cookbooks and magazines.

5. Complete your prep plan

Once you’ve created your weekly dinner plan, spend a few minutes to plan how you’re going to cook it. Review your recipes and look for parts of the meal that you can prep in advance on a lighter day during the week (such as a weekend) to speed up your cooking during the week. 

If a soup or casserole is on your menu, for example, maybe you’ll make that on Sunday to eat on Monday or Tuesday. Also look for ingredients such as salad dressings and roasted vegetables that you could batch cook on the weekend to simplify your prep during the week.

6. Complete your shopping list

The best time to make your list is while you’re making your weekly dinner plan. You have all your recipes in front of you so you can transfer what you need straight to your list.

weekly dinner plan

Need a little help and accountability to create your weekly dinner plan? Take the Dinner Plan Challenge! Whether you’re a novice meal planner or meal planning warrior, this challenge is set up to help you get into a meal planning groove that makes dinner easy and fun. Cooking for your family should be joyful, not stressful. All you need is a proven process and plan—a step-by-step guide to set yourself up for mealtime success. My Dinner Plan Challenge does just that!

Join the Dinner Plan 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 

Download the FREE Dinner Plan Challenge Guide and get dinner on the table every night with ease.

weekly dinner plan

October 7, 2019

fall meal ideas

I can’t believe it but Fall is here! For me, the cooler weather has me longing for lazier meals that simmer on the stove or in a slow cooker all day. I crave warming, comfort foods that make the most of the Fall produce. If you need some inspiration for what to cook this season, check out the video below for LOTS of plant-based fall meal ideas that are perfect for feeding your family on busy weeknights.

I share several of my favorite Fall fruits and veggies (spoiler alert: squash is at the top of the list!). For a more comprehensive A-Z list of what’s in season, check out the guide here.

As for meal ideas, I’m serving up everything from stuffed squash to pot pies! Read below for the full recap along with links to related recipes.

1. Stuffed squash

Acorn squash makes a great “boat” for your favorite filling (look to what you put on your baked potatoes, wrap in burritos or enchiladas, or spoon on pasta for inspiration). Try my Taco Stuffed Acorn Squash (a great way to get the kids to try this otherwise intimidating vegetable). Grains such as farro, quinoa and barley are all tasty options for filling bases.

This plant-based Taco Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe is reminiscent of the flavors of Fall with the spicy taste of Taco Tuesday! #vegan #dairyfree #meatless

2. Casseroles

Mac and Cheese and other pasta casseroles can be made ahead and yield plenty of leftovers for lunch leftovers the rest of the week. But pasta isn’t the only casserole option: Enchiladas and Mexican casseroles such as this Tamale Pie also offer yummy options to add to your fall meal plans.

And don’t forget to take some help from your appliances to speed up your cooking. This Tofu Salsa Verde is an all-in-one rice casserole and cooks quickly in a pressure cooker.

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. Risotto

This hearty Italian dish easily gets a Fall makeover with chopped butternut squash and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. 


4. Soups and Stews

Pureed butternut squash, legumes (including lentils, chickpeas and beans) and roasted Fall veggies all provide a multitude of options for a variety of plant-based fall meal ideas. Chili is one of my favorite meals to make this time of year (and it’s great for potlucks and entertaining a crowd).

This Vegan Beef and Bean Chili is kicking with flavor! Packed with 3 types of beans and Beyond Meat's plant-based protein, this hearty chili satisfies!!


5. Sheet Pan Meals

Sheet pan meals are one of my favorite dinners all year round. Add some squash to the pan for a seasonal meal that’s as easy to clean up as it is to cook. Try my Butternut Squash, Spinach and Mushroom Fajitas.

Meals I Make Over and Over


6. Pot pies

This quintessential comfort meal has so many possibilities for a plant-based fall meal. Experiment with your favorite Fall flavors.


7. Roasted Squash Salads

Fall foods don’t have to be heavy. Roasted squash can make a sweet and savory appearance in salads for lighter fare that still has all the Fall feels.


8. Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes (or regular potatoes) make a handy “bowl” for filling with your favorite fillings (similar to squashes). Chili is my family’s go to for stuffing our potatoes but experiment with your favorites (or set up a DIY food bar for everyone to choose their own meal adventure!).

Press play below and tell me which meal idea is your favorite?


plant-based fall meal ideas

September 23, 2019

plant-based breakfasts

Breakfast! It’s the most important meal of the day but so many of us race through it, lucky to get something in the boiler before rushing off for the day. You know I mean business when it comes to meal planning dinner, but I’m just as serious about preparing healthy plant-based breakfasts (and lunches!) for my family.

I remember what used to be the agony and chaos of breakfast. I was a short-order cook, preparing everyone’s personal requests while I packed lunches and got everyone out the door for school. It was exhausting and stressful. There was no planning or prepping. Something had to change…me! Finally, I got smart and developed a few processes for streamlining our breakfast routine.

Now, I plot out healthy, plant-based breakfasts for me and my kids in our weekly meal planner and do some prep on Sundays so that our morning meal is easy and quick to get on the table.

My latest video shares 5 tips for planning and prepping healthy, plant-based breakfasts, including:

1. Pick only 2-3 options to serve each week.

2. Sync your schedule to your breakfast meal ideas

3. Prep what you can ahead of time.

4. Get the kids involved.

5. Set up your pantry and refrigerator / freezer so that kids can help themselves to foods.

Get more detail and information on these tips in the video below.


Need some breakfast recipe inspiration? Rotate one or more of these meal ideas into your weekly plan for nutritious plant-based breakfasts that you and the kids will love!


This is the quintessential “grab and go” plant-based breakfast (that can be made ahead of time). Choose from one of these several muffin options.

This Mediterranean Tofu Scramble is a great breakfast option. Use this recipe as a template and add in your favorite mix-ins. Serve it as a protein packed breakfast with fresh fruit and hash browns, or enjoy it for dinner with roasted potatoes and a side salad.

Breakfast Scrambles

This is my favorite meal to make on the weekend when I have more time to cook (but also easy to make a big batch on the weekend to eat all week long). I’ve got dozens and dozens of choices for you here.

Breakfast Casseroles

Prep one of these breakfast casseroles on the weekend or the night before and just pop it in the oven while you shower for a hot and ready-t0-serve morning meal. My Chilaquile Casserole is a must try!

Overnight Oats

I love how these jars are assembled the night before and ready to go as soon as you open the fridge the next morning. The kids can even make these on their own and store for later in the week.

Smoothies and Smoothie Bowls

Smoothies are quick and portable so they make a great on-the-go choice. When you have a little more time, make a smoothie bowl, such as my Acai Bowl. (It’s like eating fro-yo for breakfast!)

Breakfast Cookies

Who doesn’t want a cookie for breakfast?!!!

Breakfast Sandwiches 

Whether it’s a waffle, a pancake, or a bagel, there are lots of fun ways to sandwich a plant-based breakfast. Another great option for breakfast on the go.

This vegan and dairy-free breakfast pizza is a fun way to serve up the first meal of the day. #dairyfree #meatless #vegan #plantbased #breakfast

Breakfast Pizza

This has to be my favorite creative idea for what to serve for breakfast! I’ve made a dozen different varieties over the years but this soyrizo breakfast pizza is my go-to.

Energy Balls and Bars

Homemade granola bars and balls are great ideas for family members with small appetites. These energy balls make sure the kids get something in the boiler that’s full of nutrients before they start their day.


So many ways to top a slice of bread (or sweet potato slice!) for a tasty toast breakfast. Serve the toppings buffet style and let the family make their own.

Baked Oatmeal

Dessert cobbler meets breakfast with this hearty breakfast option. Serve warm over dairy-free yogurt.

Breakfast Tacos and Burritos

Reuse Taco Tuesday leftovers or make a savory filling with breakfast potatoes and tofu scramble. The filling can also be prepped and stored in advance for tacos and burritos all week long.

Breakfast Parfaits

These breakfast parfaits are so much fun to serve because they look like sundaes!


