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Baked Potato Bar to the Rescue

Feeding your family

Emily DiCesare

Back to school means busy weeknights filled with homework, sports practices, music lessons, and meetings. This leaves little time for dinner, or it often means that not everyone is eating at the same time. While soups and casseroles are great solutions to such problems, we all need some other ideas from time to time.

One of my favorite dinners is a baked potato bar. Baked regular or sweet potatoes can be made in advance or even cooked in the microwave as people are ready to eat. This is a great way to take advantage of the oven timer. I leave uncooked potatoes in the oven and set the time bake function. When we arrive home from activities, hot potatoes are ready to eat. Assembling the rest of the fixings can be done in a few minutes or prepped in advance. Vegetables and meats can be cooked in a few minutes in an air fryer or roasted in advance and reheated.

As is becoming a theme around here, this is a great way to use up leftovers or small amounts of things left in the fridge. Allowing kids to choose their own toppings gives them a sense of control over the meal and may help picky eaters branch out a bit.

I like to put out several different vegetables—roasted broccoli, cauliflower, diced zucchini, and brussels sprouts are all popular choices in our home. Use whatever you have on hand, or what you know your family will like. Frozen chicken tenders can be thrown in the microwave or air fryer and then sliced up. You could also use rotisserie chicken, plant-based sausages, or leave the meat out.

Now the fun part: the finishing toppings! Shredded cheese, sour cream, and salsa are must-have toppings for me. Hot sauces, jarred jalapenos, blue cheese, or ranch dressings can also be added. This is the place to customize with the things you know your family loves.

Encourage your family to eat the entire potato—the skin is an excellent source of potassium!

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