3 Simple Strategies for Easier Mealtimes
3 Simple Strategies for Easier Mealtimes

3 Simple Strategies for Easier Mealtimes

3 Simple Strategies for Easier Mealtimes

I’m sure you’ve heard this advice before: do not make separate meals for you and your children because it is a sure-fire way to discourage long-term healthy eating (because your kids never have to move outside their comfort zone to explore new foods.)

It is also, often, a sure-fire way to create dinnertime battles: “I don’t like that. I won’t eat it!”

The good news is that there are some simple meals you can add to your weekly rotation that are easily customizable, reduce the pressure to eat any particular food, and encourage exploration of lots of different ones.

How Customizable Meals Support Healthy Eating Habits

There are multiple ways that having these kinds of customizable meals help support healthy eating habits, including by:

  • Allowing at least "familiar food" for everyone in the family.
  • Providing a safe space for kids to explore new foods through touching, smelling, and even tasting.
  • Supporting practice by having both familiar and unfamiliar foods on the table.
  • Making everyone feel like they are getting what they want!

Three Easy Dinner Ideas

Below are 3 SIMPLE, easily customizable and easy to prepare meal ideas that can be adjusted based on what you have in your fridge, and that can be customized to each person's tastes. We have them in heavy rotation on our weekly meal plans and they work to support our goal of easier, healthier eating.

I hope some of them can work for your family, too!


Don't wait for Tuesday. Any day is the right day for tacos. Pair a protein, crispy vegetable, fresh herb, and a splash of lime or drizzle of sauce ...and Viola!

Why we love them:

Just about anything can be turned into a taco, and they present an excellent opportnity to explore and experiment with textures and flavors. Plus, then easily accommodate any and all dietary restrctions - vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, meat-lover, omnivore, herbavore, 2-year-old-I-only-like-tortillas-avore.

Recipe Inspiration:

These Shredded Chicken Sweet and Spicy Korean inspired Bulgogi BBQ Tacos can be made in less than 30 minutes. {yaaaaassss}.

Also from Half Baked Harvest are these Baked Crispy Chipotle Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Lime Sauce. Baked after filling, these are warm and cheesy and delicious.

Prefer seafood? Give these Shrimp Tacos (also great with that Cilantro Lime Sauce above) or these Fish Tacos with a Creamy Sauce. Both are delicious topped with a simple slaw. (If you remember from previous Monthly Mealtime Inspirations we also LOVE these Low Maintenance Fish Tacos from the editors at Food52.)

These street tacos are the real deal.

Not a meat eater? These tacos made with breaded cauliflower and these made with tempeh, are both divine. (These Lentil Tacos are also de-lish.)


I know, I know ... and no, I haven't been living under a rock. And yes, our family has only just begun to understand the beauty that are dinner bowls (or, honestly, breakfast or lunch bowls). While these recipes are largly focused on dinner, it’s equally easy to create the “bowl” strategy for breakfast using scrambled eggs, granola, or a sweet or savory grain (we especially like quinoa for this) in the morning. For lunch, breakfast and dinner ideas work equally well, IMHO.

Why we love them:

I love the versatility of this meal. I love that it is the perfect way to clean out the fridge the day before grocery shopping, and I love that it allows everyone in the family to have exactly the meal they want.

Recipe Inspiration:

For a great bowl, I like to start with a grain, add one protein, between 2-4 vegetables and have optional herbs and nuts for topping. Choose from one of the sauces (next page) to drizzle on top. Here are some of our favorite (recent) combinations:

Roasted Veggie Quinoa Bowls with Miso-Turmeric Vinaigrette. You’ll want seconds.

This Teriyaki Salmon bowl is perfect with a little sticky rice.

This Cauliflower Shawarma Bowl is good with any grain you have in stock.

Adding a fried or hard boiled egg, seeds, or cheese (like this) turns any bowl into a full meal.

This Moroccan Spiced Veg + Chickpea Bowl has a long ingredient list, but you really can substitute any veggies you have on hand.



Think of sauces as your meal’s accessories: they are completely unnecessary, but really work to tie your outfit together. They elevate any meal and can help entice even the most reluctant eater.

Why we love them:

Sauces are one of the simplist ways to quickly “dress up” any food. They pair well with vegetables, meats, and seafood, can be made ahead of time and stored (sometimes for weeks) in the fridge, and using them as dips often helps reluctant tasters. 

Recipe Inspiration:

Garlicky yogurt vinaigrette (great on smashed potatoes).

Chimichurri Sauce is great on cauliflower stakes (and beef ones).

Dijon Aioli - which would be great with any roasted vegetable, like these Brussels sprouts.

Spicy Chili Sauce (for those of you who like a little heat!)

Creamy Cilantro Sauce (here served on vegan tacos)

Maple-Sriracha Sauce (here served on cauliflower, which apparently is our theme.)