We are flying through our favorite fall cookbook releases and up next, another indispensable resource for every busy family kitchen: The School Year Survival Cookbook: Healthy Recipes and Sanity-Saving Strategies for Every Family and Every Meal (Even Snacks) by Laura Keogh and Ceri Marsh of the Sweet Potato Chronicles.

Every parent knows that life is different during the school year. The after school activities, practices, instruments, homework, and shorter days make time feel particularly tight. But our responsibility to feed the kids three, and sometimes more, times a day doesn’t stop. (Go figure.) Laura and Ceri created a play book to help you cook your way through the busiest moments.


The School Year Survival Cookbook -- a new favorite source of recipes and tips for the family cook | review at Cool Mom Eats

Blueberry Pie French Toast Muffins from The School Year Survival Cookbook | review on Cool Mom Eats

Every chapter in the The School Year Survival Cookbook offers up strategies that lay the foundation of how to think about approaching family meals, whether breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack time.  Then they share recipes, 110 total, that play out the strategy. So, for example, one of the strategies in the breakfast chapter is to make a brainy breakfast. Laura and Ceri go over what that entails (add antioxidants! pair protein with carbs!) and serve up recipes that fit the bill, including Blueberry Pie French Toast Muffins (pictured above; recipe below).

The great thing about this approach is that even if you decide to pull recipes from this book out of rotation for a little while, you’ll still have Laura and Ceri’s framework for thinking about how to approach your cooking to keep it fast, easy, healthy, and kid-friendly.

Many of the dinner recipes — what we all need most during the school year — cook up in 30 minutes or fewer, and the ones that don’t are usually for the slow cooker or have a long cook time that is mostly unattended. In other words, these ladies get that we need flavor fast. But that’s not even the best part about the dinner chapter.


The Chicken Transformer recipe from the School Year Survival Cookbook: One basic chicken recipe, three dinners for the week. Genius! | Cool Mom Eats

The most clever of all the recipes are what Laura and Ceri call the Transformers, three protein recipes — spicy beef, pulled pork, and lemon thyme chicken — that can each be cooked once and used in three different ways over the course of the week. All of the details are included and putting just one of these proteins on your menu plan can take care of three dinners. That’s nearly half the week. Genius.

But this cookbook isn’t just about dinner. I already mentioned breakfast recipes, but there are also fantastic snack ideas and the lunch chapter serves up a ton of school lunch ideas. Some are lunches you can pack the morning of, while others are based on recipes that you can make at night and pack creatively for lunch throughout the week. Either way, if you’re stuck in both a dinner and a school lunch rut, The School Year Survival Cookbook will help you survive both.

Maybe even thrive. Imagine that. I think that Laura and Ceri can.

Blueberry Pie French Toast Muffins

Makes 8 muffins

8 eggs
3/4 cup (175 ml) milk
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/4 tsp (1 ml) lemon zest
1/2 tsp (2 ml) lemon juice
1/4 tsp (1 ml)ground allspice
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
8 thick slices of whole grain bread, cut into cubes
1/4 cup (60 ml) blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease 8 cups of a 12-cup muffin tin.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, allspice and salt. Add the bread cubes and stir, making sure all the cubes are covered in eggy mixture. Let soak for 5 minutes.

3. Fold in the blueberries. Spoon the bread mixture into muffin cups. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the egg is cooked and the muffins are golden brown. Turn out onto a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

TIP This recipe lends itself to any seasonal fruit. To reheat these babies, pop them into the toaster oven with the rack on the lowest level and heat them for 4 to 6 minutes. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey. If you’re eating on the go, use a healthy smear of jam to avoid a sticky mess.

Be sure to pick up The School Year Survival Cookbook: Healthy Recipes and Sanity-Saving Strategies for Every Family and Every Meal (Even Snacks) at your local indie bookstore or our Amazon affiliate. 

Excerpted from The School Year Survival Cookbook: Healthy Recipes and Sanity-Saving Strategies for Every Family and Every Meal (Even Snacks) by Laura Keogh and Ceri Marsh. Copyright © 2017 Sweet Potato Chronicles. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.


Photos: © 2017 Maya Visnyei Photography