Easy back-to-school dinner ideas you can brag about!
When my kids were in middle school, I hit an all time low and realized that I needed more back-to-school dinner ideas. Here’s what happened — I served scrambled eggs and carrot sticks for dinner. Although my family didn’t really complain, they gave me a look that said ‘really?’. Right then and there, I knew I needed to get my act together and not be so last minute about what to make for dinner, patching together a meal from whatever was in my fridge.
After talking to some friends about how they make dinner times easier, here are the four back-to-school dinner ideas that I vowed to do to survive the school year.
Think ahead about what to make Monday through Friday and post it somewhere we everyone can see.
I learned this one from my mom, who posted the week’s dinners on a scrap piece of paper for all to see. I can see now how it kept her on track and focused on the meal prep. If she had a moment to spare, she would chop veggies or wash salad greens in advance of the meal.
Only use recipes that everyone will love, are easy to make and use easy-to-find ingredients.
It took some time, but I landed on my favorites. I was great at scouring cookbooks and websites for easy to make dinners that would get dinner on the table fast without a lot of fuss. I became great at pulling together one of the favorite meals, often without even looking at the recipe! What I discovered with many of the recipes was that often times, the fewer the ingredients, the more flavorful the food actually was.
Go food shopping only once per week
I used to go 2-3 times per week and that was adding up to 3 hours per week that I didn’t need to be spending in the grocery store. Instead I got laser focused and spent 15-30 minutes really thinking through what I needed for the week before heading out the door. Armed with a my robust list, I knew I could get everything I needed for meals that would carry me through the week. (To get help doing this planning, check out The Dinner Daily, a weekly meal planning service with organized shopping list. It’s an inexpensive service that does all the weeknight thinking and planning for you.)
Stop making 2-3 dinner options to satisfy all my picky eaters
I used to be a slave to everyone’s specific tastes and needs. My son didn’t like sauces, my daughter was a vegetarian and my husband wasn’t a fan of dairy. I would have 2-3 options on hand and I started to feel like I was running a restaurant! Once I found some recipes that met everyone’s needs, life became so much easier.
To get them to try new recipes, I used a tip from a friend. She said if anyone asks what another option is, always give them the same answer. “You are welcome to make peanut butter and jelly.” After a few sandwiches in a row, my kids started being a bit more adventurous and gave new recipes a shot. Over the course of the year, fewer and fewer peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were consumed. I tossed the recipes that only satisfied a few and would only make a dinner that satisfied everyone’s taste buds.
Conclusion: Life can be easier with these back-to-school dinner ideas!
I will confess that every now and then we still have ‘breakfast for dinner’ with scrambled eggs just to keep things fun as a special treat. Our dinners now seem more like real dinners that are nutritious and tasty. I once heard my daughter bragging to her friend “I’m psyched! Tonight is chicken veggie burritos! My favorite! And, tomorrow is salmon with pesto sauce! YUM!!”
This new approach to dinnertime was a game changer for us. As a result, our dinnertime actually started to feel like family time. With less rushing before the meal, we actually had time for that magic question, “So, how was your day?” Are these some back-to-school dinner ideas that could help you? Share some of your ideas in the comments section!
Anne Marie Messier is a business advisor to the Dinner Daily and an advocate of simplifying life to make room for the good stuff that life offers. She is a ‘been there, done that’ working mother of 2 young adults and is a regular contributor to our Blog.