Toasters as a breakfast-only appliance is a concept of the past. Today, toasters are no longer relegated to warming up slices of bread in the morning. These countertop appliances have diversified and specialized, giving you options from pop-up toasters to leftover-ready air fryer toaster ovens.
Here are just a few easy meal ideas that are perfect for back-to-school season, or any time of the year, really!
1.Amping up your morning toast
Pop-up toasters are a classic, so let’s begin there. They’re compact, efficient, and often incredibly stylish. However, don’t let their simple design fool you: toasters are good for far more than just making plain toast.
When I was in grade school, I hated the stretch of time between breakfast and lunch. It was simply too long! I was out the door by 7:50 a.m. every morning to catch the bus to school, which meant that I was finishing breakfast by 7:30 a.m. —leaving an almost five hour gap between my hurried breakfast and my packed lunch.
As a result, I got very good at making hearty breakfasts early on.
Try amping up your morning toast by opting for multigrain bread. Then, while your bread is toasting, slice up one avocado and one small tomato to make two open-faced breakfast sandwiches. Toast usually takes a few minutes, so you’ll have time to wash and slice your produce while you’d normally be waiting for your toast.
Drizzle your toast with olive oil, then add the avocado and tomato. Finish with a pinch of salt and pepper, or add a bit of paprika for an extra kick. The result is a delicious breakfast that’ll take you right through the first half of the school day, but barely takes any extra time to prepare.
2.Make a deluxe lunch sandwich
My family has always made toasted sandwiches in a very specific way. First, you prep all of your ingredients; then, and only then, do you heat them up in a toaster oven or panini press for a picture-perfect result. The process creates delicious sandwiches, but its meticulous nature takes time—time that busy families or busy students don’t always have.
But you know what works 90% of the time as well? Toasting your bread in a pop-up toaster (just like you would at breakfast time), prepping the rest of your ingredients while your bread toasts, and assembling it right before you eat it. The result may not be as aesthetically pleasing, and maybe your sandwich won’t be winning any awards, but I can guarantee that it’ll be satisfying and nutritious regardless.
For quick, lunchtime sandwiches, I have two fun recommendations. Using a pop-up toaster, poach an egg while your bread toasts, then assemble a sandwich with a bit of mustard, mayonnaise, spinach, arugula, and your poached. (Think “croque madame, but speedy!”)
Or, with a convection toaster oven, go that extra mile by making a warm deli sandwich that cooks while you clean. Add chopped up roast beef and honey ham to your slices of bread with mayo, mustard, and cheese, and butter the outsides of your sandwich before toasting for that extra-savoury crunch. Let the whole thing heat up at once, accept that it’ll take a little while longer than a pop-up toaster would, and enjoy that extra 10% of deliciousness.
3.Toast your way to a delicious dinner in a convection toaster oven
As a general rule, you can do everything in a convection toaster oven that you’d be able to do in a traditional oven—it’s just smaller. (Well, and they won’t make that delightful “pop!” When your toast is ready.) That flexibility makes convection toaster ovens a great countertop option for both busy families and students.
A countertop convection toaster oven is a great gift for recent grads who are just just moving into their first apartments to go to post-secondary school. Back-to-school season will be packed (as usual), and if they’re living in an oven-less micro-apartment, sometimes the smaller solution is the right one. In a convection toaster oven, they can warm up quick breakfasts and lunches, then come home after classes and make baked fish and grilled green beans in their toaster oven.
I love baked fish en papillote, which fits a back-to-school lifestyle perfectly. The pinched parchment paper packets steam your fish slowly and gently, leaving you with moist, flavourful fish that’s difficult to overcook. Plus, as a busy student, it’s something you can make that sounds impressive despite its simplicity and ease. (Try it with lemon juice, and dill!)
And the added bonus? Fatty fish like salmon are full of omega fatty acids, which are great for brain health and memory retention.
4.Warm up baked goods in your air fryer toaster oven
The air fryer toaster oven is my holy grail of small kitchen appliances. As a newly-converted lover of the category, I think it’s easy to look at any one and see why. These powerful ovens are efficient and easy to use with no need to preheat, which means one very important thing: they’ll reheat your baked goods in mere minutes. Many appliances (the oven, the toaster oven, and the microwave all come to mind) can re-warm something as delicate as a slice of pie, but only an air fryer could re-warm it in under five minutes and do so while making its flakey crust taste fresh-baked again.
Healthy diets are important, and toasters are a great way to make healthy, nutritious foods. However, speaking from experience… Sometimes, you just need a delicious snack during back-to-school season. Sometimes, speedily warming up a slice of blueberry cobbler for breakfast before an 8 a.m. class feels like the only way you’re ever going to get through the day. And when that time comes, air fryer convection ovens will have your back every time.
Toast, roast, bake, and air fry your way to academic success
Here’s a sample menu that you can try. I promise, you can really do the entire thing using just toasters, even in the rush of the academic year. Start with a homemade or mini-sized frozen lasagna, which you can cook to delicious perfection in any toaster oven, convection toaster oven, or air fryer toaster oven.
Then, add slices of bread (which you can bake in any convection toaster oven or air fryer). I recommend using a pop-up slice toaster or a convection toaster oven to turn them into garlic bread with homemade garlic butter, which you can make with butter, salt, crushed garlic, and (optionally) dill or parsley. (You can also use an air fryer toaster oven to dehydrate your herbs, if you’re lucky enough to have fresh-grown sprigs at home.)
It doesn’t stop with lasagna and fish en papillote, either. You could do baked green beans and a rotisserie chicken in an air fryer toaster oven; warm bread for a beef dip sandwich in a pop-up toaster; or bake fresh muffins in a convection toaster oven.
Just like full-sized ovens, with the right toaster, your options are limitless. Now, the only thing holding you back is making sure you or your kids are at school before the first bell!
Shop toasters online at Best Buy today.