Did I miss one of your favorites? Share your favorite breakfast meal below.

September 17, 2019

Tips and Ideas for Meal Planning & Prepping Lunch

It’s back-to-school…and I’m back to planning and prepping lunches for my kids. My girls have given me a slight reprieve as my teens have taken over their lunch packing. (However, I can’t let go just yet so I’m still prepping a few things on my Batch Cook Sundays so they have several healthy options to pack.)

Meal planning and prepping lunch isn’t just something I do during the the school year. I plan and prep my lunches all year long. I find I eat healthier and it frees up a lot of time during the middle of the day when I usually have to force myself to take a break to eat because I’m so busy. Can you relate?

My latest video shares 8 tips for planning and prepping lunch with ease, including:

1. Meal plan!

2. Pick 2-3 meal ideas to rotate throughout the week (and keep a running list to reference again and again).

3. Batch cook a few things on the weekend.

4. Mix up the ordinary.


Get the rest of my tips in the video below, where I also do some “show and tell” with some of my favorite meal prep and lunch containers…but first, meal ideas!


Tortilla, collard green, lettuce leaf, lavash or nori…so many options for wrapping for lunch. Try my Tofu Lettuce Wraps or Black Bean & Corn Romaine “Tacos”.

Pizza Rolls

The pizza rolls are a family favorite in my house and in the lunch rotation at least twice a month!

Pasta and Pasta Salads

Some of my favorites in this category are Easy Vegan Pesto Pasta Salad, Italian Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad, Kale Harvest Grains Salad, or Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad.

Sushi Rolls

My kids love vegetable sushi rolls. They customize theirs with the vegetables they like (carrots for Alex, cucumbers and carrots for Jake and cucumbers for Gaby!), along with baked tofu and avocado.


These are so simple and can be batched easily on the weekend: Marinated protein, roasted vegetables, greens, grains and a yummy dressing. Try my Green Goddess Zucchini Bowl or Butternut Squash and Fall Lentil Bowl, Italian Roasted Vegetable Bowl with Creamy Italian Dressing, or Carrot Noodle Bowl


Simple and easy, this is my go-to option for lunch. Try one of these: Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad, Chopped Asparagus Chickpea Salad, or my personal favorite: Cruciferous Crunch Salad with Tangy Tahini Dressing,


Super fun to eat and stackable a zillion different ways.

Hummus and veg sticks

Deconstructed sandwiches (aka “Lunchables”)

What did I miss? Share some of your favorite lunch meals below!


August 5, 2019

Different Dinner Times

I strive to prepare and eat a home-cooked meal with my family at least 5 nights a week. However, I realize that’s not always possible and you may need to be flexible to accommodate your family with different dinner times, especially if you’ve got young kids that eat earlier than the adults in the home, or older kids with activities that run later in the evening. So, how do you make sure there is a home-cooked meal for everyone in your family at different dinner times without having to meal prep 2 or more times in an evening? Check out the tips and meal ideas in the video below.

Set yourself up for success:

  • Determine a meal time that works for the majority of people in your family and / or minimizes the amount of time between dinner “shifts”
  • Post your meal plan and times
  • Make agreements with your family and partner

My favorite meal ideas for serving at different dinner times:

Watch the video below for the details:

July 29, 2019

I’m a planner at heart: I map out my family’s weekly meal plan on Thursdays, shop on Fridays and meal prep for the week on  Sundays during a batch cook session. So, it may come as no surprise that when my family goes on a trip, I also do some vacation meal planning. It’s a flexible meal plan but it gives us some framework to work from. Otherwise, it would be “Mom, what’s for dinner, lunch, etc.” and I’d have to figure it all out when we get there…not much of a vacation for me! 

Most of my trips with my family are at timeshares or vacation rentals. It’s super expensive and (not very practical with my mixed bunch) to eat every meal out, so if we’re at rental home or timeshare, I do a little vacation meal planning when I’m doing my pack list to bring more ease to the meals we’re going to eat in.

