Do you struggle finding fast meal ideas and need help with filling, nourishing, tasty foods that your whole family can enjoy? Good news - we are in the same boat too! I think everyone struggles with the weeknight mealtime hustle. It’s hard to fit in everything, especially when you’re juggling busy after school schedules, work, cranky babies, or toddlers who decide they hate eating every other day.
We got you - being a parent is hard work. Do your best - which may mean takeout tonight - and give yourself grace to use easy convenience options! There are so many good ones out there!
This is one of my favorite simple chicken hacks using the beloved Trader Joe's Bruschetta Sauce - sub out marinara or even salsa if needed. It pairs nicely with Primal Kitchen avocado oil ranch (dairy-free), but use whatever ranch you’d like! We love this option for our dairy-free families who struggle to find meal ideas that lend creaminess similar to cheese!
Here's what you need:
Here’s the "recipe":
We are big fans of Trader Joe's Bruschetta sauce. It pairs so well with chicken in the oven, Instant Pot or slow cooker...and now you can also try it with pesto! This simple pour-and-cook meal pairs nicely with whole grain, gluten-free or bean/lentil-based pasta and some roasted veggies!
Full disclosure - the broccoli turns a little olive green (I literally had flashbacks to food science class and kicked myself for not remembering this!) so I would probably omit it next time in lieu of sliced olives, but feel free to try it if you don’t care about color!
Here’s how you make it:
Keep it simple, friends.
What did you have for breakfast today? One of our go-to’s is “egg in a hole” (and holy smokes, there are so many different names for this delightful meal!). Basically, cook an egg inside a buttered piece of bread and serve it with some fruit. Filling, balanced, and wholesome, but also absolutely delicious. Here’s how we make it:
Switch up the crust.
Who likes pizza night?
Have you tried cauliflower crust pizza? Yes, it's trendy right now, and some see it as "diet-y"...but we like cauliflower crust pizza for those who need a wheat alternative or people who want to add more veggies to their life in a tasty way. Don't feel like you "have to" try it or that other crust isn't "healthy" - it's just an alternative to check out and integrate into your menu if you enjoy it!
Cauliflower crusts come as just crusts that you heat and top or as fully-topped, ready to heat and eat pizzas. You can also make it from scratch, but we usually don't have time for that on busy weekdays!
Our favorite cauliflower crust options include those from Trader Joe's and Milton's brand at Costco, but many retailers are making their own cauliflower crust.
Why try cauliflower crust pizza? Different crusts offer different flavors, textures and nutrition. We want kids to eat all sorts of foods and be comfortable with different flavors so they can have varied, flexible palates and aren't thrown off by new ingredients.
We like to top our pizza with chopped tomatoes and mushrooms cooked from frozen, but choose your favorite toppings! If you can, let your kids help top the pizzas for a fun activity that also makes them excited to eat.
To make cauliflower pizza from a frozen crust (un-topped):
Serve with veggies and/or fruit of your choice! (We did shredded carrots and quartered grapes.)
Weeknights just got easier!
Asian Grilled Salmon, Feta Lentil Salad and grilled corn on the cob make a delicious and filling summer dinner! I will be the first to admit two things:
Here’s how to make it:
Grilled corn on the cob:
Lentil feta salad (a Trader Joe's original recipe):
We served the salmon, corn and salad with cherries, but any seasonal fruit of your choice works! Be sure to modify cherries for babies and kids under age four by removing the pit and cutting it into quarters lengthwise.
Super simple, super yummy!
A delicious dinner doesn’t have to be complicated! This dinner only needs the following ingredients:
Here’s how we made it:
You can also cook the chicken in the instant pot on high for 7 minutes. We hope this helps inspire you on busy weeknights!
If you haven’t already tried this...run to Trader Joe's immediately. Their Everything but the Bagel Seasoning is a blend of spices, sesame and salt that tastes just like an everything bagel. (Apparently Costco has its own version now too!)
If you're serving this to babies, we recommend keeping the serving size very small as it's high in salt.
Here are some ideas on how to use this awesome seasoning:
Great for the whole family!
You know those fast, easy, delicious dinners that you love but always forget to make? Yeah, this is one of them for me.
I play around with different tortillas, and this brown rice version from Trader Joe's was pretty good! We use their fat free beans, not because we avoid fat (we think dietary fat is waaaay important!), but because the other types at Trader Joe’s are kinda spicy and my girls haaaaate spicy still, despite numerous exposures! (We're working on it.)
Here's what you need:
Here’s how we made them:
Particular toddler at home? Let them build their own fajita and make sure to serve familiar foods with new ones so they’re not overwhelmed by unfamiliar options. We have more tips like this to help with your picky eater in our Toddler course.
Baby at home (6+ months)? Omit salt and serve deconstructed - shrimp, cooked peppers/onions, tortilla (soft), avocado strips, and refried beans plopped on the tray or presented on loaded NumNum GOOtensil. Looking to do baby-led weaning with your little one? Check out our Infant course.
Different types of pasta offer different flavors, textures and nutrition.
So many kids love pasta - we call them "noo-noos" in our house. What's not to love? They're easy and fun to eat and are topped with delicious sauces.
I’m especially a fan of all the new alternative pastas like Banza is made from chickpeas and has a ton of filling protein and fiber. One 2-oz portion (which is a pretty decent size) has 14 grams of protein, just 4 grams short of their total daily need. We serve it so many ways - here's a few ideas:
Remember, kids learn to eat what is served to them, so mix it up! Offer different types of pastas with different presentations and different sauces. Sticking to the same dishes increases their likelihood of picky eating...try to get creative when you can!
Easy ideas to help make snacktime more positive.
Do you struggle with snack time? Here are a few tips:
We share many more tips in our online toddler course, loved by thousands of families worldwide!
Megan and Judy, co-owners of Feeding Littles, bring you helpful info on food, nutrition, picky eating, and feeding young children. Megan McNamee MPH, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Judy Delaware, OTR/L is an Occupational Therapist specializing in feeding therapy with children 3 and under in Boulder, Colorado. Megan and Judy are both moms of two and love helping families develop a healthy appetite for all foods!