Teacher Week 2015: Make-Ahead Meals

Hi, Teachers!

Today is Day 2 of Teacher Week 2015, and the focus is Make-Ahead Meals!

It is SO HARD to take care of yourself during the first week of school, but it's really important to do. I've been going into my classroom a lot all summer just so I could have more time to myself during the first weeks of school. I'm not the best teacher I can possibly be when I don't pay attention to myself, and I'm sure most of you can relate to that!

Now I don't know about you guys, but I'm NOT a morning person. I wake up early to work out and take care of my dogs, but I don't particularly like doing that so early. I like to set everything up the night before. I pack my lunch, put out my clothes... anything to make the morning easier for myself. Did you know that breakfast is really, really easy to make the night before too? In fact, I will make several breakfasts at the beginning of the week sometimes! As anyone who knows me already knows, I am a huge pumpkin addict all year long. I even put it in my bio! PUMPKIN IS LIFE. Okay, seriously though, one of my favorite breakfasts to make is pumpkin pie oatmeal! It's clean, healthy, and filling!

YUMMMMMMMM. I got this recipe from Skinny Ms. and you can find the recipe by clicking the picture above. The only real difference is that I add no-sugar-added craisins. The best part is that this is made in a slow cooker, and you will have enough to eat all week. Pumpkin is actually an exceptionally healthy food, so it's sooooooo good for you. I add vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and stevia, and I use whatever non-dairy milk I have on hand. If you make it Sunday, you can pack it up and have at least 5 servings for the week. I usually eat 23049823 portions of whatever I make, but oatmeal always seems to be the exception. It's so filling, I don't always finish it. By the way, I double the recipe on the website!

Also, did you know that you can scramble/fry/poach eggs and they will actually keep in the fridge well? I do that a lot. I heat it up for 30 seconds in my microwave and POOF! My breakfast is mostly ready. Top that off with a banana and/or piece of toast, and I'm done. Eggs and grains in the morning are exceptionally filling breakfasts. I need that if I'm going to teach 25 third graders all day!!

My favorite trick for making lunches for the week is making extra dinners and relying on the leftovers as lunch. It's more interesting than a boring sandwich or salad every day. Don't get me wrong, though, I love sandwiches and salads! I'll share another easy one, because every teacher loves easy in September! I love this soup. I make corn muffins to go with it sometimes, and I'll eat it with avocado. HEAVEN. SO GOOD. AHHH. A few years ago, I found this online and added it to my and Mr. Word On Third's shared google doc full of recipes. If this is your recipe, I apologize for not giving you credit! Let me know if it's yours and I'll add your link happily.

This recipe makes everyone happy. My mom asks me to make this for her and give it to her as a gift on holidays/birthdays! It's really a crowd-pleaser. It is meatless, but you could easily add sausage or shredded chicken. I find that with all the beans, you really don't need it to feel full, but I get that not everyone else is vegetarian!

Vegetarian Taco Soup
  • 1-2 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 1 jalapeno (seeds & ribs removed, diced)
  • 1 zucchini (chopped into small squares)
  • 1 green pepper (chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (finely minced-I used my garlic press)
  • 2 cups or 1 can black beans (drained & rinsed if canned)
  • 2 cups or 1 can pinto beans (drained & rinsed if canned)
  • 2 cups or 1 can kidney beans (drained & rinsed if canned)
  • 1 28-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ears corn (I used canned corn-I think 2 cans)
  • grated cheddar or monterey jack cheese, sour cream, and chopped cilantro (if desired)
Step 1

Preheat the oil over medium heat in a medium pan. Sauté the onion, pepper, zucchini, and jalapeno until softened and the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 30 seconds. Add the chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, dill, paprika, and cumin and cook for another 30 seconds.

Step 2

While the onion mixture is cooking, place the beans, canned tomatoes, and broth into a 4-6 quart slow-cooker. Add the onion mixture and stir to combine. Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours.

Step 3

Just before serving, add the corn kernels, parsley, and cilantro. Cover and heat through for 15 minutes. Add salt to taste. Serve with tortilla chips, grated cheese, sour cream, and more chopped cilantro if desired. AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, HAVE IT WITH CORN BREAD.

NOM. NOM. NOM. So good. Go make it. Go make it right now. You'll thank me later!

Dinner is usually when I get creative in the kitchen.... but NOT IN SEPTEMBER! I love to make chili and ratatouille in huge batches and freeze them before school starts. I'll do this all year on weekends to make the weeks easier for myself. If I eat this once or twice a week for a few weeks, I'm a very happy camper. Since summer in New Jersey has so many delicious veggies, I'll share my recipe for ratatouille.

6 green peppers, diced
5 onions, cut into strips
2 medium zucchinis, cut into thin coins
1 large eggplant, diced
8 tomatoes, sliced into 8ish "smiles" (As in, cut the tomatoes in half, then cut those halves into semi-circles. Does that make sense? Whatever, it's not that important.)
basil, oregano, parsley to taste (probably about tablespoon-ish each)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp olive oil

SUPER DUPER easy. This whole recipe is really only chopping. All you do is put some olive oil on the bottom of a big pan, add your garlic for a few seconds, and then add the peppers and onions. Then after the onions start turning translucent and the peppers are getting softer (this is exact, can you tell?), add the rest of your veggies and spices. Mix it around and it's ready when your tomatoes don't really resemble tomatoes anymore. The veggies break down and make an awesome veggie sauce. You don't need any broth or water at all. Just make sure the bottom of your pan doesn't burn. You can eat ratatouille over whole wheat pasta or spaghetti squash for a super healthy meal. It freezes really well. I'd say this batch probably makes about 6-8 servings or so.

So, those are my GO-TO meals to keep my head from falling off during September! Do you have any favorites? Comment below! I hope this post gave you some ideas for keeping your sanity over the next month!

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