Whether you can believe it or not (we certainly can't), fall is right around the corner, as is the back-to-school season, the busying of schedules, and the demise of well thought out, delicious and nutritious family meals. As much as you might try, when the school years starts back up and time is of the essence, it's hard to stick to getting well-rounded meals onto your family's table morning, noon and night. For today, we've compiled a list of relatively simple, tasty, and good-for-you meal options to cover sun-up to sun-down. Even a few sweets made it into the round-up, for those who can't finish a meal without one (like me).
Zucchini Hash with Soft Cooked Eggs from local food blog Delicious Dishings. This recipe is comfort food at it's finest, and with just a few simple ingredients it's easy to prepare but packed with flavor. Use zucchini or summer squash, whatever you have on hand, and perhaps even a sprinkling of chopped bacon if you so choose. Over-easy eggs can be used in place of the soft-cooked eggs for an even easier preparation.
Breakfast Pizza from Smitten Kitchen Breakfast for dinner is a popular trend, but what about the other way around? This recipe is simple, delicious and can be adapted to fit any taste. Even the little ones with their picky palates can have it their way, and you can dress up yours to suit your style. Simply add or omit toppings as you desire, for a filling and super satisfying pizza that you can even take on-the-go. The dough can be made ahead of time, so all you have to do is assemble and bake before it's ready to be devoured!
Tomato, Scallion and Cheddar Frittata from Martha Stewart The frittata is one of breakfast's best dishes, for it is extremely versatile and so SO simple. Simply mix your flavorings into your eggs on the stove-top, finish cooking it in the oven, and wa-la, it comes out puffed up, golden brown, and ready to serve.
If you or your family aren't into this particular frittata recipe, check out this neat Create Your Own Frittata tool we fuond, which allows you to pick and choose flavorings based on personal preference, then gives you a customized recipe to use!
For Lunch and Dinner:
Grilled Lemon Basil Chicken with this Caprese Pasta Salad, both from Simply Scratch This lemon chicken might as well be a staple, since it's fresh, easy, and goes with just about everything. Here it's smartly paired with this well-rounded Caprese Pasta Salad, which has pasta, tomatoes and mozzarella. Simple, satisfying flavors for all palates, with the option to omit the chicken for vegetarians. Really a home run in the flavor department, and so easy you'll make this again and again. It keeps well in the fridge, and makes the perfect leftover lunch (or dinner).
Creamy Basil Polenta with Roasted Tomatoes from Two Peas and Their Pod This vegetarian dish is hearty, satisfying, and really the perfect comfort food. Creamy basil polenta is paired with bright red cherry tomatoes, roasted in the oven so they're bursting with flavor. It's a super simple preparation, but from that simplicity comes utter perfection. You could also serve this alongside the above-mentioned lemon chicken, or just on it's own. The creamy polenta will win over picky eaters with it's silky, luxurious texture and taste.
Sausage Pepperoni Pizza Casserole from Amanda's Cookin' For those who are less veggie-centric, this meat lovers dish combines sausage and pepperoni, to create a sinful casserole that is perfect for nights when you have no time to cook. Simply prepare ahead of time, heat up when you're ready for it, and dinner is on your plates in no time at all. With approachable flavors like pasta, pepperoni, tomato sauce and cheese, this should be a winner with the kiddos! If you're prefer another type of meat, you could experiment with adding ground turkey or hamburger meat. To make vegetarian, simply omit the sausage and pepperoni altogether.
Zucchini Chips from Cooking with Amy These little bites are a little extra addition, and are super fun for the little ones. In place of nutrient-lacking potato chips, these zucchini chips are low-calorie, flavorful, and packed with good-for-you stuff. They're also so easy to make that once you start, you'll never stop. Sprinkle with sea sat for a simple snack, or perhaps add a touch of garlic powder, paprika, or your favorite spices to give them some added personality.
Applesauce Brownies from Baking Bites This one-bowl dessert is really as easy as it comes, and is a healthier version with applesauce in place of some of the butter. Simply put all of the ingredients into one bowl, mix mix mix, pop them in the oven and in no time at all you'll have a really delicious and guilt-free dessert for your entire family to enjoy.
Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats from Dana Treat - Treat Yourself A twist on a childhood classic, these crispy treats are taken to a whole new level with the addition of brown butter. They still maintain their original goodness, but with an extra level of nutty flavor added in there, and a touch of contrast from the salt. Best of all? They're still just as easy to make, and as crowd-pleasing as ever.
Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas by Joy The Baker This dessert is another childhood favorite, that as an adult I have rediscovered and thoroughly enjoyed. It's a perfect kid's treat, not particularly unhealthy and very, very simple to make, but it's also fun for adults and you can do a lot more with these than just dip them in chocolate. This particular recipe gives you some topping ideas, but feel free to get creative! In addition to what's mentioned, I really like adding shredded coconut, or if I'm feeling particularly indulgent, chopped Heath bar! It's an especially fun project to do with your children, and definitely a dessert you can feel good about serving.
In the writing of this blog post, I also stumbled across this free Back-to-School lunch e-book - a few extra ideas to keep you going! I hope these recipes will inspire some quality kitchen-time in the coming months, even if it has to be brief, and I hope your back-to-school transition goes off without a hitch!
What are your favorite things to cook when time is of the essence?