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4 Strategies for Back-to-School Meal Prep

Organization: Root Health, Nutrition and Wellness

Authors: Veronica Rechten, MS

Publish Date: 9/1/23

Are you a parent or guardian of children who are heading into the back-to-school 2023 season? If so, then you might be feeling overwhelmed by the preparations that need to be made for this time of year. There is so much to do before that school bell rings!

One important strategy to lighten your load this season is your meal prep strategy. In this post we will explore five strategies for back-to-school meal prep that will save you time and energy, and help you to keep your family nourished!



No matter your children's age, they can help at some level with meal prep and lunch packing. A lot of kiddos actually love to help and be included in the process. Whether it's cutting up ingredients, packing sections of their lunch boxes or stirring muffin batter; giving them some responsibilities is great food exposure (especially for our selective eaters), and encourages them to eat what they’ve made!

If you have slightly older kids, try putting together a list with food categories (a “main,” a snack, and a treat), and let them pick and pack the night before.


Plan and Prep Ahead

It is hard for any of us to make the best decisions when we’re tired or frazzled. Having a plan A and even a plan B helps to keep meals running smoothly, no matter how the day unfolds.

Using a meal plan as a guide can be really helpful. It doesn’t mean that you have to make every meal on a meal plan but it can help to get started with preparing meals the whole family can enjoy. Select three dinners and a few snacks for each week of the month. Stick with it until you have a repertoire of at least 10 dinner meals you can put into rotation. Dinners such as soups, stews, and roasted proteins make excellent next-day lunches when paired with non-prep items such as fruits, vegetables, cheese, and crackers. You can even go ahead and put together the lunch portions BEFORE you eat dinner to avoid adding burden to your already busy morning schedule.

Try out these quick family recipes. Make extra to freeze or serve as leftovers!


Batch Your Work

We love batch-cooking/prepping as a great time-saver. We even made a blog post about it! For example, if your kiddos love smoothies for breakfast, batch your smoothie packs i n cups or bags in the freezer so that breakfast is as simple as dumping the ingredients into the blender and adding their favorite milk to blend.

Or, if your child loves having crunchy red bell pepper sticks in their lunch, don’t cut up a new pepper each and every night. Once or twice a week, cut up bell peppers (or have your kiddo do it!) and store them in baggies that are ready to toss into the lunch box.

If you know that you’re cooking two different dinners that call for chopped onions and celery, chop up enough veggies for both dinners. You’ll be thankful for less chopping when the time comes to cook the second recipe!


Adjust Your Expectations

When your circumstances change, so too does your patience and bandwidth. This is completely normal! In this busy season, remember to be gentle with yourself. If you have more activities to attend and more to-dos each day, it is reasonable to look for ways to simplify and delegate. You do not have to do everything yourself, or create meals in the same way as when you have more time. You don’t have to make those cute, gourmet lunch boxes you see on instagram! You can have a happy and nourished family, even with a few shortcuts.

Lean on frozen fruits and veggies when there’s no time to prep; grab a rotisserie chicken, and use the leftovers in salads, soups, and wraps; set expectations that every Tuesday is taco night, and Friday is take-out. Do what works best for your family and your current schedules!


Key Takeaways

Change always comes with a bit of stress, and back-to-school is full of changes! Be patient with yourself and your family as you establish new routines. Consider what steps you need to take to ensure that you’re eating the meals that help you to thrive. Plan ahead and don’t forget to make that plan B!

Quick Family Recipes Pack
Download PDF • 10.46MB


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