Plan ahead to feed your family well this month with 31 days of healthy family meals to try. Each is kid-friendly and parent-approved and includes straight forward ingredients and easy methods…because I know we can all use as much help as we can get these days!

october-family-meal-plan-featured

Easy Family Meals for Fall

I hope this meal plan helps give you some ideas for what to feed your family this month. There are ideas for each meal of the day, and a simple system to reduce your mental load in the planning process too.

My goal with my monthly meal plans are to offer ideas that might work for this time of the year, and to share my approach of using a “meal rotation” as a way to simplify the process.

How to Use this Meal Plan

This plan is built on the idea of themes, so there are general categories that rotate throughout the month. This builds in familiarity for the kids and narrows down the decisions that we have to make. Which is so much easier for our brains!

You can use my plan, make your own, or pick and choose as you like. There’s no one right way!

TIP: My Happy Family Meals ebook is a full guidebook with grocery lists, tips, and schedules. Check that out if you need more guidance!

october-week-1-meal-plan

October Week 1

I always aim to have 1-2 foods on the table that the kids usually likes to ensure a happy dinner for everyone…even if that’s just a simple side of a fruit they like. So round these meals out with simple sides (and condiments!) as needed for your crew.

Breakfast Ideas

Fresh Apple Pancakes
These apple pancakes are hearty and filled with freshly shredded apples and oats, so expect them to have a lot of texture!
Get the recipe
stack-of-apple-pancakes
Easy Pumpkin Oatmeal (with Any Kind of Oats)
You can make this in about 15 minutes on any morning, or make the whole recipe ahead and simply warm right before serving. See the Notes for variations to make it with other types of oats.
Get the recipe
pumpkin-oatmeal-in-white-and-pink-bowls
Healthy Pumpkin Bars Recipe
These bars are tender when warm out of the oven, so do be sure to let them cool completely before slicing.
Get the recipe
sliced pumpkin bars on cutting board

Lunch Ideas

Vegetarian Burritos with Rice and Beans
You can vary the beans if you like in these simple burritos. Serve them with salsa and/or sour cream.
Get the recipe
rice and bean burritos
12 Best Easy Sandwiches for Kids
Below is the recipe for the Avocado Egg Salad, with the other ideas in the Notes section for easy reference. Add fresh fruit, an applesauce pouch, canned fruit cup (in 100% juice), easy veggies for lunch, milk, and/or water to any lunch to round it out.
Get the recipe
sandwiches for kids in grid
20 Easy Cold Lunch Ideas For Kids (that Work at Room Temp!)
Below is the recipe for the Sesame Noodles. The rest of the ideas are in the Notes so you can print them all for easy reference.
Get the recipe
cold-lunch-ideas-in-lunchboxes

Snack Ideas

Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (Healthy and Easy!)
These whole grain muffins have delicious pumpkin flavor and just enough chocolate chips. They're moist and a great breakfast or snack to share with the kids. (Adapted from
Eating Well.)
Get the recipe
pumpkin-chocolate-chip-mini-muffins
So Easy Sliced Baked Apples
We like these apples warm or cold out of the fridge, so see what your kids like best!
Get the recipe
baked apple slices on plate
Healthy Sweet Potato Pudding (Just 2 Ingredients!)
You can also use plain Greek yogurt and sweeten to taste with maple syrup.
Get the recipe
healthy sweet potato pudding

