Just as summer vibes start to sink in, back-to-school season creeps up and it’s already time for school supply shopping. While planning ahead for school and sports, don’t forget to start a shopping list for quick and easy staples to pull together quick, nutritious meals and snacks when running between bus pick-up and fall sports practices. These produce staples can help you be ready – and energized – for the busy days ahead.
In the fridge
Convenience is the name of the game, so make sure refrigerated items are grab-and-go friendly or pre-chopped and sliced for easy use. You’re more likely to add in chopped bell pepper to your dish or snack on cantaloupe if it’s already rinsed and cut, whether you purchase it that way or spend a few minutes doing so when returning from the store. Don’t forget about 100% fruit and vegetable juices, sipping on orange juice with breakfast and adding a juice box to your child’s brown bag lunch are easy ways to up your produce game. Individual hummus cups are another favorite for easy and portable snacking.
In the freezer
Remember how we did some pre-slicing and dicing for easy fruit and veggie meal additions? If you don’t think you’ll use up all you purchased, throw some in food storage bags and place in the freezer. Those sliced onions and chopped broccoli florets will come in handy when you don’t have fresh on hand. And same goes for fruit – slice and freeze bananas along with chopped mango and a handful of berries. These pre-portioned fruit bags can help you whip up smoothies in no time or add tropical flavors to your morning oatmeal. When shopping for frozen fruits and veggies, opt for varieties that may not be in season, like frozen cranberries, or options that make prepping meals a breeze, like stir fry blends, halved Brussels sprouts or riced cauliflower.
In dry storage
In addition to flavor enhancers like ginger, onion and garlic and room-temp friendly fruits like bananas and clementines, stock up on plenty of canned produce options so your pantry is filled with colorful variety whenever quick dishes have to come together. Beans are versatile and cost-effective, whether adding black beans to a cool-weather stew or cannellini beans into your favorite pasta dish for a plant-based dinner. Pureed pumpkin and applesauce can be baked into snack-time muffins or stirred into pancake mix when prepping breakfast in a hurry. And don’t forget about lunchbox favorites like squeezable fruit pouches, 100% fruit leathers, dried fruit blends and freeze-dried veggie crisps. They’re sure to bring a smile to your child’s face and set them up for a successful school day.