Back To School Meal Ideas

For some of us, school has already started, and for many others, school doesn’t go back until after Labor Day.  This can be a stressful time for everyone – all of the planning, the shopping, and everything else that’s on your back to school to do list can be extremely overwhelming.  Whether your kiddos are back in school now, or they go back in a couple of weeks, knowing what to plan and prepare for Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks and Weeknight Dinners can help make the school year a lot easier.

Every year, I share a Back To School Basics Guide with recipes and ideas to help plan and prepare meals and snacks at home, to save money, and eat better. These easy recipes in the preview below will help you get into the groove for Back To School this year, and help take the stress out of what to pack in Lunchboxes every day. The quick and easy Breakfast, Snack and Dinner recipes will be a hit, even with picky eaters.

You can get even more ideas, and recipes with the the full-version of this years Back To School Basics Guide. It Includes Over 300 Recipes and Ideas for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks! It Also Includes a Cookbook with 30-Minute Meals, Air Fryer Meals, Slow Cooker Meals and More. You can get the full-version in my Etsy Shop or by clicking HERE

Breakfast

“Why would anybody ever eat anything besides breakfast food?”
– Leslie Knope, Parks & Recreation 

Quick Breads

Quick breads and muffins require no yeast or proofing and are perfect for breakfast or as an after school snack.

Banana Bread

Oatmeal

There are many different types of oatmeal, and many different ways to make and serve oatmeal. Cook and customize your oatmeal to how you like it. For add ins like nuts, granola, dried fruits, and bananas, stir in when serving.

Stovetop Oatmeal

Ingredients:
1 tbsp butter
¼ cup sweetener
2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp salt
3 ½ cups water
½ tsp vanilla

Directions:
In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Once melted, add sweetener and let simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in rolled oats and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add water and stir to combine. Simmer, uncovered for 5-7 minutes until the oats have absorbed all the liquid. Serve immediately with favorite toppings.

Homemade Instant Oatmeal, Instant Pot, Steel Cut Oats and Overnight Oats Recipes Included In Full Version. Get It Here.

Add Ins & Toppings

Fresh Fruit
apples
strawberries
blueberries
bananas
peaches
pears
cherries
blackberries
raspberries
plums
Sweeteners
honey
stevia
brown sugar
maple syrup
agave syrup
strawberry jam
apricot jam
blackberry jam
peach jam
Milk & Cream
milk
almond milk
coconut milk
egg nog
half & half
heavy cream
soy milk
chocolate milk
oat milk
Sweets & Crunch
granola
chocolate chips
caramel sauce
m&m’s
peanut butter chips
chocolate sauce
nutella

Smoothies

Smoothies make a great breakfast or snack, and can be prepared ahead of time so that all you have to do is dump a baggie of frozen fruits and veggies in the blender with some juice or milk and blend.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Ingredients:
1 frozen banana
½ cup frozen strawberries
½ cup plain greek yogurt
1 cup almond milk

Directions:
Add all ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth. If smoothie is too thick, add more liquid, 1 tbsp at a time.

More Smoothie recipes and ideas in the full version. PLUS learn how to prepare ingredients for easy after-school snacks. Get It Here.

Instant Pot Yogurt

Save money and make Yogurt at home in your Instant Pot. It’s super easy to do, especially if you follow these instructions.

Homemade Granola

Homemade Granola is another great recipe that the kiddos can help with.  Like oatmeal, you’re still getting all of the great health benefits, and by adding nuts or dried fruits you can boost the nutritional value even more. This easy Vanilla-Almond Granola is one of my favorites.

Vanilla Almond Granola

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups rolled oats
1 ½ cups instant oats
2 tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ cup coconut oil, melted
½ cup honey
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups sliced almonds

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Mix all wet ingredients together in a large bowl.  Slowly add in oats and salt, and stir until all oats are well coated.  Spread evenly in a single, flat layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Bake 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Transfer to labeled ziplock bag.

Parfaits

Learn how to turn your Instant Pot Yogurt and Homemade Granola into delicious Parfaits in the full version with fun ideas like Strawberry Shortcake and Pumpkin Pie. Get It Here.

Breakfast Burritos

Breakfast Burritos are a great make ahead meal that can be customized to your taste, and is a breakfast that everyone loves.

Avocado Toast

Avocado Toast is easy to make and makes a perfect breakfast or after-school snack. To make the best Avocado Toast, choose ripe, but not over-ripe avocados. Look for avocados that are firm with a little give. Also choosing a good, crusty bread helps make for avocado toast as it hold up to the toppings. When mashing avocado, be sure to mash it in a small bowl, and not directly on the toast. If you’re mashing up multiple avocados, use a whisk instead. 

