Meal Plan Monday: Balancing Back to School


graphics by Melodee Fiske

graphics by Melodee Fiske

Could you use some help feeding your family healthy meals? This week’s meal plan will focus on healthy, quick, and easy meals; most of which are great for lunchboxes.

breakfast tacos


I can make a hot breakfast pretty quickly in the microwave but having something ready to go is even easier, especially for those of you with older kids. These options can be made the night before and reheated for a savory breakfast.


lunchbox copy

graphics by Melodee Fiske


Some days I think life would be if I packed a lunch even though I’m home during the day. These lunch ideas are mostly Lunchbox friendly but it way depend on your situation, variations can be made to accommodate food restrictions, access to microwave, or length of lunch time. My older kids when through a period where they only had 15 minutes to eat (and socialize) and a phase where lunch boxes (or bags) weren’t cool so they would only take a sandwich.


I like to stick to fresh fruit for snacks but I also use snack time to experiment with different recipe ideas to see how well received they will be.

  • Fresh Strawberries dipped in a Chocolate-Sunflower Seed Dip
  • Apples
  • Mixed Fresh Berries
  • Raw Veggies with hummus

Portobello Fajita's


I cook dinner with leftovers in mind; my husband often takes leftovers to work for lunch. Dinner is definitely the most time consuming meal of the day but only because I’ll use that time to prep other meals.

How to Make this Meal Plan Quick and Easy

These meals may seem labor intensive but they use many of the same ingredients so you can save time by cooking large amounts instead of just enough for one day. Here are a few tips to make it easier:

  • “Bake” potatoes in the crockpot overnight for the Breakfast Tacos, Savory Breakfast Muffins, and lunch and dinner baked potatoes.
  • Cook beans in the crockpot while you are at work. Make a double or triple batch of unfried beans in your food processor.
  • Cook a large batch of quinoa but don’t use any seasoning, then it can be eaten for breakfast, added to Breakfast Tacos, seasoned like Mexican Rice or use in the stir fry.
  • Add a side salad or raw veggies to any meal.

What is your best tip for quick and healthy meals?

Meal Plan Monday: Back 2 School

backtoschool1 copyGraphics by Melodee Fiske

Whether you like it or not it is “back to school” season. With that comes long nights of homework, busy schedules as extracurricular activities begin, and less time to relax as a family.

Never fear, all month I’ll be featuring Meal Plans along with new, easy and kid-friendly recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’ll even throw in a few new snacks as well.

Meal Plan

blueberry oatmeal 2


The first meal of the day is never set in stone at our house. My kids love quinoa for breakfast!



I chose these lunches because they are easily adapted to something “new and different” (magic words at our house) from last nights dinner leftovers. These lunches are “Lunch Box Friendly” too!

  • Black Bean and Faux Cheeze Sauce Gluten-Free Quesadillas
  • Baked Potatoes
  • Sunflower seed butter and Jelly Sandwiches
  • Pasta and Veggie Salad
  • Taco Salad
  • Nachos


We usually eat fruit for snacks but I’ll throw in an occasionally muffin in the mix.

Taco Potatoes


Don’t let dinner intimidate you! Choose one day to cook your beans and grains for the whole week. Quinoa, lentils, black beans, rice, and pinto beans can be mixed and matched to create new dishes for lunch and dinner. Don’t forget to bake extra potatoes for lunch leftovers.



Are you ready for school to start? What are your biggest concerns?

Meal Plan Monday with Jenna from Day of Knight

This month I’m skipping my Meal Plans and featuring other bloggers (and Facebook page managers) and sharing their Meal Plans. So far we have heard from Lisa of The Vegan Pact Alison of Plant-Strong New England (a Facebook page), Poppy of Poppy’s Patisserie | Bunny Kitchen and Teresa from a Facebook community group called Healthier Living. Today we are going to hear from Jenna!

I “met” Jenna months ago and fell in love with her blog. If we lived in the same city we would totally be friends! Meet Jenna!


