As a teacher, we quickly realize that the work is never done. This means that we have to be intentional with our time because it's super easy to stay way too late after school. With rising food prices, gas prices, and full workloads, I want to share a few things that have worked well for me when keeping my personal life organized and efficient.
1. Meal Planning
If you are working on a tight budget, meal planning is a helpful way to manage your time and keep your food budget in check. Figuring out dinner last-minute and running to the grocery store after a long day of teaching is the last thing we want to think about. And if you don't love cooking, meal planning is a great way to get everything planned and organized all at once. It also cuts down on gas and is significantly less spendy than ordering take-out.
If you have a slow cooker or instant pot, I recommend prepping and preparing meals ahead of time and throwing them in the freezer for later. It takes some funds up-front to get all the ingredients you need, but I prefer to take one weekend and prep a few weeks of meals. I prep meals in gallon-size ziplocks and label them so I can easily pull out a meal from the freezer to throw in the slow cooker before school. If you have an instant pot, you can easily toss in a frozen meal once you get home from work. Here's a helpful blog post with some recipes I've made in the past (not an affiliate, just a helpful list of slow cooker recipes).
I keep my grocery lists in a free app called Any List. A teacher colleague of mine shared this app with me, and it's been such a great way to stay organized. I like that I can have multiple lists depending on the store or needs, and my husband and I can both add items to the same list. It also saves items that have been added in the past which saves time if I'm trying to recall items I need to add back on my list.
2. Food Service Delivery
If you are looking for fresh and healthy meal options, there are quite a few meal kits available. I've only tried Hello Fresh, and it was a great option for adding in some new meal options from the regular rotation. However, I also found that I needed to be focused to read a new recipe and prepare a new meal each evening. Meal services might work well for you, but if you aren't a fan of cooking, it might be something you consider for the weekend when you have a little more time.
3. Grocery Pick-Up
With the pandemic, I found my love of grocery pick-up. I'm honestly not one that loves to grocery shop, so I love being able to sit in bed and grocery shop online. I'm also much more likely to keep to my list and stay on budget because it's so much easier to impulse buy when I'm walking aisles. My suggestion is to set your pick-up to a weekend so that you can meal prep, or if you are prone to stay late, schedule your grocery pick-up after school when it will force you to leave school and go home.
4. Pack Your Lunch & Lay Out Your Clothes the Night Before
I like to prep my lunch and stick my lunch bag in the freezer at night. It's one less thing for me to do in the morning. I'm also more likely to make healthy food choices instead of running to the vending machine. This is also just another way to keep within a food budget. I also find that if I choose my clothes the night before and lay everything out, including shoes and accessories, it's one less thing for me to think about in the morning. If I don't do this, I will change clothes one too many times.
5. Make Lists that Make Sense
Making a list of things that need to get done can be helpful, but honestly, it can be quite overwhelming. I've found that when I make a list categorized it helps me beat overwhelm.
Categorize lists by:
Things I need to get done today
Things I need to get done this week
Things I need to get done by the end of this month
Before I leave school at the end of the day, I make a list of the things that I need to get done the next day, starting with the most important or immediate items first. Then when I enter my classroom the next morning I know exactly what I need to do. This beats the brain fog and makes my prep time more efficient.
Time is currency. It has value. If you can create a routine and work with more efficiency it will bring more peace of mind, and provide you with more time for the things that you love. I hope these tips are helpful and provide some ideas to make your precious time more organized and efficient.
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