Cooking 101: Three R’s for teachers: Refresh. Rejuvenate. Refuel

There really ought to be a “Three R’s” for the teachers who stand up there day after day trying to infiltrate the often restless and wandering minds of our youth with the basic concepts of reading, writing and arithmetic.

How about: Refresh. Rejuvenate. Refuel.

Let’s just say from the outset that I have no desire to be in a classroom, either as a student or a teacher. Ditto for the school lunchroom. Been there. Done that. Decades ago, when teachers were, well, teachers, not social workers, psychologists, parents, coaches and a whole lot more, they dealt with kids chewing gum and passing notes, girls wearing their skirts too short and boys smoking in the bathrooms – not abusive homes, ADD, drugs or cellphone texting.

And school lunches? Well, some things are best left unsaid.

But tanks need to be filled. If kids can’t learn on an empty stomach, it stands to reason that teachers can’t teach.

I hear cafeterias dish out better edibles these days. But what about teachers?

What do teachers reach for in the sanctity of the “teacher’s room,” their haven away from the stress and strains of educating young minds not always so eager to be educated?

No, no, not that: Anything with an alcohol content greater than the vanilla extract in a brownie is still verboten.

But the brownie?

“Chocolate is good,” says Sandy, a friend who teachers second-graders in a rural school.

Sandy says teachers she knows eat a quick but healthy breakfast – smoothies, for example – and pack foods that are easy to eat on the go. “Quick” and “to-go” being the operative words. Teachers are too busy to fuss over food – prepping or eating.

“Any ‘on the run’ kind of food is good,” says Sandy, who starts her day with a powerful Green Smoothie, which includes apples. “They say apples wake up your brain better than coffee.”

But salads, no.

“No salads. They take too long to eat.”

Leftovers from dinners that can be heated in the new teacher room standby, the microwave, are popular. Yogurt, cut-up fruit, cut-up veggies with dip, wraps, all favorite standbys.

“They give us 30 minutes for lunch but generally I end up with only 15 minutes by the time I go to the bathroom, check the mail, check in on a kid or a colleague,” says Sandy, who eats at her desk so “I can work and eat at the same time.”

By midafternoon, some high-test fuel is usually imperative.

“Something chocolate is always good. I keep Dove chocolates around. It’s the pick-me-up I need to get through the afternoon,” she says.

One of her favorite afternoon snacks is a “Chocolaty Something,” which “bakes” up as quick as it’s consumed.

Look out Micky D’s: Teachers are inventing their own fast food.



2-3 cups greens, like kale or leaf lettuce

3 cups cut-up fruit, including apples and tropical fruits

1?2 teaspoon each ground flax seed and Ceylon cinnamon

2 cups water

Whir it up in a blender and whip out the door.


1 cup almond milk

1 scoop protein powder

1 container Greek yogurt

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 frozen banana, sliced (Jim freezes ripe bananas as they start to turn brown)

1?2 teaspoon cinnamon

Grind it up good in a blender and grab it to go


Chocolate: 1?2 bag dark chocolate chips, melted in microwave

Something: An assortment of chopped nuts, dried fruit and cereal, candied ginger

Melt chocolate in microwave, stirring after 1 minute and heating 30 seconds at a time until smooth. Add the “Something” assortment and stir until nuts and fruits are coated. Add as much or as little of the mix as you want, depending on how dense you want your snack. Drop by tablespoons on to waxed paper and let harden. Wrap in plastic or pack in Tupperware and savor as an afternoon pick-me-up.


2 slices of “swirled” breads, like cinnamon raisin

2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter

2 teaspoons honey

1?2 apple, peeled and sliced

Spread both slices of bread with peanut butter. Drizzle with honey. Layer slice apples on one half the bread. Top with the other slice of bread. Cut into quarters – easier to eat quickly. Wrap and go.

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