7 Favorite Dinners for Back to School Week

7 Favorite Dinners for Back to School Week

Jack started second (!) grade this week, and Rosie and Clara entered their first full year of preschool. This summer flew by, and if I'm being honest, it's the first summer since the girls were born that I was sad school is starting again. I enjoyed the slower mornings with them and the flexibility summer offered.

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Back to school means busier afternoons, the routine of lunch-making, earlier bedtimes, homework, etc. To get us through this transition, I planned our weeknight dinners to include tried-and-true family favorites. Here's what we're eating this week. 

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Sunday: Trader Joe's spatchcocked chicken and corn

 Image: Trader Joe's

Image: Trader Joe's

Have you tried Trader Joe's packaged, marinated meats? We are long-time fans of the pollo asado and carne asada, but last summer we started picking up their lemon rosemary spatchcocked chicken. It's really flavorful and as easy as can be (we cook ours on the grill). Served with some sweet August corn, this was a no-brainer dinner for a busy night before the first day of school.

Monday: Zach's "Taco Bell" tacos

Zach claims to be a "nacho connoisseur", according to his Twitter bio. I think he could just as easily establish himself as "Taco Bell" taco recreator. He has these tacos down to science, and they taste just as good as we can remember Taco Bell to be (admittedly it's been a while since I've had the real deal). This dish is comfort food in our house, and we make a variation of this just about every week. For some reason, we never make it to "Taco Tuesday" to eat our tacos. It seems like Mondays are the most appropriate taco nights.

Zach's trick to making this taste like the chain is garlic powder and salt. He mixes it into browned ground turkey, then adds of mixture of spices (chili powder and cumin), and a few tablespoons of water to help create a sauce that coats the turkey. We dish it up in some tortillas with all the fixings, and bam! 

Tuesday: Cashew Chicken

 Image: Martha Stewart 

Image: Martha Stewart 

This comes from one of our favorite, classic cookbooks, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food: Great Food Fast, filled with quick and easy meals like this cashew chicken. We made this tonight, and I thought it would be a slam dunk with the kids (they love cashews!). Zach, Jack and I thought it was delicious, but the girls were skeptical. They are at this incredibly unpredictable stage of eating — you just never know what item on their plates might upset them at that very moment. This, it turns out, was one of them. Ah, well.

Wednesday: Chicken parmigiana and roasted broccoli

Our weeknight chicken parmigiana is considered a comfort food in our house, and our quick way of cooking it makes the cooking a little more hands-off and gets it on the table a bit faster. 

Thursday: Chilaquiles

 Image: Martha Stewart

Image: Martha Stewart

These chilaquiles are one of our favorite weeknight dinners and is on heavy rotation. It's really quick if you get a rotisserie for the chicken. If you don't have that, you can always boil chicken in water to shred or do my new favorite thing: make shredded chicken in the slow cooker (I love to make a big batch for salads throughout the week). 

We alter this recipe by swapping tortilla chips with lettuce to make more of a salad. Don't think we're too healthy though . . . we add a heap of tortilla chips and feta on top for extra flavor. 

Friday: One-dish baked chicken with tomatoes and olives

 Image: Alex Lau, Epicurious 

Image: Alex Lau, Epicurious 

When I'm tired on Friday but still want something festive, this dish comes to the rescue. It feels like a little more than it is, and we all eat what we want from it, employing the venn diagram of family eating

Saturday: Indian-spiced chicken, eggplant and tomato skewers  

 Image: Chelsea Kyle, Epicurious 

Image: Chelsea Kyle, Epicurious 

I planned these flavor-filled kebabs for Saturday with visions of enjoying a glass of wine in the backyard while Zach grills the kebabs and I push the kids on the swings. It takes a bit longer to prep, as it requires marinading, and the spice mixture always take a little longer than it says in the recipe description, so I wanted to give myself some extra time to prep and enjoy.

I hope your back to school transition goes smoothly! 

P.S. Another week of mealsfive more weeknight dinners and how to be a meal planning addict.

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