If we’re at a timeshare or hotel, that’s primarily breakfast and lunch (it’s not vacation if I have to cook dinner!) and eat out most of the time for dinner. However, we also do an annual trip with my side of the family and stay at a rental home so we also eat a few dinners in. In the video below, I share some easy and delicious ideas for those meals so no one has to do much cooking while we’re on vacation. 

Additional vacation meal planning tips:

  • I make a shopping list of what we’ll need when I’m doing my packing for the trip (one of my pre-travel tasks)
  • I pack snacks for the plane and any other “staples” I want to have while I’m away and can’t get at our vacation destination
  • I keep a running list of restaurants for places we travel to often (or every year).

I also pay my future post-vacation Stephanie forward with a special meal planning gift that helps me hold onto my vacation bliss a little bit longer upon the first day back home.

Watch the video below for the details:

Free download:

Download my free meal plan template for mapping out your family’s meals while on vacation.

vacation meal planning



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).

Dips and spreads

Watch the video above for a cooking demo with a few of the ideas above and let me know which 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.

Want more meal ideas? Check out my weekly meal prep membership, Batch Cooking Club.



June 24, 2019

bagged salads

Getting a homemade, healthy dinner on the table for my family five to six nights a week means that I take a little help from the store at least once a week. Thank goodness for Trader Joe’s! It’s the main store I shop every week and offers lots of plant-based foods and meal helpers for making homemade-ish family dinners. 

When it comes to meal helpers, bagged salads are some of my favorites.  I mix these up for lunches and dinners for my whole family with lots of success. Beyond the obvious, salad kits make savory wrap fillings, inventive pizza toppers, pasta mix-ins and more!

Watch the video below for a dozen different ways to use these bagged salads as meal helpers for fun and delicious family meals:

  • Gochujang Chop Salad Kit
  • Organic Spinach and Riced Cauliflower Salad Kit
  • Cruciferous Crunch
  • Organic Mediterranean Style Kit
  • Southwestern Chopped Salad Kit
  • Yellow Curry Chopped Salad Kit
  • Tahini, Pepita and Apricot Slaw Kit
  • Caesar Style Salad Kit

bagged salads

Gochujang Chop Salad Kit

This Korean inspired medley features a powerhouse of crunchy vegetables, including cabbage, lettuce, carrot, celery and radish. Taking a cue from the vinaigrette, the package also contains puffed brown rice and black sesame seeds, adding authentic flavor (and more crunch!) to this delightful salad mix.

Meal idea #1: Spring Rolls

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

Meal idea #2: Tofu Noodle Salad

Cube a block of Trader Joe’s Extra Firm Tofu and marinate it in Trader Joe’s Carrot Ginger Miso Dressing for 20 minutes or more. Drain and cook the tofu in a medium pan until slightly golden on each side (or bake for 30 minutes). Meanwhile, prepare a package of rice or soba noodles and set aside. Combine the salad with the noodles and stir in the dressing. Toss in the tofu and serve.  

Meal idea #3: Baked Tofu Lettuce Wraps

Cut one package of Trader Joe’s Savory Baked Tofu into bite-sized cubes. Prepare the salad kit. Spread out several romaine leaves on a platter. Top with the salad and tofu. Serve with lime wedges.

Meal idea #4: Veg Sushi Bowls

Prepare jasmine or sushi rice and top with a handful of the salad greens and a cup of chopped baked tofu. Sprinkle with the add ins on the salad, the dressing and chopped avocado.


Organic Spinach and Riced Cauliflower Salad Kit

In addition to organic spinach leaves and riced cauliflower, this salad also includes roasted golden beets and California-grown almonds. The tangy balsamic vinaigrette dressing is a perfect complement to the sweet beets and pungent cauliflower.

Meal idea #1: Quinoa Lentil Bowls

Spoon a half cup of quinoa in the bottom of the bowl. Combine one package of Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils with all of the contents of the kit (except the dressing). Spoon a portion of the lentil salad mixture on top of the quinoa and drizzle with a tablespoon or two of the dressing.

