Easy Tips for Back to School Meal Planning

You have enough to stress about.  Getting dinner on the table doesn’t have to be one of them.

Back to school season is an insanely busy time of year for both the kiddos and their parents.  Between clothes shopping and school supply lists, the start of fall sports’ seasons–it’s a time of year that makes circling the drive-thru much more appealing than a home cooked meal at the end of a long day.

Before you give into temptation…

and hit up Taco Bell, let me remind you.  You are no longer a college student with an iron stomach.  You no longer have the digestive enzymes needed to eat that garbage without crapping yourself later on.  Just being honest.  So if you want to avoid a very painful and embarrassing moment at the first PTA meeting of the year, take a peek at these helpful suggestions to meal planning as you navigate a busy back to school season.

Easy Tips for Back to School Meal Planning

Easy Tips for Back to School Meal Planning

Make freezer meals ahead of time.

Freezer meals can be life-savers for busy weeknights.  You can prep your ingredients and throw them together in freezer bags, and just thaw out the meal when you’re ready to cook.  There is a plethora of recipes and menus to choose from on Pinterest, or you can look into hosting a Freezer Meal Workshop with Pampered Chef.  It’s a great way to make the meal prep experience a lot of fun by inviting some friends to join you.

When you have a week or two of meals stashed away in your freezer, figuring out what’s for dinner during busy fall weeknights becomes easy peasy.  Even better, you’re not eating out at a fast food restaurant.  You’re not heating something up from the frozen food section that’s full of sodium and preservatives.  You’re making better food choices for your family during a hectic time for everyone.  #momwin

Easy Tips for Back To School Meal Planning

Create a rotation.

I personally don’t like the idea of having the same meal on the same night of each week.  That just sounds boring.  And variety is the spice of life, so I do like to shake up the meal routine every so often.

With that being said, it can be helpful to have a meal “theme” on rotation, just so you can narrow down the kinds of recipes you want to try out.  This will save you a ton of time as you plan out your grocery list and balance previous commitments with meal times.  For instance, here’s a general idea of how to rotate your different meals throughout the week:

  • Meatless Monday (try this delicious recipe, just omit the chicken!)
  • Taco Tuesday (or anything Mexican-inspired)
  • Wok-y Wednesday (Asian-inspired and/or stir fry dishes)
  • Crockpot Thursday
  • Pizza Friday (or something else relatively easy to put together)
  • Saturday and Sunday Leftovers or Eat Out

One of the joys of cooking is being able to experiment with different ingredients and flavors, but it’s also easy to try everything all at once.  That will only make you feel more overwhelmed, which is the exact opposite of what we’re trying to accomplish here.  Creating a meal theme rotation helps you hone in on what you can and can’t get done in the timeframe available.

Easy Tips for Back to School Meal Planning

Buy in bulk.

Whoever thought of selling industrial-sized packaging to regular consumers was a genius.  Throw in all those samples and a trip to Costco can be like a walk in the park.  I digress.

Another great idea to tackle back to school meal prep is to buy large amounts of snacks and then divide them up into smaller portions with sandwich or snack baggies.  Store them in the pantry to grab quickly when packing lunches or walking out the door to dance class.

For more perishable snacks, you can try using canning or snack jars (these are my favorites!) to portion out yogurt, fruit, and granola for a parfait on the go.  You can even use them for hummus and veggies, peanut butter and celery, etc.

Looking for more kid-friendly snack ideas?  Check out my Pampered Chef website for easy and healthy snack ideas!

Don’t do it alone.

I am a huge advocate for kids in the kitchen.  Children who help prep meals and cook with their parents as they grow up are more likely to be successful in school, less likely to engage with illegal substances, and are expected to make healthier food choices as adults.

That being said…let the kids help you prep their snacks!!!  Let them use measuring cups to portion out chips or pretzels into snack baggies.  Encourage them to safely use cutting tools like apple wedgers as they store their fruits.  Show them how to create their own homemade “Lunchables” with deli meats, crackers, and cheeses.

Meal and snack prepping with the kids is a great chance to teach them kitchen skills.  They begin to learn autonomy and independence while you bond meaningfully with your children.  All at the same time.  This is also less work for you as Momma Bear.  An added bonus.

Easy Tips for Back to School Meal Planning

 

Back to school time can be a painful reminder that your sweet angel baby is growing up.  These are the moments that I really try to pay attention to…Munchkin #1 finally nailing the monkey bars and #2 racing to dance class now that she’s caught the stage bug.  Taking the time to prep snacks and meals to make dinners easy for yourself allows you to focus on what’s really important–time with your family and loved ones.

Do you have meal planning tips you swear by?  I’d love to hear them!  Please comment with your ideas and follow Lemons & Lilies for more to come!

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