My least favorite thing about school starting is going back to packing lunches. I feel like I get in a rut with what to make, especially for the kids. How many different ways can I make a sandwich? Bistro box? My second least favorite thing about going back to work is meal planning and cooking.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love to be in the kitchen baking, but when I come home dog-tired from teaching, the last thing I feel like doing is making a complex dinner. Over the years, I’ve implemented small changes to make the beginning of the year less stressful, so I don’t grab a frozen/microwavable meal to feed my family.
1. Make a grocery list and stick to it
I make my grocery list on a Saturday night and shop Sunday, usually after church. Saturday evenings are pretty mellow in my house, so I have time to think about what I need and what activities we have going on the upcoming week. Being intentional about what I make and how long it will take me to make it allows for time to enjoy making dinner and eating with the family. There have been many times where I started to make a dinner, only to realize it would be over an hour before we could eat. (I found out the hard way that school-age kids have a “witching hour” just like toddlers do. Needless to say, I gave them snacks to tie them over and then when dinner finally was ready, they were no longer hungry.)
2. Prep all vegetables
I bring lots of salads to work, so if I peel and chop all my veggies right when I get home from the grocery store, it makes putting together a salad for lunches a cinch. It also helps for steaming or roasting veggies to go with main meals. It’s a lot easier to incorporate veggies when most of the work has been done for me.
3. On weekends, make larger meals to freeze
Lasagnas. Enchiladas. Casseroles. All easy to double and freeze. On particular busy nights, it’s easy to pop in the oven. I just label clearly so I know what’s in the freezer.
I hope these tips are helpful for you. Below are simple, delicious, and healthy meals to make for your family. My kids (and hubby) just love them, and I hope you do too.
5 Easy Weeknight Meals
2 Meals for Weekends (to double and freeze)
Happy beginning of the school year. You can do it!