Remember a few months ago, when we were thrilled to have extra time in our kitchens, and excited to prepare healthy, home-cooked meals? Remember when our kitchens were a hub of activity, a place for experimentation and family togetherness? Remember poring over cookbooks and recipe sites, and watching food videos online for something new to try?
After months of staying home, planning meals and strategizing grocery store runs, you aren’t alone if the daily grind of meal planning and prep has become tedious and tiresome. We thought we’d give you a few ideas to freshen up your snacks and meals. Let’s make getting back to routine as easy as possible—although we know being “back to routine” looks different for everyone!
Breakfast: Keep it simple with single-serve, make-ahead breakfast items that will help keep busy mornings stress-free. Many of these you can make ahead and freeze, or keep in the refrigerator and just grab and go.
- Egg muffin cups are easy to make over the weekend and freeze.
- Just pop one in the microwave to heat and go
- Easy, high in protein, and filling—they are a great way to kick off the day!
- No need to run through the drive-thru—these salmon-and-egg muffin sandwiches can be assembled, wrapped and frozen to quickly heat and go.
- Packed with protein, calcium and omega-3s
- Will fill you up and keep you going on even the busiest of days
- Overnight oatmeal, in small mason jars, keeps the morning rush manageable; grab one on your way to work, or when you’re getting settled into your at-home workspace.
- Tie on small bags of dried fruit and nuts to mix in
- At home, even younger kids can pour them into a bowl, and mix them themselves, while you’re getting ready for the day
- Our tear-and-pair ideas work great for breakfast, too! No time to make something ahead of time? No problem!
- A slice of bread, avocado and a pouch of Tuna Creations® BOLD Jalapeño are all you need
- Just tear and pair while catching up on emails!
Lunch: Whether you’re working from home, managing kids at home or in school, or heading into work every day, making lunches easy, healthy and something everyone can grab and eat on the go is more important than ever.
- Bento boxes are super fun and easy to make ahead; your kids can just pull them out of the fridge and eat.
- @LunchBoxDad created one using our Chicken Creations® Classic BBQ—check out his fun video and let your creative juices flow
- Your kids will love them, and they can help themselves to lunch, so Mom or Dad can power through their lunchtime Zoom meeting
- Salad jars are an easy make-ahead idea, perfect for using up fresh produce, because they will stay fresh for a few days in the fridge.
- Grab one as you run back to your meeting
- Take it with you to eat at your desk, so you can avoid the company kitchen!
- Sandwiches—set up an assembly line and make a bunch of these fun wraps in the evening, or place all your ingredients in a segmented container to make the next day.
Dinner is: always a great time to relax and catch up with everyone, but as the fall activities get underway, dinner can become more of a sprint than a peaceful transition to the evening. Staying organized, planning ahead and giving everyone a part can help streamline dinner while allowing time to reap the many benefits of enjoying a meal together.
- Meal bowls are trendy and oh so easy to prepare!
- Casseroles are ideal for making ahead and freezing to have on hand. We have just a few ideas to stock your freezer with!
Use this time to get your kids involved with meal prep. There are tasks even the littlest kids can help with. Everything from washing fruits and vegetables to setting the table. It’s never too early to get them involved. Once they’re done, having a few fun activities to occupy them will give you time to finish up. Check out some of our activities for kids if you’re running out of ideas!
Don’t forget snacks!
- Set a bowl of fruit out on the counter every morning: apples, bananas, peaches, grapes—all easy to take and eat. Remember… in sight… in mind!
- Pack up little bags of trail mix or popcorn for the kids (or adults).
- Hummus and crackers, or yogurt and fruit, are great protein-filled snacks.
- Cucumber or celery topped with Tuna, Salmon or Chicken Creations® make a delicious and easy snack.
Yes, it’s back to business, school and crazy schedules, but that doesn’t mean planning healthy meals and snacks needs to suffer! Here’s to a great fall and getting “back to routine,” while keeping everyone healthy and happy, and allowing family mealtime to feed our souls as well as our bodies!
Need more ideas for family meals? The Family Meals Movement has tips and activities for families of all sizes!