Sharpen those pencils and load those backpacks, because school is back in session! We have the best meal prep hacks to help busy parents juggle a full calendar without going crazy!

Overhead image of a lunchbox with a post it note on top that says "Love You! - Mom". Around the lunchbox are colored pencils, grapes, berries, and milk. - Shelf Cooking

Before we know it the blazing hot, lazy days of summer will turn into crisp mornings with kiddos heading out the door early in the morning for school. Whether you celebrate the return to school or dread it, being prepared will make the transition easier for the whole family!

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While parenting through the summer has it's own challenges, the school year always brings a slew of new calendar items that can make things crazy! Back to school night, homework, the return of sporting events, band practice, spirit days, and more! We've put together our best hacks for keeping everyone fed this school year without losing your mind!

School Year Meal Prep Hacks For Breakfast

Overhead image of casserole dish with an egg and vegetable breakfast casserole. - Shelf Cooking

We've all heard it before — breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Making sure everyone is fueled up and ready to go for a full day ahead is a high priority each morning.

But, we also know mornings can be hectic and stressful, especially when you have family members that value the snooze button more than a nutritious breakfast.

To make things go smoothly in the morning and ensure no one heads out the door hungry, we suggest prepping ahead! Here are some of our favorite make-ahead breakfasts that will keep bellies full without taking up precious time in the early hours:

  • Breakfast casserole – this casserole can be made in advance and customized just the way you like! Plus, it makes a BIG 9×13 pan, so it will feed several people for days!
  • Freezer breakfast sandwiches – these easy to make sandwiches are a must! Pull them out of the freezer individually and warm them in the microwave for a quick bite on the go.
  • Overnight oats – we love keeping these in mason jars in the refrigerator! Add your favorite toppings and breakfast is ready in seconds.
  • Crunchy French toast sticks – these freeze up nicely and are perfect for little hands!
  • Egg muffin cups – keeping these in the freezer makes for a quick and easy protein packed breakfast.
  • Freezer breakfast burritos – whip these up ahead of time and you'll never need to stop by the drive-thru in the morning again!

Pro tip: Involve your kids in prep during the evenings or on the weekends to make it a family affair! We're all about #raisingcapablekids!

Meal Prep For Easy Lunches

Having a delicious and filling lunch to look forward to always makes the day more enjoyable! We have some tried and true hacks for packing a lunches both grown-ups and kiddos will enjoy.

  • Check out this post for ideas on how to pack a warm lunch without it getting soggy.
  • Trying to adopt a healthy diet? This post will give you easy low-carb lunch ideas.
  • Check out this frozen sandwich hack to make packing lunchboxes a breeze!
  • You won't believe how many lunch ideas we have in this post!
  • Learn how the Page household uses systems to manage lunches and snacks in this post.

Our Best Meal Prep Hack For Busy Dinner Times

A mother and young daughter are smiling and giving each other a high-five as they prepare vegetables for a dinner salad. - Shelf Cooking

Whew, you've made it through the day and it's time for the family to gather for dinner! Yay!

But wait…what is for dinner??

At the end of a long and busy day, the last thing you want to do is try to come up with something to eat that everyone will enjoy, won't take too long, AND won't break the bank.

This is where our number one favorite meal prep hack comes in. Are you ready??

Hands down, the best thing we recommend to simplify meal times is the Shelf Cooking Meal Subscription!

Let us take care of the planning and the grocery list every week! All you have to do is download the prepared lists and recipes and get cooking! Not only will we deliver recipes to your inbox every single week, those recipes have been specially curated to utilize shelf cooking principles. This minimizes food waste and helps you pinch pennies while still feeding your family well! Plus, we give you tips on how to prep ahead so that you are not only a skilled chef, but a productivity ninja, too!

Since we're all about frugal living, the meal plan is incredibly affordable, and you can even do a trial run for only $1! WHAT? Don't wait to check it out!

Be Awesome Without Effort

Being a busy parent is exhausting and often thankless work, but we've got your back! We live in a day and age where there are resources available to make life easier, so why not use them? We are confident that these hacks plus the Shelf Cooking Meal Subscription can make your life less stressful and more enjoyable!

Have you tried the hacks or the meal plan? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Need more amazing content? You know we have the good stuff! Check these out:

This school year, we give you an “A” for being awesome!