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10 Warming Autumn Meal Ideas for Busy Families

Hot lunches and dinners that celebrate fall flavors

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Published on: September 29, 2021

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Editor's note: This article was sponsored by Flyhomes

Afraid you’re about to get stuck in a PB&J rut? We don’t blame you. With back-to-school season in full swing, it’s easy to let meal planning fall by the wayside in the flurry of new habits and schedules. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of our favorite simple school-lunch and dinner recipes for busy families. Each one of these recipes is specifically designed to celebrate fall in all its healthy, flavorful glory. From apples to butternut squash to sweet potatoes, your family is in for a treat. 

Orchard quesadillas

Do you have a few apples left over from a weekend apple-picking excursion? We recommend the apple and bacon quesadilla recipe by Baked by Rachel as a fall-tastic option for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Need more ideas for your apple harvest? Be sure to check out our full list.

Vegetarian zucchini nuggets

News flash: The trick to getting kids to eat their veggies is to hide them in “nugget” form. Made with zucchini, corn and eggs, the vegetarian nuggets from Make the Best of Everything are a simple and filling option for lunches and dinners alike. Find the recipe here.

Grilled cheese dippers 

Who doesn’t love a hot lunch on a chilly fall day? Your kids are sure to enjoy Momables’ tomato soup and grilled cheese dippers recipe. Just make sure you let the sandwich strips cool (or wrap them in a paper towel) before packing them into the lunch container; this will keep them from getting soggy. 

Mac and veggies

Momables is back with another great thermos lunch recipe: healthy mac and cheese. By adding frozen fall veggies, such as broccoli and carrots, you can turn this family dinner favorite into a hearty midday meal — with minimal effort. 

Meatloaf muffins

School lunches made ahead of time are the key to keeping it simple. Protein-packed mini meatloaf muffins from The Spruce Eats’ recipe are sure to keep your kids full and energized through the end of their school day. Want to sneak in some veggies? We recommend grating carrots or sweet potatoes into the patties.  

sweet potato hash
Sweet potato hash

Butternut squash soup

Around our house, it’s not autumn until we’ve made butternut squash soup. This recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod uses a slow cooker for maximum ease. Apples sweeten up the soup itself, and the maple-roasted chickpea garnish adds a protein-packed crunch. Dinner doesn’t get more “fall” than this! 

Kale and chickpea stew

Need something both hearty and easy? This kale and chickpea stew from Naturally Ella is made almost entirely from pantry staples, including canned tomatoes, broth, garlic and thyme. The kale adds freshness and color, while the whole wheat couscous guarantees full bellies. Find this recipe and nine other “pantry for the win!” dinner ideas here.

One-pan chicken with fall veg

From cooking to cleanup, nothing says “ease” like a sheet-pan dinner. In this recipe, Cooking Classy pairs chicken with sweet and savory autumn flavors, including sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and apples, for a tasty seasonal meal. 

Broccoli and potato soup

Rich, creamy and comforting? Yes, please! We can’t help but drool over this classic fall recipe from Foodie Crush. Between the cheddar and the potatoes, your kids probably won’t even notice that this soup also contains broccoli. 

Sweet potato hash

Breakfast for dinner is the unsung hero of busy weeknight cooking, and this recipe from Dinner at the Zoo is a super way to celebrate fall flavors. Since it’s made with sweet potatoes, it’s a healthier option than your average breakfast hash. 

Need more ideas for hectic fall evenings? Head online to view our list of great soups and stews, warming lunches, dinners that use pantry staples and more time-saving recipes

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