Back to school time means packing lunches, after school lunches, eating on the go, and getting back into the routine. This collection of recipes is perfect for back to school!
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20 Back to School Recipes
At the end of the post check out my recommendation for the BEST lunchbox!
This recipe for applesauce muffins is is a great way to use a healthy ½ cup of your homemade applesauce (or store-bought if you haven’t learned how to make it from me yet!) into a portable snack.
Homemade applesauce is something that is easy to make, fast (only 10 minutes in the canning process and there’s an easy trick to skipping peeling and coring I’ll explain in a moment) and you can skip the sugar entirely especially if you have sweet apples on hand.
Strawberry Jam is THE preserve to try if you’ve never canned because strawberries are so high in acid that the worst thing that could happen is that you’ll have thin jam, which is essentially strawberry syrup. It’s also a great gift jam, holding it’s color nicely in jars. Hello, peanut butter and jam sandwiches!
Strawberry Champagne Jam is THE jam to make to celebrate, to give as a gift, and to savor the flavor of spring. It is much easier than you think and there are a few simple pro tips for keeping that champagne flavor in the jar! You can head to the blog post, or download the printable PDF right here! I love this jam for MY jam & almond butter sandwiches for when I’m driving kids around; filling AND delicious!
This recipe is for Strawberry Kiwi Lemonade concentrate and that is the best part. You can pour a spoonful or two into a glass and fill it with water (or sparkling water if you want to trick them even further!) and stir it up and it is suddenly a natural soda that you made yourself. If I want to add a shot of grown-up libation to it, I can, and if my youngest wants to have some I can make his weaker still. I can put a little in a cup, add water, and send it to school instead of super sugary, store-bought drink. Winning!
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I don’t strain this back to school recipe with cheesecloth because I personally don’t care about things like tiny strawberry seeds and I am not interested in perfectly clear syrup. Feel free to strain of course as you wish. This post will share a recipe that is a very simple recipe for strawberry syrup and I hope to remind you also that syrup is not just for pancakes. I think pancakes are a great way to ring in the weekend, don’t you think?
This recipe is based on one from the 1942 version of the Good Housekeeping Cook Book. It is originally titled, “Banana Tea Bread” but when I read the recipe, given to me by my Gram, I swapped out a few ingredients and decided muffins would serve my lunchbox-toting kindergartener better than bread that I would have to slice, wrap, etc. in the busy mornings before school. This recipe is easy, and filling! If you like to print recipes, you can download it for free right here:
Carrot pickles are one of my favorite pickles because they aren’t cucumbers 🙂 I actually don’t care for cucumbers much, to be honest, which I know is really silly but they just don’t light my fire. Canning this recipe is EASY and they pack so well in a lunch box!
This recipe is a great way to take a veggie that is in season around back to school time and preserve it in an easy, sandwich-friendly ingredient or bento-box style lunch component. Be sure to read to the bottom for my lunch box suggestion!
Raspberry jam is a delight to give as gifts, raspberries are easy to pick at U-pick farms, and deliciously gift-able preserved in these tiny mason jars. I also love this jam stirred into a container of plain yogurt or on top of oatmeal in the morning.
This recipe calls for Roma tomatoes, which are typically denser and thus cook into a thicker sauce a bit faster. You can use whatever tomato you have on hand, however, and this is a great recipe to use a variety if that is what you have. There’s a free download of the jam recipe in the post too! This recipe is great for kids and teens with a slightly more sophisticated palate, or just for parents eating on the go. Try it on an everything bagel with cream cheese and you won’t share with the kids at all.
This cranberry lemon jam is super smooth, perfect for Thanksgiving, even better on a sandwich the day after Thanksgiving with turkey slices, great on bagels with cream cheese, and the lemon makes it seem bright and summery too. It’s a perfect jam. You definitely can make this cranberry lemon jam and preserve it in a water bath process- you do not have to use a steam canner. Or you can make it and eat it fresh. Store it in the refrigerator if you do. Can this jam this fall, and when the lunch box fillings are getting tired and boring around February, open this jam to revive everyone’s senses.
Blackberries are a funny thing. They are probably my favorite berry, definitely, if we are talking about eating out of hand, and of course, they have the worst thorns. I suppose we can complain that a blackberry bush has thorns, or rejoice that a thorn bush has blackberries. Because they are so, so good, I’ll go with the later. School is a lot like that, isn’t it? We can be happy that there’s activities, friends, learning, and new experiences, or we can focus on the early wake-up, the homework, the forgotten forms, and the like. Focus on the fun, and the berries, and enjoy this on some toast on the way out the door in the morning, Wildflowers!