Ingredients:
½ small avocado
½ tsp lemon juice
pinch salt
pinch black pepper
1 slice crusty bread, toasted
drizzle olive oil
pinch red pepper flakes

Directions:
In a small bowl, mash together avocado, lemon juice, salt and pepper until smooth. Spread on toasted bread. Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Make Ahead Breakfasts

Pancakes

Get even more Make Ahead Breakfasts and Freezer Meals like; Waffles, Breakfast Corndogs, Instant Pot Egg Bites and more in the full version. Get It Here.

Lunch

Homemade Lunchables

Not only is making your own homemade lunchables going to save you money, but you can control the quality of ingredients included in each one. Buy a bento box, or something similar for easy assembly.

Pizza Lunchable

12 Lunchable recipes plus ideas on how to mix and match proteins, carbs, fruits, veggies, sweets and dips to make your own Lunchables at home in the full version

Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad can be made ahead of time, so that all the flavors develop and mingle together. To make Pasta Salad, cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions, drain and let cool completely. Mix all ingredients together. Place Pasta Salad in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Pizza
1 cup mozzarella, diced
2 cups pepperoni
1 cup italian dressing
¼ cup parmesan cheese, shaved
1 cup cherry tomatoes

Sandwiches & Kabobs

Kabobs are so much fun to make for lunch, and your kids will love the switch up of a traditional sandwich. For sandwiches, substitute the bread for a croissant, bagel, English muffin, bun, or pita, or make it Keto, and serve in a lettuce or cheese wrap.

PB & J Kabobs

Make a PB&J Sandwich with your favorite jam or preserves. Cut sandwich into 2″ cubes. Alternate sandwich pieces with grapes or your favorite fruit. Skewer ingredients on chopsticks or wooden skewers.  Chopsticks make a safer choice and fit in lunchboxes better.

Sandwich Ideas

Ham
ham + american cheese + lettuce + tomato + mayo.
BLT/BLAT/BLATT
bacon + lettuce + tomato.  Add Avocado for a BLAT and add avocado and turkey breast for a BLATT.
Bagel & Cream Cheese
Just like it sounds.  Bagel, toasted or not with your favorite cream cheese.
PB&J
The classic peanut butter and jelly.
Egg Salad
Mix together 6 peeled and diced hardboiled eggs, 2 mashed avocados, ¼ cup plain yogurt, 2 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp fresh parsley and salt and pepper together.

Over 30 Sandwich, Kabob and Wrap Recipes are included in the full version. Get It Here.

Hot Lunches

A Thermos is a great way to keep food warm for lunch.  Here are a couple simple lunch ideas are perfect for sending in a Thermos.

Hot Dogs
Boil hot dogs before school, and place in thermos with 2 tbsp of the hot cooking water.  Send a hot dog bun and favorite condiments.
Chicken Nuggets
Cook chicken nuggets before school, and place in Thermos.  Send with favorite condiments.
Pizza Rolls
Prepare Pizza Rolls according to package directions before school and place in Thermos.

Home Lunches

Whether it’s online schooling or non-school days, these options for making lunch at home are quick and easy. 

Packed Lunches
All lunches that are packed and sent to school can be prepared as home lunches as well.
English Muffin Pizza
Spread pizza sauce on a toasted English muffin and top with shredded mozzarella and pepperoni.  Bake for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
Grilled Cheese
Layer 2 slices of American cheese and 1 slice of cheddar cheese or 2 tbsp shredded cheddar between two slices of buttered bread.  Cook in a pan, the air fryer or bake.  Add ham between layers of cheese for a Grilled Ham and Cheese.

Lunchbox & After School Snacks

Lunchbox Snacks

Buying snacks can get expensive. Take a little bit of time to prepare ingredients on the weekend to make packing lunches stress free. These healthy ideas make great lunchbox snacks.

Ants On A Log
Spread peanut butter (or any other seed or nut butter) on a celery stick, and top with raisins.
Everything Bagel Celery Sticks
Spread cream cheese on a celery stick, and top with everything bagel seasoning.
Fish In A Stream
Spread hummus on a celery stick, and top with goldfish crackers.
Salsa & Chips
Add salsa to a small, leakproof container, and serve with tortilla chips.

Other Lunchbox Snack Ideas

String Cheese
Peanut Butter & Pretzels
Rice Cakes
Trail Mix

After School Snacks

Kids are hungry after school. These snacks are easy to prepare, and won’t ruin their appetites before dinner.

cheesy pigs in a blanket recipe

Lunchbox Snacks
All lunchbox snacks make good after school snacks as well.
Pigs In A Blanket
Prepare Pigs In A Blanket ahead of time so kids just need to bake or reheat after school.
Edamame
Microwave edamame according to package directions, and toss between two bowls with 2 tbsp olive oil or butter and season with salt.
English Muffin Pizza
Spread pizza sauce on a toasted English muffin and top with shredded mozzarella and pepperoni.  Bake for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

50+ More Lunchbox and After School Snack ideas in the full version. Get It Here.

