by Mira Reverente
Today, I got a jump start on this mania called back-to-school season. Even though my own daughter’s first day of school is not until the latter part of August, my exchange student started school today.
As I was driving her to school, I came up with a plan in my head to tackle this craziness head on. I break it down into B-A-S-I-C-S.
Read on and stay sane this back-to-school season:
Batch cook – I love to cook, and I love to cook in big batches even more. It’s a real time-saver. On the weekends or whenever I have a morning or afternoon free, I’ll make two to three dishes at a time, for weeknight dinners and for school lunches. Some of the dishes I like to keep on rotation are: Pasta Primavera, Shrimp Aglio Olio, any type of fried rice with leftovers, one-pot chicken dishes with a medley of vegetables, anything grilled, quinoa, couscous, flatbread–the list is endless!
I tackled batch cooking in a previous post. That’s how much I believe in it.
Assess – Every weekend or every few days, I assess and stare at the contents of my pantry and my fridge. If I have a bag of pasta, I’ll plan for a pasta dish sometime during the week. I take a look at my storage bags, too, and lunch containers.
I also assess school supplies. I keep some basics on hand like binder paper, pencils and pens to avoid tears and those 8:30 p.m. runs to Staples or Target.
Strategize – On school mornings, I’m like an air traffic controller in my kitchen. While I’m reheating lunch in the toaster or microwave, I’ll get breakfast started. I’ll turn on my coffeemaker, too. If you have one with a timer, you can do this the night before. It also helps to clean lunch boxes and line them up the night before in my house. Same with water bottles. If everything is good to go and within easy reach, it will save you time in the morning.
Improvise – So let’s say you planned well but still fell short, and you’re out of a few food items or hit snooze more than a couple of times. Improvise! I always have cash on hand for breakfast or lunch money for those types of days.
Collaborate – Or delegate. You might be the captain of your household but you need not do everything solo. Enlist the help of your crew or your co-captain (lucky you!). Give them small tasks. My daughter still has to feed the dog even on busy school mornings. And everyone, even our exchange student, has to load the dishwasher and clear the breakfast table.
Simplify – Through the years, we’ve devised simplification strategies in our household like unpacking/packing backpacks at night, putting forms that need to be signed by my laptop, even bringing laundry hampers out on set days of the week, etc.
Going back to school lunches, I mentioned rotating through a tried-and-tested list of main and side dishes I like to prepare. Same goes with fruit. I keep it simple depending on what’s in season: apples, bananas, strawberries and oranges. That way, my daughter can just grab what she likes and stuff it in her lunch box. Fewer choices equals less stress for all equal happier family members
Do you have any back-to-school tips and tricks you’d like to share?
Mira Reverente is associate editor of CVH and a longtime journalist whose work has appeared in many local publications. Her first book on money came out last fall. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, for more money savviness tips or check out her new blog.