Back to school time can be stressful for parents and kids, but not for you; you are going to take the best parts of school--friends, food, and recess--and throw a back-to-school themed party for grown ups!

Cafeteria classics became classics for a reason: They're delicious, easy to make for groups, and are often inexpensive to prepare. Stock up on those fab divided lunch trays (so foods don't touch each other!) and dish up these crowd-pleasing favorites!

Macaroni and Cheese

You loved it at home, but you really loved it at school where no one was trying to healthify your mac by sneaking in pureed veggies. It's the ultimate comfort food for a crowd.

Chef John's Macaroni and Cheese

Photo by chefster

Sloppy Joes

This messy pile o' protein is the perfect fuel for recess. Put on your lunch lady hairnet and serve up those sloppy joes. And, yes, you're going to need a bigger bun.

Neat Sloppy Joes

Tater Tots

Why not mix your meat, cheese and carbs in a tasty Tater Tot Taco Casserole? The answer is, "yes," followed by just one question.

Tater Tot Taco Casserole


You'll want to balance your casserole dishes with a few bites that are easily managed when the party gets going. Remember french bread pizzas? We've updated them here:

Onion and Sausage Pizza Boats

Mini Main Dishes

Craving slightly less messy dishes? Serve up some throwback grab-n-go finger foods!

Corn Dog Bites

photo by footballgrl16

Other delicious bite-sized options:


Because you're the perfect host, you're going to incorporate some vegetables into your party spread.

Cream Corn Like No Other


Don't forget the dessert! Every kid needs a little sweetness to break up a long day at school. These cafeteria staples hit the sweet spot.

Fun Finger Gelatin

Brooke's Best Bombshell Brownies

Photo by TTV78

Dairy Free Chocolate Pudding

You've got the friends and the snacks. All that's missing is a playlist of songs about school and your favorite movies about school.

Now start cooking. You don't want to be tardy!

Related: Check out more tips on updating your back-to-school lunches and making healthy after school snacks.