One thing I have learned about the back-to-school season is that if you have little ones like I do, the first few weeks can start off a bit…rocky. Emotions are high with excitement and exhaustion as we settle into the new routine. That is why it is helpful to be prepared with an arsenal of ideas for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. It is much easier to celebrate the start of the new school year when the stress of what to feed everyone on those busy days is off my shoulders. That is why my New (School) Year’s resolution is to use the Test Kitchen’s library of recipe collections to help plan my back-to-school menus.
Let’s start with breakfast. Like most households with two working parents, many jobs fall into the “divide and conquer” camp. Since my husband is on morning duty with the kids, I try to set him up for success with some made-ahead items that are quick and easy to reheat. The Maple French Toast Muffins and Mini Frittata are a few options in the Breakfast Ideas for Kids collection that reheat well and are handy if they need a grab-n-go option. On the mornings when there is more time, the Weekday Breakfast Recipe Ideas and Best Breakfast Recipes offer both traditional (think Cinnamon French Toast) and creative (Omelet In A Cup) recipe inspirations.
Now let’s talk lunch. We all know that during the busy week, lunches are almost never made at lunch time. They can range from organized and well balanced (because they were packed and planned ahead) to PB&Js hastily made with the butt-end of the bread (flipped over so the kids won’t notice). This year I will turn to Kid-Friendly Lunch Ideas for the Ham & Cheese Hand Pies (tasty both hot and cold) or the Animal Cut-Out Sandwiches to keep on track with my resolution. For my husband and me, the Lunch Ideas for Work collection has some seriously tasty options, like the Chipotle Blast Sandwiches and Provolone Garbanzo Bean Salad to name a few. These hearty and creative lunch options should keep our energy flowing through the day.
As the evening hours approach and the kids return from school, I plan to bridge the gap before dinner with some After School Snacks. The Toasted Granola Bites or Cheese-Stuffed Pretzel Buns should help keep my kids focused on their homework instead of their rumbling tummies. Another great option, which my kids like for the flavor (and I like for the guilt-free convenience), would be the Land O Lakes® Snack Cheese. Whenever a weekday snack falls into the “handy, wholesome or quick” category I know I have found a keeper. Fortunately for me, the Land O Lakes® Snack Cheese fits the bill for all three!
Finally, it is time for dinner. I know that during a busy work and school week this can feel like the most daunting meal of the day. However, by remembering my resolution and referring to the recipe collections, I can plan ahead with a variety of options. I already know these will be my go-to collections for weeknight back-to-school dinner inspiration: Slow Cooker Recipes, Comforting Casseroles, Easy Weeknight Dinners, Weeknight Soup Recipes, Quick Chicken Dinners, and Muffin Tin Recipes.
Though I do get a lump in my throat at the thought of my kids getting older, I know my husband and I will exchange a few high-fives and maybe a modest touchdown dance when the bus pulls away on the first day. Not because we are happy to see them go (well, maybe a little bit), but mostly because this year we have more time to celebrate rather than stress because the daily menus are already planned. Truly, each school year can be inspiration to get organized and celebrate the start of something new. I hope you enjoy researching our collections and finding the right fit for your New (School) Year’s resolution.