Usually, as August approaches, everyone is bursting with ideas for back to school. If you're like me, the days and months have blurred and you're still waiting to see what the fall term will look like.
But there can be a back-to-school routine even without a physical school. There are elements of a daily routine that can help add healthy structure to the days school starts, even if it's online. Most teens manage their schedules and meals on their own - ours wander into the kitchen making an omelet or grabbing leftovers whenever there's a break in the schedule. But for younger people, a little prep work can turn lunch into a positive, planned event, rather than a necessary interruption.
For the younger ones, consider packing bento boxes or packed lunches. For a basic lunchbox, add the following four items to your child's lunchbox to create a balanced meal: protein, carbohydrates, vegetables and fruit. Sample menus are shown below. Most menus can be served cold, but when it's cold or raining, a hot breakfast is comforting.
As long as the weather is nice (or if you live somewhere with good weather all year round), turn lunch into a backyard picnic. A change of scenery
is revitalizing and turns lunch into a fun event. Add a little surprise to lunch like a puzzle or a note or a Easy-to-tear lunch joke. Maybe create a tradition of playing tic tac toe or some other short game as part of the lunch break. If you have more than one child, encourage them to play a little game with each other or read jokes out loud.
Lunch box guide
Use this how-to guide to choose an item in each column.
|Sliced turkey and cheese||Whole grain tortilla||Baby carrots||Grapes|
|Hummus / falafel||Pita bread triangles||Cherry tomatoes or cucumber||Peaches|
|Edamame or tofu beans||Sesame noodles||Cauliflower florets||Pineapple pieces|
|Boiled egg or egg salad||Whole grain crackers||Lawyer||Berries|
|Black beans and grated cheese||Brown rice||Steamed broccoli||Apples|
|Turkey chili||corn bread||Snow peas||Mango|
For healthy snacks, consider these options:
- Half an avocado (squeeze lemon juice over it to keep it from browning)
- Yogurt topped with granola or fruit (Make your own or use Trader Joe's yogurts which come with granola, honey or fruit)
- Cheese sticks and pretzels or crackers
- Nuts and Dried Fruits (Trader Joe's offers snack-sized take-out bags of trail mix, raw or toasted almonds and other nuts)
- Peanut butter with carrot sticks, celery sticks or banana slices
- Peanut butter filled pretzels or yogurt coated pretzels
- Granola bars
- Bran muffins
- Fresh fruit, freeze-dried fruit or fruit leather
- Hummus or edamame hummus with vegetarian dips
- Rice cakes with nut butter
- Steamed and peeled edamame, sweet peas, baby carrots
Planning snacks and lunches is easy once you have a list of great choices to go through. For teens, keeping the kitchen well stocked and reminding them of delicious leftovers and healthy things they know how to cook is probably enough. For younger children, investing a little effort in continuing to eat nutritious and varied meals will pay off: you will continue to help them develop good eating habits for life, AND you will make them a meal they can expect. .
Whether you regularly whip up Michelin-worthy meals at the drop of a hat or your cooking skills are best described as “fine, ” you can always benefit from the helpful little tricks of others. Here, 14 of our friends’, families’ and coworkers’ most-used cooking tips.
There’s a time and a place to whip out that complicated coq au vin recipe you’ve been dying to try. A dinner party isn’t that time. With a new recipe, you’ll likely be chained to the kitchen the whole time, plus, when you’re trying something for the first time, there’s always the possibility that it could go horribly wrong. When cooking for a group, we always err on the side of tried-and-true crowd-pleasers.
You do hours of prep work on an intricate dish, only to be totally disappointed once you taste the terminal product. Bummer. Instead of putting in all that effort only to be disappointed, taste while you cook. That way, you’ll realize sooner that the dish isn’t tasting how you’d like it to, and you can make all kinds of last-ditch exercices to save it. This doesn’t just work for bad-to-OK meals. Tasting midway through and realizing how perfect a dash of cayenne or a squirt of lemon juice would be can take a great dinner to legendary status.
