Back to School Dinner Feast

August 18, 2020

Written by Meg Dow 

This post was written to contribute to the topic of In the Home and Motherhood for the What Lola Likes blog by Meg Dow. All facts, opinions, and professional tips are Meg’s.

This year has been filled with uncertainty. If you are anything like me, trying to figure out schooling for my children has been one of the hardest decisions.

This year was supposed to be my first born child’s first year in Kindergarten. I was so excited to be able to see him blossom and meet new friends. I know there are so many other mommas out there that have had a hard time deciding whether to do distance learning, hybrid programs, homeschool or anything else your school district is offering. 

No matter what you choose to do this year I want you to know YOU are an amazing momma and you know what’s best for your kids. 

Regardless of what teaching method we choose, we can still make back-to-school season a fun and exciting experience. 

I have some fun ideas for you and a delicious dinner tradition that we do every year (even when my kids were just going to preschool). 

Having a tradition for back-to-school makes it feel special and can help facilitate a safe environment for your children. Creating this space can allow you to share with your kids your expectations, goals or just provide a safe place for them to talk about their feelings about the upcoming school year.

Here is what we do to celebrate back-to-school! But feel free to change it up and make it completely your own. And a quick note, if you need help with what to make for dinner when you go back to school check out the More Momma Meal Plans. The pasta recipe below is one of the recipes from the plan. 

Back to School Dinner:

Step 1: Invite your family for an in-home family dinner. You can do this by just telling your family that you are going to have a special dinner that night or you can go all out and create an invitation like this one. 

Step 2: Create a fun tablescape using school supplies.

Use what you already have on hand to create a fun tablescape. I like to use crayons, pencils and colored pencils placed in some cups. Then just place some rulers and notebooks around to form a fun runner. 

Step 3: Serve this delicious dinner below or make your kids favorite meal. I like to make sure I serve one of the kids favorite sides to make them feel extra special. 

Here is our menu:


To make these emoji salads, slice a head of iceberg lettuce in 1 inch slices. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the eyes and cut a slice of cheddar cheese in the shape of a half circle. Assemble the salad to create an emoji face. I serve the salad with the kids favorite dressing like a ranch or Italian dressing. 

Main Dish:

I love to serve one of my kids’ favorite dishes for our back to school dinner. The best part of this recipe is I make double, it doesn’t take me any extra time, and I can get an extra freezer meal out of it. I call that a major win! 

I serve it with a side of fruit and it’s always a hit.

*Note: You are making double of this recipe to freeze and have for a later day when you really don’t feel like cooking! 

Healthier Chicken Alfredo 


  • 2 Pounds Mini Farfalle Pasta

White Sauce:

  • 8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 4 Large Garlic Cloves, Crushed
  • ¼ Cup + 2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 Cups Chicken Broth


  • 2 Teaspoons Real Salt
  • ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 2 Cups Italian Five Cheese Blend or Quattro Formaggio
  • 4 Cups Rotisserie Chicken, Roughly Chopped
  • 3 Cups Frozen Carrot & Pea Mix

1. Fill a large stockpot halfway with water and bring to a boil. When water starts to boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions.

2. In a medium-sized pot, melt the butter and add the garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes over medium heat. Add flour and whisk. Cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and whisk to combine. Cook for 5 minutes until mixture has thickened.

3. Add salt, pepper, cheese, chicken, and frozen carrots and peas (great job for kids). Cook for 3-5 minutes.

4. Drain pasta and add to the sauce mixture. Stir to combine and serve.

*Freeze half in a foil baking dish.

5. Serve with your choice of side.


For dessert we let the kids make their own cookies with whatever toppings they like. I promise you this cookie recipe is the best! It is actually the base to my famous chocolate chip cookie recipe and it’s a staple in our home. 


  • 1 Cup Butter Flavored Crisco
  • 1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • ½ Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste or Vanilla Extract
  • 3.4 Ounce Box Dry Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt

Topping Ideas: place on top of cookies immediately after they come out of the oven. 

Peanut Butter Chocolate: Reeses peanut butter cups

Smores: Marshmallows, teddy grahams, hershey pieces

Monster: mini M & M’s, pretzel pieces


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine Crisco with sugars with a silicone spatula. Mix until the batter is completely combined and creamy.
  2. Add one egg at a time, stirring in between. Make sure the mixture is completely combined and the batter becomes a soft tan color with no lumps of Crisco.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and pudding mix. Mix to combine.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix to combine.
  5. Place the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  6. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop out large balls of dough, about ¼ cup, onto the baking sheet (I like to use this scoop), leaving space in between each cookie.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from the oven. Top with toppings of choice. 

Additional Ideas: 

Here are some of my other favorite activities to do after dinner. 

  1. Play a game together: Some of our favorites are monopoly, Zingo, uno or war. 
  1. Ask your kids what they are most excited about and what they are least excited about. This can help them to feel prepared and help you foster a relationship of open communication. 
  2. Create a family pledge or family motto:  We come up with a sentence each year that our family tries to live by. One year our motto was “be kind, serve others, live righteously.” It can be simple like this or more complex if you have older kids. 


Meg has worked as a private chef and caterer for over 12 years.  She has also worked at one of the top restaurant consulting firms in the world opening up and creating menus for dozens of restaurants.  She quit her consulting job as the Head Chef of Recipe and Development to start her family.  After her second child was born she felt a deep desire to help other moms in her same position to get meals on the table for their families.  She started More Momma and has loved every second of the journey!