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Back-to-School Basics

Aug 10, 2015 04:30AM, Published by Family Features, Categories: Family Features Food, Family Features

The start of a new school year means less time to think about dinner. The good news is, with just a little advance planning and these three easy tips, in no time you’ll be whipping up wholesome “A+” meals your family will love.

Stock Your Pantry
Add canned fruits, vegetables, proteins and soups to your back-to-school shopping list. Like home canning, cans seal in foods’ natural goodness and nutrition, making hearty, homemade meals simple and delicious.

Get Creative
For a healthy, home-cooked dinner, all you need is a can opener, a strainer and some imagination. Canned crushed tomatoes, sliced carrots and chopped spinach create a savory Vegetable Lasagna worthy of seconds, and canned chicken with white beans, hominy and chicken broth combine for a White Chicken Chili that’s ready in just 30 minutes.

Involve Kids in Meal Prep
Moms face a number of challenges when trying to get their kids to eat more fruit and vegetables. According to a recent study conducted by Cans Get You Cooking, canned foods help a majority of moms (76 percent) get fruits and vegetables on the table, and into kids’ diets. Another way to encourage kids to eat healthy meals is to include them in meal preparation, which also teaches skills like measuring, counting and following directions.

For more nutritious and flavorful recipes for back-to-school, visit

White Chicken Chili


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 10-ounce cans chicken breast, drained and flaked
  • 1 15.5-ounce can small white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15.5-ounce can white hominy, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14.5-ounce can chicken broth
  • 1 4.5-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or cilantro
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheddar cheese for garnish


  1. In 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, cook onion, celery and garlic in hot oil about 5 minutes until tender-crisp, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in chili powder and cumin; cook 1 minute. Add chicken, white beans, hominy, chicken broth, green chiles, salt and pepper. Over high heat, heat to boiling; reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors, stirring occasionally.
  3. To serve, garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with sour cream and shredded cheese.

Vegetable Lasagna


  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 1 14.5-ounce can sliced carrots, well drained
  • 1 13.5-ounce can chopped spinach, well drained
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In 2-quart saucepan over high heat, heat tomatoes, garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Heat to boiling; reduce to low and simmer uncovered 10 minutes to blend flavors.
  2. Heat oven to 375°F. Grease 12-by-8-inch baking dish.
  3. In medium bowl combine ricotta cheese and egg until well mixed.
  4. Spoon tomato sauce on bottom of dish to coat. Place 3 uncooked noodles lengthwise across the pan. Top with 1/3 of tomato sauce. With spatula, spread 1/3 of ricotta mixture. Scatter 1/3 of carrots and spinach on ricotta and 1/3 of mozzarella cheese. Repeat with uncooked noodles, tomato sauce, ricotta, vegetables and mozzarella two more times. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  5. Cover dish with foil; bake 30 minutes. Uncover dish; bake 10 minutes longer. Let cool before cutting.

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