As teachers, we know our job goes well beyond the school bell. But often our duties include far more than just what’s required at school. At the very least, we owe it to ourselves to prepare nourishing meals to fuel our body. If we have a family, we might be cooking for three, four, or more people on a regular basis? It is possible to have easy after school dinners that are healthy and tasty.
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How Do I Get Dinner on the Table?
While I’m no longer a classroom teacher, I work far more than a normal 40 hour week. My tutoring schedule keeps me out of the house a lot during evenings. But, I enjoy cooking healthy meals for my family, and it’s one of my household duties. So how do I make it work?
I use calendar blocking and careful meal planning to be able to make sure that I get healthy meals on the table Monday through Friday even though I’m working. In my schedule, I block out 30 minutes each morning to meal prep, though often it doesn’t take this long. If I pre-chop veggies on the weekend and put them in baggies, I pretty much can dump my ingredients in the Crock Pot with seasonings and go. My slow cooker is my best friend. I have a Crock Pot with a 4, 6, 8, and 10 hour timer. If I’m gone longer than the timer, it has a warm function that keeps the food hot without overcooking. The flavors marry all day long. My fiance gets to eat whenever he finishes his daily workout routine after work, and I eat when I get home from lessons. We both get a hot fresh meal even when our schedule doesn’t quite mesh. He does the dishes, so it works out nicely to balance responsibilities. We don’t always use them, but when I’m in a time pinch or using my Crock Pot for something sticky like queso I use these slow cooker liners.
My schedule is helped by having a roster of go-to meals that I make on a regular basis. It makes grocery shopping a breeze because I know exactly what I need. And because the meals are routine, I’m able to get everything cooking before my caffeine has kicked in.
I love cooking, and have developed many of my own recipes. But I take inspiration from others when I can. Below are some links to my favorite recipes that I make for easy after school dinners.
My Favorite After School Slow Cooker Recipes
Crock Pot Sante Fe Chicken from Skinny Taste
I make this recipe once a week, and it is awesome. It has more flavor than heat, so if you like it spicy, add more cayenne. I make the recipe with chicken thighs because my fiance prefers thigh to breast meat. It has the added benefit of being a little cheaper too. I like to serve this on corn tortillas with shredded Mexican cheese. The meal makes a ton of leftovers for us. We freeze the leftovers and eat it later for lunch, saving even more time.
Slow Cooker Italian Chicken and Potatoes
I just recently found this recipe from The Recipe Critic for Slow Cooker Italian Chicken and Potatoes, and it’s recently become one of my favorite recipes. In fact, it’s what’s in my Crock Pot right this very moment. The smell is taunting me because it’s only 2:30 PM, and I won’t be eating dinner until 6 PM. I can’t wait for the flavorful potatoes and juicy chicken. Because I always try to include at least one vegetable with my meals, I like to add microwavable green beans to meal to balance it out and get more fiber and vitamins.
I don’t really use a recipe for my roast beef. I take a nicely marbled roast (I vary the cuts based on what looks good at the store), and then season it with olive oil, salt and pepper. I brown it on all sides on a hot pan. It goes straight from the pan into the crock pot. On top, I add a good amount of chopped onions, carrots, and celery. Easy peasy.
Herbs de Provence Chicken
Herbs de Provence Chicken sounds fancy, but nobody has to know that it was easy to make. I usually make this with a whole chicken, but I’ve used chicken thigh and chicken breast before too. When you use the whole chicken, you wind up with broth along with your meal which I freeze to use in soups.
I remove any gibbets from the chicken and then I cover it in olive oil. Then I sprinkle paprika, herbs de Provence, salt, and fresh cracked pepper all over the chicken. My pepper grinder makes such a difference for my recipes. Using fresh cracked is so much more flavorful than regular pepper. I even flip it to get the bottom. Yes, it’s icky, but worth it. If you don’t like it, you might appreciate using some kitchen gloves for the task. Then it goes in the slow cooker all day with onions, carrots, and celery. If you have small children, I highly recommend you use boneless chicken and not a whole chicken. There are many tiny bones that appear. It’s fine for my family because we know it helps add flavor, but little ones might choke.
While I do have my dinner routine nailed down and it works great, every once in a while I crave a new recipe. I’d love to know your favorite recipes for busy school night dinners. Share them with me in the comments or on our Facebook page.