Educators’ days are filled with lesson planning, grading, meetings, prep, teaching, and countless other tasks. All of those work responsibilities need a lot of planning and execution. Do you ever view your nutrition that way? Do you take the time to prepare your meals the way you would prepare for your workweek? How many times have you come home from a long day and wanted to just sit and watch Netflix but haven’t answered the age old question, “what’s for dinner?”
As a busy mom of 3, I’m familiar with juggling work, my children’s school and sports schedules, and the cooking responsibilities (my hubby doesn’t come home until after dinner, so waiting for him isn’t an option). How do I handle it? I meal prep. Does that mean every meal is luxurious and 3 courses? Of course not! But they are nutritious, filling and easy for those busy weekday nights.
I follow these tips:
On Saturday, take a look at your upcoming week’s schedule. Plan out your meals for the week. This may feel like an overwhelming task at first, but there are lots of websites and apps that can help! This one, for example, generates a week’s worth of recipes for you based on a few options you can select. Write up your grocery list and do your shopping for the week.
On Sunday, set aside 1.5 hours to do your meal prepping. This doesn’t mean you have to cook the entire meals, but there are some “tricks” to make weeknight cooking nice and easy. For example, if you have ground beef, you can make some taco meat & homemade burgers. If chicken’s on the menu, use this time to brown a couple of chicken breasts that can be added to pasta or rice, or prepare a chicken salad that can make a yummy dinner and be used in sandwiches for lunch. Another great time-saver is pre-cutting your veggies: these can be cooked in a few minutes or added to lunch boxes as a healthy side. By prepping 3-5 meals on Sunday, you’ll save yourself precious evening time during the week.
Invest in a Cooler
Who among us isn’t guilty of arriving home from a long day of work – ravenous! – and bingeing on unhealthy snacks that are within easy reach? Here’s a simple trick I’ve been using: keep a cooler in your car. Take some of those pre-cut veggies you prepped on Sunday and leave them in your cooler, along with a bottle of water. Munch on the veggies and hydrate on your commute home. You’ll find yourself making better choices as you arrive home and start your evening routine.
Create a Lunch Group at work
Ask your colleagues to join you in creating a “Friday Lunch Group.” Each week, one person brings in lunch for the group. I’ve seen some great ideas such as chili with salads, enchiladas, and soup with sandwich combos. If you get 6 people to sign up, you only have to bring in lunch once, and get 5 lunches brought in for you! This also encourages community which we know can help us de-stress during those especially busy times of the year.
These are just a few simple ways you can keep your nutrition on track and keep powering through the school year!
Mandeep Kajla is a Senior Schools Manager in Surrey, BC. Mandeep is a busy mom of 3 and enjoys outdoor activities, learning new recipes and travelling.