Monthly Musings August 2023: Back to School Shopping , Prepping and Meal Planning


Welcome to the last day of August Besties! This week was Back to School for us and I am frankly really ready. Are schools back in your area or are you holding on for a few more days? No matter where you are in the Back to School process Holly and I, along with the group of talented writers who link up with us every month for Monthly Musings, have you covered for all of the Back to School tips and tricks. Even if you don't have kids in school there are bound to be a few recipes or daily planning tips that you can use in these posts. Sharpen your pencils, grab an apple for the teacher, and join us for Monthly Musings today.

1. Where do you usually shop for Back to School? Any tips?

This one is so easy as Hockey Guy has worn a uniform for his entire school career. We did have a little trouble with fit this year for shorts and pants but after several moms tried to help with gifting uniforms that may fit, I ended up at the uniform store anyway.

Our Back to School shopping truly consists of uniforms, socks, maybe a new pair of shoes but that is that. I like Kohl's a lot for teen basics like socks.

2. How do you organize for Back to School?

We have to buy our textbooks and I am frankly really, really bad at this even after four years. Everything is on a very large spreadsheet and our high school community works hard to sell used textbooks back and forth. 

This year I wrote down all of the textbooks we needed on an index card with the book number to carry around with me. That way if a book came up on the Facebook site for sale that we might need, I had the list with me. I also took a photo of the index card to keep in my phone so that if I misplaced the card, I had this list in my phone.

Even though the book process is challenging for me, I got everything we needed this year through used book sales and some very generous alumni families.

The other thing I do before the first day of school is to get the school calendar on our Cozi calendar through Christmas break. Having everything on the calendar, especially when dealing with a high school calendar, is key.

3. Do you meal prep? Any recipes to share?

I absolutely meal prep. I write down what we are having for dinner for the week every Sunday night. I like having a plan so that I know what to take out of the freezer and to help organize my brain. There is no way that I could start figuring out what to make for dinner when I walk through the door at night. I am just not wired that way.

Here are a few easy recipes that we love in the Good Better Best household:

4. Any Back to School traditions?

We always do a first day of school photo. This year's photo was inside and very early in the morning due to Senior Sunrise. I was just happy to get the photo!

I also always make a Back to School meal. This year I had to do it Tuesday night, day two of school, because Hockey Guy had hockey practice late on Monday night. Let's just say that Baked Chicken Tacos work Better on a night when you don't have hockey practice!

5. How long does it take you to get into a new fall routine?

It will probably take a few weeks for us to get into a groove. We are getting used to three early showers in the morning, new nights for travel hockey and then also Running Daddy will be downtown more after Labor Day. Once we get this in balance, we will be adding high school hockey in October so our routine will need a bit of tweaking at that point.

6. Best lunchbox packing tip?

I share this tip in some format almost every year. This tip is about the thermos. A thermos is great for things like leftover mac and cheese but things can get cold fast.

My Best thermos tip is to heat water in the microwave until hot and then add the hot water to the thermos. Keep the hot water in the thermos while you heat up the food in the microwave. Once the food is hot, dump out the water in the thermos. Then add the food to the thermos. The food will stay warmer longer because you are adding warm food into a warm thermos. Voila! 

7. Best tips for getting out the door in the morning?

I definitely could be Better at this. The main thing I try to do every night is pick out my clothes the night before and put them on a hook on the inside of my closet. I would love to start outfit planning the way I meal plan. Maybe this is a goal for after Labor Day.

8. Slow Cooker? Instant Pot? Both? Neither?

I don't own an Instant Pot and really don't have no desire for one. Feel free to try to convince me otherwise in the comment section below.

I probably use my slow cooker more during the winter and the school year, but I did pull it out several times over the summer too.

I use the slow cooker for the Baked Chicken Tacos and I also really love this Sausage and White Bean Soup. This soup is perfect for a busy weekend when the temperatures drop. 

9. School bus? Carpool? Walk to School?

Since Hockey Guy has gone to Catholic school his entire life, we have always driven him to school. We didn't even really carpool when he was little. Running Daddy and I just figured it out every week. Now Hockey Guy drives himself to school.
10. Start school before or after Labor Day?

Growing up in New England meant that I always started school right after Labor Day, but it also meant that we were still in school well into June, especially if we had a lot of snow that year.

The schools that we sent Hockey Guy to always started the week before Labor Day. Frankly, especially when he was little, Hockey Guy was really ready to go back to school by mid-August. I also really like the idea of easing into the school year for a week before Labor Day and then really hitting the strides in early September.

School starts are always a very hotly debated topic. Feel free to sound off on this but be polite Besties!

Now it's time to hear from all of the writers who join us every month. I cannot wait to see what they share on the Back to School front! 

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  1. You are always so good with meal planning and schedules- I hope you enjoy every day of this special senior year!

  2. I was so surprised that Alec hasn't had a single book for his entire 4 years of high school-- everything is done on the Chromebook! I definitely add everything from the school calendar onto our and since Alec swaps between culinary and academic weeks I mark those too-- but I put everything in erasable pen since there always seems to be some sort of calendar change mid-way through the year. My son skipped senior sunrise this morning so he could sleep in just a bit longer so I did get a decent enough first day of school photo and I'm pretty sure the only other one I had is his first day of Freshman year. It's so neat to see the change in just that short(ish!) span.

  3. I am in awe of you and other moms who do the whole meal planning thing well. I was never good at it! Hope you all have a great school year!

  4. Oh my word. I hadn't even though about high school textbooks. Now I have something new to think about! I don't even know if our kids have to buy them or not...

  5. It’s been a couple of years since I have had to think about back to school! I enjoy keeping up with families that are still in that routine and seeing what changes they have made over the years to accommodate growing kiddos. I do miss those busy afternoon/evening’s of practices and games and quick family meals. I do not miss the angst of “when do we get homework done?“. When I taught in Ohio back in the mid 90s, we started school the Wednesday before Labor Day so we had a three day, then four day, and then five day week – I loved that! All the years my kids were in school down here in Tennessee they started the first or second week of August which I didn’t mind since they have been out since before Memorial Day. It’s funny how there are so many different schedules throughout the country.


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