Meal planning and prepping are two of the most important things anyone can do when starting a fitness/health plan, aside from giving up Krispy Kreme. Most people think that meal planning involves many, many tedious hours of searching, shopping and cooking to get really healthy and tasteful meals. In reality, you can come up with a meal plan in less time than it takes for you to wait in line at your school for stuffed crust pizza day on Friday. What everyone needs to realize is that meal planning does take SOME time, but far less than you think. If someone told you that you could spend 3-4 hours in the kitchen to eat lunch and dinner for 7 days, you may think that 3-4 hours is a really long time to spend cooking. A 3-4 hour meal is usually something you make on Valentine’s Day after you realize you totally screwed up on Christmas, right? So lets break this down; lunch and dinner for 7 days is 14 meals. Ask your colleague that teaches calculus if you are confused at this point. If you spend 3 hours making 14 meals then you are spending roughly 12 minutes on each meal. That’s probably how long it takes some of you to microwave a baked potato (please don’t eat a baked potato for lunch. The only thing that needs that much starch is your husband’s shirt.)
One of, if not the best tools, for cooking these meals is a slow-cooker. I have tossed so many random, healthy things in my slow-cooker and 9 times out of 10 it comes out tasting fantastic. The other time it usually turns into a really gross brown health sludge, which I force-feed myself because I’m not willing to waste all of that food. I usually put food in my slow-cooker on Sunday morning and break it down into separate containers in the evening. I spend a maximum of one hour chopping, grating and measuring to get the goods into the slow-cooker and then go about my day taking the dogs to the park. If you cant find an hour during your day to get stuff into a pot than you have far bigger problems than meal planning! One of the biggest benefits of using a slow-cooker is cooking protein. Slow cookers work on the principle of simmering food at a low temperature for a long period of time. For those of us that are familiar with cooking protein, cooking it slow and in liquid (simmer!) leaves us with some deliciously moist meat. When everything is cooked together in one pot, all of the flavors spend 4-8 hours together and merry fantastically. The biggest benefit? It is something a 10-year-old can do.
I can get pretty bored eating the same thing all of the time. As teachers, we spend our day finding creative ways to entrain and engage our students, and I think that we should treat our palates the same way. My palate happens to really love Indian food, and curry in particular. I guess using the word “particular” when describing curry is a bit of an oxymoron since there are about a million different kinds, but a generic curry powder from your local grocery store will be just perfect for one of my favorite slow-cooker recipes: http://thelemonbowl.com/2013/05/slow-cooker-chicken-curry.html. Take a quick look at this beauty, and feel free to laugh at the prep-time of 10 minutes. I consider my kitchen skills to be on par with Emeril Lagasse, but there isn’t a chance in hell that I’m prepping all of that in 10 minutes. I would say that 30 is more likely and thats with doubling the recipe! That means that with about 30 minutes of prep and maybe 20 minutes at the end of cooking you can have 8 delicious meals for the week. That’s over half of the lunches and dinners you need in 50 minutes. Side note: I typically boil brown rice and use it to put over top of the curry. Yes, this takes additional time, but if you prep this while you are prepping the meal it adds about five minutes maximum.
I wanted to share this example with you ladies and gents so that you can see that meal prepping doesn’t need to be something that you fear or dread, like second period with that kid who just wont stop picking his nose and wiping it on the girl he secretly likes. Rather, it can be a really simple and enjoyable experience that doesn’t make you want to put all of your kids in detention. In the future I plan on sharing a ton of recipes because I really love cooking and sharing the things that I come up with in the kitchen. Sometimes I find a really great recipe online that I just have to share, and sometimes I have a stroke of genius and come up with something tasty on my own. Either way, you are going to hear about it!
Remember, we all know that planning and preparation are what separate a good teacher from a great teacher. Don’t forget to be great.[share title=”Sharing is Caring!” facebook=”true” twitter=”true” google_plus=”true” linkedin=”true” pinterest=”true” reddit=”true” email=”true”]