Meal idea #2: Vegetable Polenta Rounds

Slice a roll of Trader Joe’s prepared polenta. Brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 350℉ for about 10 minutes on each side until golden. Meanwhile, saute the spinach and cauliflower in a medium pan with one tablespoon of olive oil and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Cook just until the spinach is slightly wilted. Stir in the beets and almonds. Place rounds on a serving dish. Top each with a few heaping tablespoons of the vegetable mixture. Drizzle the dressing on top.

Meal idea #3: 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 the salad kit along with one can of white beans (drained and rinsed). Top the pizza with the salad combo. Slice and serve!


Cruciferous Crunch

The complete cruciferous family is included in this crunchy blend—kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, green cabbage and red cabbage. Aptly named, each bite of these raw veggies delivers a bite.

Meal idea #1: Cruciferous Crunch Chickpea Omelet

Sauté two shallots in 1 tablespoon of olive oil along with the salad. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Meanwhile, combine one cup of water with one cup of chickpea flour to form a batter. Spoon a ladleful of the batter into an oiled medium pan. Cook 3-4 minutes until golden brown on the bottom. Top with the greens and vegan ricotta cheese (such as Kite Hill). Fold the omelet in half.

Meal idea #2: Garlicky Greens, Beans and Pasta

Prepare a bag of Trader Joe’s Organic Italian Artisan Pasta according to the package directions (we favor the Gigli variety!). While the pasta cooks, heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan. Sauté two minced garlic cloves until golden. Add the cruciferous blend and saute until slightly wilted. Stir in a can of white beans (drained and rinsed) and the pasta. Add the juice of one lemon, salt, pepper and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast.

Meal Idea #2: Cruciferous Slawcos

Toss the slaw with your favorite salsa. Meanwhile, cook Trader Joe’s Beef-less Ground Beef with your their taco seasoning. Spoon the vegan meat into a taco shell, along with a heaping serving of slaw and more salsa. Top with sliced avocado, chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice.


Organic Mediterranean Style Kit


Meal idea: Mediterranean pitas

Omit the cheese and combine the salad, including the dressing. Add in your favorite plant-based cheese (I love Violife’s feta). Cut a piece of pita bread in half and spread each half inside with a half of a tablespoon of hummus. Prepare 2 frozen Trader Joe’s falafel (or any falafel you love !). Scoop a half a cup of salad into each pita half and top with the falafel. 


Southwestern Chopped Salad Kit

I love this salad, complete with chopped green cabbage and romaine, cotija cheese (which I omit to keep it plant-based), roasted pepitas, tortilla strips, green onion, and cilantro. The spicy Southwest avocado dressing is light and 100% vegan.

Meal idea: Southwesthern Black Bean Burritos

Omit the cheese (I sub Follow Your Heart’s Mozzarella) and mix the salad together, along with 1 can of drained and rinsed black beans. Add sliced cherry tomatoes and scoop onto a large flour tortilla along with sliced avocado. Wrap it up and slice in half.⠀

Yellow Curry Chopped Salad Kit

This complete salad kit includes chopped Romaine, crunchy red and green cabbages, shredded carrots and green onions, IN addition to this great veggie blend, crunchy naan chips, cashew pieces and golden raisins also come in this delicious salad blend. The dressing unfortunately includes egg so I ditch that for Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry Sauce (100% plant-based) in this meal idea.

Meal idea: Yellow Curry Salad Pizza

Cube a block of tofu and toss with Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry Sauce. Roll out Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough and spread with more sauce. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes. Combine the 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! 


Tahini, Pepita and Apricot Slaw Kit

This kit includes a blend of shredded rainbow carrots, broccoli stalks, green cabbage, and kale for a crunchy slaw that is different from your typical fare. Pepitas, chopped sun-dried apricots, and a creamy tahini orange dressing make create a truly unique flavor profile for adding to your family recipes. (Note: The dressing has honey in it.)

Meal idea: Chili Slaw Dogs

Mix the slaw kit together and set aside. Meanwhile, prepare a carrot or veg dog. Place the “dog” in a bun and top with vegetarian chili. Spoon a heaping tablespoon or two of the slaw on top.


