Get three great back to school meal planning tips to reduce the stress of getting everyone out the door on time!
Today’s three back to school meal planning tips will help you sharpen your planning skills to reduce the stress pretty much everyone feels at this time of year. And if you are newly single and taking this time of year on for the first time by yourself, planning ahead will SO be your friend!
If you’ve braved the airports this summer, you saw it firsthand: a flight attendant standing at the front of a plane, demonstrating how to put on an oxygen mask in an emergency and reminding you to put on your own mask before helping others. It’s a tough decision to make, to help yourself first when there are others who need you, too, but ultimately, it’s the one that makes the most sense. After all, if you’re struggling, will you really be able to help those around you?
This concept applies to more than just airplanes, and I think this time of year, the reminder to help yourself first is especially needed. School is restarting soon, and anyone who has kids knows how stressful any shift in routine can be. Mornings are hectic, rushing to gather backpacks and find shoes, and evenings start to become packed full of extracurriculars before you know it. It’s a lot to handle for anyone, and doing it as a single parent can be especially tough.
So this year, instead of letting the chaos of newness – back to school, doing this all on your own, maybe in a new home and with a new budget – set the stage, take control of your situation and put your own mask on first and use planning ahead as a tool to give YOU some space!
Here are my top three back to school meal planning tips for doing prep work to set yourself up for success during this busy season.
Pre-plan healthy meals for breakfast.
When trying to wake sleepy kids for school and get them dressed and ready to get out the door, the last thing that should be on your mind is also setting up a made-from-scratch breakfast to start the day. You don’t need a fancy or elaborate breakfast for yourself and your kids, but having healthy choices on hand will make the day go so much smoother–and you won’t have to worry about a mid-afternoon crash from a sugary cereal.
To make the morning go smoother, create a plan the night – or even the week – before for what breakfast will be. You can boil eggs ahead of time for an easy protein, cut up fruit the night before and leave it in the refrigerator, and have a healthy, locally-made bread on hand for toast. Smoothies are also a great option for a quick and healthy breakfast. Find and cut up your ingredients the night before, and then all you have to do is blend in the morning and go. Get the kids involved and let them choose their breakfast from your menu the night before to make the set up for you even easier and get their buy-in for actually eating it!
Pack lunches the night before.
If you or your child are eating a to-go lunch, make things a little easier on yourself by packing it up ahead of time. Get dinner leftovers boxed up – make extras of dinner favorites just for this purpose – or prep al the lunches the evening before so that in the morning, all you have to do is grab it and go. Again, getting the kids involved can make this much easier, you can teach them some basics as they help and they will be more likely to actually eat what they take.
Check out cute bento box lunches – aka “healthy lunchables” – for picky eaters or grazers and pack all the non-perishables at once. Or research what sammies you can make ahead and freeze – bonus, they can act as an ice pack as they thaw! – and make a bunch at once. Buy the super sized packages of chips, goldfish, cookies, etc and portion pack them in reusable containers (big money savings between the bulk package and not having to buy baggies over and over.)
Not having to find ingredients, prep your food, and pack it all up in the morning can be a huge time saver to help the morning go a little smoother because as we know, every single minute in the morning counts!
Choose easy after school snacks.
When the school and work day is done, it’s time for snacks, often on the run between after school activities and errands. To make your afternoon a little simpler, have a cooler pre-packed with healthy options that you can easily distribute without much prep work. Pre-cut veggies and pre-portioned nuts are two healthy options that are filling for a mid-afternoon snack, and having them ready to go will make your job so much easier when snack time comes around. Get those reusable containers (check out the Dollar Store for great deals!) and have your stash at the ready all the time. Make restocking a family activity on the weekend; even the smallest helpers can use a measuring scoop to fill containers. For at home snacks, make a little section in your pantry or have a basket out with things the kids can grab on their own.
The back to school season can be a lot of fun, and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By sharpening your own planning skills using these back to school meal planning tips, you can do a little prep work that will help reduce anxiety and stress on busy school days, saving time, money, tears and stress!