Hi. I am Jenna from Day of Knight.  My family (including my 3 young kids) and I began our journey of becoming plant powered or Vegan, if you will, about a year ago after being transformed by the film Forks Over Knives.  If you have not seen this I urge you to watch it. It is available on Netflix. My husband and I both grew up on the typical Western/Southern diet. Medium Rare Steaks, Fried Chicken, Gravy, Bacon, Cream Cheese…basically all things creamy, cheesy and favorably delicious.  Back in 2009, my husband went into his Doctors office for just a routine physical. After being examined he was told that he was considered “Obese” and if he didn’t change his diet and way of eating he most likely wouldn’t reach living past his late 50’s.  Being told this when you are 25 will rock your core. So things changed. Naïve and not knowing exactly what you should eat to make yourself ‘healthier’ his journey began with counting calories and exercising. Fast-forward to 2.5 years later and 100 pounds lighter to July 2012, each of us seeking a healthier lifestyle. Not one just for us to look better but to feel better too.  We stumbled upon some food documentaries on Netflix that changed our lives. We watched Forks Over Knives, Food Inc., Corn King and a few more. We had our “AH-HA!” moment for how we were supposed to eat to care for our bodies. At first I was a little intimidated by this new lifestyle change. I was overwhelmed by the fears of it being expensive, time consuming and gross. Honestly, it can be all of those things but it doesn’t have to be.  I love to EAT and after a lot of research I have discovered that in order to be ‘healthy’ you do in fact have to…Eat.  And by eating I mean eating REAL, no processed, naturally grown and non-modified foods.  Foods that the Good Lord himself gave us.  As I mentioned above I have three small children, ages 7, 4 & 4. They too are plant powered/vegan. It can happen. Your kids CAN eat veggies.  All of my recipes that I am sharing below are approved by them and are on our menu rotation.  I hope you feel encouraged, challenged and inspired in your journey of living a plant-powered lifestyle.



Breakfast in our house is all about convenience. I like to sleep and I sleep until the very last minute before my kids are awake.  Once they are awake, they do not want to sit around waiting for me to prepare them a big hot breakfast. Cereal is a #1 favorite in our house.  So 98% of the time we are eating cereal in the morning.  Our favorite cereals are the Organic Honey Cheerios by Central Market with some granola with dried blueberries mixed in and/or the Organic Peanut Butter Dots by Central Market.  Sometimes we will have Organic Frozen Waffles with 100% Pure Maple Syrup.


Lunch is also easy around these parts. I usually make Almond Butter Strawberry Banana Sandwiches on Whole Grain/Oat bread, or Almond Butter Agave and Banana Sandwiches.  Other days I will boil  some Pasta and toss in ROA’s Sensitive Formula Marinara Sauce (it has not added sugars) or I will bake some Vegan “Chicken” Nuggets with sweet potato fries.


Dinner is where I usually get a little creative and I get a little more detailed, but still convenient.  Here is a typical week of dinners.

Monday: Thin Spaghetti with Arabiata Sauce and a side of broiled Asparagus and Zucchini

Tuesday: Grilled Veggie Skewers (Squash, Mushrooms, Zucchini, Purple Onion, Red and Green Bell Peppers) Short Grain Brown Rice, and seasoned Pinto Beans.

Wednesday: Asian Tofu Stir Fry… I created my own recipe for this… Find my recipe HERE.

Thursday: Veggie Fajitas. Simply Sautéed onion, bell pepper and mushrooms in veggie stock until soft and tender. Make some guacamole (2 avocados mashed, 1/3 c red onion, 2 tbsp. cilantro, squirt of fresh lime and some garlic salt and pepper all mixed together) and slap it all on a tortilla.  Some other toppings we enjoy are: Spanish Rice, Salsa and Black Beans. You can creative here.

Friday: We usually make Homemade Pizzas and have family night on Friday nights. I found a pre-made crust that we all enjoy from HEB (our grocery store). Find one in your area that has as few ingredients as possible. Also we found a sauce we like there as well. Again, the fewer ingredients the better. Some toppings we all enjoy are Black Olives, Pickled Jalapenos, Black Beans, Mushrooms and Red Onion and sometimes Squash and Zucchini thinly sliced.

