Back-to-school means back to big family weeknight dinners. There is nothing I enjoy more than sitting at the dinner table after a long day and hearing endless stories about crickets in the tunnel at school, the big monkey driving a school bus, all served up with a side of actual learning.
It’s a time to connect, enjoy a laugh and wind down with the ones you love. Not to mention that sharing screen-free family dinners nourish kids in life-changing ways. It is said to improve mental health, give a developmental boost and even encourage better grades.
As a vegan with 3 carnivores and two picky eaters, it’s important that our family meals are versatile. I’m also all about recycling dinners into lunchtime tastiness because if there is a time saving opportunity, you always take it!
Pizza is a go-to because it’s fast, simple and always a crowd pleaser. I like to make a couple batches of dough and sauce at a time and toss them in the freezer for quick weeknight meals. Whenever I have time, I prep some of our favourite toppings and store them in the fridge in containers which keep them super fresh.
Making the dough is so much fun, we turn it into a weekend activity. My son loves helping out in the kitchen and seriously, there is nothing more enjoyable than pizza dough.
Some of our favourite toppings:
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Barbecued chicken
- Bell peppers
- Black beans
- Cherry tomatoes
- Garlic spread
- Green olives
- Green onions
- Hard boiled eggs
- Sautéed Granny Smith apples (mmm)
- Turkey strip
Using mixing bowls have a non-skid grip on the bottom makes them little helper friendly. You can use your hands to knead out the dough or use a rolling pin. We like doing a little bit of both – starting with the hands and then bringing in the rolling pin! Cooking the pizzas on a non-stick pizza pan bakes it to a crispy perfection and makes the clean up a breeze.
Pass the pasta
Pasta is another staple in our house, the kids and I could eat it every day (and sometimes we do…). There are so many variations of pasta noodles to choose from, whole wheat, quinoa, spelt, vegetable – you can eat it all the time and still keep it fresh.
I’m always prepared with a simple homemade jarred tomato sauce, I spend an hour making a few batches and freeze them for the upcoming weeks. Just remember to take it out of the freezer the night before you need to use it. You can find my simple Italian recipe here. It’s great on pizza, veal, chicken or quinoa – pretty much everything!
We take mac and cheese and bring it to the next level of fun – doughnut mac and cheese! You could make larger ones with a Wilton 6 cavity doughnut pan but because my kids are obsessed with finger foods we love the Wilton 12 cavity doughnut pan.
They are so enjoyable to eat we have them at least once a week and pack them for lunches. You can store the donuts in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Each batch makes about 3 small pans, if you are in a rush you can bake one pan of donuts and a casserole (uncovered) in the oven at the same time.
“Nothing is better than going home to family and eating good food and relaxing.” Irina Shayk
Want to read more from Danielle?
Check out her Tips To Stay Organized During The Weekday Hustle!