Back to School Healthy–Organization

The beginning of September always feels a bit like New Year’s to me. I’ve either been in school, or teaching school for a large chunk of my life, so it just feels natural that Labour Day is a new beginning.

Summer has been fun. We travelled, and ate, and wrote about all of it. I didn’t worry too much about what we ate or when we ate it, because our schedule was our own.

Things, however, are about to change. Here in BC, our teachers are on strike, so we’re not actually sure when the kids will finally be in school. I have to return to my classroom on September 15. And with the return to school for both the Sprout and I, comes added pressure–making sure we are on schedule, on time, and prepared for our days.

back to school healthy

It all comes down to organization.

I tried being more organized a couple years ago around this time, and was pretty much a miserable failure. It’s not that I lack the ability to be organized. I’m a pretty organized person. The problem with my life is that there are always eleventy-million things that are all important, priority right now. Thinking ahead, under those kinds of circumstances, can be difficult.

I’ve gotten smarter in the last couple of years, and picked up some coping strategies along the way, too. That’s what I’m going to share with you this week. I had a bit of a… um… mishap with my fridge, so my house is currently sans refrigeration. I will return to recipes (hopefully, depending on the repairman) next week.

This week, though, I’ll be sharing ideas and tricks to help you save time, energy, money, and frustration. And I want these ideas to be healthy, as well.

But let’s start with some basic organizational structures.

Make lists. Sit down with your kids and find out what kinds of things they want to have for dinners this week. Factor in nights when you have time to cook, and nights when you have activities, and have very little time to cook. Write out and plan what you want to have for dinner every night in the week, and then go to your cupboard and make sure you have all the ingredients. If you don’t, add them to your shopping list. You can use an old-fashioned paper-and-pen list, or you can go high tech and use an app like Evernote, or Don’t Forget the Milk. I also have a white board in my kitchen, so that every time I run out of a standard pantry item, I add it to the list.

Set aside prep time on the weekend. Make big batches on the weekend–casseroles, cookies, bread, whatever you are going to eat during the week. Take some time out to prep up several dishes on the weekend. I make, for example, trays of homemade mac and cheese, and then freeze them. Or I make a double batch of cookies and freeze them.

Buy in bulk to save money–but only if you can store it, and if you will really use it. Sure, you could buy 20 bottles of hand sanitizer and save a bunch of money, but if you don’t use it, it’s still a waste, no matter how good a deal it is. I’m lucky to have on-suite storage in my apartment, so I have small deep freeze there, and shelving. I store pizzas, homemade freezer meals, fruit for smoothies, cookies and bread in there. I also buy baking supplies, like sugar and flour in bulk, and store them until needed. You can really save a lot of money this way, but only if you will actually use it (did I say that already??).

Invest in gear. I love mason jars. I use them for everything, so I always have tons of them around in different sizes. I also love my to-go coffee mug, and my to-go smoothie container. For Michael, I have various-sized plastic containers, a hot thermos for soup and the like, and cold packs to keep things like veggies and dip cold.

Enlist some help. Get your kids to help out. Connect with another mom or two, and spend a day in the kitchen making big batches of food that all of you can share. Join a community kitchen.

Next up: Back To School healthy, time-saving breakfasts.

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