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Back to School Dinner Ideas

Ready to send the kids back to school? Here are several back-to-school dinner ideas for a fun back-to-school family dinner night!

We started this tradition when we had our first year with a kid going to full-day school. It’s been a favorite ever since!
We want to make sure he knows what a special adventure he’s embarking on! Before I was married, I remember being inspired by mothers who would share back-to-school dinner ideas with a back-to-school family dinner dedicated to kicking off the new school year. I noted then and then when the time came to send my own children to school, I wanted to do something similar. 

So here we are, the week of school starting, and I wanted to share our back-to-school feast, and give anyone else looking for a start-of-school tradition some back-to-school dinner ideas. 

Back to School Dinner Ideas-
Back to School Dinner Tips 

  • Serve a family favorite meal

    This doesn’t have to be complicated in any way! But find a meal that’s something that will scream comfort meal or favorite meal that you know your kids will fill up on! And hey, we aren’t judging anyone who orders their favorite takeout meal for this event! 
    But if you need a few Back to School dinner ideas, check our next section for tons of family favorites. 

  • Make sure all family members can be in attendance 

    This is should be a family bonding time. If one parent or sibling can’t make it, try to find a day and time they can. There’s nothing that says you have to do it the night before school. And hey, you can even do it the first day of school or after you start school. 

  • Make it feel special with some decor or a special location 

    I know many families do an outdoor dinner. That’s not a great option in Arizona, but if you live somewhere nice, I think it’s a fantastic idea! 
    We designed a free printable back-to-school banner you can download here. Just a print, cut and hang did the trick with a grocery store flower bouquet. 

  • Choose a Theme 

    We went with a simple back-to-school and kindergarten theme this year. I grabbed a bunch of kindergarten books to read to my son this week. It was easy to set them up as part of the theme. 
    I know other families choose a theme of the year, a scripture, or a party theme or color and run with it. 

Back to School Dinner Ideas

  • Spaghetti and meatballs with a meat sauce or meatballs. Add in some garlic bread and steamed veggies to make it feel fancy! 
  • Family pizza bar. Prep with cheese, sauces, and favorite ingredients for toppings to make your own personal pizza
  • Taco night party. This is so fun with easy ground beef tacos or a pulled chicken taco. 
  • Sloppy Joes with a side salad or steamed broccoli. 
  • An easy slow cooker meal you can prep and dump in the Crock Pot in the morning. Check out our most popular slow cooker recipes that make for easy dinners on busy weeknights all year long! 
  • Protein bowls. Just make some rice or quinoa, a protein like chicken or salmon, saute some veggies, and top with your favorite sauces. It’s a surprising kid favorite! 
  • Baked potatoes. You can turn this into a bar with cheese, ham, bacon, sour cream, and chives. 
  • Breakfast for dinner. Cook up a breakfast casserole with sausage and eggs, or make french toast or pancakes. It’s comfort food that will leave you with break leftovers for breakfast the next morning! 
  • A burger bar. Why not end summer with a grill night? Grill hot dogs and hamburgers. You can prep the sides early with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, pickles, etc. You can also get a little fancy with bacon, guacamole, and other toppings for more gourmet burgers. 
  • Pasta and alfredo chicken. My kids could eat this every day, and homemade alfredo sauce always feels exciting to them! Something about noodles and cream 

Back to School Dinner Ideas-

What do to Prepare Kids for Back to School 

We like to use these back-to-school dinner ideas and turn them into meaningful conversations. Of course, we keep it light and fun. But it’s a time we do a couple of really important things. 

  • Set Goals for the Year 

    This new start is a great time to talk to your kids about what they want to achieve and how to achieve it. If they want to make the basketball team, it’s a great time to talk about practicing and how to make that dream happen. Our little kindergartner surprised us with some social and academic goals. And it was awesome to write them down with him and talk about how he can make great friends and educational goals happen. 

  • Discuss any Worries/Anxieties 

    Our little dude is one of the few children I know without a lot of these. But as a former teacher, I’m very aware that most kids have something they’re very worried about. Maybe it’s friends. Perhaps a new subject or new school is worrying them. Set the stage to be a safe place to talk about problems and ways to face them. 

  • Talk About Safety 

    So I wouldn’t put talking about abuse, harassment, inappropriate language/media, or bullying at the top of my list of parenting conversations. But they sure are important! We talked to our kindergartner about all of these things and even a few more tough topics. If he sees something or experiences anything inappropriate, he knows the way to deal with it and that he needs to talk to us. I’m glad we had a chance to talk about the hard things and empower him to be prepared. 
    This book has been a great tool to talk about these things in an age-appropriate way! 

Back to School Dinner Ideas

Like these back-to-school dinner ideas? You may like these posts too: 

Meal Planning Tips + Free Meal Plan Template 

Back to School Activities: Family Dates to Make Back to School Fun! 

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