Saturday: Pot Pie. HERE is the link to my recipe.

Sunday: This is our leftover/Eat Out day.

To follow along with our family and our journey to eating our way healthy you can follow my blog HERE.  I try to post a meal plan every Monday. But lets be honest, I have three small kids and some weeks, it just doesn’t happen.  You can find some of my archived EAT posts on the right sidebar in the category appropriately titled…EAT. If you stop by, be sure to say Hi.

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Thanks Jenna! You can also keep up with Jenna via Instagram and Twitter!

Meal Plan Monday with Teresa of Healthier Living

This month I’m skipping my Meal Plans and featuring other bloggers (and Facebook page managers) and sharing their Meal Plans. So far we have heard from Lisa of The Vegan Pact Alison of Plant-Strong New England (a Facebook page), and Poppy of Poppy’s Patisserie | Bunny Kitchen! Today we are going to hear from Teresa. She’s a co-admin (with her friend Diane) for a Facebook community group called Healthier Living. This group focus’ on healthy tips for every area of your life. Healthier recipes, Healthier cleaning methods, and many more ideas for Healthier Living!

Join me in welcoming Teresa as she shares her story and Meal Plan.

In January 2009 my friend, Jennifer Taylor, sent me a recipe for “power smoothie.”  I was immediately hooked on the vegan/plant strong lifestyle and have not looked back since.

I am very grateful for the convenience of having instant communication and connection via the Internet. Because of Facebook and e-mail, Jennifer has provided me and my family numerous recipes, tips, encouragement and recommendations of authors and various recipe books.  She even allowed me to borrow the DVD, “Kitchen Rescue” by Rip Esselstyn…this was huge eye-opener.  Coincidentally, or as I like to call a God intervention, our local Whole Foods hosted Rip as a guest while promoting (and viewing) “Forks Over Knives” (another huge eye-opener) and a book signing of his Engine 2, 28 day Challenge.  This promotion was in conjunction with Whole Foods own 28 day challenge using Rip’s book and recipes.  I was ready for this challenge and totally immersed myself into the “plant strong” way of life…no meat, no dairy, no oil.

I like to categorize the vegan/plant strong lifestyle as conscious eating, not a diet or dieting, and it’s much easier than most people think. Vegan is simply taking control and making choices of what you fuel your body with. Giving up my old “favorite foods” was exchanged for eating more consciously because I know it’s good for my body, soul and mind

I’d like to say that my daughters, ages 8 and 11 have embraced the vegan lifestyle as much as my husband and I have alas, I cannot. They aren’t yet huge fans and most of the time will not even try the delicious foods I cook. I have not given up. I feel they are learning by seeing how we eat.  Perhaps this “teaching by doing” will help them embrace this lifestyle in their later years. What I have noticed is they are not eating as much of what some call the “Western Civilization Diet” and are more closely aligned with a vegetarian lifestyle most of the time. Baby steps for them, for sure.

Interestingly, my husband, who is an avid weight lifter, has taken on this new lifestyle with me and can, without a doubt, say he feels absolutely awful and out-of-sorts when he strays from the vegan/plant strong way of life. He says he can’t wait to detox and get back on the wagon which is a strong statement coming from someone who believed in the “meat at every meal” mantra.

This has been such an enjoyable learning curve. I am altogether better for this lifelong, lifestyle change and give all my thanks to Jennifer Taylor.  Without Jenn, I truly believe I’d still be putting zero thought into eating and consuming whatever I want only to see the scale continually increase and my overall health gradually decrease.

 Meal Plan (family of 4)

(all photos by Teresa)

Day 1
Breakfast: Rips Big Bowl~ Engine 2

rips big bowl

Day 1
Lunch: Engine 2 Basics Open Faced Sandwich


Day 1

Snack: Cucumber Tomato Salad ~ Food Network

cucumber salad

Day 1

Dinner: Pasta Primavera ~ Engine2


Day 1

Dessert: Engine 2 Diet Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Day 2

Breakfast: Power Smoothie ~ Taylor Made Wellness

This amazing smoothie is what got me started on my wellness journey. I was instantly hooked into being more healthy and more aware of what I was eating/drinking!! Let me introduce you to the Power Smoothie, recipe from my dear friend Jennifer Taylor from Taylor Made Wellness!!

