Kristen Eppich’s Top 5 Tips For Back-To-School Meals
Food editor Kristen Eppich shares her kitchen survival tips for the school season.
Getting back into the routine of making lunches and dinners at a regular time can be a real grind. I have three kids (10, 9 and 7), and all of them have particular likes and dislikes. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few tricks to make the meal side of back to school a little easier. This year, I’m relying on the clever, time-saving recipes in The School Year Survival Cookbook, written by Laura Keogh and Ceri Marsh of the well-known blog Sweet Potato Chronicles. Find my kitchen survival tips for the school year below, as well as my favorite recipes from their book.
1. Start baking double. In August, every time I bake cookies, squares or quick breads, I double the recipe and throw one batch in the freezer (just slice the quick breads before freezing). These extra batches eventually add up. Packing frozen baked goods in lunches also helps keep them cool and in better shape.
2. Try the french toast trick. If your kids have gotten used to slow mornings of pancakes, waffles or french toast, an abrupt change is upon them! Like with baked goods, I make extra batches of pancakes and waffles in advance and throw them in the toaster in the morning. I also love the idea of having these Blueberry Pie French Toast Muffins at the ready.
3. Pack the protein. Protein is the hardest thing to get my kids to eat, and it’s so important. With nut-free schools, the old reliable peanut butter sandwich isn’t an option. Make sure you have lots of protein-rich options on hand to throw into the lunch bag. Some good options are: hummus, low-sodium and nitrate-free jerky, Greek yogurt, good cheese, hard-boiled eggs and these School-Safe Chocolate Snack Balls.
4. Always have a roast chicken on hand. If you don’t have time to make one, buy one. They’re ubiquitous in grocery stores these days. A roast chicken can be the start of a thousand meals in a pinch, including these Curried Chicken And Grape Pockets.
5. Prep crudités. On Sundays, I buy a load of snack veggies like carrots, celery, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. I do my best to peel and cut the veggies, and have them easily accessible for after-school snacks or lunches. I also throw a bowl onto the center of the table at dinner time. If dinner doesn’t suit the fine palettes of one of my little ones… veggies it is.