Hey everyone! I hope your summer is going well, but, if you are like me, you are already plotting and planning how to be more efficient and getting ready for back to school season. One thing I am always trying to do is meal prep and plan to make life easier, so we are headed back to the kitchen this week for an old household favorite that can be made same day or prepped in advance, and both are pretty easy. I’m sharing my Shepherd’s Pie recipe!
There are four main ingredients and they are simple and can easily be substituted for your dietary needs or preferences. I’ll share what we use and you can substitute as needed. This recipe can make a large casserole dish that will easily feed 8-10 people, or can be split into two storage containers for reheating later. This recipe even freezes well and will keep for a few months, so can be prepped and stashed for the future.
1lb ground beef
10-12 servings of mashed potatoes
1-2 cans of sweet corn
4 cups of shredded cheese
First, brown your beef (or whatever meat you are using) and drain it. If you forgot to defrost your meat in advance, don’t worry! Ground meat can be put in the skillet on low-medium heat with a lid, then slowly cooked and then just scrape off the cooked layer until it is all defrosted and cooked!
Second, prepare your mashed potatoes (or substitute). We use potatoes a lot, but Florida humidity is not our friend, so we just keep dehydrated flakes on hand and prepare those. This recipe is great with homemade mashed potatoes from scratch or leftover potatoes from a holiday meal or take out.
Third, open your can of corn and drain the liquid. you can also use frozen corn or even mixed veggies for this recipe.
Next, is putting it together, and the method is a matter of preference. We like to mix ours all together, but some like theirs layered. If you mix, like me, just use a big mixing bowl and mix it well. Then, you can put it into your baking dish.
Finally, add a layer of shredded cheese to the top as thin or thick a layer as you like. We like to use Mexican blend since we usually have that on hand for taco night, but I’ve used Mozarella left from Italian night before, or even used partial leftover bags of both mixed, and, in a pinch, have even just put sliced cheese on top. Whatever works for you!
At this point, you can either let it cool and then cover and freeze, or pop it in the oven to bake. If you go strait to the oven, bake at 350 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. If you prefer to freeze it, then you’ll want to let it set out from the freezer for a bit, if you can, then bake at 350 degrees F for about 45-60 minutes, or until hot all the way through.
And that is it! Enjoy!
I hope this helps make dinner, for at least a night or two, one less thing to worry about this month!
I’d love to hear your feedback on what your family thought of this recipe, or how you adapted it for your own tastes! Don’t forget to click that star and like this post, and be sure to subscribe to my blog to get them sent to your inbox every week! Wanna join the community? Find me on Twitter at @AddictedtoTeac1 or on Facebook at Addicted to Teaching where we all chat and share ideas, strategies, experiences, and job posts at our schools!
What is it that we crave about summer? We count down the days as we race towards it
at breakneck speeds—longing for its arrival—but why? Is it the chance to slow down? Is it temporarily doing away with agendas,
alarm clocks, meetings and parent communications? Is it traveling or getting
quality time with family that we don’t see during our hectic school
routines? It may be some or all of
these, depending on you. For me, it is
not only these things, but also the chance to sit back and analyze how I did
things, what worked and what didn’t work, as well as trying on new habits and
seeing how I can make them fit in my life.
Routines are an important thing to me, and not just because
I am OCD (CDO my husband likes to say since I have a habit of alphabetizing
things (don’t get me started on my love of my label maker), but also because I
have learned that routines make for consistency and efficiency, two key
elements for success. This past school
year has been a challenge. We moved into a new house to make room for my mother,
my oldest son finished his Associate’s degree and started at a new college for
his Bachelor’s, my husband changed jobs after dreaming about it for two years,
and I was committed to a training program for the duration of the school year
that came to a conclusion about the time my mom became fully retired. Whew! I was exhausted. The routines we had had in place since my
husband had joined the ranks of the teaching world 4 years before (which were
pretty consistent from when he ran his own business before) were suddenly
thrown for a loop only a couple of months into the school year when he decided
to leave education and go into business for himself again. We did our best to adjust, but by the time
the school year ended on the same day that my mom became a full retiree, we
still hadn’t adapted.
I am also a huge travel bug.
I often jokingly say that I work to support my travel habit, which is
not too far from the truth. I have
downsized possessions dramatically over the last few years into a more minimalist
lifestyle as well as paid off most of our bills, so a good portion of our
budget was for now and later fun money (vacations, entertainment and
retirement). With the job change, that
changed for us quite a bit, so we’ve also had to adjust and, luckily, had room
in the budget. But we still plan to work
in a few trips this summer. Truth be
told, I am writing this in the kitchen of one of our family members we are
visiting as we are doing a loop to see them and check off a few more states
from our bucket list.
Every educator does different things with their down
time. For me, I spend it reconnecting
with family, both near and far, refreshing my home with a variety of projects
and trying out new routines that I can establish at a slower pace and maintain
when I go “back to work” in August—although I, like most, will work during the
summer attending trainings, reviewing my practices and material from the past
year, analyzing test data when it drops, and creating/adapting new things for
next year based my end of year student surveys and data about the upcoming
students given to me by the prior grades teachers. Don’t get me wrong, I also
get out and enjoy the longer days and extra family time by taking advantage of
some of the discounted or free activities available in our local area like
weekly movies, zoos, aquariums or theme parks—if you are lucky enough to live
close to any of those.
