Base Meals: how to simplify cooking for family members with different preferences

There is one question I've gotten over and over in my DMs and question box on Instagram, whenever I ask what you need the most help with when it comes to meal planning, prep and just getting meals on the table- "What do I do if my (husband/son/daughter/family member) doesn't eat the same as I do?"

Whether it's preference, intolerance or allergy, I feel you, mama- serving other humans always complicates cooking! So how do you put meals on the table every night, serving your people's preferences (without going crazy)?!⁠

I've got a solution (and it's one we use ALL. THE. TIME).

You serve BASE MEALS.⁠

What is a base meal?

Instead of cooking up one dish for you, one for your hubby, one for your kids (I'm exhausted for you), you choose a simple BASE, and you let THEM mix and match to create their own adventure.⁠

Is it more prep than making one meal?

Yes and no (I'm all about keeping it simple and prepping ahead for ease)-- but it's a LOT less than trying to make separate meals for everyone.⁠

Here are a few examples of my favorite base meals:⁠

→ Taco bar (super easy to use different tortillas for gluten/gluten-free, different protein options for plant-based and different topping options for dairy-free)⁠

→ Choose your own adventure pasta (boil up two kinds of pasta and provide two sauces and/or protein/veggie options)⁠

→ Burrito bowls (same variations as tacos)⁠

→ Balance bowls (choose a base or two that work for all, allow choice in protein, veggies and sauces)⁠

→ Burgers + Salads (burgers are easy to have meat/plant-based options, give choice in salad toppings)⁠

→ Baked potatoes/sweet potatoes (serve yourself toppings)⁠

→ One protein, different sides OR same sides, different protein.⁠

Keep it SIMPLE, mama. Dinner does NOT have to feel stressful!⁠ Click below to download my free 2-page base meals guide with over 30 examples of base meals to simplify dinner, this week.

Are you ready to learn how to simplify meal planning + prep for easier dinners, all week long? Healthy Mama Meal Prep is here to teach you how!

Kristin Dovbniak


I'm Kris! Founder of Healthy Balanced Mama, I'm a holistic health coach, certified intuitive eating counselor, trained chef, and mama of two, and I'm here to guide busy moms like you in stressing less and finding freedom with food through balanced eating and simplified routines around meal planning, meal prep, grocery shopping and cooking with confidence.


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© 2020 Kristin Rugg Dovbniak for Healthy Balanced Mama