Transitioning to a plant-based diet as a family is – I’d say – more difficult than figuring out how to have a plant-based diet for yourself. Though, that can be tough too! While we are certainly not 100% plant-based, I do try to incorporate a heavy plant emphasis for myself, and am currently working on the rest of the family.
For that reason – I am calling this “plant-forward”. That means – to me- a heavy influence of plants but not strict one way or another. Since I am always learning best from experience – I wanted to share this with you, in case you are interested as well!
Beans, rice, pasta and an assortment of fruits and veggies are always a great place to start. The key when moving into more plants is to ensure everything is still tasty.
And easy. Some recipes are very time intensive and that just leaves us with a huge barrier to entry, right?
I’m sharing some of my favorite meal ideas in the notes below as a place to start. Of course – I can’t promise that every person in your family will love every one, but I can say confidently that the below options are family-friendly and easy to adapt to anyone’s taste! I did not include the actual recipes – but a quick google search will lead you to some amazing options for each.
Plant-forward breakfasts: Breakfast is one of the easiest meals to prepare for in advance (because doing it the morning-of is hard when you are packing lunches and getting everyone ready for school). It’s also not as difficult to add in plant options here since breakfasts tend to lean more that way anyway.
By the way – if you feel you are lacking protein – 3 tbsp of hemp seeds packs in 10g of protein and they can be added to anything here!
1. Instant Pot oatmeal or overnight oats – these can cook or set on their own and will then only require you to set up some toppings. A Toppings Bar makes this fun for everyone – fruits, nuts, seeds,nut butter or syrup allow each person to create their own!
2. Banana bread – I love baked goods, and I love them even more because they can be made in advance for the week and act as amazing bases for toppings like nut butter or fruit.
3. Breakfast tacos – Scramble eggs or tofu (for the more adventurous), add in the vegetable that your kids will tolerate most (broccoli here!) and add them to a wrap to make it hand held.
4. Avocado toast – We are big avocado fans here and I love them because they are filling. This is another easy breakfast that allows everyone in the family to engage in a toppings bar. My favorite toppings are spices, a splash of lemon, nutritional yeast and greens – but the kids keep it pretty simple!
5. DIY granola bars or granola with milk – Here’s one of my recipes for granola that easily comes together in the oven and can be a fun activity to do with the kids! You can also shape your granola into bars if you are more of a grab and go kind of family. When it comes to milk – we like the Ripple pea milk since it has protein and added calcium, but there are lots of options on the market now!
Other ideas: smoothies, pancakes, waffles – all easily customizable and plants can be added!
Plant-forward dinners or lunches: Leftovers are everyone’s best friend when it comes to lunch! It’s a great way to clean out the fridge and waste less food. However, if you need some quick ideas for the family I have some great options for you.
1. Sheet pan fajitas/tacos/quesadillas – Make these with any combination of beans, tofu or vegetables your family will tolerate, but the key is to include yummy sauces like guacamole, or top with some cheese! TBH, I like these with chicken, with a heavy vegetable emphasis.
You can also season lentils like ground beef and add these to your fajitas! You can also hide almost anything in a quesadilla (hint, hint veggies)
2. Veggie pad thai or fried rice – Adding eggs here keeps a big veggie focus with some extra oomph. I like using a gluten-free soy sauce like Tamari.
3. Rice bowls with beans and avocado – Rice makes everything easier 🙂 For the adults, we do rice, avocado, protein of choice, scallions, raisins and a crunchy topping like tortilla chips. Make a variation of this for the kids, or have them make their own!
4. Veggie burgers – I find the black bean burgers to be a little harder to enjoy, but making (or buying) burgers with white beans tend to turn out well! Bundle these in a wrap or a lettuce cup with a fun sauce on top.
5. Snack plates – When you’re feeling uninspired or low on time – snack plates to the rescue. This is an easy way to include a variety of fruits and vegetables to see what gets eaten. I like to do a mix of cheese, raw veggies with dips (hummus, guacamole, ranch), fruits, crackers, and maybe something new like a crispy baked chickpea.
Remember, it takes time and trying foods multiple times for kiddos to enjoy a meal! (just like us!) I will say – having them involved in the cooking process is the easiest way for me to guarantee that they will eat something. Let me know if you have any favorite plant forward meals that you prep for your family.