The piano teacher’s life can sometimes feel incredibly unbalanced. Oftentimes students are looking for availability in the afterschool/evening hours. You’ve had most of the day time to do whatever needs done in life, and then your job begins. What does this mean for family? Dinnertime can be crazy! Often you are either finishing up teaching or continuing straight through the hour. This problem is augmented when you work at a studio away from home.
There are several solutions, many that you may have even considered …
- cut teaching hours
- pursue homeschool, adult, and preschool age students during the day
- enlist family members to make dinner
- take out
Today’s tip isn’t revolutionary. It starts with a meal plan and ends with a crockpot. But let me tell you, both have saved the day in my household!
A Flexible Plan
I didn’t start meal planning until after I got married, but I quickly discovered its necessity. Why? Because it is really easy to go to the grocery store and spend ridiculous amounts of my hard earned money on a whole bunch of food that doesn’t produce any meals.
The other bonus is that I don’t have to spend mental energy on what to feed the family during the week. I think about it once, and it’s done. I also rarely go to the grocery store twice in a week (we live in the city and timing is everything for this!), and that in and of itself saves me a lot of time and money 🙂
If I am enlisting other family members to help, we have a night out planned, or are heading to someone else’s for dinner, the meal plan shows all of this and keeps everyone in the loop.
I know that everyone’s mind works differently when it comes to meal planning. For me? It is very easy to modify an existing plan. But if I have no plan – that is when I am the most stressed and use the most mental energy on worthless things. (Have you thought about how use your mental energy? You can read more about putting it in the right place here.)
Want help getting started? Print one of these simple meal plan sheet and stick it to your fridge. You’ll be surprised how easy it can be! Pro tip: keep your old planning sheets to recycle later! No one will remember, and you’ll save yourself that much more time down the road 🙂
The Magic of the Crockpot
I am a better cook now than I have ever been in my life. Mostly out of necessity. I don’t mind cooking, but was never one to do more than what was asked of me when growing up. I had a lot of learning when I got into college and had to fend for myself and the friends that would often show up unexpectedly.
The crockpot has been my lifeline! Because I have the bulk of my time available before I teach, it makes the most sense for me to cook then too. No, my family does not only eat crockpot meals. But on the days when I don’t delegate cooking responsibilities, it’s usually the way we go!
The magic is that if I’m home in time for dinner, it is ready (and I’m usually hungry!). If I’m teaching through dinner, I don’t even have to give dinner a second thought while I’m entrenched in correcting note, rhythms, and musicality.
At the end of the day, what is the point? The more organized we choose to be, the more mental energy we will have to put towards things that really matter. If I’m wasting energy on trying to figure out life details that can be streamlined, I am doing it wrong. And I am most likely unnecessarily stressed. So when it comes to your family schedule and dinner times, what’s the plan?
Is it so rigid that anything that strays from the plan throws you off? You’ve missed the point. Make a flexible plan. Find recipes that everyone likes and you can easily put together. Decide if the crockpot, instapot, or traditional pre-made casserole works the best for you. And spend a few minutes each week mentally prepping (and writing it down) so that your energy can be used elsewhere for the remainder of the time 🙂
One of my family’s favorite crockpot meals? BBQ Pineapple Meatballs 🙂 It’s as simple as
- Meatballs of your choice (beef, turkey, veggie – we’ve tried them and they all work!)
- BBQ Sauce of your choice (we really like Hickory and Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce for this recipe).
- Crushed Canned Pineapple
- 2 TBSP Brown Sugar
- Put frozen meatballs in the crockpot.
- Cover with the rest of the ingredients.
- Cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours or LOW for 4 hours.
- Serve with baked potatoes or a salad for an easy meal 🙂