Our family will have to establish some new routines with all
our lives changing in the last few months, so there are things we can do over
the next 6-8 weeks to help us out during the school year.
Meal Planning and Preparation. We will try out new
recipes and get back into meal prepping and menu planning, as well as
simplifying our meals. We got in the
awful habit of eating out or eating prepackaged/easy meals for the last month
and that did not help us handle the crazy routines that the end of year brings. We have tried all of the prepping ideas for
meals and have actually found the simplest for us is stocking up on family
packages of meats and freezing into portions (we cut into bites when cooked to
cut down on overeating) and we keep fruits and veggies on hand to accompany
them. We can go from freezer to table
(or lap on the back porch) in 45 minutes, even on a busy day, and feed our
family of 5 for well under $20 for the meal.
Going out is actually an inconvenience for us.
Home projects. There is always maintenance to be done as a homeowner, so we will take care of those, as well as cleaning out closets and cabinets to purge forgotten possessions and reorganize them. We have found that having less stuff helps us clean faster and we have less to clean, which means more time for life. I stumbled over minimalism a few years ago while looking for solutions since I am a terrible allergy sufferer and we have loved the simpler lifestyle. But those old habits of a lifetime to take a while to break, so refreshing the home and reviewing the books I have help quite a bit. Not familiar with minimalism, or not sure how it could possibly fit for you? Check out the author Joshua Becker and his realistic family approach that works for us at https://www.becomingminimalist.com/.
Planning for the next school year. I know, you don’t want to think about it, and
I don’t either. But I don’t like a crazy
start to a new year, so I do a few things early in summer to help. When we are cleaning out those closets and
cabinets, I purge any clothing items that don’t fit or need repair or replaced
so that I can get those ordered, fixed, purchased or budget for them. My son’s school has a uniform, so we will
pass on any items that someone else can use and get his items ordered early so
that we can pick them up at orientation.
I also start shopping school and art supplies, prepackaged snacks,
cleaning supplies, and anything else that could help around the house or
classroom or could be donated to his classroom teacher. Those BOGO sales run all summer, so taking
advantage now helps me out a lot later in the year.
New routines and habits. My daily reading, devotions,
exercise and cleaning routines all slacked off in the last couple of
months. I take the time to figure out
why, shuffle my day around and put into practice my routines during the summer. I can go at a slower pace while I make them a
habit and then a few weeks before going back to work, I can time how long it
takes me to do all the things, allowing me to adjust my wake-up times and bed
times to accommodate. I do the same for
my little one so that we can reestablish his routines before going back, as
well. I also look at how well we have done with chores and will adjust our
chore charts, laundry rotations and shopping days. With so many changes this year, many of our
routines never got followed or were tweaked during the year, so a family
meeting over a delicious and relaxing meal gives everyone a chance to chime in
on what works and doesn’t work so that we can adjust. It sounds like a silly thing, but no one
fights over the washing machine, yells about a stack of dishes, or complains
about an empty cabinet when we work together.
Travel and quality family time. We usually plan a
couple of trips in the summer in addition to celebrating birthdays for several
family members. We usually plan a big
family trip and a smaller get away nearby, and sometimes these double as a
birthday celebration. With the change in
jobs, we sold our camper and have less time to go on adventures. This year, we are fitting in an early summer
trip to see family and check off more states (with any luck, by the time you
are reading this, I will have checked off state number 50 for me, and number 30
for my soon to be 8 year old). We are
also working in a couple of other trips, but they will be business related for
my husband. When we are at home, we
capitalize on the summer movies at the local theater and the passes to parks
Rejuvenate your mind, body and soul. This is probably
the most important one I do with the slower pace. I love to sit on the porch in the early
morning, before the Florida humidity chases us all into hiding until sundown
like in those apocalyptic movies. While I am out there with my tea, or a book,
I will take the time to connect with each sense—what do I see, hear, smell,
taste, feel—and it really helps me connect with the world around me and helps
me stay clear and focused during the day.
I also try to get in for a massage, a new exercise program I heard about
from a friend, as well as taking care of as many doctor’s appointments as I can
so as not to interfere with the school year.
So, what kind of things do you do over your break? Are you a Netflix and chill in your jammies
all day, every day while capitalizing on Uber Eats and grocery delivery
services? Are you like me and try to
accomplish a lot? Or are you somewhere
in the middle?
If you are not a teacher, or get only a week or so off, you
can work in some these ideas to your own schedule, even with only a week or two
off. Choosing only one or two things to
start with this break can still make a difference and you just work on other
things on future breaks. It may not
sound like how you want to spend your break, but if the way you were doing
things wasn’t working or making life run smoothly, then you owe it to yourself
and those around you to try new approaches to making your life easier. You just need to take that first step. Happy summer!