Dinner

Most of these dinner ideas are ready in about 30 minutes, and if not, they utilize the slow cooker to help make dinnertime stress free.

Stir Fry

Stir fry is a great way to use up vegetables in the fridge. Choose your favorite vegetables, whether fresh or frozen, and follow this simple recipe for an easy and delicious dinner. 

Ingredients:
1 protein
3-5 vegetables
1 sauce
1 base
1-3 toppings, optional

Protein
chicken
beef
pork
shrimp
egg
tofu
salmon

Vegetables
onion
zucchini
bell peppers
broccoli
bean sprouts
snap peas
edamame
mushrooms

Base
white rice
brown rice
cauliflower rice
fried rice
udon noodles

Toppings
scrambled eggs
peanuts
sesame seeds
cilantro
cashews
avocado
basil
green onions
chili crisp
hot sauce

Teriyaki Sauce
1 cup soy sauce
⅓ cup rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp ginger
½ cup brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp cornstarch

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Directions:

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large non stick skillet or wok until shimmering. Add protein of choice, season with 2 tbsp soy sauce and cook through.  Remove protein from pan and add vegetables. Season with 2 tbsp soy sauce and cook vegetables until desired doneness. Add protein back to pan with sauce. Toss together and cook until sauce comes to a boil. Remove from heat and serve over rice or noodles. 

Get even more Stir Fry ingredient ideas and sauces in the full version

Sliders

Slider Sandwiches are perfect for a quick and easy dinner, lunch, after school snack or a party food! Sliders only take about 20 minutes to make, making them perfect for week nights.

Ham & Cheese Sliders

Ingredients:
12 kings hawiian rolls
24 slices deli ham, sliced thin
12 slices swiss cheese, sliced thin
¼ cup dijon mustard
4 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp honey
½ tsp garlic powder

Directions: 

In a small bowl, combine honey, dijon, melted butter and poppy seeds. Split buns in half and place bottoms in a baking dish lined with foil. Top each bottom with 2 slices ham and 1 slice cheese. Put tops on buns, and brush melted butter mixture over the top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 minutes.

Chicken Nuggets & Chicken Tenders

Everyone likes Chicken Nuggets and Chicken Tenders.  They are easy to make, and they freeze and reheat well. Making both of these homemade is super easy, and only takes about 30 minutes to prepare, and are both super freezer friendly. Chicken Nuggets and Chicken Tenders make awesome lunches, too!

tortilla chip crusted chicken tenders
Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Chicken Tenders

Get more Chicken Tender breading ideas PLUS learn how to Grind Chicken at home in your food processor to save even more money when making homemade Chicken Nuggets in the full version. Get It Here.

Quesadillas

Quesadillas make a great dinner, lunch or after school snack. Best of all, they are a great way to use up leftovers. Serve with your favorite dipping sauces.

Cheese Quesadilla Home Lunch School Lunch

Cheese Quesadilla

Ingredients:
1 cup shredded cheddar
½ cup shredded queso quesadilla
2 tsp taco seasoning

Buffalo Chicken

Ingredients:
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
2 tbsp buffalo sauce

Directions:

To cook Quesadillas, add 1 tbsp olive oil to a non-stick pan and heat until shimmering.  Place tortilla in pan, spreading olive oil over tortilla.  Spread filling on one half of tortilla and carefully fold the other half over.  Cook 2-3 minutes on each side.  

Easy Dinner Ideas

30 Minute Or So Meals

Sloppy Joe’s
Beef Stroganoff
Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
Salisbury Steak
Lemon Pepper Salmon
Chicken Chow Mein
Cheeseburger Macaroni

Slow Cooker Meals

Spaghetti Sauce
Baked Potato Soup
Tamales
Posole
Chicken & Dumplings
Apple Sauce

Instant Pot Meals

BBQ Chicken
Bacon & Gruyere Egg Bites (Starbucks Copycat)
White Rice
Refried Beans
Eggroll In A Bowl

Air Fryer Meals

Hot Dogs
French Fries
Grilled Cheese
Buffalo Cauliflower

The full version includes a cookbook with over 80 easy, kid-friendly dinner recipes that help make weeknights stress free. Get It Here.

You made it to the end!  I plan on sharing more lunch and snack ideas this last half of the year, and going forward. Good things are coming. What kind of school breakfast, lunch and snack ideas do you want to see more of?

PS: Use promo code IGFOLLOW and save 15% on everything in my Etsy Store!

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