Tips for Less Back to School StressPublished on Thursday, September 15, 2022 by
Back-to-School season is upon us!
Teacher assignments have arrived, new sneakers have been purchased, and backpacks and lunchboxes have been ordered. As much as I love summer baseball, dinners on the beach, and endless kid-centered fun with friends, I actually really like the excitement and structure of back-to-school. It’s nice to get reorganized and feel like we have some sense of a schedule again!
Diet culture tells us that with the start of something new (a new month, a new season, heck, even just the start of a new week!) we should also be starting new eating habits and “getting back on track”. I am here to permit you to throw all that advice to the wind. You don’t have to change your diet, start intermittent fasting, or eliminate gluten just because summer is coming to a close. But, there are some things you can do to make this transition a bit more seamless.
Here is a list of my favorite ways to less back-to-school stress.
Spend an hour a week on food prep.Spending an hour or so a week (usually after food shopping) to prepare 1-2 proteins (crockpot or instant pot is great for this), roast some vegetables, make a batch of muffins and/or granola bars, and clean the fruit is always well worth the time. Set yourself a timer and do the best you can in an hour.
School Lunch Options:Some love to buy school lunches and others prefer to bring them from home. When the monthly lunch menu comes home, decide with your kids how many days a week they can buy lunch. Have them circle the lunches they plan to buy, stick them on the fridge, and let them go. Don’t comment on their choices, just take the win that you don’t have to make lunch that day!
Make a fridge and panty snack bin:Fill a drawer or refrigerator bin with snacks that your kids can grab and safely feed themselves. Foods like cheese sticks, cut-up fruit, vegetables with hummus or guacamole, and applesauce pouches are filling snacks and easily accessible for kids about 5+. (This is where some food prep can be beneficial. Check out our list of snack packs and fridge bins for organization and easy access). A similar bin for the pantry, including peanut butter crackers, muffins, cheddar crackers, pretzels, granola bars, etc. can give kids some independence when picking an after-school snack. Store everything at their height and let them be in charge!
Help your kids be “photo ready”:Help your kids get dressed, head to toe, with everything they need to walk out the door to go to school. In the photo, kids should be dressed, hair combed, teeth brushed, shoes on, backpack and lunchbox packed, and water bottle ready. (Update the photo when it is cold enough for coats, hats, mittens, and boots). Tape the photo to the door, with an “Are You Ready?!” sign. This plan helps kids have some responsibility and independence in getting out the door.
Make a flexible meal plan:Before ordering groceries or heading to the store, take a look at the weather and your nightly activities. Pick 4 dinners and plug them in as your schedule allows. You might plan on a crock pot meal on Tuesday, but then you get busy and it doesn’t happen. That’s ok, just plug that meal in another day. I like to watch the weather because I don’t like to have the oven on for a hot meal on a really hot day. Meal planning is most beneficial when it is flexible!
Have a backup breakfast for busy mornings:Oatmeal, cereal, or eggs and toast is your plan, but it might just not happen. Combos like a cheese stick and piece of fruit, a yogurt pouch, and a banana or a bar and glass of milk are also filling options that can be eaten on the go.
Go-To Crock Pot Caesar Chicken:This is one of my favorite recipes for meal prep. It stores easily in the fridge, is good hot or cold, and comes together so easily.
- Ingredients: 4 chicken breasts, 1 cup oil-based Caesar salad dressing (I like Ken’s), and a crock pot.
- Put the chicken breasts in the crock pot, cover with Caesar dressing, stir to coat and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours. When fully cooked, shred the chicken and store it in the fridge.
- Serve over lettuce, in a wrap, or with roasted potatoes and a vegetable side.
From one busy parent to another, I hope these tips help to make the start of the school year a bit more manageable! Watch the Back to School Nutrition Special for more meal prep demonstrations and tips on healthy family eating at home and school:
For more meal idea and organization inspo- check out the links below for some of my favorite food prep pieces:
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