Back to School Preparation

School starts on Wednesday, and I’ve definitely got that back-to-school feeling. It’s time to face facts: my amazing 13 months of maternity leave are over, and from Monday to Wednesday, teaching will take over.

I know this is a really hard term coming up. There are new classes to get to grips with, new schemes of work, a new team, a new classroom, and new targets and pressures from Day One. There’s also the dreaded observations, which I find much more stressful than Ofsted. To top it all off, the days are getting shorter, and by November, most teachers won’t see much daylight – only the PE teachers.

But this isn’t a blog about teaching, and I don’t intend to use it to think about my work. Instead, I wanted to make a note about some of the food preparation I’ve been doing, so that shopping and cooking are a bit less stressful over the next few weeks and months.

Over on Pinterest, pins labelled ‘Freezer to Slow Cooker’ are very popular and I can see the appeal. When you have some time, you prepare the ingredients for a meal (or several meals), put them into bags, label and seal. When you need them, you defrost them, put them in the slow cooker, and then leave them to cook.

So, stashed in my freezer, in their own sealed bags, are the makings of chicken fajitas, Chinese soy pork fillets, chicken in tomato sauce, teriyaki chicken and pork goulash. If they’re successful, I’ll do individual posts on how well they cook and taste.

I also have frozen chicken strips, which, according to Justine Pattison’s cookbook Freeze, can be cooked from frozen. You slice raw chicken into strips, coat with vegetable oil, lay out on a baking sheet and ‘open-freeze.’ Then you collect them up and put into a rigid container. They won’t stick together and can use them from frozen.

Finally, I’ve been batch-baking muffins. My ‘Apple, Vanilla and Oat’ muffins are adapted from the River Cottage Cookbook, and are lovely. Ben is a particular fan. I also made banana and chocolate chip muffins in an attempt to use up some over-ripe bananas. They tasted brilliant fresh, and again, I’ll post a recipe if they defrost well.

Meanwhile, I’m still thinking of ideas to get me enthusiastic about packed lunches. This is still eluding me.