Back to school is such a hectic time. I can’t believe it’s right around the corner! There are so many things to consider when you have students of any age heading back to school or campus. Clothes, Supplies, Textbooks, the list goes on and on! We tackled many of those topics on last night’s Back to School on a Budget episode of Frugal Coast2Coast.
But that isn’t all there is to think about when heading back to school. The beginning of the academic year brings big changes to a family’s schedule. The kids have to get up earlier to head out the door for the bus. There are sports practices and games, extracurricular activities, scouts, even PTA meetings start filling up the evenings. Don’t even get me started on the homework and projects. . . . . .
One of the first thing to fall apart when schedules get hectic is family dinner. It can just seem that there is no time.
No time to prepare a hot healthy meal.
No time to eat it.
You rush in the door then right back out again for one of a million things and grabbing that fat laden burger at your local drive through begins to sound like the only option.
It doesn’t have to be.
You all know I am a big advocate of family dinner. Huge. I think that the time a family spends around the table together is extremely important. It’s a time where parents and children can bond. Where they learn, through the parent’s example, social skills and manners. Where families have discussions that are important not only because of the topics discussed, but because they teach children that they can and should talk to their parents and that they will be listened to.
Nestle asked me to participate in their Back to School Basics campaign helping families stay on top of the school year. They want to talk about how food is an important part of the back to school rush. So how can you make dinner happen? How can you get a meal on the table amongst all the chaos?
Of course I have some thoughts to share~you all know me, I’m never at a loss for ideas! Here are my top 4 tips for getting a meal on the table in a hurry:
#1-Use your crockpot.
I love the crockpot. I could sing odes to it. Throw dinner in the crockpot in the morning and it is hot and ready when you get home. You can even toss it together the night before, stick the crock pot liner in the fridge and then pull it out in the morning!
#2-Precook and freeze your meats
Thawing & cooking the meat portion of your meal is the most time intensive part. If you have cooked ground beef or cubed/shredded chicken frozen in meal sized portions you have dozens of quick and easy meals at your fingertips. Check out my article on avoiding the drive thru trap for some specific recipes!
#3-Have a few “Go To” meals
Everyone should have a couple of desperate dinners that they can pull out on a rushed night. Mac ‘n Cheese w/hotdogs. Scrambled eggs. Spaghetti with jarred sauce. Any one of these can be cooked and on the table in a hurry.
#4-Keep frozen meals on hand.
I like to cook from scratch~you all know that. I like not only knowing that I have provided for my family, but also the quality of the food they are eating. But let’s face it~there isn’t always time. There is nothing wrong with falling back on some frozen meals! These days you can buy some very healthy options. With all the traveling & conferences I’ve attended lately I have picked up some Stouffer’s family sized frozen meals. Lasagna, Beef Stroganoff, and Chicken Alfredo are some of our favorite. While these meals are more expensive than cooking and freezing a meal yourself, they are still much cheaper (and more healthy) that your typical grease burger and fries!
So now on to the exciting part~the giveaway!
How would you like a $500 Walmart Gift Card to help cover your back to school expenses, courtesy of Nestle?
Note: I am trying something a little different this time. You will have TWO posts that you can enter on, both this post on making dinner happen and one early next week on lunchbox after school snack ideas.
This giveaway runs from Wed August 5th to midnight EST on Friday August 14th.
To enter: Leave a comment with your best tip or recipe for “Making Dinner Happen” on a busy school night.
Want some additional entries?
Here you go:
-Head on over to Nestle Family and tell me what your favorite recipe/idea is from their “Family Food” section.
-Subscribe to Frugal Upstate via either RSS or Email.
-Tweet about this giveaway linking back to this post.
-Subscribe to the Frugal Coast2Coast joint newsletter/show reminders.
Good luck, and keep an eye out for another opportunity to enter next week!