Dinner Ideas

One-Pot Pesto Chicken and Brown Rice
Add some warmed frozen peas, whole grain toast, or a side of fruit to add a few simple sides if desired. This recipe was updated in September 2019 to ensure the rice cooks through.
Get the recipe
healthy chicken and brown rice on kids plate
Vegetarian Quesadillas with Beans and Cheese
You can make as few or as many of these easy quesadillas as you like.
Get the recipe
cut up vegetarian quesadillas for kids on plate
Quick Butternut Squash Pasta with Veggies and Sausage
You can use frozen peas or broccoli in this recipe according to what you have or prefer. See the Notes for vegetarian options.
Get the recipe
butternut-squash-pasta-in-white-bowl-and-teal-bowls
Favorite Pizza Rolls (with Spinach and Cheese)
Be sure to grease your pan well and roll the dough up fairly tightly around the fillings for best results. (But it's okay if they don't look perfect when they go into the pan!) 
Get the recipe
pizza-rolls-on-kids-plate
Big Batch Vegetarian Chili
When serving this to a little one, I like to drain off much of the broth. This makes it a little easier (and less messy) for them to eat. If your family likes spice, add in a dash or two of cayenne pepper.
Get the recipe
vegetarian chili
Easy Cornbread Muffins
Moist and nutritious, these healthy cornmeal muffins are an easy side, breakfast, or yummy snack.
Get the recipe
maple corn muffins

october-week-2-meal-plan

October Week 2

Add a favorite veggie (even warmed frozen peas) to round out any of these easy family dinners.

Breakfast Ideas

Simple Sweet Potato Smoothie
If you make the roasted sweet potato ahead of time, this balanced snack or meal component comes together in minutes.
Get the recipe
sweet-potato-smoothie-in-cup
Pumpkin Chocolate Baked Donuts
Share a batch of flourless chocolate baked donuts for breakfast, snack time or dessert. They’re easy enough that the kids can help make the batter!
Get the recipe
baked pumpkin donuts with frosting
Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal Recipe with Apples
You can make this overnight the and enjoy it for breakfast the following day, or make a whole batch ahead and eat it throughout the week. *To do this overnight, choose the LOW heat option and cook time.
Get the recipe
overnight steel cut oats with apples

Lunch Ideas

Easy Cheesy Rice (with Veggies!)
Choose one veggie to add from the flavor options below according to what you have on hand or what your family likes best.
Get the recipe
cheesy rice 4 ways with veggies
Favorite Salmon Salad Sandwich
This salmon salad is packed with protein, healthy fats, and calcium and can be used as a dip or a spread for sandwiches. We use homemade relish in this recipe, but you can use any that you like the flavor of.
Get the recipe
salmon-salad-on-toast
Easy Butternut Squash Hummus
You can use canned squash or whole squash that you’ve roasted and pureed.
Get the recipe
butternut squash hummus on plate with cucumbers

Snack Ideas

Easy Homemade Granola Bars (6 Ways)
We like to have these granola bars as a snack or toddler breakfast with milk or a smoothie—and they're an excellent lunch box component too. You can make them plain or choose a flavor to add!
Get the recipe
stack-of-homemade-granola-bars
Soft-Baked Sweet Potato Cookies
These healthy cookies are perfect for a special snack or dessert to share. (This recipe was updated in August 2019 to streamline the process.)
Get the recipe
sweet-potato-cookies-on-wire-rack
Fluffy Sweet Potato Muffins
Plan to prepare the sweet potatoes at least an hour—and up to 3 days ahead—before you start making the muffins so it has time to cool. See the Notes for options for the sweet potato. These are very lightly sweet. Add ¼ cup brown sugar if desired to make them sweeter.
Get the recipe
sweet-potato-muffins-in-pan

Dinner Ideas

20-Minute Stir Fry Noodles with Veggies
Try this quick family dinner the next time you're craving healthy comfort food—and want to please the entire family! You can add a protein to this dish if you'd like. See the Notes for options.
Get the recipe
stir fry noodles with vegetables
Sweet Potato and Cheese Quesadillas
Serve these quesadillas with salsa, sour cream, and/or guacamole as desired. You can leave them as simple vegetarian quesadillas or add in a protein like chicken or beans.
Get the recipe
sweet-potato-quesadillas-on-blue-plate
Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders
These crispy Chicken Tenders are fast and versatile. To make these with panko breadcrumbs, use 1 cup and stir ¼ teaspoon salt into the flour before you dredge the chicken.
Get the recipe
crispy baked chicken tenders on white and blue plate
Easy Red Lentil Soup (with Sweet Potato and Coconut)
Serve small portions by the spoonful or in a reusable pouch to babies and toddlers.
Get the recipe
red lentil soup for parent and baby
Easy Snack Dinner (to Share with the Kids!)
You can do a big family-style platter or individual ones for the kids depending on your preference. Add anything else that sounds appealing and know that the nutrition info will vary according to what you use.
Get the recipe
family-style-snack-plate

october-week-3-meal-plan

October Week 3

Try serving some dinners family style and allow everyone to help themselves to the foods they want to eat.

