Back to school means getting back into the rhythm of school hours, after-school activities and packed lunches. If a lot of your summer was spent basking by the pool, the beach or traveling, you may have given little thought to school lunches; and your kids may have overindulged in burgers, hot dogs and sodas. However, now that school has started, they’ll need healthy, nutritious meals to get them through six hours of classes. If you’re searching for ideas, here are some to consider:
Pasta is a great choice because it’s simple to make and can go with a variety of foods. You can also alternate your meals with different kinds of pasta: angel hair pasta, linguine, fettuccine, macaroni, conchiglie (the shell-like pasta), farfalle (bow tie pasta), rotelle (wagon wheel pasta) and more. In fact, there are about 20 different varieties of pasta that you can experiment with. To make food for the week, make a pot of pasta, save it in the fridge and then serve it with different meat sauces or vegetable sauces. You can do traditional pasta and meatballs, pasta and basil sauce, pasta and chicken or even pasta with shredded beef. Mix these up with peas or carrots and you’ve got delicious, balanced meals.
You can also make pasta soup with pastina pasta. Another easy meal is a pasta variation on chicken noodle soup. Instead of using the standard egg noodles, try ditalini pasta. Store it in your kid’s thermos to keep it warm and voila. It’s a perfect meal for winter.
If you’re too busy to prepare hot meals, frozen meals can be a great option. You’ll have to do your research to find healthy, delicious choices; but they are out there. Look for meals that don’t have excess fat or preservatives. With frozen meals, preparation is easy. Simply pop them in the microwave in the morning right before school. Think about frozen keto meals like roasted chicken thighs or boneless pork chops. There are also options for vegetarians. You have the choice of vegan burgers or lasagna with stuffed mushrooms. Frozen meals can be combined, too. You can combine microwave rice (ready in three minutes) with frozen teriyaki chicken, which you can cook over the stove in 10-15 minutes. Additional frozen choices are frozen garlic potatoes, frozen orange chicken and even frozen pizza. If you and your kids like the idea of experimenting, try Pad Thai or a sweet potato veggie bowl. Once you’ve figured out what brand offers healthy frozen meals, you’ll have a lot to choose from.
The nice thing about sandwiches are that they give you a break from cooking hot meals. And if you think carefully about what you’re adding, you can provide a healthy meal that tastes delicious. There are also different kinds of breads you can try, as well. Think about a ham, lettuce and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread. You can also do scrumptious chicken wraps, packed with lettuce and tomato. Bagels are an option, too. Try bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon sandwiches. Not every kid likes eggs, but if yours do, then an egg sandwich is healthy and delicious. You can also try different kinds of meats in your sandwich: chicken, beef, salami, shredded pork on French bread, etc. The choices are pretty wide. Pack sandwiches with a variety of fruit like tangerines, nectarines or apples, and your kids are good to go.
The beauty of your kids going back to school is that you have more free time. It’s understandable, however, if you don’t want to use this free time cooking. Hopefully, these simple ideas will help make your daily preparations easier.