5 Ways to Get Your Kitchen Back-to-School Ready!

Back to School Season is here and it’s time to switch gears and get into a Fall rhythm. Yes Mama–it’s time to step away from the pool and say hello to the football fields again (goob-bye tan and messy hair!!!). My mission is to make dinner time easier for you with 15 Weeknight Dinners that are either Sheet Pan, Slow Cooker or One-Skillet Meals. Because getting back to school shouldn’t sabotage dinner time….even though your mornings will be officially under attack by that little thing called an “alarm clock.”

Aside from our Back to School Survival Set, I also want to remind you that back to school isn’t just for closets and backpacks; it’s also for kitchen and pantries!

1. Purge your Pantry & Refrigerator

But don’t do both on the same day! Start by tackling your pantry, one section at a time. That way, if something happens and you have to abandon the task, the entire contents of your pantry doesn’t litter your counters and dining table. Not that this has ever happened to me… ahem. 

Throw away stale, lost and forgotten foods or consider donating those non-perishable items that you know are never going to get eaten in your home. Get your kids involved and have them pull everything out and wipe down shelves. It will feel good to stack everything up in an orderly way and it will make them feel like they are part of the fresh start endeavor! 

Do the same thing for the refrigerator. Empty it out, wipe it down, throw away old and forgotten food and place everything back in in an orderly fashion. As your kids help, encourage them to try to put everything in its place so that the fridge doesn’t become an “open at your own risk” kind of deal with potential pickle jars falling on their heads. 


2. Keep Pantry and Fridge Staples in Stock 

With a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator, you will never NOT have anything to cook; even if it’s rice and a well-seasoned can of black beans (thank you Latin Nights Seasoning Blend).  No Cream of Chicken?  No worries, throw in some milk with flour and a little bouillon and you’ve got a quickie cream of chicken. No bar-b-que sauce? Mix some ketchup, mustard and brown sugar with some Worcestershire sauce and you have your own BBQ sauce better than the store-bought stuff. No marinara? A can of crushed tomatoes with a splash of vinegar, a pinch of sugar and Little Eataly and your pasta will be ready to take the plunge. The point is that we get too reliant on pre-made stuff when we could potentially whip these things together with a well-stocked pantry. You can buy these items in bulk so you don’t have to worry about those items week to week. If you try to keep these items on hand, you will NEVER run out of things to eat. Here is a list of staple items I like to keep on hand: 

  • Flour
  • Corn Starch 
  • Bread Crumbs 
  • Corn Meal 
  • Oatmeal 
  • Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Pasta 
  • Rice
  • Dried Beans
  • Peanut Butter 
  • Jelly 
  • Honey 
  • Vinegars (Apple Cider, Red Wine and White)
  • Worcestershire Sauce 
  • Ketchup Mayonnaise 
  • Dijon Mustard 
  • Chicken Stock 
  • Better than Bouillon Paste 
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • Avocado Oil 
  • Canned Tomato Products (Crushed, Diced, etc)
  • Canned Beans
  • Store-Bought Marinara Sauce 
  • Organic Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Chicken 
  • Precooked Sausage, for the day I forget to defrost other proteins 
  • Milk 
  • Heavy Cream 
  • Half-and-Half 
  • Butter
  • Eggs 
  • Lemon juice 
  • Tortillas & Wraps
  • Frozen Bread

3. Be Consistent with Your Grocery Planning 

Some women keep a running list on their phones. Others print off recipes and transfer ingredients onto a clean sheet of paper. Some women are creatures of habit and don’t even keep a list and just know to buy the same things every week. However, I have found that printing off a batch of grocery list templates and having them in a kitchen drawer keeps me from jotting down lists on junk mail, the backs of my son’s drawings, etc. I’ve come up with a tried and true template that I think sets Mamas up for success. Check out the Mustard Seed Grocery List, print out and let me know if it helps you! 


4. Follow my Monthly Dinner is Done Guides 

Subscribe to Mustard Seed emails and get my Monthly Dinner is Done Guide that launches September 2023. It will include grocery lists, weeknight dinners and give you an opportunity to buy the seasonings you will need for the month at a 10% discount. This is NOT a subscription. It is a free service I provide to you as one mom to the next! Subscribe now! 


5. Double-Batch Dinners for School Lunches

I don’t know about you but I abhor (yes, I used a strong word here) making school lunches. Let’s just say I’m not a morning person, um-kay and I’m not one of those moms who make cutesy and creative lunches for my Littles. However, anytime I make a soup, or a casserole or something that I know will keep warm in a thermos-like container, I am all IN because I know my kids will eat it and I won’t have to slap together another sandwich. 

Now that I’ve shared things that I actually do to get ready for back to school; I’d love to hear what you do to get yourself ready!!!! 


Grab your Back to School Survival Set Now