Breakfast Ideas

Healthy Breakfast Bars with Jam
Use Sunbutter to make these nut-free. You can cut these into smaller bars if desired. If you want them a little softer, serve them at room temperature rather than chilled.
Get the recipe
breakfast-bars-on-white-cutting-board
Cinnamon Raisin Baked Oatmeal Cups
Transform plain oats into a yummy and easy to eat finger food with this baked oatmeal recipe. You can double the recipe to make more if desired.
Get the recipe
baked-oatmeal-cups-on-plate
Healthy Banana Cookies (to Share with the Kids)
These are an easy whole grain cookie to share with the kids—they're a great baby cookie! Try them for snack, dessert, or as a breakfast cookie
Get the recipe
banana cookies on wire rack

Lunch Ideas

Make-Ahead Egg and Cheese Mini Muffins
These soft breakfast egg cups are packed with protein and vitamins—and can be made ahead of time! Add any veggie you like, whether carrots, butternut squash, broccoli, or spinach.
Get the recipe
egg-cups-on-plate-with-toast
DIY Pizza Lunchables
You can plan for the kids to eat these cold or you can warm the bread ahead and pack it in a thermos so it’s warm at lunchtime. So easy!
Get the recipe
homemade-pizza-lunchables-on-counter
Roasted Sweet Potato Hash
Try this easy breakfast-for-dinner idea the next time you need a super easy and nutritious family dinner.
Get the recipe
sweet-potato-hash-on-two-plates

Snack Ideas

Soft Roasted Chickpeas with Cinnamon
If you start with dried beans in this salty-sweet snack, make sure to cook them until they are very tender. If making these for a kiddo under one, use maple syrup instead of honey or skip the sweetener all together.
Get the recipe
roasted chickpea recipe
Baked Apple Donuts
Made with minimal added sweeteners and fresh apple flavor, these baked donuts are a nutritious breakfast or snack to share.
Get the recipe
stack-of-baked-apple-donuts
Butternut Squash Muffins
These moist muffins are great on their own or topped with butter, honey, or apple butter. Try them for breakfast, snack, or as a side for dinner.
Get the recipe
butternut-squash-muffins-on-wire-rack

Dinner Ideas

Easy Stuffed Peppers Skillet
You can use whichever type of rice your family likes best. We rotate through short grain brown rice, basmati, and jasmine. Adults may want to top their portions with shredded fresh basil and/or crushed red pepper.
Get the recipe
skillet-stuffed-peppers-in-adult-and-kid-bowl
Easy Vegetarian Burrito Bowls
Prep the rice, beans, and veggies ahead if you can or want to. They store well in the fridge and simply need to be reheated. The nutrition information in this recipe will vary based on the ingredients you choose to use.
Get the recipe
grain bowls with rice and beans
5-Ingredient Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Use your family’s favorite shape and type of pasta in this recipe. (We like elbows or mini shells!)
Get the recipe
butternut-squash-mac-and-cheese-with-shell-pasta
Favorite Alphabet Soup
You can use ABC pasta, orzo, pastina, or ditalini—or any other very small pasta shape in this recipe!
Get the recipe
alphabet-soup-in-blue-bowl
Creamy Butternut Squash Apple Soup
Honeycrisp apple, Jonathan, MacIntosh, or Granny Smith apples all work here.
Get the recipe
vegan butternut squash soup

october-week-4-meal-plan

October Week 4

Challenge the kids to be in charge of setting the table or helping you chop to involve them in the dinner prep.