Caesar Style Salad Kit

This kits contains romaine lettuce, croutons, shredded parmesan and a vinaigrette Caesar dressing (which is 100% plant-based).

Meal idea: “Chicken” Caesar Wraps

Prepare Trader Joe’s chickenless nuggets and chop into bite size pieces. Prepare the salad kit. (Omit the cheese. I sub Follow Your Heart’s Parmesan shreds instead.) Toss in the “chicken” and scoop onto a flour tortilla. Roll and cut in half.

bagged salads

For even more meal ideas with bagged salads, download my free Salad Kit Meal Helper.

Want more meal planning help? Check out my weekly meal prep membership, Batch Cooking Club.


June 17, 2019

This post contains affiliate links.

Bullet journal meal planning

This post is the third of my “meal planning with tools” series! In the first part of this 3-video series, I broke down my meal my meal planning process and showed how I use my LifePlanner and the EC Meal Plan Dashboard to sync my schedule with my family’s weekly meal plan every week.

In the second part of this series, I added Erin’s Petite Planners to the mix and demonstrated how I use them to plan, organize and archive my weekly menus.

In this last post of the series, I’m taking about bullet journal meal planning! Shout out to my fellow bullet journalers and scrapbookers. If that’s you, you’re going to love this post! If not, welcome to the world of bujo (bullet journaling for short)! Bullet journaling is a type of journaling where you jot down quick notes instead of long sentences. People use them for all sorts of things, such as daily schedules, habit tracking and to-do and ongoing lists (like books you want to read, wines you want to try, places you want to visit, etc.). Search the hashtags #bulletjournalmealplan, #bulletjournalmealplanning and #bulletjournalmealplanner on Instagram for inspiration.

The pages are dotted or lined and free form so you can draw grid lines and add text (and images and stickers!) for whatever you want. Bullet journal meal planning is a fun and visual way to create your weekly menus.

Take a look at some sample layouts I’ve created in the video below, including ideas for:

  • Tracking your recipe wins (and losses)
  • Your Family Favorites list 
  • Pantry, fridge and freezer inventory lists
  • Shopping lists
  • Recipes you want to try
  • Cookbooks you want to buy

The notebooks and stickers from make bullet journal meal planning easy and fun! Check it all out in the video below and tell me in the comments if you’re excited to give bullet journal meal planning a try.

P.S. In addition to my tools, I post a weekly “menu” in my kitchen for my family to reference throughout the week. Make your own by downloading my free meal planner template.


June 10, 2019

This post contains affiliate links.

How To Meal Plan with Erin Condren Petite Planners

I’m having a blast showing you how to meal plan with some of my favorite tools! In the first part of this 3-video series, I gave you a tour of my meal planning process and how I use my LifePlanner and the EC Meal Plan Dashboard to sync my schedule with my family’s weekly meal plan every week.

In the second part of this series, I add Erin’s Petite Planners to the mix! I print and post my blank meal plan for my family to easily see what’s on the menu each day, but I use these Petite Planners to plan, organize and archive my weekly menus.

As I keep saying: Your meal plan should work for you, not create more work! These Petite Planners do just that by taking the thinking out of what to cook. They also help you organize your prep notes and recipes. Get a step-by-step look at my weekly meal planning process through these planners along with the following:

  • The types of notes to take and where to simplify your daily (and weekly) meal prep
  • Options for organizing your meal plans (and shopping lists) 
  • Why and how to archive your meal plans

Check it all out in the video below.

How To Meal Plan with Petite Planners

Post your weekly meal plan in place where you family can see it – download my free meal planner template.



This post contains affiliate links.

I don’t know what I’d do without my family’s weekly meal plan. I have a date with myself every Thursday – same time, same place – and I map out what me and my family are going to eat for the following week. Then, I hit the grocery store on Friday and batch cook some delicious fun on Sunday.

