I love the new trend of meal planning cookbooks. Crafting a menu plan each week is one of the best ways to save you money, time, and energy all week long in the kitchen.

Some cookbooks take a seasonal approach to meal planning, and others create plans based on how much time you have to make dinner. There is something for everyone, so I’m going to share my favorites with you and share a little of my own meal planning system.

Meal Plans in Cookbooks

Grab one of your most recent cookbook purchases. Check out the table of contents. How is it set up? Is it by season, type of meal, or something else? Now, check the end of the list. Is there a meal plan section? This is where you will find most meal plans in cookbooks. I read about 10 different cookbooks each month (thank you, library!), and many follow this new trend.

menu plan in cookbook

Menu plan ideas from Let Me Feed You.

Why is this helpful? Well, in every new cookbook, you may find 100 new recipe ideas. It can be overwhelming. A suggested meal plan is a great way to hone in on a few recipes at a time. The author has already done the hard part of deciding what to pair together and for which meal of the day. If there’s one thing we all can use help with is making fewer decisions every day. (A decision diet is probably the only diet trend I’ll ever get excited about.)


Meal Planning Workbooks

As someone who has been meal planning for twelve years, I like to consider myself a pro for myself and my coaching clients. Not perfect, but I have years of experience now testing out a variety of meal planning methods. (and here’s a big secret…there is no “right” way to meal plan. you have to find your own system.)

Hands down, the best way for me to maintain a meal plan each week is to write it down on paper. And have it displayed in a visual location in the kitchen.

If you’ve been with this blog from the beginning, you may remember my chalkboard meal plan in our first home. I shared those meal plans weekly, and you can still find the original posts with loads of recipe ideas in this meal plan collection of posts. (thank goodness my photo editing skills have improved since then! here’s a throwback to my chalkboard menu I made myself, circa 2013! )

You can use a whiteboard, chalkboard, notebook, or planner. But there are some additional options, like a meal planning workbook. Here’s a look at my favorites.

100 Days of Real Food Meal Planner

This little workhouse offers a ton of tactical tools to keep meal planning organized for you. It includes some awesome recipes and a workbook section for you to write out your meal plan and your shopping list. You can tear it out or keep it in the book. (I’m a fan of keeping track of your meals, so you have a starting point when meal planning down the road.


The 100 Days of Real Food Meal Planner at the grocery store.

This book from 100 Days of Real Food founder Lisa Leake also includes a fabulous laminated lunch meal planner for all of us packing school lunches. (though I’m totally letting my kids eat the free school lunch this year when they are actually in school…which is only 40% of the time.)

Got more questions about the meal planner? Check them out over here on Lisa’s page.

Love & Lemons Meal Record and Planner

I’ve had this little gem since 2018. It’s still a favorite, yet I forget to use it sometimes. But, it has space for all meals, not just dinner. For years, I have used it to keep track of all of our entertaining events like Thanksgiving menus, First Communions, and birthdays.

I’ll also make note of the evening events as I map out my meal plan for the week. Then I know if I’ll be driving around doing carpool during the meal prep time. (those nights are usually slow cooker meals!)

Love and Lemons Meal Plan cookbook

Love and Lemons Meal Plan cookbook

The Love and Lemons Meal Planner set also comes with a grocery list notepad so you can take notes as you meal plan.

The key thing with any of these systems is actually to USE ITYou can keep it simple and use a notebook. No matter which meal planning system you try out, I really think it helps to write down in advance and keep a journal of what happens in real life. You may see trends after keeping track for a couple of months.

Maybe you are never motivated to cook on Thursdays, so try to plan that night as leftovers or a slow cooker night. By keeping a meal planning record, you can figure out what’s working for you and what’s not. (that’s where I come into play teaching clients how to make changes that work for them.)

So which Meal Planning Cookbook is right for you?

Want an all-in-one guide? Then grab the 100 Days of Real Food Meal Planner.

Want more blank space? Choose the Love and Lemons option.

Ready to keep track in real-time? Grab a pretty notebook.

A little effort in meal planning can go a long way? Ready to get started? I’m cheering you on as meal planning is one of the BEST ways to achieve your health goals.

meal planning cookbooks

Everyone can use help learning how to simplify meal planning. These are five tips to make meal planning and meal prep simple and easy for any family.

