"How rude," I thought, when my alarm sounded one morning earlier this month, marking the end of summer and the start of the school year. "How annoying," I thought, as I packed lunchboxes while simultaneously making breakfast.
No matter how well you've prepared, changes in routine, particularly when they involve children, are challenging. That said, being prepared — a freezer stocked with muffins and waffles, a cookie jar bursting with chocolate chippers, a loaf of good sandwich bread on the counter — makes the daily grind a bit less of one. So here are 10 recipes to make right now that might make life a bit sweeter. Is it the weekend, yet?
Let me be frank: School-day mornings in my house are … not easy. But these doughnuts in muffin’s clothing, with a glittering crown of cinnamon-sugar, help to smooth the rough edges and get everyone out the door with a smile on their faces.
2) Pizza Braid
Are your kids sanguine about sandwiches? Blasé about burritos? Try this savory pizza braid instead. Made with cheesy dough that’s spiked with our Better Cheddar Cheese Powder (which is also awesome on popcorn) and flavored with pizza seasoning, it has a filling of tomato sauce, more cheese, and your favorite toppings.
One of Test Kitchen Director (and Mother-Of-The-Year) Sarah Jampel’s secret school day weapons is a cache of waffles in her freezer, ready and waiting to be deployed on a hectic morning. This fall, I’m going to follow her lead; the waffles can be reheated in the toaster without thawing. This recipe uses sourdough discard and can be made with all-purpose, whole wheat, or gluten-free flours, too. And if you don’t want to make your own from scratch, try our Diner-Style Pancake and Waffle Mix, which makes an easy thing even easier.
I like to tuck little notes into my kids’ lunchboxes. They may think they’re sweet, but I’m betting they’re more excited when I include bite-size brownies. This recipe makes a big 9"x13" pan of fudgy brownies; cut them into 1" squares and you’ll have four dozen bites to supply lunchboxes for weeks.
Less expensive than store-bought and fully customizable, these gluten-free granola bars are a lunchbox staple. The recipe calls for 2 to 3 cups of nuts or dried fruit of your choice; to make them school-friendly I skip the nuts and use miniature chocolate chips — in combination with tart cherries — instead.
One of our family traditions is to celebrate our kids’ return to school with cake. Now that they’re a bit older, I fully expect them to participate in the baking process; these cupcakes are a great “gateway bake” for eager children. They’re also perfect for bake sales and school celebrations. Sprinkles (not) optional.
For parents and caregivers, back-to-school time can bring about the same sort of aspirational hopes and dreams we might entertain on New Year’s Day. I, for example, long to be the parent who bakes all the sandwich bread on which all her kids’ ham sandwiches are built. If you share my dream, this soft white sandwich bread — a perennial King Arthur favorite — is a good place to begin.
These rich pastry pockets contain a kid and adult approved filling of chicken, shredded cheddar, and tart Granny Smith apples. They can be made ahead and frozen, and they’re equally good at room temperature or warm.
The key to back-to-school bonhomie is a well-stocked cookie jar, and nothing fuels homework and sports practices quite like chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. This is our 2015 Recipe of the Year; seven years later, it remains as marvelous as ever. Use this cookie scoop to make portioning the dough a breeze.
Good for breakfast or lunch, these tender scones are fun to make with your kids — not only does baking with your children teach them math skills and mindfulness, but it also offers a delicious payoff for their efforts.
Ready to ditch single-use plastic bags? Pack lunch reusably.