What do teachers eat?
The real answer to this question, for most of us (I think) is simple. We eat whatever we can find. In the fridge, in the freezer, whatever drive-through we pass on the way home from school. For me at least, at the end of a long day at school, the last thing I ever want to do is open up my refrigerator or pantry to find that it's empty. Actually, the last thing I want to do is go to the store once I discover we're out of food. Actually, the real truth is, the last thing I really want to do is cook. And as the mom of a toddler, I know how important it is that I put a healthy meal on the table as many nights as I can, which means that runs to Whataburger every night are not an option.
At the end of this summer, I found myself on Pinterest, which is not unusual for me (I could probably use a Pintervention, in fact), and I ran across this post: 40 Meals in 4 Hours. And when I clicked, I got sucked into reading about an insane woman who preps a month or two of meals in one day, freezes them, and then throws one in the crockpot each night. Who does that?
Well now, I do.
On the Sunday before school started - a sacred, exciting, and also heartbreaking day for teachers everywhere - my husband and I went to the store, bought 20 meals worth of food, and set to work.
Here's what we've learned:
- The shopping trip goes extraordinarily fast when you use the delightful app Wunderlist. I created one list and shared it with my husband. When we went to the store, he started at one end, I started at the other, and we shopped our way to the center. The magic of Wunderlist is that one of you can each check things off, and the item is removed from each person's list. Amazing, right? The entire shopping trip took 30 minutes (I'm completely serious), and we even had JoLeigh with us.
- A big prep works really well with two people, and a toddler. I labeled all of the freezer bags as we went (I wrote the name of the meal, the cook time and setting, and if anything needed to be added at the end, like cilantro). I had each recipe pulled up on my iPad and did all of the measuring while my husband did the chopping and handled the meat. JoLeigh helped by peeling garlic cloves. The poor child's fingers smelled like garlic for five days.
- We later learned that the pre-minced garlic in a jar at the store is much faster than buying it fresh.
- If you realize, in the midst of your prep, that you've forgotten or run out of something, don't panic, and don't run to the store! Just write what you forgot on the bag and grab that item the next time you go to the store. (Tech tip: Throw those items onto your shared Wunderlist so that whoever goes to the store the next time will remember to grab it.)
I am telling you: This has changed my life!
We are eating healthier, spending far less money on food, my lunches consist of something more exciting than lunch meat, and my picky daughter is eating better!
The planning does take time (I followed the 20 Meals in 2 Hours list to a T the first time, but we realized that we didn't like a lot of the meals, so I make my own lists now), but the prep takes roughly one nap time. To me, that beats prepping a meal every single day. If you do the math, we're talking about the difference between 2-3 hours in the kitchen every 6-8 weeks and 30 minutes-1 hour in the kitchen at least 4 times per week - meaning you'd be spending 24-32 hours in the kitchen every 6-8 weeks. To that, I say: No, thank you.
We have now completed 3 big preps and have no intention of going back to our fast-food-eating, foraging days. Below you can find links to our meal prep plans.
20 Meals in 2 Hours - 6 weeks of meals
Fall Crockpot Recipes - 8 weeks of meals
Clean Eating Crockpot Recipes - 10 weeks of meals