- Bringing Project Based Learning to our Classroom - August 12, 2018
- Keep the Engagement Alive: Start the Year with Purpose - August 5, 2018
- It's Our Fault: A Teacher's Confession - March 18, 2018
- Keeping Your Teaching Real: A Teacher's Role - March 11, 2018
- Sketch Notes in the Elementary Classroom - February 15, 2017
- Teach From the Heart - February 9, 2017
- Who is the Teacher: School or Family? - January 11, 2017
- Dear President Elect Trump, From Your Teachers - November 17, 2016
- Let them Be Children - October 21, 2016
- Print Resources: Great Tools for Kids - October 17, 2016
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Today there are many food shows and food challenges on cable. I love watching many of these cooking shows and am fascinated by someone’s ability to create five-star dishes under the pressures of challenges and competitions. The shows range from master chefs sharing and using their creativity to novice chefs trying to find their place. The experience, ingredients, and stress levels vary depending on the show and the competition. "Top Chef" is the inspiration for my summer kitchen. They have challenges they prepare for, shop for ingredients, and create amazing dishes. During the summer, I have time to shop for ingredients and practice using new recipes. I involve my kids in cooking and we experiment and have fun.
Inevitably though, August rolls around and school starts with all of the stress related to planning, managing, and running a classroom. From there my kitchen frantically turns into "Chopped." This competition requires chefs to create a dish from random ingredients found in a picnic basket. They are often unrelated and difficult to incorporate. Many nights after school, I open the refrigerator to find there are few ingredients available to throw together a dinner for five. The beginning of the year is stressful. As an educator it is important to take care of yourself, be a healthful example for your students, and be organized to have a successful year. There are things you can do at home to help with this. This year I decided to start something I have heard others doing: freezer meals.
I am not a person who can throw things together or understand the chemistry of the kitchen enough to know what works from freezer-to-oven-to-table, so getting started was my biggest hurdle. I did some research and found a fantastic web site: From Freezer to Crockpot. This site has meals and shopping lists already created. It was just what I needed: organized lists of ingredients and tested recipes ready to go. Sarah Robbins, the author of the website, organized five weeks of meals that can be prepared, frozen, and then put directly into your crockpot for easy meals during the school week.
I had wanted to do this for quite a while so I took this opportunity to organize a cooking day. I liked the recipes from week 5 the best, so I sent out a Facebook event notice, and had five teacher friends on board. Now, I could have done this on my own in my kitchen with my supplies, but I knew to kick-start this process I needed some support. I figured our needs based on 6 people and headed out to the store. Another way to handle the ingredients is to have everyone bring their own. Shopping in bulk provided an added perk of saving money. Keep in mind it is important to have LOTS of refrigerator space available or shop on the day you are going to cook. My fridge was packed with ingredients!
Getting together and working was the fun part of this adventure. We decided to use a local rental hall for space. Everyone brought kitchen tools for chopping, cooking and measuring. We also brought spices from home since we did not need whole new bottles of any one spice and everyone had those in their cupboard. A few things to be sure and include are bowls for chopped and prepped items, vegetable peelers, can openers, and sponges. Of course you also need the obvious: measuring cups and spoons, knives and cutting boards, skillet and spoons. If you do this in someone’s kitchen, you will have this covered. We found using a rental hall allowed us enough table space to have multiple stations set up. We used a table for chopping, a table for prepping, and a table for completed meals. We also had two tables for putting meals together. It worked very well.
From hauling in all the grocery supplies to cleaning and vacuuming we spent 3 hours at the rental hall and I brought home 7 freezer meals as well as some left over items I used for dinner. With our lifestyle, I figure these will provide quick meals on the nights we are busy, I have to go back to school meetings, or the kids’ schedules are packed. I was not trying to prepare for the week or a solid month; I was trying to prepare for the stress. Some nights I have time to brown hamburger and make tacos. Some nights we order pizza. Some nights we are out-of-town for sports and eat on the run. These meals are ready to be thrown in the crock pot on the morning I have all day in-service followed by back to school night with our first day of school the very next day. The nice thing about this system is you can make as many as you feel you need and you can do it alone or with a group. We found doing it with a group of friends to be fun and encouraging. We are meeting again in October to make more meals and we plan to make a dozen or so next time.
The beginning of the school year is stressful. As an educator it is important to take care of yourself and be organized to have a successful year. There are things you can do at home to help with this. I now have a freezer full of foods we love ready to drop in the crock pot or throw in the oven when I don’t have the time to squeeze in a meal at night. This will help decrease my stress level and won’t force me to run through the drive-through. While you are setting up your classroom, take the time to organize and prepare your kitchen as well. The time you spend here will buy you time during the crazy beginning of the year events.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]