Meal ideas for back to school

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by Linda Davis

azfamily.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 2:11 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 22 at 12:47 PM

It's inevitable. When school starts, schedules get absolutely wacky! Bus times, carpool, practices, work and on and on. It seems like one of the things that takes the most effort to readjust is the kid's meals. Suddenly, you're waking them up and trying to get a healthy breakfast down them - fast. Many of us pack a lunch that you only hope they'll eat and dinner becomes an exercise in juggling.

Linda Davis

Meal ideas for back to school - It's inevitable. When school starts, schedules get absolutely wacky! Bus times, carpool, practices, work and on and on. It seems like one of the things that takes the most effort to readjust is the kid's meals.

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I know that most of you have probably been doing this mealtime multi-tasking for years. But I thought it might be nice to have a few newer ideas to put in your toolbox.

Back to School Meal Idea #1 - Breakfast

Embarrassingly, my child was often the one eating whatever I tossed to him in the carpool at breakfast. Either he didn't want to eat as soon as he got up, or I just didn't have it together in time. So I especially could have used a couple of these tips years ago. Remember to always include some protein for some lasting brainpower to every breakfast. Switch up those proteins - yogurt, dairy, meats, cheeses, hummus, cottage cheese, nuts, etc. And, don't think you can only serve breakfast food for breakfast - if they'll eat a turkey sandwich at 7am - do it!

Back to School Meal Idea #2 - PBJ Banana Dog

This is fun if your child likes PB &J. Take a wheat hotdog bun, smear on some peanut butter, and slip a half banana inside in place of the usual hotdog. Now, top it all with jelly.

Back to School Meal Idea #3 - Breakfast to Go Packs

This is great to have on hand. Try making up packets of these and keep them handy in a cookie jar for those rushed mornings. They're a great mix of fiber, fruit and protein.

1/4-cup nuts (use any that your child likes) 1/4-cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, etc.) 1/2-cup cereal (I used Cheerios, but the higher fiber the better)

Back to School Meal Idea #4 - Lunch

Seems like every kid wants those pre-packed lunch kits. Save money and make them healthier by making your own.

Just use those re-useable square storage containers, cut up meats and cheeses and toss in some crackers and a sweet for dessert - so easy and so much cheaper.

The pizza ones are just as easy. Grab a small container to put in some spaghetti sauce and place it in the square container. Now using a large cookie cutter, cut out a circle (or any other shape) of wheat bread. Add in some shredded cheese, and maybe some pepperoni and a cookie and voila, just like the costly one's in the store.

Back to School Meal Idea #5 - Dinner

As much as I want to make a homemade dinner each night, I've come to realize that I need to have some go-to solutions in my freezer or else I'll find myself heading to a drive through. So I wanted to test out a couple of the new frozen meal packs out there. I found two that I really liked. One, for my beloved crock-pot, Banquet's Crock Pot Classics. I tried the Chicken and Dumplings and I have to say it was much better than expected. It took about 5 total minutes to put it together and let it stew all day. Don't you just love walking in the door to your home smelling like dinner when get home?

I also really liked the new Bertolli Skillet Meals. I tried the Chicken Parmigiana and Penne and also one of the shrimp dishes. Both were hearty, satisfying and easy. Again, good just to have on hand.

Remember to add in a protein to the kid's breakfast in the morning and keep it fun for school lunch. Substitute pita, tortillas, bagels or English muffins for boring bread. Even if you keep the insides the same if you surprise them with a new shape, they might actually eat it!

Now that's what we can call happy meals!

Live and Learn.

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