Happy Labor Day! (Is saying that really a thing? Why is that a thing?)

If you have kids, they may be back to school, or they may be counting those final hours. As they pack up for the first days of school, I always take a long look at those backpacks filled with school supplies. All those pencils with their sharp little tips (or those mechanical pencils filled with lead and ready to go), those bright and shiny notebooks, that binder with its neat dividers and loose-leaf paper distributed just so.

5 Dishes for Early Fall - Family Friendly Meal Plan

If you have kids (or even if you don’t), you know what’s coming.

Take a delicious, lingering look and enjoy. Never again will you see that backpack packed so nicely. The metal spirals will soon partially dislodge themselves from the notebooks, which will be sporting leftover fragments of paper torn out for various reasons. Every mechanical pencil will be empty, an abandoned shell to be futilely clicked and then shoved to the bottom of the bag. Tips of regular pencils will have eroded and splinters of wood will protrude from the ends, because sharpening a pencil is seemingly very difficult to find time for. The binder will have divorced itself from most of its contents.

You probably don’t want to look in that backpack after the first week. Or perhaps I’m projecting.

But you will make dinner!  And if you’re really getting on your game this fall, you might be meal planning.  Here are some weeknight dinner recipes for those school-night meals.   

5 Dishes for Early Fall

Tonkatsu-Style Cutlets / Mandy Maxwell / Katie Workman / themom100.com

Chicken Katsu

Crunchy, tender, sweet, salty, tangy – this dish merits no shortage of appealing adjectives.
Serve over a bed of fluffy rice. You can increase the amount of lettuce or cabbage and consider that the vegetable if you don't feel like doing another thing, or you could add Sautéed Haricots Verts with Red Onion.

Spinach, Mushroom, and Chicken Quesadillas / Sarah Crowder / Katie Workman / themom100.com

Spinach, Mushroom, and Chicken Quesadillas

A chicken quesadilla recipe to keep changing up. Remember when Gloria (Rosie Perez) has to list 5 foods that begin with the letter "Q" on Jeopardy! in the movie White Men Can't Jump? I don't think any of them were "quesadilla." This is pretty much an all-in-one meal, though you might want a salad just for kicks.

Pan Seared Fish with Tomato Basil Relish / Laura Agra / Katie Workman / themom100.com

Pan Seared Fish with Tomato Basil Relish

Fish plus three basic ingredients plus 20 minutes gets you this for dinner. Think of this during tomato season.

Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Casserole / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen

Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Casserole

For a great weekend brunch, or a fun breakfast-for-dinner moment, this flavorful casserole checks all the boxes.
Are you a breakfast-for-dinner family? If so, here’s a new one for you that is substantial and savory, and also features eggs. If not, maybe this recipe will be the spark. This is a true one-dish casserole.

Lemon-Garlic Semi-Boneless Leg of Lamb / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen / Katie Workman / themom100.com

Lemon-Garlic Semi-Boneless Leg of Lamb

There are few large pieces of meat that my family loves more than a leg of lamb, and few that make more of a statement for company.
I’m going to throw a little special dinner/entertaining menu at you, just in case you need that. The headliner: this Lemon–Garlic Semi–Boneless Leg of Lamb, made with . . . lemon, garlic, and lamb (oh, and salt and pepper). Pair it up with Sautéed Corn and Zucchini in Lemony Browned Butter and some Red Onion Mint Orzo. Maybe add some Roasted Garlic and Tomato Bread (this is good stuff—make a lot). And for dessert, I’m thinking Sour Cream Biscuit Peach and Berry Cobbler. Whad’ya think?

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