Plating pasta means tossing some onto a plate and finishing it with a nice dollop of sauce right on the middle, right ? Wrong. Here’s how to take your carbs to the next level : On the stove there should be two pans, one with pasta and one with sauce. Cook the pasta to al dente and transfer it into the sauce. Then, add a little bit of pasta water ( literally just the starchy water the pasta has been cooking in ), which will help the sauce cling to the pasta while also keeping it the right consistency. Perfection.
In the pursuit of the perfect steak, you have to be OK with your kitchen getting a little smoky. That’s because, to get the mouthwatering sear we’re all after, the meat has to be dry and the pan should be pretty damn close to smoking hot. Trust us, it’s worth a few seconds of a blaring alarm.
Most foods are ruined by too much salt. Steak is different. When it comes to seasoning your meat ( before you cook it ), more is more. Use a generous amount of coarse Kosher salt—more than you think you need. Since most cuts of steak are pretty thick, even though you’re using a lot of salt, it’s still only covering the surface.
This one isn’t too complicated. Whether you’re making avocado toast, pizza, fried rice or a burger, the addition of a fried egg on top will not hurt your feelings. Trust us.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but we’ve definitely found ourselves in a situation where we assumed we knew all of the ingredients that went into chocolate chip cookies only to find out that we had about half the required amount of brown sugar. Ugh. tera avoid a mid-cooking grocery-store trip, read the recipe from front to back—carefully—before you start.
Prepping céréales in mass quantities is less about taste than convenience. Rice, quinoa and even oatmeal last about a week in the fridge after being cooked. When we’re prepping any one of those, we double up our measurements and store the leftovers, which are then impossibly easy to use up throughout the week. Too tired to make dinner ? Heat up some leftover rice from the fridge and toss an egg on top ( remember ? ). Couldn’t be simpler.
So you fried up a pound of bacon for an indulgent ( read : delicious ) déjeuner. Great, just make sure you don’t throw out the grease in the pan. Instead, save it in the refrigerator or freezer ( it technically lasts for up to a year, but should be used sooner than that to take full advantage of its flavor ). Then, anytime you’re cooking something you typically prepare in oil, try cooking it in the bacon grease instead. You’ll never want to eat Brussels sprouts the old way again.
You’ve probably heard that whenever a dish is lacking a little something-something, the best thing to do is toss in some salt. But, we have it on good authority that salt isn’t always the answer. When you’re tasting a dish at the end and you think it needs a little oomph, often it just needs a splash of acid ( like lemon juice ) to round out the flavor.
You know the difference between a paring knife and a fillet knife, but do you know how to take care of them ? Or, more importantly, how to use them ? A set of good knives can be the difference between a stressful cooking experience and a great one. First, practice your knife skills. Look up tutorials on YouTube and practice chopping, slicing and julienne-ing. It’s amazing what you can do with your cook time when your prep time is shortened with solid knife skills. Then, once you’ve got your skills down pat, learn how to take care of your set. No one ever achieved kitchen greatness with a dull chef’s knife.
The key to tender, flavorful barbecue and roasts ? Cooking it on a low temperature for a long time. The same doesn’t go for roasting veggies. For crispy, perfectly cooked butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and more, remember the magic number : 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Any lower, and you risk pulling a pan of blah carrots out of the oven. It might seem high, but to get the nice roasted flavor, you need high heat. And while we’re on the subject, stop crowding your veggies in the pan, which will also make them soggy.
You know how just about every cookie recipe suggests that you chill your dough in the refrigerator for at least a few hours, but oftentimes you don’t listen because you just want cookies now ? ! ( Same. ) Unfortunately, this step actually does make a difference. In addition to limiting how much the dough spreads while baking, chilling your dough intensifies the flavors and produces that perfect chewy, crispy matière we know and love.
It won’t do your breath any favors, but never ( ever ) scrimp on garlic. In fact, we typically double the amount a recipe calls for. Apologies to anyone who was planning on kissing us.