I recently shared a post about why you should head to a U-Pick berry patch this summer after I spent a lovely morning picking a mix of mostly marionberries (similar to blackberries), strawberries, and a handful of raspberries. With this mix, I adapted a recipe from the well worn Farm Journal Freezing & Canning Cookbook written in 1962. I checked my adaptation against other trusted recipes published in my lifetime and it is safe to say that it is a homerun berry jam recipe.
Plum Jam is an easy recipe that is elevated in a wonderful way by roasting the plums. Beginners can easily succeed with this canning recipe and the roasting plums make your home smell heavenly. Lining your shelves with these jams will make for easy mornings and lunch-prep all school year long!
Canning grape jam is a fairly simple task because the recipe is straightforward and brief, grapes are not difficult to collect (no thorns like blackberries) and are sweet enough that they don’t require a lot of extra sugar. While we most often see the clear jelly in stores, grape jam is delicious and seems to be a bit more virtuous in my mind because more of the actual grape remains in the pot.
Canning tomato sauce is one of the most satisfying tasks a home canner could ask for because of the versatility of tomato sauce. When people start preserving, they often make jam because it is fairly simple and of course delicious but I find the savory preserves, like this tomato sauce, are the most useful. Open a jar of this after a busy school day and have instant pasta sauce, stromboli filling, base for stew, blank – slate enchilada sauce, and so much more. If I had to can ONE recipe for the rest of my life, it would be this recipe because we eat so much wholesome, no sugar tomato sauce.
Chocolate Cranberry Mole: A Fermented Paste from The Fermentista’s Kitchen is a fermented food that you definitely have to try if you are fermenting-curious. I have a real sweet tooth and this sounded weird and delicious and because it pairs with ice cream I had to try it. Here is her recipe and I will note where I changed a few things; namely I used frozen cranberries instead of fresh. Fermented foods are a wise addition to the diet in terms of gut health and they are EASY.
This classic Swiss cookie recipe is a rich shortbread type of cookie that is easy to prepare and my favorite with hot coffee or cocoa. Mailanderli has a variety of spellings on the internet and on recipe cards, you might come across but they all refer to the Swiss version of the sugar cookie. Try this simple recipe that belonged to my Great Grandma Frieda. It is best made with real butter, and extra good if made in the company of loved ones. This is a great lunch box cookie. My daughter always has a raised eyebrow at the end of the day if there was nothing “sweet” in her lunch box (no fruit or treat for her- she hates it if there are only carrot sticks and celery to conclude her meal!) and this is a great recipe for an easy treat.
Muesli is a widely used descriptor referring to breakfasts made with grains, dairy, and fresh fruit. The recipe that follows in this post is adapted from the excellent “The Swiss Cookbook” by Betty Bossi gifted to me by my kind Swiss cousins. If you are hungry for a wholesome breakfast that is fast and delicious, read on. Top with any of the jams listed above!
Back to School Recommendation: My Favorite Lunchbox
I got this lunchbox for my daughter last year. I should back up a bit and tell you all I taught junior high and high school English for 9 years. I’ve seen a lot of lunch boxes. I have seen most of them end up in the garbage (ahem, landfill) before Christmas break, and I really didn’t want to have the hassle of finding a suitable lunchbox again, plus having to figure out if it was recyclable (likely not), plus having to pay for a second (and third, and fourth) lunchbox. I did a ton of research and chose the Planetbox lunch boxes. We used it, the accompanying bag, ice pack, silo and cups for a year and it looks almost brand-new. I justified the cost (it’s more than a crappy plastic lunchbox) thinking that if my daughter hated it, then I would carry it to college where I teach till I die. Well, no such luck because my daughter loves it.
They are super well made lightweight but not flimsy stainless steel lunch boxes. The genius part is you can choose from a really wide selection of magnets to stick on the front (above is the “Animal” option my son chose for this year!) that slide off when you want to put the whole lunch box in the dishwasher or submerge in the sink, which isn’t necessary all the time, but just when you want to. The hinge wasn’t too difficult for my 5-year-old to manage and it was easy to slide it in and out of the insulated bag.
Because it was stainless, I didn’t wrap up her sandwiches or snacks nowhere nearly as often as I would have if it were a more traditionally sized and shaped plastic lunchbox because you can nestle the food neatly into the cubbies and there’s no worry about the food staining – it’s stainless 😉 – and the lid fits perfectly down on the bottom.
This isn’t a sponsored post, and I didn’t get them for free- I just love them and I think you would too!
Happy Back to School, Wildflowers!