Back to school! For many, this is like a reset button - much like January 1st, but somewhat different. Time to get back into a routine, and find ways to make the transition of the somewhat lazy summer days back into the more hectic pace a bit more manageable.
I find that school lunches top the list of what makes going back to school for families feel more like a chore. Add to that the after school activities and trying to fit a healthy dinner in before or after those activities, likely at times eating in the car. Furthermore, we can’t forget the morning rush and making sure a good breakfast is the start to our busy day.
It seems that meal planning and prep is a huge area that would help reduce stress in by having a plan and putting healthy nutrient dense foods that support our body function versus processed foods that can impair and stress our cellular function.
Here are some tips to help with that transition.
1.) PLAN - First is to make a list of what types of breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals work currently for your family. Choose the meals that are already tried and true (enjoyed!). When we have homemade foods planned for, in the house and partially prepped, it reduces the need for quick fast foods that tempt us when we have no better choice. This becomes your “go to” meal list for the busy days. Use less busy days to try new recipes and add new options to that list. Since we have 3 meals a day, over 7 days, that means 21 meals for which we need to get groceries, prep, and service. So let’s get a plan to make sure we make those 21 meals the most beneficial and easy as we can.
2.) PREP - Use that meal list and plan for the week to include actvities and what meals can work within that schedule. Plan the 3 meals a day for 5 to 7 days, get your groceries for those meals. Use part of a weekend or a free evening to do as much pre-chopping and cooking as you can. A few ideas here for example are: Sundays - make a big base salad with all the hardy veggies in a large bowl. Pull from that bowl each day for a few days and add in the softer veggies on that day (cucumber, tomatoes, etc). Mason jars are perfect for these types of meals. Also making a big pan of baked oatmeal for breakfast can give you 3 or 4 days worth of ready to heat oatmeal for the family to help that morning rush. Lastly, I like to have a batch of quinoa or rice made that can be added to salads to make a bean/rice/veggie bowl for quick dinners, as well as a side dish, or a quick stir fry.
3.) UPGRADE - Keep it simple with using recipes that you already know. Find ways to add in more local veggies and upgrade some of the ingredients by using less sugar, more veggies, add in some nuts/seeds, etc. When time permits, try a new exciting recipe to add into your meal list. A delicious new recipe is like gold!