Fall Theme Night Dinners (Meal Planning)

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This post was originally published on Sept 18, 2011. The habits described here run deep in my soul. Many of my meal plans for this week follow these themes. 

Last year I posted some fall theme night ideas that served us well twelve months ago. As our days start to fill up and fall into a rhythm, I’m seeing the need to reestablish some regular, no brainer meal plans, especially geared toward this season. I’ve revised last year’s list to fit this year’s life.

Soups, Stews and Chili

I’ve decided to be brave and courageous against picky eaters, especially in light of this word from Renee. There’s no reason I need to wimp out when it comes to serving soup, a filling and healthy meal that is cheap and easy to pull off.

I’m preparing myself for two soups per week, to allow for differences in preferences. I like a lot of soups that most of the fam doesn’t. I’m hoping that offering two choices will soften the blow.

(They don’t know that if I was only going to make one soup, it would be the soup they’d be more likely to eat anyway. But having a choice will give them power. Bwahaha.)

Some tried and true favorites: Chicken Noodle, Minestrone, Cheese Soup with Veggies, and a newcomer on the scene, Roasted Vegetable.

Football Food

It’s that time of year again. I realized that I really need to pay better attention to the day of the week, especially when I’m setting up babysitting for date nights. Thankfully, FishPapa enjoys spending time with me more than Monday Night Football.

That said, football days, particularly Sunday afternoons, call for easily portable, not too messy, kind of on the munchy side of things. So, I’m going to plan accordingly: Brats with Peppers, Grilled Burgers, Sandwich night, or a Cheese and Fruit Plate.

Pasta Night

My kids really do love pasta. It’s easy, it’s cheap, it’s filling. And I can customize it to suit my preferences at the same time as allow the children their simpler tastes. My go-to fix is a simple red sauce, but we’ve been branching out with homemade pesto as well as a variety of cream sauces.

Some favorites: Cilantro Shrimp Pasta, Tomato and Brie Pasta, and Vegetable Bolognese.


It’s been awhile since we’ve really hunkered down with casseroles. I miss them! They are comfort food that is easy to make ahead. While casseroles have gotten a bad wrap over the years, there are really some delicious options out there, and many that are freezer friendly.

One dish meals full of flavor? Yes, please. I think it’s time to whip up a bunch for the freezer!

Some of our favorites include Poblano Chile Enchiladas, a fresh herb lasagnaCrockpot Enchiladas, and Chicken Enchilada Casserole.

Mexican Food Night

We are big on southwest flavors around here. These meals are easy to pull together and pack a big punch with low cost and little preparation. Hubs and I could probably eat Mexican food every night, but our kids like a little more variety. So, I’m shooting for one night a week, featuring Carnitas, Tostadas, Salsa Verde Beef, or Potato Nachos.

Beans and Rice always serves as my meal plan without a meal plan.

Pizza Night

I’m actually out of practice for making pizzas. It’s been a couple months since we had pizza at home. And only a couple times have we bought pizza. I think there were just other things that I had to serve. But the kids miss it, so we’ll get back into the habit.

This method always works for me.

Cooking Out

I never heard that phrase until we moved to Kansas. Now, I’ve kinda adopted it as my own. Whatever you call it, grilling, BBQ, or cooking out, foods cooked on an open fire just taste better. And since hubs is the King of the Grill, it means I might get the night off cooking. So, grilled fish, chicken, and tri-tip are on the menu for this fall, provided I can source it at a good price. Meat sales have been hard to come by!

Buffalo Chicken Salad, Soy Grilled Salmon, and a good steak all sound good to me!

What meals do you enjoy in the fall of the year?

About Jessica Fisher

I believe you can get great meals on the table -- and still keep that pretty smile on your face.

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  1. On the soup issue–my kids (ages 6 and 3) love roasted butternut squash/sweet potato soup and lentil soup. Easy, inexpensive, and good for you. To get little kids to eat soup, I often serve it in mugs (it’s more fun that way) or with a straw (to slurp up broth).

  2. On Friday nights, I am going to be alternating breakfast for dinner and pizza.

  3. Mmm, I love a good chili come autumn! I like your idea of 2 soups per week. I don’t make them that often, but when I do, my favorite kind to make is with sweet potatoes and black beans. (Here’s the recipe if you’re interested in adding a healthy vegetarian option to your rotation!)

  4. We had our first pot of chili this weekend. Temps dipped into the 60s at night and humidity was low, which meant it felt MUCH cooler than it has been feeling – a welcome relief!

    I love soup night too…and it will begin a regular appearance once it cools off a little more.

  5. Thanks for the linky love. We eat a lot of soup here in the fall and winter.

  6. I don’t usually cook a lot of soup but I’ve got a carcass in the freezer (a turkey carcass that is) and will be trying my hand at turkey soup. My kids love potato soup so that’s the one that we normally serve. While I’m dreading winter I’m looking forward to pulling out our winter menu also.

  7. What a great post! I am printing most of these recipes. Your link to the roasted vegetable soup isn’t working though and googling didn’t help me. Can you check your link?

  8. Thanks for the inspiration! I had 2 soups on the menu last fall and winter – chicken stew and tomato with pasta. I love soups, however, we just never got around to serving them.

    On Friday nights, I’ve been switching back and forth between homemade pizza and homemade calzones. The kids love to help with both, and as long as I plan the time to make them, we’re usually fine. I do need to make the dough early in the day because I’m exhausted by the end of the day.

  9. I’m making taco soup tonight — my picky son will usually eat some if I give him some cheese to sprinkle on top and crackers on the side. DH will eat it if I have a loaf of bread for dipping and either homemade iced tea or lemonade for drinking.

  10. I love this post as I am most in my cooking element during the autumn and winter.

    Have you ever tried making your own enchilada sauce? I experimented with it this last batch of freezer cooking because I figured out my kids didn’t like enchiladas because the TJ’s sauce I was using is too spicy. The red sauce went over well and I haven’t tried the roasted salsa verde version yet (yes, I know. Not technically enchilada sauce. :)) If you make your own I’d love to see a recipe.

    Admittedly, this made enchiladas even more of an ordeal. Between homemade refried beans, chicken I thawed, brined, roasted and shredded, greens from the Farmer’s Market I snuck in, and shredding my own cheese, adding homemade sauce to the mix made it a little crazy. Then there’s the matter of only one pan to freeze them in so I had to do batches. I think it took me 3 days to get all that done!

  11. My 3-year-old hates soup. I still serve it a few times a week and she’ll sigh and pick through a few bites, usually. The rest of us really like it, so she has to deal. 🙂

    Surprisingly I did a chicken and bacon green salad over the weekend and everyone ate it. Not really “fall” but a new one for us. My 2-year-old loved the homemade (very garlicky) dressing and asked for more twice!

    Family favorites include pork chops and rice, pizza, roast chicken (tonight!), and tacos. Most of these make regular appearances on our meal plan. Taco salad is our go-to meal if we don’t have a plan.

    It’s unfortunate, but I LOVE complex flavors and gourmet foods and I enjoy making them. But for the most part no one else will eat them! Oh well…every now and then I make them anyway. 🙂

  12. We’ve been indulging in homemade caramel apple cider, and I’m excited about getting back to baking…

    My meal plan for the week: http://thedollarholleringhomemaker.blogspot.com/2011/09/meal-plan-september-18-24.html

  13. Love, love, love fall and home cooking. My favorite food for fall is a yummy warm apple crisp. I also love to make soups, Chili and Broccoli with Cheese being the favorites!! The cool crisp air of fall just puts me into the mood to cook!

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