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Back-To-School Blues: Surviving The Return To 3 Meals (Plus 1 Snack) A Day

A friend of mine so looks forward to the school year that she calls the school bus “the big yellow angel.” I, on the other hand, mourn the end of summer. Sure, I get a million more things done (and complete a heck of a lot more thoughts) with six hours of non-parenting time each day, but I miss the forgiving nature of summer. 

Yeses become nos when there’s homework to do and dance class to race to and bedtimes to heed. Breakfast comes early, lunches don’t pack themselves and a fat slice of tomato on a piece of toast slathered with Duke’s no longer suffices as dinner.

As a mom to a third-grader, one might think I’d be used to it all by now. That one whiff of freshly sharpened pencils brings me right back to reality. Nope, I fight it every step of the way and probably deserve a time-out for my lousy attitude.

This year, I’ve decided to take it easy on myself. I’m stocking up on indie staples (and plenty of rosé) to get me through the season a little more gracefully. The key to my sanity is doing as much the night before (still fueled by that rosé) as I possibly can.  


Put in five minutes before bed to make overnight oats and you’ll thank yourself (profusely) in the morning. In a jar with a lid, combine ½ cup of granola, 1 tablespoon of dried fruits, a scoop of nut butter, ⅔ cup of almond milk or kefir (or a combination of them) and shake it up. Refrigerate overnight. Come morning, go ahead and hit snooze because all you need to do is unscrew the jar’s lid and hand your darling(s) a spoon. 


The water bottle and containers of veggies (cucumber rounds, bell pepper strips and grape tomatoes) can be readied the night before, while a goat cheese and fig jam sandwich comes together quickly in the morning. Throw in a baggie of salty, protein-packed crispy chickpeas for extra credit.    


Points for parents who remember what it’s like to come home to warm-from-the-oven cookies and a cold glass of milk and who then recreate that for their own children. Double points for parents who discover that this mix makes one fine batch of oatmeal raisin cookies in less than 15 minutes.


Who doesn’t love a taco night? Get your black beans in a bowl under water the night before, and then in the morning toss them in the slow cooker along with some garlic, cumin, chili powder and stock. Turn it on low and you’ll return home to a fiesta in the making. Add pulled pork or rotisserie chicken (or don’t), mountains of shredded cheese and plenty of spicy salsa. Olé!

Your job here is done.

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