Nutrition Corner: Back to school means back to meal planning

Nutrition Corner - Mary Ehret

Soon the yellow school buses will be out in full force, transporting students back to school. Long goodbyes and cheery hellos will soon be upon us. Our youngest child would inevitably ask, “What’s for dinner mom?” always within the first 30 seconds of our cheery hellos! He was so consistent that if I did not pick up afterschool, he would ask the other mom, “So Mrs. T., what are you having for dinner tonight?”

Meal planning is tough enough during normal weeks. However, back to school schedules and emotions of new classes make it even more challenging. Here are a few hints to help organize the kitchen.

First, write down a menu for the next three days. Include breakfast, lunch if needed and dinner. Check to see what you have on hand and adjust your menu if need be.

Second, write out a shopping list. Use your phone or a piece of paper, whichever is easier. Get everyone involved in grocery shopping by sharing the shopping list. Encourage them to shop with you or take turns.

Third, post your menu on the refrigerator so everyone knows “What’s for Dinner.”

After planning menus and making grocery lists, having a well-stocked kitchen makes life a little easier. It can be expensive in the beginning, but it will be less expensive to keep it stocked. Here are the foods to get you started:

Dry or canned Foods; Pasta including egg noodles, rice, spaghetti sauce, canned fruit, canned vegetables, canned beans, canned tuna or salmon, canned chicken soup, nut and raisins

Freezer foods; chicken, ground beef, whole-grain bread, fruits, and vegetables. Refrigerator foods; fruit, vegetable, milk, eggs, cheese (include cottage or ricotta and mozzarella), salad greens. Condiments and spices; vinegar, vegetable oil, olive oil, salt, black pepper and 3 or more spices.

Here is a recipe using these food pantry foods. It is easy clean up because it uses only one pan. Enjoy!

Easy Lasagna

Non-stick cooking spray

½ pound lean or extra lean ground beef

1 (14.5 oz.) can unsalted diced tomatoes, not drained

1 ¼ cup water

½-teaspoon parsley

½-teaspoon oregano

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

8 ounces egg noodles, uncooked whole grain

12 ounces fat free cottage cheese

2 cups reduced fat mozzarella cheese, shredded.

Spray skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Brown ground meat. Drain and return to skillet. Stir in diced tomatoes, water, parsley, oregano and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil. Add uncooked pasta, cover and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Stir in cottage cheese. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in 1and 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes to melt cheese. Enjoy!

Nutrition Corner

Mary Ehret