~Thank you Jenn for this great recipe and great healthy tips/information! It’s 100% worth sharing:

Most of you have had a fruit smoothie and that is a great healthy way to start the day. Trouble is, the fruit digests quickly and people need a bit more substance to get them through the morning. Usually they add protein powder or something like that but green smoothies are a healthy way to get the protein in as well as some vegetables. Did you know that dark green leafy veggies are about 35% protein? Well they are!

The color of this smoothie throws some people. I suggest if you are one of those wimps, I mean people, that you put the smoothie in a colored cup with a lid so you don’t have to look at it. You won’t taste the greens at all, I promise. If you are making this for kids, the colored cup is a great idea. Unless you have kids who are into Ironman and then you can tell them that he drinks Green Smoothies and to watch the movie to see it.

Ok, here’s the recipe:
Power Smoothie

1 cup of water or soy milk or almond milk
1 clementine, peeled
1/2 cup fresh pineapple
1 banana (it’s even better if you freeze the banana after you peel it, makes the smoothie creamier, but it doesn’t have to be frozen.)
1 cup frozen berries strawberries are great, if you are trying to fool kids use blueberries as it turns it purple.
1 TB ground flax seed otherwise known as flax meal
2 big handfuls of baby spinach (it’s important to use baby spinach.)

Add water or liquid, clementine, pineapple, flax, banana and spinach and blend until creamy. Then add the frozen fruit gradually if using a blender. If you are lucky enough to have a vita mix, you can throw it all in together.

**** If you are ready for a hardcore green smoothie, add 2 or 3 leaves of dark flat kale as well. Enjoy!

green smoothie

Day 2

Lunch: Grilled Cheeze ~ Adapted from Everyday Happy Herbivore

grilled cheez

Day 2

Snack: Watermelon


Day 2

Dinner:  Raise the Roof Sweet Potato-Vegetable Lasagna ~ Engine 2


Day 2

Dessert: Chocolate Mug Cake ~ Everyday Happy Herbivore

chocolate mug cake

Day 3

Breakfast: French Toast ~ Engine 2

 french toast

Day 3

Lunch: Lemon Basil Pasta ~Everyday Happy Herbivore

lemon basil pasta

Day 3

Snack: Starfruit, Clementine and Blueberries


Day 3

Dinner: Veggie Pizza (whole wheat pizza crust, low sodium, fat free tomato and basil pasta sauce, baby spinach, tomato, orange bell pepper, sun dried tomatoes, crushed red pepper and nutritional yeast seasoning to top it off)


Day 3

Dessert: Carrot Cake Cupcakes ~ The Happy Herbivore


Day 4

Breakfast: Lemon Cornmeal Pancakes ~ Engine 2

lemon cornmeal pancakes

Day 4
Lunch: Rice Salad with Fennel, Orange and Chickpeas ~ Forks Over Knives Cookbook

rice salad

Day 4

Snack: Hannah’s Fruit Kabobs

fruit kabobs

Day 4
Dinner: Red Red Stew ~ Everyday Happy Herbivore

red stew

Day 4

Dessert: Banana Frosty ~ Everyday Happy Herbivore


Day 5

Breakfast: French Toast Muffins ~ Everyday Happy Herbivore

french toast muffins

Day 5

Lunch: Garden Tomato and Basil Soup ~ Easy Family Recipes

garden soup

Day 5

Snack: Palm Trees: Kiwi, Banana and Clementine

more fruit

Day 5

Dinner: NOLA Gumbo~ Everyday Happy Herbivore


Day 5

Dessert: Cinnamon Bun Smoothie ~ Everyday Happy Herbivore

 cinnamon bun smoothie

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Stop by Teresa’s Healthier Living Page on Facebook and tell her Holly sent you!


