The school year is about to begin and the kids and I are back to school baking. YES, most people shop for school supplies (we do that too) around this time. We also bake.
Yes, my three kids and I head to the kitchen this time of year to make dinners, snacks, and back to school breakfasts that will freeze well.
The baby is the most enthusiastic helper. He sees me headed to the kitchen and grabs his wooden spoon, waving it in the air, screaming “BAKE, BAKE, ME BAKE TOO!”
The preschooler is a fan of pouring and mixing. He is my “rule follower” in the kitchen and doesn’t like it when we make up our own recipes. He likes the predictability of old favorites and requests them often. (This is the kid who declares Wild Rice Soup to be his absolute favorite meal in the whole wide world )
The grade schooler is the real chef. She is able to grab a recipe and make almost anything from scratch all on her own. She is not afraid to try new things and experiment with new flavor combos. It is fun to see her read a recipe. You can almost see her baking in her head. Then, three minutes later she will say, “I could substitute a half cup of whole wheat for white flour, change out some oil for apple sauce, and reduce the sugar to make this healthier.” (I just sit back and watch thinking – WOW, is she a mini-me or what?)
All four of us in the kitchen: total chaos! But oh, so much fun!
Why Back to School Baking?
The first few weeks of school is a little hectic. Getting 3 kids up and school ready, brushed teeth and hair, shoes on, lunches packed, and breakfast eaten, all before 7:15 in the morning can be a little tough for one Momma to do. I NEED a quick and healthy breakfast that requires little preparation and fills up hungry tummies.
Store bought bakery items tend to be very sugary and expensive, so I try to use these in moderation. I also wonder how many preservatives are in each package, as they tend to last much longer than the baked good we make at home. The only way I can control what goes into the food we eat is if we make as much of it as possible
Hard boiled eggs are a great way to get a protein in and can be made ahead of time. Pair it with a glass of milk, a healthy muffin, and a fresh fruit and we’re set for early mornings!
How Do You Find the Time?
Let’s be real. It takes time to shop, prep, cook, and clean. Making your own food may be more healthy. Making your food may be more budget friendly. But making your own food is definitely more time consuming.
I try to set aside two mornings or evenings a week to bake. Then, I plan several meals that freeze well to make: lasagna, baked chicken, and enchiladas are good make ahead and re-heat meals. I then set up a baking station on a kitchen counter. Here is a picture of ours from yesterday. It’s nothing fancy, but it works. I re-use the same bowl and measuring spoons, washing them out between batches.
I let each kid choose what muffins / cookies / scones they want to make that week. That child gets to have 1:1 parenting time together to make their recipe. The other two kids read quietly in the living room for their turn. We adapt the recipes to what we have on hand. 36 muffins (Each kid makes 12) are too much for even our family of 5, and so I freeze half of each batch for another week week. 6 muffins go into each freezer bag. That way, we don’t get tired of eating the same thing all the time and there is always a healthy snack or breakfast available for those busy days.
Some of our favorite muffin combinations
- Blueberry with Grated Orange Peel
- Lemon Blueberry
- Vanilla Raspberry
- Vanilla Walnut
- Blueberry Streusel
- Strawberry Banana
- Chocolate Zucchini
- Cranberry Orange
- Lemon Poppy-seed
- Apple Walnut
- Peanut Butter and Jelly
This week, we had purchased coconut milk and so my seven year old asked to make coconut raspberry muffins. I was game to try something new and they came out fabulous!
Raspberry Coconut Muffins
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon of beet root powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup of coconut milk
1/3 cup oil
1 egg beaten
3/4 cup frozen raspberries
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, beet root powder, and salt. Mix well.
In a small bowl combine coconut milk, oil, and egg. Mix well. Add to dry ingredients. Mix only until blended.
Gently fold in frozen raspberries.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool to room temperature before serving
What is even more awesome – is that we found a book to go with this muffin – Raspberries! A story about a baker and his raspberry adventures! We’ve put it on hold at the library and look forward to reading it soon! Being able to extend an activity with a good book helps create life-long readers!