If you are curious about low carb eating, then these keto diet tips are for you. There’s no other nutrition trend that’s more talked about than the keto diet this year. You may hear it called the ketogenic diet, or just keto diet, for short. I’ll explain what it is, and how to make transitioning to a keto lifestyle successful.

Healthy Super Bowl party recipe ideas for gluten-free dairy-free guests.

As the excitement grows for Super Bowl Sunday, it’s time to plan out your healthy Super Bowl recipes. Now, I hear what you are saying. Is there such a thing as “healthy”Super Bowl recipes? You bet.

Today I’m sharing with you some fun finds that the whole family will love. With the game later at night, there are lots of small bites on this menu round-up. All of these items are gluten-free and dairy-free, so you can wake up in the morning feeling awesome. (Especially if your team wins!)

HealthySuper Bowl Recipes

healthy superbowl sunday recipe avocado citrus ceviche dip

HealthySuper Bowl appetizer recipes

Chipotle Cauliflower Tacos- fun, vegetarian option as a main meal or appetizer from Pamela Salzman.

Avocado and citrus “ceviche”- light and bright from Cookie and Kate. Serve with organic, corn tortilla chips. Better yet, try the new grain-free chips from Siete.

Chicken Pineapple Meatballs- these look super kid-friendly! Recipe from Stupid Easy Paleo

Spinach and artichoke dip- I’ve made this recipe from Robyn at Real Food Whole Life and it’s amazing. Your guests will never know it’s dairy free, and it’s made in the slow cooker! I serve this with a mix of raw veggies, corn tortilla chips, Mary’s crackers, and sometimes pita bread for the kids.

Bacon wrapped cinnamon apples- this looks so fun for pre-game!

spinach artichoke dairy free recipe for healthy superbowl sunday

HealthySuper Bowl entree recipes

Buffalo Chickpea Chili- a cool combo of flavors from The First Mess

Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potato Skins- those sweet potatoes actually help you sleep better at night, no matter what the score it. 

Slow cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup-one of our family favorites

Paleo Teriyaki Chicken Wings- make enough for a crowd with this recipe from Predominantly Paleo. 

Instant Pot Enchilada Chicken- this is on our list for this Sunday, along with the sweet potato skins on the side. Make extra and use it for Monday night’s dinner in tacos!

Roasted Cauliflower Chickpea Pomegranate Salad


HealthySuper Bowl Dessert recipes

(just don’t eat too much too late at night!)

Paleo Seven Layer Bars from Danielle at Against All Grain. (Love her Celebrations cookbook!)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Brown Rice Crispy Treats

Coconut Oil Chocolate Bark from Oh She Glows

Healthy Super bowl recipes ideas for gluten-free dairy-free guests.

Are you ready for some football?! Enjoy these fun, healthySuper Bowl party recipes. Join us in the private Facebook group and come tell us what you are making. 


whole30 fast and easy recipes for your next challenge. Doing your first Whole30_ Start here.

In light of the newest Whole30 cookbook, I thought I would share a Whole30 Fast and Easy Meal Plan for you. You may be thinking about next month and starting a Whole30. Here’s your chance to get see how fast and easy some Whole30 recipes are to make at home. Keep things simple and use quality, fresh ingredients and you will be inspired to keep your Whole30 going!

The recipes I’ve picked here are often easy to prep ahead, which is where the magic happens if you are planning a Whole30. It’s the “planning” portion that is most important, and often overlooked. You will want to prep ahead quality snacks, make-ahead meals, and easy breakfast options to keep your motivation on tract.

Quick version of the Whole30

Some of you may have already tried a Whole30, while others have heard about it for awhile. Here’s my general guideline for explaining a Whole30:

  • Fill your plate with a lot more vegetables and fruits, but mostly vegetables.
  • Accent your plate with a quality protein, such as grass-fed beef, pastured raised chicken and eggs, nitrate free pork products, and seafood.
    • Here’s what’s not being explained enough when talking about a Whole30 challenge. The quality of your food makes a huge impact on your health. It’s worth spending the money on the best quality meat you can find. Learn more about why in my post here about sustainable farming. Poor quality meat causes inflammation in the body and it’s the number one issue you want to resolve when it comes to optimizing your health.
  • Add in healthy fats from avocados, coconut, olives, nuts and seeds.
  • Eliminate the following: sugar, gluten, alcohol, caffeine, legumes (beans/lentils/peanuts) and dairy.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Here’s what’s not being explained enough when it comes to a #Whole30 challenge.” quote=”Here’s what’s not being explained enough when talking about a Whole30 challenge. “]

How do I make Whole30 Fast and Easy for me?

