Back to School Meal Planning: September 2020 “Survival Guide”
Labor Day weekend already?!
Honestly, from March onward, most of the days have totally blended together and yet it also feels like 2020 is flying. And then of course there’s the whole “back to school” thing. I know everyone’s going about it differently, which is to be expected…
But either way, kids or not, back to school or not, I’m sure we can all agree it would be nice to feel a bit more organized and grounded this time of year. In my own experience, there’s been a lot less separation between work and personal life, and also a lot less structured time.
(As much as I consider myself a free spirit and am NOT a fan of the “hustle and grind” culture, I admit I do miss having a sense of normalcy and structure in day-to-day life!)
Back to School Meal Planning
When it comes to kids, pets, work, daily household obligations, etc… by the time everything else is said and done (well, maybe everything except dishes and laundry, haha…), it seems the last thing on our mind is what to eat at our next meal.
Speaking from personal experience as a multi-tasker, having a few easy, healthy go-to recipes and ideas can make a world of difference!
That said, here are some tips and meal planning hacks for you and your family, as we all navigate our way through the pandemic this fall:
1. Don’t wing it!
When we wing it, and wait until we’re hungry to start thinking about what we have on hand, what we want and what we’re going to eat… trust me, it doesn’t bode well!
Make sure you’re planning ahead. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Our minds tend to over complicate things.
Just take a few minutes each morning and each evening to do a quick “inventory check” – what do you have on-hand in the fridge and pantry from each food group? What might go together to make a balanced meal? What will you need to get, and from where?
- I also recommend taking a look at your schedule each day, either that morning or the night before, to see when you’ll have blocks of time (30-90 minutes ideally) for eating and/or food prepping.
Healthy School Lunches + After-School Snacks
Rather than reinventing the wheel, I reached out to some of my dietitian colleagues and they shared their resources with me to share with you!
- Amy Gorin, MS, RDN has compiled this amazing list of Healthy School Lunch Ideas for Kids.
- Bracha Kopstick, RD of BeeKay Nutrition created a list of 20+ after-school snacks for moms and kids, that won’t leave blood sugars soaring.
2. Keep it simple.
We don’t need to be re-inventing the wheel multiple times a week! You can cook large batches of things like veggies, starches or proteins and re-purpose them over the course of the week.
- Last week I had roasted veggies on the side with my chicken and potatoes for dinner one night, then I added them to have on the side with my avocado toast at breakfast the next day, and that next evening we threw those same veggies into a quinoa stir-fry.
3. Take off the “chef” hat” when time is crunched.
Recruit help if and when you can! Whether it means buying things semi-prepared or already made for you, or maybe getting your partner/kiddo’s involved in various stages of shopping or prep, the less you have to do, the less overwhelmed and more sustainable your meal planning routines will feel.
We tend to get into this “black and white thinking” mode where we think we need to be doing “all the things” or nothing at all. And the solution lies somewhere in the middle!
What this might look like:
- Invest in a service like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron so you don’t have to think about what to make.
- Buy things ready-to-eat (i.e. rotisserie chicken/frozen meals), or invest in a meal prep delivery service.
- Make a list of balanced ways to eat take-out (yes, it can be done!) and have a handful of go-to options that work for you and your family.
- Convince your kids or partner to peel and chop potatoes/carrots etc., so you just need to throw them in the oven… or just buy already-chopped/spiralized veggies!
Immunity support during the pandemic
Meal planning aside, it’s safe to say this pandemic isn’t stopping just yet. In addition to practicing social distancing, hand sanitation, mask-wearing and the like, you may be interested in this article I wrote back in March which shares a bunch of natural resources for extra immunity support, especially during the fall and winter with cold and flu season circling back around.
That is all for now… I hope this blog post leaves you feeling a bit more grounded and empowered.
Let me know if you get the chance to try any of these ideas out!
Sending lots of love, wherever you might be in this crazy world right now.