It’s (already!) that time of year again. Whether you’re relieved to have your kids back in the classroom or knee-deep in school-related stress, you’re probably buckling back down into more regular dinner-times. Don’t worry! We have some simple strategies—and recipes—to simplify this special time of year.

Keep it simple

If you watch cooking shows or follow celebrity chefs, it can sometimes feel like every meal has to be an event. It doesn’t. For dinner, choose a main-dish recipe that’s quick and easy to prepare and toss a salad on the side, or simply cut up some raw vegetables and serve with dressing for dipping (see below for some awesomely simple suppers). Think of lunches as a way to use up what’s in the fridge. Prep easy, healthy breakfasts in advance.

Plan ahead

Does meal planning sounds like yet another chore to add to your ever-growing to-do list? We get it, that’s the last thing you need. But it’s actually the opposite; meal planning is a true time- and money-saver, plus a stress reliever. The secret weapon: Technology. Download an app like Cozi (free for iTunes and Android), which lets you store your favorite recipes, keep a running grocery list (and share it, so someone else in the family can pick up ingredients), track to-dos, and manage schedules, so you can coordinate it all. It also allows you to set reminders for yourself and send messages to the whole family. (Health and Cozi are both owned by Time Inc.)

RELATED: Your Back-to-School Reboot

Have fun

No doubt you’ve heard about the abundant benefits of sitting down to a meal together as a family. Even if it only happens one or two nights a week (or only at breakfast), it’s worth doing. Take a break from phones and other devices and catch up on the day’s events. If this seems intimidating, visit The Family Dinner Project for conversation starter ideas and other resources.

Try these three recipes for easy, delicious, energizing weeknight dinners:

Chicken with Wine-Herb Sauce

Farfalle with Zucchini and White Beans

Balsamic-Marinated Steak with Charred Radicchio


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