My best advice is to plan ahead, and don’t go it alone. Having someone to partner with is great motivation for sticking with the plan. This may be your husband, or maybe it’s your best friend. Staying accountable is one of the keys to success. I also coach clients who need an accountability partner outside the home, and clients appreciate being able to ask the random questions that come up when navigating a Whole30.

One additional suggestion is to be super organized about what you have on hand, and what’s needed at the grocery store. Your success will come from getting the junk out of the house so it’s not tempting you. I rarely buy big tubs of ice cream any more for my kids because I didn’t want it tempting me, lingering in the freezer. Keeping your kitchen clean, clutter free, and organized makes a difference. To make grocery shopping easier when starting a Whole30, you can shop at Thrive Market and order their Whole30 Starter Set. Type it in the search bar and there are two different packages available.

On to the menu items…pick a few new recipes, but remember to keep things simple. That’s the best way to stay on track!

Whole30 fast and easy lunch ideas

Whole30 Fast and Easy Breakfast Ideas

  • Mango Lime Chia Pudding-this is a great recipe if you make your pudding with coconut milk and it’s too rich.
  • Turkey Blueberry Patties– a unique combo to mix up your morning. Bake these ahead of time and reheat as needed. Save the muffin recipe here for post Whole30.
  • Scrambed eggs, layered over spinach, with a side of kimchi or sauerkraut. Remember to add in fermented foods to your routine to improve your gut health.
  • Sweet Plantain Apple Bacon Hash– grab some pink lady apples for this fast and easy Whole30 breakfast.
  • No coffee, remember. Grab this Teechino Dark Roast Dandelion tea that helps support your liver as you detox during this program. It looks like coffee, just drink it black or with almond milk.

Whole30 Fast and Easy Lunch Ideas


Whole30 Fast and Easy Dinner Ideas

  • Fajita skewers-this is always a kid-favorite in our house, make extras for lunches the next day.
  • Asparagus Spinach Frittata– I’m a huge fan of breakfast for dinner, and then having leftovers for breakfast or lunch later in the week.
  • Quick Garlic Lime Pork Chops
  • Hamburger served on a grilled portobello mushroom cap, or sweet potato toast.
  • Steak Salad Steakhouse Style– doesn’t that look delicious in the image above?! Make the Whole30 ranch dressing and you can use it on a number of things during your Whole30 challenge.

Whole30 Fast and Easy Snack Ideas

  • Quick note here…snacks are not a key part  of the Whole30, however I think there are times when you need to grab something fast, and these are all easy to find.
  • Epic bars- variety pack sold here. 
  • Chipotle roasted almonds
  • Plantain Chips
  • Seaweed Snacks– look for ones made with olive oil, avoid anything with canola/sunflower/safflower oil.
  • Dry Roasted Nuts- no oils in the ingredient list.

Additional Whole30 Resources

Whole30 Fast and Easy Meal Plan Recipes

Pin this for next Whole30 Fast and Easy Challenge!

For more inspiration, check out years of past dinner plans here, my Pinterest collection here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of weekly meal plans.

In the name of efficiency, I have been trying out a variety of grocery delivery services over the past couple of months. This past week I had the opportunity to try Farmers to You, a co-op of Vermont farms that will deliver in my area. Farm fresh produce and meat, without an hour plus drive. Yes, please! Don’t miss your special discount code at the bottom of this post.

Farmers to You Farms

What is Farmers to You?

Here’s how Farmers to You works. A wide variety of farms in the Vermont area provide their best quality produce, meats, syrups, and more to be delivered to Boston area families. We go online, choose what we want, then it gets delivered at a predetermined pick up location one day during the week. I was able to pick up my order at the Wellesley Farmers Market, which is now 100% served by Farmers to You.

