Do-ahead dinner will make back-to-school smoother

Those first few weeks when the kids head back to school can be among the most hectic for families. The lazy days of summer quickly give way to crazy schedules, homework and afterschool activities. And don’t forget somehow managing to slip dinner into the middle of all that.

This is why a do-ahead dinner can be a lifesaver as families get accustomed to their new routines. So we created this easy, kid-friendly ham and cheese casserole that can be prepped and refrigerated the night before, then just popped in the oven the next evening.

And here’s another bonus — the leftovers make a great breakfast the next day, too.

Easy overnight ham and cheese casserole

10ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed

4eggs

2cups whole milk

1/2cup light mayonnaise

1tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2teaspoon kosher salt

1/2teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2teaspoon onion powder

20ounces ham steak, diced

3cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

2medium carrots, grated

2medium turnips, grated

20ounces shredded potatoes

Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Place the spinach in a mesh strainer and squeeze out as much water as possible. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the milk, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper and onion powder until smooth. Stir in the squeezed spinach, ham, 2 cups of the cheese, the carrots, turnips and potatoes. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese over the top of the casserole. At this point, the casserole can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 F. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until puffed and golden and a knife inserted at the center comes out clean. Serve warm.

Nutrition information per serving: 380 calories; 180 calories from fat (47 percent of total calories); 20 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 120 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 23 g protein; 1,090 mg sodium.

Start to finish: 1 hour 20 minutes (20 minutes active); Servings: 12

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