Meal Plan Monday with Poppy’s Patisserie | Bunny Kitchen

During the month of July I’m taking a break from sharing our Meal Plans but never fear, I’m featuring other bloggers and sharing their Meal Plans. So far we have heard from Lisa of The Vegan Pact and Alison of Plant-Strong New England (a Facebook page). Today I’m thrilled to introduce Poppy of Poppy’s Patisserie | Bunny Kitchen!


Hi, I’m Poppy and I write Poppy’s Patisserie | Bunny Kitchen. I’m a 20-something vegan, studying in Kent, UK, for a degree in Animal Management.

I have three major passions; animals; world development/poverty, equality with a special interest in street children; and food/cooking/veganism. I have been a vegetarian for around 16 years and am well into my second year of veganism with absolutely no intention of turning back. Had I known as a 6 year old child turning vegetarian what I know now, I would have been vegan all along.

My blog is where I practice and share my passion for food and connect with vegans, vegetarians, cooks and bloggers from all over the world.

Most days I am cooking for just myself or myself and my partner, Matthew. Around once a week I will also be cooking for guests – family or friends. Of the people I cook for, I am the only person with food restrictions and will cook vegan for my diners. I often make meals and freeze the leftovers or use them in a different dish the next day.

I try to make things in advance and freeze them for days when I don’t have much time to cook. I especially like to freeze breakfast items as this is the meal I’m most likely not to have time with yet enjoy a varied breakfast throughout the week and something exciting to get me energized for the day. I stock the freezer with breakfast muffins and crumpets and even chia jam which defrosts in minutes in smaller quantities and keeps it’s lovely jammy consistency.

As well as my main meals, I snack on fruit between meals such as apples, bananas and berries or nibble on crudites and houmous. 

Meal Plan by Poppy’s Patisserie | Bunny Kitchen

vegan meatballs

Day 1:

Breakfast: Raw Strawberry Chia Jam (v, gluten free) on whole grain toast.

Lunch: Sweet Potato & Lentil Salad (v)

Dinner: Herbed Vegan ‘Meat’balls and Spaghetti (v)

Estimated calories: 1376

banana muffins

Day 2:

Breakfast: Caramel Banana Muffins (v,gluten free option)

Lunch: Butternut and Sweet Potato Soup (v) with 2 slices of whole grain bread

Dinner: Lentil and Beetroot Burgers with Creamy Pepper Sauce (v) with pitta bread

Treat: Hazelnut Hot Chocolate (v)

Estimated calories: 1281


Day 3:

Breakfast: Crumpets (v)

Lunch: Garlicky Bean Salad with Chunky Croutons (v)

Dinner: Indian Spiced Vegetable Stew (v,gluten free)

Estimated calories: 1227

tomato coconut soup

Day 4:

Breakfast: Lemon Poppy Seed Bread (v)

Lunch:Tomato and Coconut Soup (v)

Dinner: Smoked Tofu Carbonara Pasta (v)

Estimated calories: 1406

mediterranean sandwich

Day 5:

Breakfast: Maple Pecan Quinoa Crunch Granola (v) with non dairy milk

Lunch: Baked Mediterranean Sandwich (v)

Dinner: Squash and Fennel Lasagne (v) with salad

Estimated calories: 1482


Day 6:

Breakfast: Sticky Banana Buns (v)

Lunch: Sprouted Seeds and Radish Salad Sandwich (v)

Dinner: Spinach and Leek Quinoa stuffed mushrooms (v,gluten free) with crushed onion new potatoes

Estimated calories: 1112


Day 7:

Breakfast: Vegan Vanilla French Toast (v)

Lunch: Moroccan Harissa Quinoa Balls and Griddled Asparagus Salad with Creamy Harissa Dressing (v)

Dinner: Almond Feta and Caraway Baked Cabbage Parcels (v,gluten free) and boiled new potatoes

Dessert: Beetroot and Avocado Chocolate Cake (v)

Estimated calories: 1394


I’m sure you have already checked out at least a few recipes but don’t forget to follow Poppy on Twitter: @poppypatisserie and Pinterest!