Is this the school year you’re finally going to feed your family healthfully? January may be the typical season for resolutions, but for families, the start of a school year often leaves parents craving routine and improved eating patterns and triggers feelings of opportunity and a fresh start.
I, too, have goals for the school year, including more family meals that include my 5-year-old, now that her bedtime has been pushed a bit later. Of course, effective meal planning, a stocked pantry and good recipes are all integral to successful healthy eating, but this fall, to ensure dinner hits the table in time for my daughter, I am also embracing the old faithful muffin pan.
Almost anything can be made in a muffin pan, and the result is perfectly portioned breakfasts, lunches, snacks or dinners made by the dozen that can be stored in the fridge, ready to eat. Muffins make excellent on-the-go nourishment, cut down on the cooking times of larger pans and are easily frozen for more advanced meal planning.
Muffins make obvious breakfasts, but think beyond blueberry or banana nut; instead, try egg-and-cheese sandwiches made 12 at a time, or a veggie quiche in serving-size portions. Kids can heat these up in a jiffy and even eat them on the way to school if a morning is particularly hectic.
Muffins also make easy lunchbox stuffers for the little ones, or afternoon snacks for the older kids heading to sports practice. Make a pile of mac-and-cheese muffins (or, for a healthier twist, try millet and cheese) to leave for your children when they arrive home from school.
After a long day, when everyone is grouchy and starving, how nice would it be if meatloaf muffins, little lasagnas, mini chicken potpies, small spanakopitas or pint-size quinoa cakes were waiting? Magic in a muffin tin. Well, maybe not magic, but one more tool to make this the healthiest school year yet.
Seidenberg is co-founder of Nourish Schools, a D.C.-based nutrition education company, and co-author of “The Super Food Cards,” a collection of healthful recipes and advice.