Ahh, back-to-school time. Also known as “I need more back-to-school recipes inspiration” time in my house. Some parents love its arrival, while others wish summer would never end. Back-to-school is a time for routines to resume and a time when our bank accounts feel drained because of new clothes and school supplies that are needed. Of course, it’s also when many of us resume the chore of assembling cold lunches for kids and making sure the refrigerator and pantry are both stocked with healthy snacks for when kids come home from school feeling hangry (hungry + angry).

If you’re like me, then you are always on the struggle bus when it comes to keeping school lunches and after-school snacks creative. No one wants to start the school year off on the struggle bus, so here are our top 5 favorite back-to-school recipes. I hope they save you time and energy when it comes to making kid lunches and snacks again. Because ready or not, back-to-school time is known for creeping up on us.

Our Top 5 Favorite Back-To-School Recipes

Apple Butter Hummus: It may not sound appetizing to dip apple slices in an apple spread, but it absolutely is! This slow cooker recipe takes your favorite baking apples and mixes it with brown sugar, cinnamon, lemon, and chickpeas. Yes, chickpeas. The result is a sweet dip for fruits or veggies, that’s also packed with protein!

Apple Zucchini Muffins: Have a picky eater in your house? This recipe is here to save you! Sneaking veggies like zucchini is a parent trick that spans generations. We aren’t always about reinventing the wheel and so this make-ahead muffin recipe leans to the classic side. We recommend using a fun, new apple to keep this muffin recipe interesting. Pinata® is a great baking apple, and you can’t go wrong with Fuji here either.

Brie, Ham, & Pear Panini: Ham and cheese gets a sweet makeover with this panini recipe. Keep it crisp in a lunch box by letting it cool completely. Once it’s room temperature, you can wrap it in tinfoil and or place it in a sandwich container. It’s a proven method to prevent soggy sandwiches. Bartlett is a great pear variety to use for this panini during the back-to-school time of year.

No Sugar Homemade Applesauce: It’s pink and there’s not a drop of sugar in this recipe. You can make this applesauce on the stovetop or in the slow cooker and the best part is, you won’t have to peel the apples! Once you’ve cooked and cooled the apples, the blender mixes everything into a smooth (or chunky, your call) sauce that can be served as the fruit portion of your child’s lunch.

Chicken Salad with Apples: This is for all the food preppers out there (I envy you, by the way). Make a big batch of chicken salad with apples and seal it in a container. Then, you are ready to put it on some bread to make a sandwich or serve with crackers or pita chips to keep lunches interesting. If your kids really like it, there’s no shame in serving it for dinner too!

Want more tips for kid lunches? Check out this post on how to build a bento lunch box and this one for 3 simple afterschool snack ideas.