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Easy Back-to-School Dinners

My kids are already back in school and it’s only August 22nd. Our short summer break (wasn’t it longer when we were kids?) was crammed full of camps, sports, pool, and travel, pushing the scale down on the side of mom-time and leaving sorrowfully few hours on the side of work-time for me. While I feel dreadfully behind in my worklife, it’s hard to complain about all the time away from my desk. And I needed the break, after receiving my Naturopathic Doctorate (ND) from Trinity School of Natural Health in late June (yay! now I’m a Doctor!).

But, now here we are, already in school, and getting into the routine of school-activities-dinner-homework-bedtime. These are the times when I reach for crowd-pleasing recipes that don’t demand too much from my stretched time and energy.

Stews or Glorious One-Pot Meals can be quick and easy hot meals. Tomorrow morning (8/24/2011) at 12:15 pm EDT, I will be on Martha Stewart Living Radio on Sirius Satelite radio. The show is Everyday Food with Sandy Gluck, and we will be talking about stews and other quick and easy school-night meals. I’ll try to post the recording here soon, in case you don’t have satellite radio.

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

Last night, my son requested we have quiche for dinner. Whenever I make quiche, I always make two or three to have some extras to freeze, and I happened to have one left from last winter: a spinach and mushroom quiche. I popped it into my large toaster oven (just because I’m cooking doesn’t mean I want to heat up the whole house!) — first covered with aluminum foil while it thawed, then uncovered while it heated.

During harvest season, I love to cook in quantity and freeze in meal-sized portions for easy thaw-and-heat dinners on busy nights. Soups, stews, quiches, enchiladas, lasagnas… these are all easy to make in large quantities so that you have extras to freeze or give away to new parents, sick friends, or bereaved neighbors as necessary.

To complement the quiche last night, I loaded the table with ingredients for a build-your-own-salad bar: mixed greens, spinach leaves, feta crumbles, kalamata olives, shelled sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, corn kernels cut off the cobs from the previous night’s dinner, balsamic roasted beets from the deli at Whole Foods, yellow cherry tomatoes, and three bottles of salad dressing.

I gave everyone a separate shallow bowl for their salad and let them add what they wanted. For myself, I assembled what Elaine on Seinfeld would have called a “big salad” of the very best kind. My 8-year old son looked at it and declared he wanted the same thing. And then proceeded to eat it all alongside almost half of the quiche (we swear he has a hollow leg — he eats like a teenager!).

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him eat so much lettuce or enjoy a salad so much. It made me wonder why I didn’t do this more often with salads, the way I do with our regular make-your-own-taco-or-burrito night (bowls of beans, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, chicken or beef (or not), salsa, and tortillas). Which is another quick and easy schoolnight meal!

I’d love to hear your schoolnight meal suggestions in the Comments below, and be sure to check back in a few days to see if I’ve posted the radio clip here!

Posted in: Kids, Recipes

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