One of the most important lessons I have learned as a culinary nutrition expert is to understand where your food is coming from. The shorter the distance from farm to table is always going to be in your best interest. Vegetables grown on small farms, where they truly care for the soil and the land, gives you more nutrient density in the food on your table.

If I have a choice to spend money with a small farm family business versus big agra, the small farm will always win. I know that someone has nurtured what they have grown, whether it’s fruits, vegetables, or animals. That positive energy becomes part of your food, and then part of us.

Food, if you can call it that, which has gone through processing becomes dead food. Same goes for food that is picked before it’s ripe. The most important step I teach my private clients is how the quality of the food they eat affects their health and energy level.

Is Farmers to You all Organic?

Here’s another tidbit worth remembering, you don’t always need to buy organic.  There is a time and a place for certified organic, but if you are partnering with a small farm that uses old-school methods of farming, they don’t need the costly organic stamp of approval for me. Organic farming has become a big business, and just because it’s labeled organic does not always guarantee it’s the best choice.

Farmers to You Vermont farm delivery service Boston

How do I prioritize what I buy organic versus not? Here’s my cheat sheet:

  • Choose grass-fed, pastured raised meat from small, local farms. You will get a better quality meat than a factory farm organic chicken. Yes, that’s what Perdue is doing to the organic business. Choosing the highest quality meat you can afford is the most important thing. I would ask you to spend the extra money on meat and dairy quality, and buy all your other veggies non-organic if your budget is tight.
  • Dairy is next in line. I’m comfortable with non-organic if the cows are pastured the majority of the year. Here’s more info on how to make smart choices about dairy…and guess what, it doesn’t include fat-free anything.
  • Eggs-pastured raised, small farm is best. Even organic standards allow for large scale chicken coops with very little outdoor exposure. Farm fresh eggs all rate higher for Omega 3, a key nutrient for anti-inflammatory diets. 
  • Root vegetables-if it’s not local and you don’t know the farm, choose organic. The veggies absorb everything that’s in the soil. If that includes Round-Up, then you get that too. Farmers to You partners with River Berry and Dog River Farms. You can grab some certified organic root vegetables with them.
  • Strawberries- top of the charts for the Dirty Dozen so I don’t make exceptions here. Always buy organic.
  • Apples- they tend to be heavily sprayed, but you can find good non-organic apples that have been grown with Integrated Pest Management practices. From Champlain farm owners,
  • Bill and Andrea at Champlain Orchards are committed to ecological practices and are Eco-Apple certified. Due to challenges of our Northeast climate, they use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and minimally spray their apples to manage pests in conjunction with natural methods.

  • Leafy greens- an avid reader informed me that leafy greens attract lots of bugs so they are sprayed heavily with pesticides. I’m sticking with organic here, unless I hear the farm follows a non-toxic protocol.
  • Corn-buy organic, otherwise it’s most likely from a GMO seed.
  • Red peppers- organic, top of the dirty dozen list.
  • Balance of fruits and veggies-grab organic if you can if in a grocery store. I’m comfortable without the organic label if it’s from a small, trustworthy farm.

Here’s a peek at how Farmers to You connects you to the food you serve your family.

A Community of Families and Farmers from Farmers To You on Vimeo.

How do I sign up for Farmers to You?

Super easy to test out if you are in the Boston area. Check here on this page to find delivery sites in your area. Want one in Needham? Let me know if there is enough interest and I’ll do a test run! While I love supporting my local farmers market, time is tight as a busy mom with three little kids and a husband who travels. Let’s not even mention the craziness of the kid’s sports schedules over the weekend. If I can make my cooking/grocery shopping a little more efficient right now, I’m all for it.

I created an account, placed an order by Sunday for a Thursday pickup. I got a text reminder and an email about when and where to pickup my order. It was super simple. *You do need to update your order for the following week as it automatically creates a reoccurring order. I adjusted mine to reorder basics and suspended it for a week to allow me time to process what I already received. Next week I’ll update it and see what new items are available.

What am I making with my delivery from Farmers to You?

Farmers to You Grass Fed Meat

There are some recipes on the Farmers to You website, but here’s a few more ideas based on what caught my eye last week.


Ready to check it out?! Head over here to place your order with Farmers to You.  My readers are getting $25 off their first order! Use the code: ERW25. 

