Easy Back-to-School Meals for Your Kids

Back-to-school season is always stressful. After shopping for brand-new supplies and arranging carpool rides, it’s now time to help your small scholars with homework and prepare their school lunches. To make the latter easier on you, we’ve asked a handful of our favorite bloggers for their best kid-friendly recipes. Whether it’s a better-for-you breakfast or a more wholesome treat for their lunch bag, try these five ideas this fall.

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Recipe by Sue Moran of The View From Great Island

Not only is this nutritious school lunch easy to make (just combine your little one’s favorite beans, whether it’s edamame, black beans, chickpeas, or lentils), but layering the salad inside a glass jar makes it an eco-friendly meal to boot.

Serves 1.
Ingredients
Assorted beans, either canned, dried, fresh, or frozen
Colorful bell pepper, finely chopped
Red onion, minced
English cucumber, finely diced (don’t peel)
Several sprigs of fresh thyme

For lemon vinaigrette:
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Instructions
1. Make the dressing: Put the lemon juice and zest in a small food processor. With the motor going, slowly drizzle in the olive oil (there is a small hole in the top to allow you to do this). The dressing will emulsify. Stop the machine and taste periodically so you get it the way you like it. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Do this with a whisk, if you like.
2. Put a layer of red onion in the bottom of a clean jar.
3. Add the dressing on top. Be careful not to splatter.
4. Begin layering your beans and veggies, pressing down slightly as you go. Keep the layers level, and try to use contrasting colors so it will look appealing. Add in the thyme leaves or sprigs as you go, for flavor.
5. Layer all the way to the top, cap the salad, and refrigerate until ready
to eat.
6. Flip the jar over before eating, to let the dressing percolate down over
the salad.


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Recipe by Sara Oberle of Eat Laugh Drink

This filling brown rice bowl makes the perfect after-school lunch. If you need to increase the serving size (in the case of an unexpected classmate or two dropping by), simply add chicken or shrimp while cooking the veggies, which also adds extra protein to the dish.

Serves 4.
Ingredients
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
3/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 orange pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
3-4 mushrooms, sliced
2-3 cups broccoli, chopped
1/4 cup black olives, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons butter
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cheddar cheese, grated (optional)
Cilantro or scallions for garnish

Instructions
1. Bring water to a boil in a medium pot. Add brown rice, stir, reduce heat to low, and let simmer with lid on for 40-50 minutes, until rice is tender and creamy. After rice is cooked, scoop it into a bowl and set aside.
2. While brown rice is cooking, heat olive oil and onions in a medium saucepan over medium heat until onions start to glisten (about five minutes). After onions are shining, add the peppers and let both cook until tender but not mushy. After pepper and onions are done, scoop them into a bowl and set aside.
3. After both rice and vegetables are cooked (or if rice is 15 minutes away from being done), add butter to a medium pot over medium heat and let melt. Whisk in chili powder, onion powder, cumin, and flour until a paste forms.
4. Whisk milk into butter-spice paste, and then bring to a medium-high heat. Whisk occasionally for about 15 minutes or until sauce starts to boil. When sauce boils, return to medium heat and whisk continuously until sauce begins to thicken (about five more minutes).
5. After sauce starts to thicken, add cheese and salt, and stir until sauce is thick and creamy.
6. When sauce is done, add brown rice, vegetables, and black beans to the saucepot, and stir so everything is evenly coated.
7. Scoop mixture into a bowl and garnish with scallions or chives.


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Recipe by Renee Kemps

Whip up a stack of these fluffy pancakes for breakfast before school. Thanks to fresh fruit, honey, and a drizzle of maple syrup for a tinge of sweetness, your kids won’t even notice you didn’t use a lick of butter or sugar.

Makes 5 pancakes.
Ingredients
1 cup spelt (or any other) flour
1 cup yogurt
1 egg
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil
Vanilla paste
Cinnamon (optional)
Fresh fruit
Maple syrup

Instructions
1. Mix all ingredients, except 1 tablespoon coconut oil, until combined.
2. Heat your pan. Use some of the coconut oil and 1/4 cup dough for
each pancake.
3. Fry on both sides until golden brown and slightly puffed up.
4. Serve with fresh fruit and maple syrup.


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Recipe by Sanura Weathers of My Life Runs on Food

Tuna salad usually calls for plenty of mayo, but this lower-fat version gets its creamy texture from Greek yogurt and its delicious flavor from herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme.

Serves 3-4.
Ingredients
10 ounces canned tuna, packed in water without salt, drained
3-4 green onions, minced
2-3 celery stalks, diced
4 tablespoons fresh rosemary and sage, minced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
3-4 tablespoons Greek yogurt (must be thick)
4-6 Peppadew peppers (from an olive salad bar; if can’t find
use 1 roast red pepper), roughly chopped
2 teaspoons olive pesto (alternatively, use 1/8 cup chopped kalamata olives)
Sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
A dash of celery seeds
A dash of white balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
Generous drizzle of olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8-1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Instructions
1. Mix all ingredients.
2. Enjoy as a salad or with your favorite bread to make a sandwich.


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Recipe by Kath Younger of Kath Eats Real Food

Send them off to school with a sweet snack that requires zero baking, like these rolled-oat clusters that come with a satisfying nutty crunch.

Makes 15 bites.
Ingredients
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup softened coconut butter
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 chopped walnuts
1/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup honey
1/4 water

Instructions
1. Soften coconut butter to the consistency of room-temperature butter.
2. Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
3. Add coconut butter, honey, and water, and mix well with clean hands.
4. Form into balls (or clusters). Give them a squeeze to help the ingredients stick, and then roll.
5. Arrange on a sheet pan, and store in freezer.