Guest Post by:
Roz Smith of Just In Time For Dinner
A FEARLESS MORSEL
If you are a teacher, entrepreneur, or administrative anything, you may not have time to eat anything remotely nourishing during the workday. Lunch schedules get disrupted, you may be in the car, standing in a slow-moving line, or imprisoned at a meeting that goes on interminably. You may be a mom or dad with small children demanding your attention, or any combination of these.
I speak from experience when I say that I feel your hunger pangs!
We know we should have a something resembling a regular meal, but when we are in these situations, we often grab whatever is sweet, salty, crunchy, fatty, or simply within reach. Right? Weight gain, crankiness, sleep issues, and digestive upsets are usually resulting complications.
Here is my story, and I’m sure you will relate to parts of it, at least. Happily, I was ultimately able to handle my grazing/noshing/nibbling/ “just a bite” tendencies. I was born with a “deficient willpower” gene, too.
Before I retired from teaching, I faced certain lunchtime work temptations-Chinese food delivery, pizza/sandwich delivery, someone’s birthday cake. This became expensive in more than my wallet! I had to do something different.
Bringing leftovers from a previous night’s dinner helped somewhat. I needed to start eating away from the Teachers’ Room more often. That meant staying in my classroom, as there was no courtyard or other place conducive to a peaceful meal. Inner-city schools such as mine are brick and concrete-no trees, grass, or an especially safe walk -around -the -block.
While I chose the calm of my classroom over the clamorous cantankerous complaints of some of my colleagues, I started having a few students wanting the same thing-a quiet place to eat. No food fights, no drama, no chaos. I couldn’t say no. I wrote daily passes for a handful of “my good kids” to bring their federally-funded, processed-packaged lunch to my room.
For my own dietary survival and general sanity, I kept certain stashes of goodies in my car, or classroom, (which the students did not have access to). These are some general recommendations that worked for me, and probably will for you, too:
In my classroom/office: In large plastic jars (that contain no- fat pretzels!) with screw-on lid-packs of microwave popcorn, off-brand sweetened mini-wheat cereal, or Cheerios Protein (as much for my snacks as for student ‘rewards’), or pretzels. Because my old building often had mice or other small critters, cardboard boxes and plastic bags were not an option. Sometimes the jar was on display as an unspoken incentive; sometimes it was in the locked closet.
In my desk drawer: Vitamin C drops or throat soothers, since I talked for a living, remember? I would not chew gum in front of students, since they were not supposed to chew it in class, either.
In my car: Jars of dry roasted peanuts, or pistachios. Cracking the pistachios helped to keep me awake after exhausting days, too. I tried keeping whole-grain crackers there, too, but I ate them so voraciously, it became expensive and counterproductive!
I tried to keep juice boxes or bottles of water in the car. However, the reported ‘dioxin leech’ from the bottles forced me to start keeping them in my closet, and remember to put one in my purse on my way out the door in the afternoon.
In my mini-fridge: My lunch, bottles of water, possibly seedless grapes or individually wrapped string cheese. If a student chose to not drink their lunch juice, or milk, they might go in the fridge, too. Sooner or later, it was consumed.
For those of you who pack your lunches, or want a “healthy handful to go”, here are some suggestions. You need to prep or cook at home, but these are easy, I promise!
HEALTHY ON-THE-GO MEAL OPTIONS
Breakfast- Although I was a major consumer of high-protein cereal bars eaten in the car, washed down with coffee, making a pan of oatmeal bars (with berries or dried fruit, if you like) using regular oatmeal, spread in a greased pan, baked until firm, cool, cut into squares, is a great option. Oatmeal cookies have TOO MUCH SUGAR, so don’t kid yourself. If you go the pre-packaged bar route, read the labels to make sure each bar has no less than 4 grams of protein. PROTEIN WILL KEEP YOU FULL LONGER! I usually had one or two in my purse, as well. This goes for cereal, too. Throw a couple handfuls in a baggie, hopefully with dried fruit, and munch on it as you drive to work.
If you are so inclined, or have an older child/teen who wants to earn a little cash (really!), try this: make up scrambled eggs (with whatever seasoning you prefer), add some cooked turkey sausage/bacon (lower fat than pork, but it’s a personal choice), a couple handfuls of shredded cheese, stir together and scoop into a sprayed muffin tin—silicone pans are better for this, if you have one. Bake at 350 until the egg mixture is not jiggly, and begins to brown at the edges-maybe 12-15 min.
I haven’t tried this yet, but it should work-use refrigerator biscuit dough (try a half-biscuit first if you can) press it around the bottom and sides of the muffin tin. Even better, make Bisquick biscuit dough. Roll it out to the thickness of pizza crust, cut rounds with an inverted glass, fit the dough in the bottom and sides of the muffin tin. Prick a few holes with a fork to prevent over puffing. Carefully add the egg mixture. Bake for about 12 minutes, check for doneness, it may need a bit more time for the biscuit to bake. Think of these as ‘quiches to go’. If you make a bunch of these on Sunday evening, they can cool before you bag them for the fridge.
Lunch- if you have leftover poultry (or even roast beef), chop it up smaller than bite-sized, add your choice of mayo/plain yogurt/horseradish, halved grapes, finely chopped apple, and maybe green pepper or celery, if you like it, mix it up. Put a cup or so in a baggie, for each serving. Put it in your lunch bag with a half pita bread. Or, keep plastic utensils in your desk, and simply eat it out of the baggie or plastic container, if that’s your preference. I’m a fan of disposable when on the go!
Lastly, for now- if you MUST keep a snack at your desk, get a bag of Halos (little Mandarin oranges). They are pretty, nutritious, not too messy, and a quick bite. They only take a few seconds to peel!
Busy people CAN eat well; it just takes a little forethought! Happy grazing!
Rosalyn Smith has a three education degrees, and a career in teaching, dating back to the 1980’s, in various capacities, forums and institutions. As a recently- retired ESL teacher in a major inner-city district, Roz needed to find a new direction and voice for her life.
In 2013, she and her husband Scott launched their restaurant review column on social media, Food Phantoms, LLC.
In July 2015, they started on Periscope, as Just In Time For Dinner. With Scott’s training as a chef, and Roz’s love of all things food, and their obvious love for each other, they have amassed a regular following. Currently, Just In Time for Dinner airs Monday through Friday, at 6pm Eastern Time.
Roz has found her voice and continues to exercise her teaching chops by scoping and writing narrative for their extensive website, Justintimefordinner.co where her blog “Fearless Morsels” is found, along with her article “Five Kitchen Must-Haves.”
Roz likes to describe herself as someone “who colors outside the lines” in the things to which she applies herself.
Roz is a proud Jersey girl, who lives in Pennsauken, with Scott and her furbabies.