Come back here and leave a comment sharing what you are excited to try first! 

Note: I partnered with Farmers to You and was provided free product to facilitate this story. I had a great experience and look forward to placing orders with them again on my own. 

Farmers to You Food Delivery in Boston

Are you coming out of the hazy, lazy days of summer and starting to feel the urge to get organized again? Need some routine back in your day? Here’s a new meal plan after taking a summer break to enjoy gorgeous weather as much as possible. I read lots of books, magazines and blog recipes and I spent the good part of Sunday morning trying to organize them. The good ones get saved and shared here in my meal plans, and they also get added to my recipe binder.

A little nutrition lesson about farro, which is included in this week’s meal plan in two recipes. Farro, an ancient wheat grain, is a high fiber food. It has a nutty taste and is a great source of protein, magnesium, B vitamins, zinc and iron. It does contain the gluten protein so swapping it for amaranth is an alternative for those following a gluten free plan.

As you write out your grocery list for the upcoming week check out these healthy family friendly recipes from this weeks menu plan.

Our peach and zucchini summer pizza.

Our peach and zucchini summer pizza.

Dinner {GF= Gluten Free, P=Paleo, DF=Dairy Free, NF= Nut Free}

Monday: Roasted Chickens (2) paired with roasted broccoli and red potatoes. (GF)  Leftover chicken will be used for lunches the rest of the week.

Tuesday: Summer Minestrone Soup, vegetarian. My longtime favorite recipe is this one, but I also have made this Paleo version too in the crock pot. For anyone needing more protein in the soup, the leftover roasted chicken is a quick add.

Wednesday: Garlic-Lime Pork with Farro and Kale. (recipe) I don’t often find precooked farro so here are the simple directions: Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in 2 cups farro and 1 teaspoon salt; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until just tender, stirring occasionally. Drain; transfer farro to a large bowl. Use half for tonight’s recipe and the rest for the Lunch option.

Thursday: Kid’s request night is Chicken Tenders, steamed Green Beans and rice.

Friday: Summer burgers on the grill, local peaches and cream corn and heirloom tomato salad.

Weekend: Peaches are in season and we made a peach and zucchini pizza from Love and Lemons cookbook this past weekend. Check out your local farmer’s market to find some new combinations to put on your pizza. This summer squash and corn recipe is perfect for this time of year.  Try making your own pizza dough with this recipe.


Farro salad with peas, pancetta and radishes. Use the farro made on Wednesday for this salad.


Protein pumped up in this week’s oatmeal recipe from Chatelaine. We made the carrot cake oatmeal and increase the oats by a 1/2 cup. It was a winner!


Too  many apples sitting on the counter so we are making a round of dehydrated apple chips with cinnamon. (NF)


French 75 cocktail…a minty version is also in the cookbook I mentioned. Why haven’t I tried this before?

Healthy weekly meal plan

Pin this to save for later!


For more inspiration, see years of past dinner plans here, my Pinterest collection here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of weekly meal plans.

Happy Memorial Day weekend! This holiday weekend edition of the meal plan features some simple, healthy recipes for you to test in your kitchen. If you make a recipe you love, share it in a note in the comments. Or, if you are interested, I have started a Facebook Group, Eat Well Live Well, which you can join if you are a newsletter subscriber. Let me know if you are already a subscriber and would like to be added to the group where we are sharing even more recipe ideas and tips for eating well.

As you write out your grocery list for the upcoming week check out these healthy family friendly recipes from this weeks menu plan. Each featured recipe includes link to the complete recipe.

Dinner {GF= Gluten Free, P=Paleo, DF=Dairy Free, NF= Nut Free}

Memorial Day Monday: Homemade burgers, turkey hot dogs, Red White and Blue Quinoa Fruit Salad,

Tuesday: Jerk Sweet Potato and Black Bean Curry. (P, Vegan)

Wednesday: Paleo Taco Bowl with Cauliflower Rice. Here’s another recipe explaining how to make cauliflower rice as I saw it no less than three times this week in magazines. Clearly a new food trend!

Thursday: 20 minute Honey Garlic Shrimp, brown rice and broccoli

Friday: CORN = Clean Out Refrigerator Night. Or Eggs for dinner.

