7 Back-to-School Recipes

By Ann Foster Thelen

With kids back in school, having easy-to-go lunch items or snacks ready are a must for busy parents. Whether the kiddos are heading out to meet the bus or needing to fuel up at home on virtual learning days, we’ve picked seven recipes to help you ace the daily routine!

These recipes feature foods that can go in lunchboxes or stay in the kitchen for a welcome snack. Plus, each recipe earns extra credit by featuring ingredients raised by Iowa’s farmers! For a family activity, ask your kiddos to help prepare the foods. The kids will use math by learning about fractions and science to discover why the nutrients in certain ingredients score an A+!

Dive into the recipes and learn some fun facts that could create a perfect around-the-table breakfast, lunch or dinnertime pop quiz!

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Beef Jerky Trail Mix | Iowa Beef Council and Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.

Each serving of this beef jerky trail mix contains 50% of the recommended daily value for protein and zinc! Photo credit: The Iowa Beef Council

This beef jerky trail mix combines protein-rich beef with nuts, seeds and fruit. It’s easy to customize the recipe to include personal favorites. You could substitute any nut for almonds, any dried fruit for cranberries and any seed for sunflower seeds. Each serving contains 50% of the recommended daily value for protein and zinc! For an extra punch of protein, add cheese cubes for a refrigerated snack. Buy store-bought beef jerky for added convenience or create your own if you have a food dehydrator. Find the recipe here.

Fun Facts: In addition to being an excellent source of protein, beef supplies 10 essential nutrients, including B vitamins, zinc and iron, which support an active and healthy lifestyle. A component of more than 70 enzymes, zinc is a key player in energy metabolism and the immune system. Maintain a healthy immune system is essential not only during the school year but all year long!

On-the-Go Protein Boxes | Iowa Egg Council

Grab n' go protein boxes feature the 'protein power' of eggs and are easy to make at home.

Grab n' go protein boxes are rolling into schools and on-the-go foodservice locations across America. These school-ready concepts feature the 'protein power' of eggs and are easy to make at home. Whether you call them Bento Boxes, Bistro Boxes or Salad Bar Sidekicks, these concepts fit meal pattern requirements while appealing to students' desires for customization, quick and easy portable snacks, and entrée offerings. Paired with fruits, vegetables, dips and more, the creative possibilities are endless. Find the recipes here.

Fun Facts: Each egg contains 6 grams of protein. Superstar nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin found in egg yolks can help protect your eyes from harmful blue light emitted from the display screens of computers, tablets, smartphones and other digital devices.


Pulled Pork Nachos | Iowa Pork Producers Association

Pulled pork nachos are a great way to turn leftovers into a hearty snack. Photo credit: National Pork Board

Make a pork roast for a meal one night and turn it into a hearty snack – or meal – the next day! A bed of favorite chips is blanketed with a homemade cheese sauce. Stack chopped tomatoes and other veggies on top for a perfect plate! For a fun spin on the recipe, let the kids get their creative juices going by picking and choosing their favorite toppings to add. Pork is an excellent source of thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, phosphorus and protein. Next to milk, few foods have as much riboflavin per serving as pork. Riboflavin has an important role in the release of energy from foods. Find the recipe here. For simplified — but equally delicious — versions of these nachos, check out two creative variations on Pulled Pork Nachos.

Fun Facts: Iowa is the number one pork producing state in the U.S. and the top state for pork exports. Nearly one-third of the nation’s hogs are raised in Iowa, and there are pig farmers in every one of Iowa's 99 counties. The top five Iowa counties for pig production are Washington, Sioux, Lyon, Hamilton and Plymouth.

Apple Yogurt Smoothie | Midwest Dairy

This fresh and fruity combination of apple and orange blends with cool vanilla yogurt to make a refreshing afternoon or morning boost. Enjoyed any time of day, smoothies get high scores for being portable, vitamin-rich and protein-packed. The yogurt gives it a creamy texture while offering nutritional benefits. Many yogurt varieties are high in protein, calcium, vitamins and probiotics, which may boost the immune system. The nutrients can also protect bones and teeth. Find the recipe here.

Fun Facts: Milk is one of the freshest items on grocery store shelves. Milk’s journey from the farm to the grocery store only takes about 48 hours. Not only is this journey fast and efficient, it enhances milk safety and quality – consumers can be sure their grocer is selling dairy that’s at the peak of freshness. In these same two days, milk also makes its way to nearby school cafeterias, fueling kids with nutritious food and boosting the local economy.

Soynut Butter Pita Pocket | The Soyfoods Council

Soynut butter and apple butter form a delicious and protein-rich canvas for apple slices on a wheat pita. Photo credit: The Soyfoods Council

Few things say fall the way apples do! In this simple recipe, soynut butter and apple butter form a delicious canvas for apple slices on a wheat pita. Each serving has 7 grams of protein, which helps satisfy between-meal cravings. Soy protein is a complete protein, meaning it provides all nine essential amino acids. These are the building blocks of protein, which your body can’t produce in sufficient quantities on its own. They are vital for many functions, including tissue repair and muscle function. Find the recipe here.

Fun Facts: Soyfoods contain folate, which helps tissues grow and cells work, along with forming red blood cells. Studies show that girls who consume soy during childhood and/or adolescence are less likely to develop breast cancer later in life.

Sweet Mini Cornbread Muffins with Cinnamon Butter I Iowa Corn Promotion Board

You don’t need a main course or holiday meal for kids to enjoy these melt-in-your-mouth mini cornbread muffins. This butter is great to whip up and keep in the fridge to put on waffles, pancakes or toast. Next to pumpkin spice, cinnamon is the signature scent of fall and creates a delightful aroma in the kitchen. Serve the muffins with hot apple cider for a flannel-inspired snack that will have the kiddos ready to help you rake the autumn leaves! Find the recipe here.

Fun Facts: Did you realize that corn farmers produce two corn types: sweet corn and field corn? Sweet corn is purchased to eat – fresh, canned or frozen (1% of corn grown). Field corn (99% of corn grown) is a grain and primarily used for livestock feed and ethanol production. It's also used for manufactured goods and some things people consume, such as cornmeal. Iowa is No. 1 in the nation for field corn production!

Crispy Turkey Quesadilla | National Turkey Federation & Iowa Turkey Federation

Turkey quesadillas are perfect for a meal or a filling snack to take kids through after-school sports and other high-energy activities. Photo credit: Iowa Turkey Federation

Cheesy, crunchy and loaded with protein, this recipe for crispy turkey quesadillas is perfect for a meal or a filling snack to take kids through after-school sports and other high-energy activities. Flavorful Monterey Jack cheese melts to perfection in these triangle-shaped delights. While the recipe calls for chopped turkey breast, deli-style turkey would also work well. Turkey is a rich source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6 and the amino acid tryptophan. Vitamin B6, along with the other B vitamins, helps the body turn food into energy. On its own, vitamin B6 has many other important uses to maintain a healthy body, including proper brain development in kids. Find the recipe here.

Fun Facts: The average American enjoys nearly 17 pounds of turkey each year. Based on this amount, Iowa turkey farmers feed more than 8 million people annually! In addition, Iowa farmers are the No. 1 supplier of turkey to Subway and Jimmy John’s.