Families can be so busy during the week that they may not have time to sit together and share a meal. Between work, school, commuting and social activities, family members may be eating more fast-food and restaurant meals or prepared convenience foods. Many of those meals may be eaten at work, in the car, or in front of the television or computer. Planning a home-cooked, weekend brunch may be just the thing to bring the family together to share good food and quality time with each other.

We know that sitting down and eating together is a bonding activity common to happy, healthy families. In such a fast-paced world, it’s important for families to slow down, interact with each other, communicate and enjoy each other’s company. A home-cooked brunch will also mean healthier food that will nourish the body as well as the soul. Planning a family brunch doesn’t have to be complicated. With a few tips and a little organization, you will be sitting down to a delicious brunch with the people you love in no time and maybe even make it a new weekend tradition.

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1. Choose a Theme

Choosing a theme for your brunch doesn’t have to mean anything elaborate or complicated. A theme is just an underlying reason for the event. If it’s Mother’s Day, a birthday or a graduation, you already have your theme. If brunch is going to be a weekly get-together, it might be fun to try something like a different ethnic cuisine or have a specified topic of conversation or games each time.

2. The Details

Since brunch does take some planning, you want everyone to be on the same page. Select a starting time and an ending time so everyone can plan their day accordingly. Decide on a location – who will host the brunch, will there be a rotation of locations, and will the brunch be indoors or outdoors? It’s important to know how many people will be in attendance so you can plan on the right amount of food. Decide if the brunch will be a sit-down meal at the dining room table or a buffet instead. Be aware of any dietary restrictions, food allergies and preferences so that everyone has food they can safely enjoy.

The best thing to remember is to keep the brunch simple. The more casual a get-together is, the more comfortable people feel and the more fun they have. Keep the place settings simple, or if you are having a buffet-style brunch, people can serve themselves. Unless there is a birthday party or bridal shower planned, no special decorations are necessary. A simple vase of flowers will add simple cheer to the table.

3. Beverages

Since brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch, you will want to have a variety of beverages available. There should be coffee, tea, water, non-dairy milk, and one or two types of juice. If your guests drink alcoholic beverages, you might want to have Bloody Marys or mimosas. There is no need to have a full bar; one signature cocktail is enough. Try this Bloody Maria with Infused Tequila. Make Fruity White Wine Sangria by stirring together 2 bottles of vegan dry white wine, 1 ½ cups raspberries, 1 ½ cups nectarines, ½ cup fresh orange juice, ¼ cup fresh lime juice, and 1/3 cup sugar. Refrigerate until chilled. Before serving, add in 3 cups sparkling water. Add fresh slices of oranges and limes. Again, keep it simple. You don’t want to spend your entire time playing bartender. To know how many beverages you need, count on each person having two to three glasses of some beverage.

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4. The Menu

When planning the menu, you want a variety of dishes, but you don’t want so many that you end up with too much food. Plan to make two extra servings of each dish. If you are making brunch for eight people, each dish should serve ten, so that people can taste everything and any hearty eaters can have seconds.

Plan the menu so that you can prepare a few dishes in advance such as tofu scrambles, pancakes and waffles. Have some dishes that can be served at room temperature, like fruit salad and less foods that need to be prepared immediately. You want to be able to enjoy your company and not spend the time as a short-order cook. If children will be in attendance, have kid-friendly foods they will enjoy.

If you are having a buffet-style brunch, a fun idea is to have bars where each person can select their own toppings. For instance, there could be a waffle bar with different fruits, syrups, whipped creams and nuts. A taco or burrito bar could have different fillings as well as salsa, guacamole and other toppings to choose from.

So, what foods will actually be on the menu? Since brunch is a mash-up of breakfast and lunch, there are a lot of dishes from each of those meals to choose from. Here are some ideas for a delicious brunch:

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Pancakes

Nothing says leisurely brunch more than homemade pancakes. Pancakes can be simple or fancy, sweet or savory, and topped with everything from fruit to nuts to syrup to chocolate. For fruity flapjacks, try these Vegan Bananaberry Pancakes, Whole Wheat Nectarine Pancakes, or Mango Lime Pancakes with Ginger and Coconut. If you prefer earthier flavors with some spice, these Vegan Pumpkin Pie Pancakes and these Mocha Spice Vegan Pancakes with a Simple Syrup are for you. Peanut butter and chocolate lovers will be in heaven with these Peanut Butter and Fresh Apple Pancakes with Peanut Butter Maple Syrup and these Chocolate Chip Cookie Pancakes. If like me, you prefer savory food, you must try these Mushroom Rosemary Dinner Pancakes and these Tomato, Chive and Chickpea Pancakes. For gluten-free choices, try these Gluten-Free Multigrain Pancakes.