Weekend: Pan Seared Chicken Thighs with Blistered Tomatoes and Basil, with quinoa on the side.


Mediterranean Farro Salad– great for a dinner side or a main lunch dish.


Whole grain toast with almond butter and sliced strawberries

Scrambled eggs with pesto sauce


Banana split with greek yogurt, chocolate sauce drizzle and sliced strawberries

Stovetop popcorn

Healthy Meal plan recipes to help you make your meal plan

Pin this for the next time you are making your grocery list.

For more inspiration, see years of past dinner plans here, my Pinterest collection here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of weekly meal plans.

I hope you all had a great weekend and are ready to start a new week. We have some summery recipes, meatless mains and peppery salads.

Dinner {GF= Gluten Free, P=Paleo, DF=Dairy Free, NF= Nut Free}

Meatless Monday: Mushroom, Kale and Cheddar Frittata. (GF, NF). 40 minutes.

Tuesday: Baked Chicken Nuggets, baked sweet potato fries and Israeli couscous.  30 minutes.

Wednesday: Open-Face Steak Sandwich with Parmesan Dressing (skip the bread and you have a delicious gluten-free steak salad). 35 minutes.

Thursday: Slow Cooker Honey Chipotle Chicken Tacos, GF. This is our “busy night = slow cooker night” day. Cook this recipe for 2 hours on high, or 4-6 on low.

Friday: CORN = Clean Out Refrigerator Night.

Weekend: Pizza night! Homemade pizza dough + Zucchini Ricotta pizza recipe and you will be so very happy. The dough takes about an hour, 5 minutes hands-on time and 50 minutes to knead and rise in the breadmaker.


Tempeh Reubens– after reading about gut health, I think I’ll give this a try.


Overnight Oats made with Kefir.

Raspberry Almond Scones– we are celebrating Victoria Day next weekend and I would love to make these for a special breakfast during the long weekend.


The dehydrator came back out this weekend and after making apple rings and strawberry fruit roll-ups, the kids ate them so fast I didn’t have any left for lunch boxes this week. Guess what I’ll be doing again this morning…


Creamy Coconut Margaritas caught my eye this week. I will be making these when it finally gets warm again here next weekend. Did I mention it snowed here yesterday…in May?!


open face steak sandwich with parmesan dressing

For more inspiration, see years of past dinner plans here, my Pinterest collection here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of weekly meal plans.

Well hello Monday. How did it come so fast? As our school and social schedules get into full swing the days are flying by this month. We had a normal weekend of yard work, hosting neighbors for cocktails, apple picking, apple pie baking and lots of football watching. Basically an all-American weekend north of the border.

Fall apple pie menu plan

The apple season is in full swing here. We picked cortlands, mackintosh and galas…50 pounds worth! I should be in the kitchen making applesauce but I think I’ll wait till my little helpers are back home. They love giving the food mill a whirl. While we baked a traditional apple pie on Sunday, this no-crust apple pie is also one of my favorite melt-in-your-mouth dessert recipes. Don’t forget vanilla bean ice cream on the side!


The kids were great helpers at the apple orchard we discovered outside of Toronto city limits. It was beautiful to get to the country and the sky was amazing after a big downpour. It’s so much flatter here than I expected and it’s been fun to keep exploring around our new home.

Modern menu planning free printable

I thought I would share this menu planning printable I used last week and shared my Instagram. It was one of my top images this month and you can print the file yourself here.

On to this week’s menu…

Monday~ CORN (for new readers, this means Clean Out Refrigerator Night) We have 3 choices of leftovers (not including pie) that we need to tackle.

Tuesday~ Chicken Nuggets, Roasted Carrots and Israeli Couscous. (which is called Pearl Couscous here and makes much more sense.)

Wednesday~ Veggie Pizza on Naan bread.

Thursday~ It’s our 10 year wedding anniversary so I’m making my favorite guy a new lemon chicken recipe which is always a win for him. It’s a great one pot meal so clean up will be quick!

Friday~ Date night!

Easy weeknight lemon chicken skillet dinner.

Cooking Light recipe

 Have an awesome week everyone!

For more inspiration, see three years of past dinner plan heremy Pinterest board here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of weekly meal plans.