My weekly process starts with me gathering my meal planning tools, including:

Your meal plan should work for you, not create more work so the first thing I do when I sit down to meal plan is sync my schedule with what I want to cook for the week. I walk you through how I do just that in my latest video, including:

  • The types of notes I make in my meal plan for easy, seamless meal prep
  • What I make on days when I have limited or no meal prep time
  • My favorite Erin Condren meal planning tools that keep my meal prep on track

Check it out in the first video of this 3-part series!

Download my free meal planner template (or click on the image) and comment below with your meal planning questions.


Need ideas for your weekly meal plan that your family is going to love? Create a family favorites list! This running list of recipes wins is one of the tools I use each week when I sit down for my Thursday meal plan sessions. Along with my schedule, a blank shopping list, my recipe library and an inventory of my pantry / fridge / freezer, I use this resource to help me keep track of the recipes my family loves most and use it to complete my meal plans.

A family favorites list is a huge time saver. I find myself repeatedly scratching my head each week, trying to remember the meal that everyone loved two weeks ago. This list takes the guesswork out of trying to remember and also, is a great reference sheet when you’re just out of ideas and don’t know what to plan to cook.  I just pin up my family favorites list and add to it whenever I get a rave review from someone at my table!

In the video below, I walk you through creating your own “family favorites” list and how to use it with your weekly meal planning, including:

  • 4 tips of what to include on your list
  • How to organize your list
  • The types of notes to include on your list 

I also share a template that you can use to create your own “family favorites” list.

Get a free “family favorites” list template here.

Watch the video and comment below some of your family’s favorite meals!

Want more meal planning help? Check out my weekly meal prep membership, Batch Cooking Club.


How to cook from your pantry

Want to save time and money on your meal prep? Cook from your pantry!

Taking stock (and using up) what you’ve already got adds up to shorter grocery shopping trips and lower grocery bills. Plus, it means you’ll have an even more organized and efficient kitchen and pantry.

The truth is, when you use your staples to cook from your pantry (as well as your refrigerator and freezer), there is lots of inspiration to be had, for example:

  • Kitchen sink salads
  • Freezer soups
  • Buddha bowl creations

In the video below, I walk you through my pantry, refrigerator and freezer to reveal meal ideas and solutions for quick meals and easy meal prep, including:

  • How to find recipes that use up your stock
  • Ways to use surplus ingredients in your kitchen
  • More meal inspiration for common foods founds in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer

I also share the “Stocking Your Pantry” download in my free Batch Cooking Starter Guide.

Get my free Stock Your Pantry checklist here.

Watch the video and comment below with your favorite meal to cook from your pantry.


How to cook from your pantry

April 28, 2019

How To Create A Recipe Library

One of the things I love most about meal planning is the excuse to look through recipes! I could spend hours (and have) browsing through cookbooks. (I have more cookbooks on my Amazon wish list than anything else!) It’s a happy day when I have time to sit down with one of my beloved cookbooks or magazines (and a glass of wine!) and browse. When it comes to my personal recipe collection, it doesn’t stop there. I also have a catalog of blogs, Pinterest boards and Instagram influencers that I follow. 

As much as I love collecting all my recipes, it can all be a bit overwhelming at times. With so many different recipes sources and the tons of options for organizing them, it can be challenging to keep all my recipes organized. For me, the key is to set aside time each week (or month) to review and edit my collection so it’s actually usable and useful. For example:

  • Go through your cookbooks once year. If you haven’t use it, give it to a friend or donate it to the library.
  • Delete digital recipes that you don’t use or tried and didn’t like.
  • Edit your blog list / IG feed and delete those accounts you’re not enjoying and make space to add new discoveries.

I use a combination of many different things to keep my recipe library in order. In the video below, I share all of them, including:

  • My recipe organization system for all my recipes, including cookbooks, magazines, blogs, Instagram feeds and Pinterest finds
  • My favorite plant-based cookbooks and magazines
  • The 4 questions I ask myself before I purchase a new cookbook for my collection
  • PLUS I share a free download for my Pinterest picks – links to my most popular Pinterest boards

Get my free Pinterest Picks download here.

