I have some really cool friends out there in the world of life. Chris is one of them. You can see our collaborative work here and here and most recently in that screaming red wine ice cream recipe I gloriously shamed myself into enjoying. Just when I thought Christina’s contribution to my life was cooking and baking, she whips up a much needed theme I had no real expertise on.
It’s back to school season. Yay!! Or not from all of the lowly and hunched over, sad Mami pics I’ve seen on Facebook. It’s like the kids are being sent away to a bad place. I don’t get it. But don’t blame me! I don’t have kids yet, and while I totally sympathize with the emotional attachment, I can’t really offer any constructive thoughts. But my sympathy flows into the needs parents also have in ensuring a smooth transition back into the madness of mornings and evenings. I really wanted this space to offer mom and dads some solid ideas on practices that could make your day a bit simpler. It’s all about streamlining. And Christina, while not a mother, is a top-level educator with decades of exeperience with children, families, and the process… because if the process fails, she sees its full affect in the classroom. Here is part I of her tried and true tips to help you actually look forward to a new year of awesomeness with your little super heroes! B-
By Christina Arpante
Where did the summer go? Poof! Just like that, the days of camps, pool dates, and ignored alarms have quickly become things of the past. While there are the giddy elements of excitement that that have recently surfaced, with new clothes, selecting the perfect school supplies, and finding out which friends share the same classes, plans and schedules you had in mind to the start the school year flawlessly apparently hitched a ride with summer. Am I right? I know. Me too. And, I don’t kids! However, I am an educator. So, I get it. There are definite aspects of the chaos I experience, personally. Then, there are the aspects of the chaos I have witnessed in carpool (AM or PM, take your pick), in the lunch room, or during aftercare.
When Bren asked me if I could contribute timesaver, food-related tips that would connect to those who are juggling work/school schedules, I jumped at the chance. The fabulous twist of it all, the tips I will share work for grown up without children, as well! Timesaving is timesaving, whether you’re grabbing a back pack, laptop bag, brief case apron, or cooler to throw on the back of the work truck.
PLANNING AND PREP
Planning and prep are crucial. If not, bad habits will move though the house faster than a hot knife through butter. You may think, planning and prep takes time. Yes it does. And, efforts put forth toward establishing a balanced, healthy, and sustainable lifestyle on the front end, will save countless hours and stress on the tail end. You’ll see!
1. Planning: Everyone can carve out 15 – 20 minutes to plan out a week of meals. Now, if the meals you’re planning are 5, 6, and 7-courses, I might add a few more minutes to that assessment. Otherwise, it shouldn’t take too long. And, it can be achieved anywhere. You can plan while sitting at the table, or while watching your favorite television show, or while your on the bike on at the gym. If not, take the planning part off your plate completely, no pun intended, and add the task to the kid’s chore list. Yes, I said it. C-h-o-r-e. No money attached.
If you are old school and like to write it out, then do so. Writing out a plan out doesn’t have to be a formal event. It can be a family event! Use a planner or calendar like your kids. While the kids are learning how to plan and organize using their school planner, plan and organize meals right next to them using yours. Parent Modeling. Authentic learning. Love it! Even if you’re tech savvy, like your millennial child, dictate your plan in your phone, or note into Evernote, and upload your masterpiece into your calendar.
2. Prep: choose a day of the week that works best for your family to shop and chop. Just because one family shops on a weekend afternoon, doesn’t mean that schedule works for everyone. If Wednesday 7PM works for your house for shopping and Thursday 7PM for chopping, then great! No one walks in your shoes but you. When it’s possible to advance chop vegetables, do it. The peppers and onions that are chopped are more likely to be used after your long day at work than the ones that are sitting beautifully poised in their bowl. If there are multiple members in your house hold, choose who does what. Even little ones, who many not be old enough to handle a knife, can remove the seeds from the pepper, or snap off the ends of green beans.
3. When shopping, pick up any staples you use that are running low because they are being utilized most every day to create simple meals. (That’s a good situation, by the way.) Bring what you are able to have and what you need to whip up your dish at your fingertips is half the battle. Here are some examples of staples in my pantry: olive oil, dried herbs and seasonings (basil, parsley, and oregano, whole black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, sea salt), parmigiano-reggiano, tomato paste, garlic, garbanzo beans, and San Marzano tomatoes.
This is just a first step in a the transition process, but a sure fire way to get you out of the rut and into the fast lane of productivity! Check out my meal planning tips in the next post. That will for sure shave time and stress and increase your excitement in the kitchen. The kids will notice.
Have a great Labor Day!
Check out these recipes for some simple and fast ideas to help you streamline:
Christina Arpante, EdD is the Secondary English Language Art & Literacy Coordinator for the Santa Clara County Office of Education in San Jose where she develops customized professional development opportunities for county educators. Prior to moving to California, Christina was a dedicated teacher, administrator, and Principal in the southeast. When Christina is not working to authentically integrate literacy across all subject areas, she’s most likely in the kitchen baking up sweet treats for friends.
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.