Waffles

Waffles are crispy, comforting and can be topped in a wide variety of ways. Try these Maple and Wheat Germ Waffles topped with fresh fruit and syrup. Blueberry lovers rejoice with these Fluffy Blueberry Waffles and these Peanut Butter Banana Waffles with Blueberry Macadamia Cream. Pumpkin, Apple and Pecan Pie Waffles are amazing as are these Juicy Mango Waffles. Mexican Chocolate Waffles and Fudgy Brownie Waffles will elate chocolate lovers. For something completely different, try these Vegan Falafel Waffles.

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French Toast

French toast is always a popular brunch item. Try this Banana French Toast,   Pepper Jelly Stuffed French Toast with Blackberry Maple Syrup, and  Strawberry Pecan Stuffed French Toast

“Egg” Dishes

you can’t have brunch without scrambles, omelets and other “egg” dishes. Scramble lovers will enjoy this Summertime Tofu Scramble, Mexican-Spiced Tofu Scramble, Southwestern Tofu Scramble with Greens, Indian-Style Tofu Scramble, Curried Tofu Scramble and this amazing Breakfast Pizza. For more ideas, check out this 7-Step Guide to Making the Best Tofu Scrambles. Learn How to Make a Vegan Omelet and then try and decide between this Chickpea Flour Omelet with Spinach, Onions and Bell Peppers, Low- Fat Silken Tofu Omelet and this Vegan Soufflé Omelet.

Quiche always makes a beautiful presentation and it can be made ahead and served warm or at room temperature. Delicious options include this Simple Butter Bean Vegan Quiche, Savory Sweet Potato Quiche, Spicy Eggless Coriander Quiche and this Swiss Chard Quiche with Wild Mushrooms. Make these Spinach, Tomato and Cheddar Mini-Quiches with Lemon Cashew Cream and each guest can have their very own quiche. Another impressive dish is a frittata – choose between a Mexican Frittata and this Vegetable Frittata or make both! To serve something with a big “wow” factor, make this Eggs Benny and Flo and The Perfect Vegan Fried Egg – Sunny Side Up.

Breads/Pastries

There should be an assortment of breads and pastries at a brunch. Cinnamon Apple Toast and Chocolate Toast are crunchy ways to start the meal. English muffins, croissants, rolls and bagels are favorites. Try these Pretzel Roll Bagels and these Old-Fashioned Montreal-Style Bagels. Nothing compares to home-baked bread. Delicious options include French Baguettes, Walnut Bread with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Roasted Garlic, Chipotle Chile Pepper Rolls, and vegan Challah. Of course, you will want to have vegan butter and cream cheese to spread on these breads. Try this Cashew Coconut Cream Cheese and this Garlic Herb Avocado Cashew Cream Cheese.

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Sweet types of breads and pastries include Chocolate Chip, Apricot and Orange Scones, Baked Blueberry Donuts, Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread, Banana and Blueberry Bread, Whole Wheat Peanut Butter and Jelly Bread, and Vegan Cinnamon Rolls. Be sure to look at 12 Mouthwatering Vegan Muffins for lots of yummy muffins and these Sweet Breads That Are Perfect for Tea Time.

Sandwiches

The lunch portion of brunch means that sandwiches are on the menu. Eggless “Egg” Salad, Chickpea “Tuna” Salad, and Crunchy “Chickn” Salad all make for delicious sandwiches. Hummus is incredible on sandwiches, like this Hummus, Avocado and Sundried Tomato Sandwich and the Vegan Humdinger – Hummus, Carrot, Cucumber, Avocado, and Alfalfa Sprouts Sandwich. This Vegan Tempeh Tomato Herb Sandwich and this Raw Vegan Tomato Cucumber Sandwich on Onion Corn Bread are also amazing choices.

Side Dishes

For me, the best parts of almost any meal are the side dishes. For brunch, you want to be sure you have delicious sides to go with all the amazing food. Your guests will love choosing from dishes of Coconut Bacon, Shitake Bacon, Seitan Bacon and Breakfast Sausage. Some assorted sauteed vegetables like this Early Light Summer Veggie Saute or some lightly sauteed greens make wonderful side dishes. Don’t forget the potatoes. Brunch just isn’t complete without some Ketchup Baked Home Fries.

Fresh Food

Keep it fresh and healthy with a crudité platter and some of your favorite dips and spreads. Have some fresh salads, like this Simple Vegan BLT Salad or this Vegan Caesar Salad. Everyone will love a bowl of fresh fruit, but they will love this Raw Fruit Tartlet even more.

Dessert

People don’t usually have dessert after breakfast, but that’s what makes brunch so cool. Save room for something sweet. Hazelnut Coffee Cake, Carrot Cake with Creamy Cashew Lemon Frosting, Classic Rhubarb Crisp and Chocolate-Coated Key Lime Coconut Crème Pie are all incredible choices. Keep it light with Mango Sorbet with Banana and Pineapple or Chocolate Mousse with Homemade Coconut Whipped Cream.

When a brunch is filled with so many delicious foods, no one will have trouble getting everyone to sit down at the table together. Between good food and good company, the family brunch will become a weekly tradition and create special memories.

We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!

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