Back To School Meal Planning

We all have a Awkward Family Photo from the first day of school!

We all have a Awkward Family Photo from the first day of school!

Good Morning and Happy Monday from Sweet Tea Cooking! For those in the Baltimore area it is also the first day of school. I used to love the first day of school! New outfit, all new supplies, and the anticipation of if the BFF was going to be in my class!! As everyone posts all of their kids first day of school photos I am so envious! I want a cool new backpack and lunchbox!  

One aspect that seems to affect everyone whether you have kids or not with the new school year is more traffic and more structure to your day which for our house boils down to menu planning. During the summer there are more opportunities to go out to lunch, get some fresh air, and if you’re really lucky try out a food truck that’s nearby! During the summer our dinners seems to mostly consist of a protein (fish cooks really quickly), rice/quinoa, and a veggie. Thanks to all of the great fresh summer produce, it always tastes delish but I could also be easily swayed to grab Panera or Chipotle. With the cooler temperatures it seems like we get better about packing our breakfasts and lunches and eating dinner in almost every day.  Once football season really gets going this will be almost second nature. It is so easy to watch the game and cook/meal prep for the rest of the week. I feel like if meal prep doesn’t get done on Sunday, there is just no way it is getting done during the week.

A typical fall Sunday in our house would include chopping a ton of veggies and some chicken breasts in the crockpot for a salad for lunches, a chili, soup, or spaghetti going on the stove top (sometimes all three-we’re fans of overcooking and throwing it in the freezer), cleaning, cutting and portioning out an fruit for the week, and once the chicken is out of the crock then a huge batch of steel cut oatmeal will go in for breakfast for the week. This week I even cooked a large batch of quinoa to help speed up dinners. I hope it holds up!

On a really great week we’ll have the crockpot, multiple burners, and the oven working. For our wedding we received a larger crock so we very well may have two crockpots going! Ideally I’d like to have all breakfasts cooked for the week, lunches prepped and portioned as much as possible (minus TJ’s sandwiches that he makes in the morning), and so many dinners prepped that there is always one in the fridge ready to be heated up and as we clean up from dinner we pull the next night’s dinner out of the freezer. Minimizing our time in the kitchen as much as possible during the week will go a long way from keeping us out of Chipotle.

It seems like our biggest problem with this type of cooking is VARIETY! I have a soy allergy so we try to eat as natural and wholesome as possible when we cook.That includes minimally processed foods, organic foods, whole grains, keeping the sodium/sugar content low, etc. Finding dishes that can be cooked in advanced, frozen, heat up nicely, and meet our dietary goals can be a challenge. We find that we’re cycling through the same handful of recipes week to week.

I’m turning to our Sweet Tea family, what do you guys do to meal prep for the week? What are some of your tips and tricks to get out of the door as fast as possible in the morning and getting dinner on the table with minimal effort? Are there any tried and true recipes that you guys stick with? We’d love to hear them! I’ve listed our “go to” dishes below. If you’d like the recipe to any of them be sure to add that to your comment. I’m happy to share!

Crockpot Cinnamon (peach or apple) Oatmeal
Yogurt Parfaits
Fiesta Chicken
Mexi Mac
Chili (Kidney and White Chicken)
Tortilla Soup
Beef Stew
Pulled Pork Stuffed Baked Potatoes
Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Jambalaya