Down + Dirty Back to School Dinners

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School is back in full swing, and our schedules are jammed packed with after-school activities, homework, work and traffic. If you’re like me and have been doing this mom thing for a while, you’ll love these down and dirty back to school dinner tips that are guaranteed to reduce back to school stress and stop the “What’s for dinner?” blues.

Be a Planner

Think ahead and put together a weekly or bi-weekly meal plan that consists of four simple meals each week. Write it down on a calendar, chalkboard, Evernote or even make a Pinterest board. 

Be a Smart Shopper

Always shop with a list! Create a running grocery list, keeping tabs on those items that are nearly empty or depleting quickly. I keep a magnetic notepad on the fridge door which makes it simple to jot down notes.  I try to place things on my list so they coordinate with the floorplan at the supermarket.  This ensures I shop each aisle as it occurs in my path and also means I don’t forget items. All of these are huge time-savers!

Print recipe cards to make sure you get all the necessary ingredients for each meal you’ve planned.

Save time and money by purchasing items in advance, when you find them on sale.

Shop on Saturday mornings or evenings or during the weekdays after dinner.  That’s when the stores are empty. If you’re a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom), do your shopping after dropping off the kids at school but before you head home. This saves time, money and gas!

Be a Smart Cook

Set an hour aside on Sundays for weekly prepping (chopping vegetables, preparing meats to marinade, boiling eggs, cooking quinoa/farro, pickling onions, making pesto & salad dressings).

Use leftovers in recipes and meals later in the week. Cut proteins into cubes for grain bowls, tacos, burritos or salads. Freeze leftover pasta, enchiladas, homemade pizza dough, pasta sauce and pesto. Almost everything can be put to good use on a different day and used to create fabulous meals!

Never underestimate the deliciousness and convenience of sheet pan meals! Try sausage + peppers; chicken thighs + potatoes; salmon + Brussels sprouts; steak fajitas.

Have an Instant Pot?  Use it!  You can prepare soups, stews, chili and shredded meat with ease and all while you’re at work or running errands.  It’s a life-saver!

For easy cleanup and stress-free cooking, use the outdoor grill for meats and veggies. Add the BBQ meal to your weekly schedule.  Not only are foods delicious when cooked on the grill, but the kids also love it and it turns into a family activity. 

For more shortcuts and tricks for living your best life and delivering the best for your family, visit us at The Mad Table website. And be sure to like The Mad Table on Facebook and follow us on Instagram for all the latest news, fabulous recipes and gorgeous entertaining tips and ideas.