August 1, 2018 11:14:38 AM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
When store displays of beach towels and flip-flops are replaced by three-ring binders and backpacks, change is in the air. The retail shift began several weeks ago and has escalated to a polished-apple pitch. Most Golden Triangle teachers return to classrooms today. Students report for their first day not long after.
For parents and kids alike, back-to-school is a time of excitement, with a side of stress. Resumption of early mornings and strict routines may shock some systems, and juggling schedules can torque grocery shopping, meal planning and prep. Time-saver breakfast, snack and supper suggestions can come in handy.
"There are so many things to think about when school starts -- clothes, shoes, supply lists and keeping hungry kids fed," said Lisa Wright of Starkville. She's a working mother with two youngsters in elementary school. "When it comes to grocery lists, I start thinking about what to get that will help us all get out of the house on time in the morning, what's in the house for after-school snacks, and something to do for dinners when I know I'll be worn out."
For quick-start breakfasts, a little prep time set aside on a Saturday or Sunday can fill the freezer for the week. Freezer breakfast sandwiches on English muffins could be thought of as a healthier version of McMuffins. See the recipe below. One to two minutes in the microwave and you have a piping hot cheesy breakfast. Likewise, breakfast burritos can be made up ahead, frozen and enjoyed all week.
Kristen at iowagirleats.com likes to add a dash of Louisiana Hot Sauce to hers when scrambling the eggs, plus a tablespoon of salsa on top of the eggs before she rolls them up in an 8-inch tortilla -- with crumbled cooked bacon and 1 to 2 tablespoons of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Wrap each burrito in plastic wrap, date and label a freezer bag and freeze. Again, one to two minutes in the microwave and they're ready to go. You don't even have to have kids to appreciate the time saver these can be in the mornings.
Similarly, mini hot roast beef or ham and cheese sandwiches on whole wheat dinner rolls (flavored with horseradish) can be assembled by the dozen and frozen for weekday snacks or a quick bite on the way out the door to a ball game or dance team practice. Heck, even peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be frozen.
One healthy after-school snack is so obvious and simple it's often overlooked: apple wedges with a dollop of peanut butter, topped with a raisin -- much better than fat-laden potato chips.
Zucchini Parmesan crisps take about 25 minutes and are a great way to introduce kids to zucchini. See the recipe below.
A rotisserie shortcut
When things get a little nuts, never look down on a good shortcut. Rotisserie chicken is a great one, available at many grocery stores. One chicken can go a long way, from chicken wraps to chicken salad to tacos and beyond.
"So many days I end up working a little late," said Martha Dent of Columbus. "I'm all about anything that saves time. I'll pick up one or two rotisserie chickens for the week and use them six different ways before they're gone. Some stores have them in different flavors, like barbecue or lemon pepper."
French bread pizzas are another quick-fix supper. Keep a jar of marinara sauce and cheeses on hand and mix it up -- pineapple chunks, tomatoes, pepperoni, deli ham. The point is, the advent of school bells shouldn't signal a meltdown. We can make out our lists, walk down the grocery store aisle with fresh eyes and, like children returning to school, be open to something new.
FREEZER BREAKFAST SANDWICHES
6 large eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 English muffins, split
12 slices deli-sliced ham
6 slices cheddar cheese
ZUCCHINI PARMESAN CRISPS
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Makes 4 servings
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Panko
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 zucchinis, thinly sliced to 1/4-inch thick rounds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten
HOT ROAST BEEF/HAM SANDWICHES
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
12 whole dinner rolls or small sandwich buns (preferably whole wheat)
1 pound thinly shaved roast beef or ham (or both)
1 pound cheese (provolone, Swiss, mozzarella, even Cheez Whiz)
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
3 tablespoons grated onion (or 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes))
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon spicy mustard
1 tablespoon horseradish mayo or straight prepared horseradish
Dash of Worcestershire
Optional dressings: sriracha, hot sauce, dried onion flakes instead of fresh, garlic powder, pepper, etc.)
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.