Watch the video and comment below with your favorite place to find new ideas to add to your recipe library.

April 18, 2019

Batch Cooking Starter Guide

Do you need help with meal prep? Batch cooking saves you hours in prep and cooking time during the week. As a busy, working mama, batch prep makes my time in the kitchen more efficient during the week, allowing me to get dinner on the table quicker and with less effort, lunches packed in less time and breakfast served with almost no cooking involved. 

Batch cooking means preparing food in large quantities over the period of two to three hours (usually on the weekend) to eat later in the week. It also includes cooking a series of ingredients or recipes ahead of time and storing for later.  

In a perfect batch cooking world, you would meal plan and prepare your grocery list together once during the week (for example, on Thursday), grocery shop once on another day (for example, Friday) and reserve time on Saturday or Sunday to batch cook several things for the week.  

The foods you decide to batch cook depend upon what’s in your your weekly menu. Prep dressings, sauces, veggies, snacks and grains ahead of time to make packing lunch boxes and preparing dinners streamlined and effortless.  

Get started with batch cooking with my free Batch Cooking Starter Guide that includes:

  • What to batch cook
  • How to get started
  • Stocking your pantry
  • A one-week batch cooking plan
  • Eight plant-based, family recipes

Before batch cooking, I was overwhelmed and frustrated in the kitchen. I love to cook but all the joy was being sucked out by the demands to satisfy my family’s various preferences and the time constraints of a busy mom life. After I discovered and fine tuned my meal planning process and prioritized batch cooking, my mealtimes became fun and happy again. The joy and creativity I used to experience in the kitchen came back too! I know if batch cooking can bring more ease to my life, it can to yours too.

For more help learning how and what to batch cook, check out the video below that shares:

  • A list of foods to batch cook every week and why
  • Stock your pantry checklist
  • 4 steps to get you started batch cooking 
  • 5 batch cook recipes and an accompanying meal plan with 3 more recipes that use those batch cook recipes

And don’t forget to download a free copy of my Batch Cooking Starter Guide here.

batch cooking

April 10, 2019

Easter Meal Planning Guide

I love to entertain and Spring is one of my favorite seasons! I’m Jewish but I converted and my family is Catholic so we celebrate Passover in our home and also Easter at my mom’s home every year. Lots of celebrations in the Dreyer fam!

Passover is one of my favorite holidays. I think of it as a kind of Jewish Thanksgiving! There’s a beautiful seder (a sort of ceremony) that leads the meal and a feast of food. I go all out and wouldn’t have it any other way. But to get it all done, I’ve got to plan in advance. We typically have anywhere between fifteen to forty people at our Passover table each year so organization is key!

When it comes to menu inspiration, I look to my favorite cookbooks, Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards. My menu is 100% plant-based so I look to all of the wonderful seasonal produce that is plentiful in Spring (asparagus and fennel are at the top of my list). A beautiful crudite sculpture always graces the table, along with bright and flavorful salads.

In addition to the menu, I spend lots of time on my tablescape and place settings. It sets the theme for the meal and adds decor to my entertaining space. I love creating my tablescape and spend lots of time selecting all the pieces.

Between the menu and the tablescape, there’s lots to do. If you’re hosting this Passover or Easter, you probably know what I mean! To get my Passover and Easter meal planning done, I put together a plan just like I do for my regular weekly meals.

In my latest video, I share that plan (plus a free Passover and Easter meal planning guide), including:

  • Ingredient and recipe ideas
  • Tablescape and centerpiece inspiration
  • What to do four, three, two and one week(s) before the holiday

Get my free Passover and Easter meal planning guide here:

Easter Meal Planning

Watch the video and comment below with your Passover and Easter meal planning questions or tips!

Easter Meal Planning

April 3, 2019

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:

10 ideas for DIY Food Bars your family will love!


Veggie Sushi Rolls

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

Get the free downloadable here.


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

Want more meal planning help? Check out my weekly meal prep membership, Batch Cooking Club!

DIY food bars your family will love.

March 24, 2019

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!


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