Breakfast Ideas

Easy Breakfast Burritos
These are called “breakfast” burritos since they have eggs, but you can serve them for any meal of the day!
Get the recipe
breakfast-burritos-on-purple-plate
Halloween Breakfast Idea: Easy Halloween Toast!
Halloween Toast is the ultimate Halloween Breakfast. Learn how to make it in just minutes using basic ingredients and a super easy method!
Get the recipe
halloween breakfast toasts
Easy Homemade Granola (Added Sugar Free)
This healthy granola recipe uses applesauce for sweetness and bakes at a lower temperature to lower the risk of burning around the edges. Plus, find an option to make it without added sugar id desired.
Get the recipe
homemade granola in jar

Lunch Ideas

Refried Bean Taco Roll Ups
This makes 6 rolled up tacos, so you can adjust this as needed for your family.  Taste the refried beans before you make the roll ups and adjust the salt and/or cumin if needed. You can also serve the ingredients in separate bowls and let your family serve themselves.
Get the recipe
easy tacos with refried beans
Easy Avocado Pasta
Any pasta shape works in this recipe, so choose your family’s favorite! Omit the garlic if you think the flavor might be too strong for your people. My kids prefer this without the garlic. I like it with it for myself!
Get the recipe
avocado-pasta-in-bowls-on-towel
Homemade Veggie Nuggets (with 3 Veggies!)
I like to prep the veggies and rice ahead of time so that the process of making the nuggets is a little quicker. You can of course do it all at once though!
Get the recipe
veggie-nuggets-on-blue-plate

Snack Ideas

Simple Green Smoothie
Frozen bananas give the smoothie a creamy, naturally sweet base, though you can make this with a fresh banana as long as the other fruit is frozen. It’s easy to add whatever berries or fruit you have on hand, so customize it for your kiddo. 
Get the recipe
green-smoothie-in-glass
10 Healthy Halloween Treats
Try one of these fun ideas for Halloween snack or to share with friends. Below is the recipe for the green smoothie with the face. The rest of the ideas are in the Notes for easy reference.
halloween-treats-featured
Sweet Spinach Muffins with Banana
These healthy muffins taste like a delicious banana muffin, but with the added nutrition of a big handful of spinach. These store well, so you can make them ahead of time and pull them out of the fridge or freezer to serve.
Get the recipe
spinach banana muffins on pink plate

Dinner Ideas

Vegetable Stir Fry with Rice and Tofu
I like to use vegetables like carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, and snap peas in this easy recipe. Plan to cook the rice ahead of time or to get it started first.
Get the recipe
sesame-tofu-with-veggies-and-rice-in-bowl
Slow Cooker Chicken and Bean Tacos
The combination of vegetables listed below delivers really nice flavor and consistency to the sauce, but if you want to simplify, you can just use 2 of the options. This recipe was updated in September 2019 to add an Instant Pot option.
Get the recipe
family style slow cooker chicken tacos
4-Ingredient Sausage Broccoli Pasta
Just a heads up that you’ll need to reserve a little of the pasta cooking water, so keep that in mind BEFORE you drain the pasta. Chicken sausage is usually leaner than pork, so when making this with chicken sausage, I like to add butter or olive oil before serving.
Get the recipe
broccoli-pasta-in-white-bowl
Easy Sausage Meatballs
This will make at least two dinners worth of meatballs, depending on how many people are in your family. I like to freeze half of the batch to use in a future meal.
Get the recipe
sausage-meatballs-in-tomato-sauce
Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup (with Instant Pot Option)
The addition of grains helps to thicken the soup to a nice consistency for little eaters, so don't be worried if it's pretty thin before you add them in before serving.
(This post was updated and the recipe was streamlined November 2020. You can get the
original recipe here.)
 
Get the recipe
slow-cooker-black-bean-soup

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This post was first published October 2019.

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Comments

  1. Thank you for this! I love that you grabbed items that are in season-so much butternut squash and pumpkins from our last couple of weeks of our CSA!