back to school time

Back to School Time!


It’s that time of year again!  Our boys started school last week and so our school routines have been dragged out from the back of the closet along with the backpacks and lunch boxes.  Today I am sharing a few quick tips that help us survive the back to school madness and still eat healthy at the same time!


At the charter school where our boys attend school, there is no school cafeteria and so there are no options for buying lunch at school.  This is actually totally fine with us since we like to feed our kids healthy food and that is so much easier to do when the only option is what’s packed in your lunchbox that day!  We recognize that, eventually, our kids are going to grow up and make their own choices about what foods go into their body but, for now, we are going to enjoy the opportunity to choose what they eat during the school day!  


back to school - snack boxesEvery night before a school day, after cleaning up the dinner dishes, we work together in the kitchen to pack 3 snack boxes and 3 lunch boxes for the next day of school.  We love our metal snack boxes, which come with 4 small compartments.  We typically pack these sections with fruits, veggies, nuts, cheese, meat, or muffins.  We try our best to use seasonal and local ingredients wherever possible.  We also enlist the help of the kids to shop for and prepare these items so that they will be more likely to eat it when they find it in their snack box or lunch box!




back to school - lunch boxesWe also use metal lunch boxes and these have either 2 or 3 compartments each.  We usually pack dinner leftovers in one section of their lunch bin and fill the other side with more fruits and veggies.  If there are no leftovers from dinner, or if the dinner doesn’t lend itself well to a packed lunch, we might go with another option like meat and cheese rollups with crackers and hummus.  We also include a joke of the day written on a sticky note and attached to the top of their lunch bin.  This gives them something to look forward every day and hopefully makes them laugh 🙂


Packing the snacks and lunches the night before can make the school mornings so much less stressful for all of us.  We also love to use overnight breakfast options during the school year to make our mornings run more smoothly. 


And one last tip for calming the back-to-school craziness is to use the slow cooker as much as possible for making dinner!  I used slow cooker meals for 3 out of the first 4 days of school so that I could dedicate the after-school hours at home to my kids and I could be totally focused on them instead of in the kitchen preparing dinner. 


Here is a favorite slow cooker recipe in our house.  I hope that you love this recipe as much as we do and that you are all surviving back-to-school time in your house!


Slow Cooker Fish Chowder
  1. 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless flounder, cut into 1-inch pieces
  2. 2 cups tomatoes, diced (can be canned or fresh)
  3. 8 ounces clam juice
  4. ½ cup onion, chopped
  5. ½ cup celery, chopped
  6. ½ cup carrots, chopped
  7. ½ cup dry white wine (I usually use Chardonnay)
  8. ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  9. 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (or ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary)
  10. 1 teaspoon salt
  11. 1/3 cup light cream
  12. 3 tablespoons wheat flour
  13. 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Combine all ingredients except cream, flour and butter in a slow cooker and stir well. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours.
  2. One hour before serving, combine cream, flour and butter. Stir into fish mixture. Continue to cook until soup is slightly thickened.
  1. Makes: 4 servings (this recipe can be doubled and still fit in a 5 or 6-quart slow cooker)
  2. This recipe can be made gluten- and/or dairy-free by skipping the last step of thickening the soup. The end result is more of a stew than a chowder but still delicious!
Life From Scratch
Maria from Life From Scratch at the Saucon Valley Farmers' Market in Hellertown - September 2017

September Farmers’ Market Schedule!

Hey Friends!  I have some exciting news to share!  I will be doing live cooking demos at local farmers’ markets in September, October and November.  If you live in the Lehigh Valley area, come on out this week and say “Hi!” and support our local farmers!


Here is my September schedule:


I will be preparing recipes using food from the local vendors at the markets.  You can try a free sample of the food, grab a copy of the recipe, and shop for fresh ingredients! 


Here is a sneak peek at two of the delicious recipes that I will be making this month…


Watermelon, Peach, and Tomato Salsa
  1. 1 tablespoon lime zest
  2. ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  3. ¼ cup hot pepper jelly (or 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced)
  4. 1 cup fresh watermelon, seeded and diced
  5. 1 cup fresh peaches, peeled and diced
  6. 1 ½ cup fresh cherry tomatoes, quartered
  7. 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  8. salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together lime zest and juice with hot pepper jelly (if using). Add watermelon, peaches, tomatoes, and basil and stir together. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  2. Serve with chips and enjoy!
  1. Makes: about 4 cups
Life From Scratch
Stoplight Salad
  1. 2 cups tomatoes, chopped
  2. 2 cups corn
  3. 1 green bell pepper, diced
  4. 1 red bell pepper, diced
  5. ¼ cup fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley or basil), chopped
  6. 2 cups cooked black beans (optional)
  7. 2 cups cooked quinoa (optional)
  8. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  9. 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or lime juice
  10. 1 clove garlic, minced
  11. salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Combine tomatoes, corn, peppers, herbs, black beans, and quinoa in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar or lime juice, and garlic. Pour dressing over salad. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently and serve over greens, if desired. Enjoy!
  1. Makes: 8-10 servings
Life From Scratch


You can find these recipes and more on our new Farmers’ Market page of the website.  Happy Cooking and Happy Eating!  🙂