Making quick meals for at-home learning

Four quesadilla slices and pico de gallo on a blue plate
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The school year certainly looks very different this year. While some children are eating lunches at school, many others are eating and learning from home. Suddenly parents or caregivers find themselves searching for quick, easy meals to fuel their children for an afternoon of learning.

Use MyPlate as a guide for planning and eating healthy meals at home. Stock the pantry, refrigerator and freezer full of foods with protein, such as eggs, beans, nuts, lean meats and cheese, grains/whole grains, including brown rice and whole-grain bread or tortillas, fruits and vegetables, including fresh, canned or frozen, and dairy, such as milk and yogurt. Think breakfast for lunch and make hard-boiled eggs on toast with avocado, carrots with a side of ranch dressing, peaches for a side and a glass of milk.

The learning doesn’t have to stop once the child gets up from their desk; have them help you in the kitchen to gain valuable cooking skills and the knowledge of a healthy lunch!  Don’t fret if you resort to boxed macaroni and cheese or a frozen pizza. Serve them with fruits and vegetables on the side or mixed in. Broccoli goes great in mac and cheese and leftover cauliflower or zucchini is delicious on pizza! You don’t need to cook every meal. Check out your school’s breakfast and lunch pickup options; they will give you a needed break and give the kids a sense of familiarity. Keep the sugary drinks to a bare minimum. Just like when at school, serve water or milk, rather than soda or sugary lemonade.


Pizza Quesadillas (Printable PDF)

2 whole-grain flour tortillas

3 Tablespoons spaghetti or pizza sauce

½ cup shredded reduced-fat Italian cheese blend

Toppings such as green pepper, onion, mushrooms, turkey pepperoni, if desired

Wash hands with soap and water. Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Lay one tortilla in the middle of the skillet. Using the back of a spoon, spread sauce over entire tortilla. Evenly sprinkle cheese over sauce. If desired, add toppings. Lay the other tortilla over the top. Cook for 3 minutes or until bottom of tortilla is golden brown. Using a large spatula, flip quesadilla over and cook for 1-2 minutes until cheese is melted and bottom of the second tortilla is golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve with additional pizza sauce for dipping, if desired.

Yield: 2 servings, ½ quesadilla each


Nutrition Facts (per serving): 230 calories, 8 grams fat, 620 milligrams sodium, 26 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 13 grams protein


This blog post originally appeared in the Pantagraph on September 2, 2020.