Some may feel it’s kind of odd that I would be reviewing the School Year Survival Cookbook by Laura Keith and Ceri Marsh in August when for most children the school year doesn’t begin again until September. This is the “Blessed Summer” parents are thinking, where they can relax and don’t have to worry about lunches. The madness that is “trying to get your kids to eat breakfast while running for the bus”, “putting together a packed lunch for school”, and then “finding time to make something edible for dinner”, seems far away now.
This is not your typical recipe book. This book isn’t just for the school year. The School Year Survival Cookbook is all about helping parents manage during the school year to get the kids fed nutritional meals. The authors want you to start your prep work in August in order to prepare your mind and kitchen for the onslaught that is the school year.
It all begins with the Pantry For Success. This chapter explains how to get organized, how to set yourself up for success, and what you need in your pantry. Gearing Up gives you the essential kitchen gear that will help make your life easier in general.
It then continues on with the section “Meal Planning For Sanity”. This gives you instructions on how to plan your meals in advance. The authors admit that meal planning is not sexy but claim that meal planning will change your life in a positive way. I have to agree, knowing what you’re going to eat, what you’re going to need to buy, gives you an idea of when you need to start, how much you’re going to need to spend, and might even help stave off the panic.
The first section of recipes starts with Breakfast. The goal is to make a brainy breakfast. These recipes are designed to balance blood sugar, pair protein with carbs, and add antioxidants. The recipes include tips on substituting ingredients and preparation. I find tips in a recipe book are invaluable.
The overnight refrigerator puddings, which look extremely easy to assemble, should be a quick fix in the mornings because they were mostly done the night before. Some of the recipes like the smoothie bowls have a step-by-step video on the book’s website. I think the publishers might have made it easier had they used a QR code which goes directly to that video but they are easy to find on the website.
The Lunch menu is all about being a Lunch Ninja. Ceri Marsh apparently refers herself to herself as a Lunch Ninja because of her system of creating the lunches as she’s preparing dinner. Like making extra carrots to go with the lunch in the lunch packs if she’s peeling carrots for dinner etc. I think that’s an excellent tip. If you’re going to make carrots once, why do it a second time later for lunches, just make a couple of extras at the same time.
Lunches in this chapter are not all about sandwiches, there are lots of different opportunities for nutrition. There are tons of different ways to approach side dishes with the meals, including some lovely looking soups. The Sweet Corn and Zucchini Fritters looks like something I would enjoy for myself. The book even contains some helpful information about how many calories, how much water kids need, carbohydrates for energy, lean proteins and so much more.
Dinner starts with Mastering Meal Prep. This section encourages batch cooking and explains how. Many of the recipes include tips on how to get ahead by preparing in advance. There is a lot of variety of in the recipes. I don’t think any of these recipes would go untouched even though kids are notoriously fussy eaters.
You might’ve heard of Transformers, the cars that turned into robots. Now meet Transformer Meals. For instance, Spicy Beef becomes Spicy Beef Tacos with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and then becomes Easy Beef and Black Bean Enchiladas or even Couscous Stuffed Peppers. I like the idea of Transformers because you can make one thing and it makes two meals. While you are cooking one night you’ll make extra protein to use it in one of the other Transformer meals.
After the Transformer section are several recipes for make ahead. They all have tips on how to save time while making dinner. Learn what you can do in advance to speed up the process once dinner time comes.
Then there is an entire section on leftover makeovers which is a slightly different strategy. The authors share their strategy on how to successfully use leftovers everyone will eat.
The Snacks and Treats section is, of course, going to be your kids’ favorite section. They have lots of luscious looking bars, cornbread, muffins, etc. even nut free energy bites. It continues with terrific dips, breads, and other deliciousness. I am entirely sure every recipe here would be the eaten down to the last crumb.
Choosing one recipe is difficult in this book because they all look quick, easy, and tasty. I chose Blueberry Grunt Greatness because it looks so luscious. Hope you enjoy!