Parents’ Guide to Meal Planning

Parents’ Guide to Meal Planning

Publish Date March 27, 2024 3 Minute Read

Back to School Meal Prep

The start of the school year is full of hustle and bustle for you and your kids. The lazy days of summer are over and, once again, you’re thrown into the daily routine of creating wholesome, healthy meals for the day. On top of creative and delicious school lunches, you’ve got to make breakfast on busy mornings and dinners that won’t take up your whole night.

We’ve created this Parents’ Guide to Meal Planning to help make sure this school year is the easiest yet.

Meal Prep the Most Important Meal

Mornings are rushed even on the best of days. So give yourself a break at breakfast and prep some ready-to-go meals ahead of time.

  • Pack a yogurt parfait filled with their favorite fruits. Keep nuts or granola separate to avoid soggy toppings.
  • Make and freeze these Chicken Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches ahead of time. Pop them in the oven or microwave before serving and avoid the drive-thru.
  • Breakfast Burritos also freeze well for fast breakfasts. You can customize them to fit your kids’ palates.
  • Use plastic baggies to prep morning smoothies.
  • Take advantage of ice trays by freezing yogurt or pancake mix to make quick parfaits or ready-to-cook pancakes.
  • Make a large batch of Sheet Pan Eggs for an easier way to make your breakfast sandwiches. Or prep a topping bar ahead and let your kids top the eggs with bacon, chives, cheese or crumbled sausage.

Ice Cube Tray Breakfast Ideas

These thaw-some tips will make school day breakfast fun and easy.

Lunches Kids Love

Lunches can be tricky because they need to stay fresh (and delicious) until it’s time to eat. To cut down on prep time and fight food waste, reimagine leftovers for a convenient way to create quick, easy meals. Leftover chicken can be reimagined into tacos (be sure to pack the ingredients separately to keep the tortillas from getting soggy). Or, you can shred some of the chicken and toss with barbecue sauce for easy make-your-own sliders. That same chicken can also be added to salads or bowls.

The entrée isn’t the only thing that can be prepped and packed ahead of time. Here are more tips on how to make prepping lunches a breeze.

  • When meal prepping for the week, chop veggies to add to lunchboxes along with a dip of your choice. These can be stored in an airtight container inside your fridge for easy packing and snacking through the week.
  • Fresh fruit can also be washed in bulk and packed ahead. Keep in mind that berries will last longer in your fridge if you wait to wash them until you’re ready to use them.
  • Protein-packed hard-boiled eggs are easy to make ahead. Just be sure to pack them next to an ice pack.
  • Pack salads in layers to keep the dressing away from ingredients that may wilt faster. Layer the dressing on the bottom, then add cucumbers, chickpeas or carrots next, topping it off with your greens.

Looking for more inspiration for lunches your kids will love? Check out School Lunch Ideas for Kids and Bento Box Lunch Ideas.

Kid-approved Weeknight Dinners

Busy weeknights can make family dinners difficult, even for the most organized parents. Luckily, with our guide to 30-minute Meals, you can have quick, easy meals on the table in next to no time.

Creating a Weekly Meal Menu is another great way to cut down on the stress of deciding what’s for dinner. By planning your menu ahead of time, you’ll have more time to shop and prep. While creating your weekly menu, focus on Easy Meal Ideas to avoid spending additional time in the kitchen.

A great time-saving tip for planning meals ahead is to have 1-2 focus ingredients. By doing this, you can better use leftovers and even prep proteins ahead of time for different meals. For more ideas on how to do this, check out Ground Beef 3 Ways, Rotisserie Chicken 3 Ways and Mushrooms 3 Ways.

Sheet Pan Dinners are great for quick weeknight dinners and, even better, they make for fast cleanup. They’re also easy to prep ahead of time. Just wash and chop your veggies at the beginning of the week and store in the fridge until you’re ready to use them. Then, when it’s time for dinner, simply add them to the pan with any proteins and bake.

More Easy Meal Ideas

Want More Meal Planning Solutions?

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