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6 Back-to-School Meal Time Strategies

By Audrey Thomas, CSP a.k.a. Organized Audrey – August 2016

Back-to-school—for some, it’s the season that strikes fear and panic every year. Couple it with the daily “what’s for dinner” conundrum, and you’ve got a full-blown crisis on your hands. As you prepare the kids for getting back into their school routines, make a few adjustments in your kitchen so it’s smooth sailing sitting down to dinner.

  1. Planning is the prevention to ordering out or fixing a frozen pizza. Look at the family calendar, taking note of sports practices, music lessons or other activities during dinner time. For those active nights, fix something that can be prepared in the slow cooker and eaten when convenient. Soup is a great option for these busy nights.
  2. Depending on the ages of your children, involve them in coming up with some menu ideas. They just might surprise you.
  3. Take the kids grocery shopping with you, if possible. The grocery store is a fabulous place to teach real life lessons. Chances are, if they’ve had input on the menu, they’ll feel ownership while grocery shopping too.
  4. To save time, look for recipes that can be doubled easily and/or frozen.
  5. Having groceries on hand is one of the most important elements to experiencing meal time success. And to ensure you’re eating healthy options, always have fresh fruits and veggies on hand.
  6. A great recipe resource for slow cooker meals you can freeze before cooking is New Leaf Wellness. http://newleafwellness.biz/(Opens a new window) There’s no bigger time saver than putting something in the slow cooker early morning, turning it on, forgetting about it, and then coming home to yumminess.

As you get your kitchen in order, don’t overlook the organizing of your actual recipes. Here are a few strategies to guide you in wrangling these:

  1. If you have a lot of cookbooks, but only use a few recipes in them, tear out or make a copy of your favorites and donate the cookbook. This will free up a lot of space. If you’ve torn out the recipe, before donating the cookbook, make a note on the inside cover stating which pages are missing.
  2. Besides the traditional recipe box, you can also store your recipes in a 3-ring binder or pocket folder. I use a small binder that is designed to hold 4x6" cards/sleeves. I either print my recipe on card stock or tuck recipes torn from magazines or other cookbooks easily into the sleeves. I especially appreciate having recipes in my mom’s handwriting, given her strokes at an early age.
  3. If you want to free up space, consider going paperless. You can scan your recipes or take pictures with your smart phone and then access them on a computer or tablet.
  4. I polled my friends to see what apps they use for storing recipes. Here were the favorites:
    1. Evernote(Opens a new window)
    2. Pinterest(Opens a new window)
    3. Paprika (Opens a new window)
    4. OrganizEat(Opens a new window)
    5. Pepperplate(Opens a new window)
    6. Cook’n(Opens a new window)

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