5 Dinner Options For Back-To-School

Is it #BackToSchool time where you are? For us weeknight dinners are a challenge. Here are 5 GREAT options to make dinnertime awesome #ad #PJGlutenFreeCrust

Mmm… pizza.

Let that one sink in, because we’re definitely going to circle back to it soon! The thing is, we used to always have pizza night on Friday nights. Then, Scarlet helpfully pointed out that the school lunch is pizza at her school – and soon Des’ school – and that just gives us a chance to make pizza night on Monday or Tuesday. Even Wednesday! Whenever! Not only that, these are healthier pizza options. I can’t wait to talk about them! Dinnertime is now less of a struggle around here. Whew.

It used to be my toughest time of day. It’s that time of year of fall/winter and the fading sunlight. Then there are hungry pets, hungry kids, and a limited amount of time to focus on homework, snack, cleanup, quality time together before dinner. Scarlet had the awesome idea to write up a meal plan so that we’d at least have an idea of what we wanted at any day of the week. For example, Saturday is always pasta night because we have a pasta maker at home and we need time to make that fresh pasta! Mondays are always some sort of salad, Tuesdays involve soup, etc. And we get creative every night.

Here are our top 5 weeknight dinner ideas for back to school time:

1 – Individual Chicken Noodle Pot Pies. My kids LOVE these. They’re individually portioned and full of kid-friendly food. For the recipe, head here. They’re easy and perfect for back to school. You can customize them a different way every week.

2 – Vegetable Tortellini Salad. This is truly my kids’ favorite salad. They’re not big on dressing, so this is a great way to combine some of our garden vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, late summer berries, and tortellini in one dish.

3 – Take Taco Tuesday to new heights! Sometimes, we have tacos. And sometimes we have Taco Salad! Sometimes, I’m enterprising enough to make Quinoa Taco Salad. It’s full of protein and flavor, and definitely fills us all up.

4 – Grilled cheese. We have a grilled cheese night at our house (I think on Wednesdays?) and it’s fun to mix it up. Try it with ham, pickles and pineapple, or any of the above! Choose Swiss instead of cheddar. Such good options!

5 – Pizza night. We’re new fans of Papa John’s. When he started the company over 30 years ago, it was with a commitment to provide families with the highest-quality ingredients on the menu. He believed that with the best ingredients, he could create better pizzas for everyone. I took my kids to our nearest location for Carryout for our latest pizza night.

We got the all-new Ancient Grains Gluten Free Crust. It’s crafted from never-frozen dough and ancient grains, like Sorghum, Teff, Amaranth, and Quinoa. It’s thin & crispy with a uniquely delicious flavor. We added cheddar cheese!

You can try your own Papa John’s NEW Gluten-Free Crust with Ancient Grains for $9.99, using the promo code: GLTN2T. This promo code is for a small 2-Topping Gluten-Free Crust Pizza. You can have tons of fun choosing your own toppings!

What toppings would YOU put on your Papa John’s NEW Gluten-Free Crust with Ancient Grains?

What’s your favorite weeknight dinner?

5 Ways to Show LOVE in Your Kids’ School Lunches

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PerfectLunchbox #CollectiveBias

We're almost back to school here and it's time to start getting inspired for lunch packing! These 5 tips help you show love in lunches. #ad #PerfectLunchbox

No doubt, this time of year is a bit hectic as we say goodbye to summer, and hello to a new school year.

No doubt, also, that I am someone who doesn’t always roll with the punches as best as I can. This seems like a BIG year for us – with Des starting kindergarten, and Scarlet starting third grade. Doesn’t third grade seem like such a big deal? I remember when I did school photography, third grade was my favorite age to work with. They are still kids, but they have more self-awareness and confidence. Scarlet will be joining Girls on the Run, and continuing piano lessons. She might start soccer too! And I’m excited to see what’s in store for Des. I think he will take kindergarten by storm. He seems so ready.

And she does too.

school lunches

There’s definitely going to be some changes made in September. I already work more than one job, and it usually picks up quite a bit in the fall. I’m torn between being excited to have this time to work while my kids thrive in school, and also being nervous and a little sad about the end of summer and missing them for hours all day! I look forward to finding the balance. I don’t think it will be necessarily easy, but I know one thing that IS easy – and that’s loving them and showing them love. When I was a kid, my parents did that for me in my school lunch too. It’s a wonderful way to say, “I love you” in the middle of the day. And the best part is that it doesn’t have to take a lot of time to make a BIG impression. This is how!

We're almost back to school here and it's time to start getting inspired for lunch packing! These 5 tips help you show love in lunches. #ad #PerfectLunchbox

First, I head to my nearest Stop & Shop to get the goods! I buy Jif Peanut Butter, Smucker’s Fruit Spreads, and NEW Mott’s® Juice Pouches. They are easy to find, and full of variety too. I always choose my kids’ favorites, as well as mine.

And right now, there are some incredible iBotta offers on our favorite products!

Click here to get Buy 1, Get $0.75 Smucker’s Fruit Spreads (9 oz. or larger)

Click here to get Buy 1, Get $0.75 Jif Peanut Butter (16 oz. or larger)

And click here for Buy 1, Get $0.75 Mott’s Fruit Pouches (8 pk.)

And now it’s time to talk perfect lunchbox solutions, and five ways to show BIG LOVE!

school lunches

1 – Put in a love note. It’s funny how this little thing can be such a big deal. My mom used to write me notes on the first day of school, and the last, wishing me love, cheer, and all sorts of love and support during the transitions.

Bonus points for doing it on a random Tuesday!


2 – Cut your sandwiches/cheese/fruit into fun shapes. I promise it only takes a minute and the delight on their faces (that I can only imagine) makes it all worth it. We have a lot of fun cookie/sandwich cutters in our rotations.

Bonus points for finding the coolest ones you can find and rolling with the holidays too.

school lunches

3 – Attention to detail. I love to find their absolute favorite brands, products, flavors, etc. and it’s also about thinking of ease of use, portability, and fun. New 100% Juice Pouches from Mott’s are their favorite! It’s 100% juice and 100% Yum. They taste good and are good for you. We love Apple and Apple Mango – and we were happy to find out that each juice pouch of Mott’s 100% Apple Mango Juice provides 1 1/2 servings of fruit.* You can enjoy them in a variety of sizes as they are available now in 6.75 oz. juice pouches for families on the go. I find them easily in the packaged juice aisle.


4 – Embrace tradition. There’s a reason that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the most popular type of sandwich. Kids (and adults) love them. I use Jif Creamy Peanut Butter because of the creamy, fresh-roasted peanut taste. There’s nothing like it! Then, paired with Smucker’s Fruit Spreads. YUM. They’re made from a blend of crushed, sun-ripened fruit and fruit puree. They are available in wonderful flavors, including seedless varieties. Available at Stop & Shop next to peanut butter!

school lunches

5 – Balance is everything. Incorporate every food group and think of fun ways to create, prepare, and add them all. You can go creative with fruit – whether it’s fresh, frozen, dried, canned, baked, or pureed for little ones. Vegetables can be fresh, frozen, baked, etc. Find lean protein snacks like eggs, meats, beans, nuts, etc. I also love to pack dairy in the way of milk, cheese or yogurt. I think school lunches are such unique ways to show you care, but what an awesome opportunity!

Which of these amazing products do you plan to buy for back to school time?

school lunches

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How do YOU show love in your kids’ lunches?