5 Dinners You Can Make During Testing Season That Aren’t Good for You But Are Probably Better Than Fast Food (Maybe) and Don’t Involve Chopping

Man, I am really on fire with these self-explanatory post
Listen. I would love to be one of those people who teaches
all day, works on creative writing for my MFA program in the
evenings, and then makes myself some kind of amazing, healthy caveman-diet
homemade dinner to top it all off. But the reality is, once my day is done, I
I mean, unless I happen to have a lot of energy that day, I
don’t even want to chop anything. Did you hear me? NOTHING.
I would also like to make it clear that I am a spokeswoman
for zero of the foods here. In fact, I think if they knew I was featuring their
products they would say, “Oh, actually Ms. Teach, we prefer to be endorsed by
individuals who are sane. But we appreciate the sentiment.”
Moving on.

Here are five dinners I’ve eaten lately that I’m only admitting to because the vast majority of you don’t know who I am.

1. Trader Joe’s Frozen Macaroni and Cheese

This really is the best frozen macaroni and cheese. The Internet agrees with me.

Sometimes I like to take it out of the plastic and put it on a fancy china dish and pretend I made it myself, and that I’m a classy, artistic, has-her-life-together blogger like The Pioneer Woman.

And sometimes I realize the only fancy china I have is a tea set. Oops.

Yes, that is a sweatshirt on the floor of my living room. No, I’m not sorry.

2. Popcorn and Wine

Ah. Is there anything better than this combination? No, I

As a popcorn connoisseur, I can say with absolute certainty
that the fluffiest, tastiest brand of popcorn is Pop Secret Homestyle.
It pairs well with any kind of wine, because no wine is bad wine, am I right?
Featured here is a rare Pinot I bought on my last trip to Napa from a vineyard
irrigated by warmed, imported glacier water that has been prayed over by monks.

Hahaha, just kidding. Let’s just say I paid for it with a $5
bill. And got change back.

3. Cereal Out of a Mixing Bowl

Not responsible for words my guests spell with Scrabble magnets.

If you can eat a normal-sized bowl of cereal for dinner and
not still be hungry afterward, you must either be delusional or weigh only 45

Being a person who weighs more than 45 pounds,
I bypass my cereal bowls altogether when I’m having cereal for dinner and go straight for a mixing bowl. (The smaller 2-quart size, because I’m reasonable.)
If I’m feeling like a good girl, I go with Life, Honey Nut
Cheerios, or Mini Wheats.

If I’m feeling like coating the inside of my intestines with
poison, it’s Chocolate Lucky Charms, and I never regret it.

4. Pop-Tarts and Microwaveable Vegetables to Make Yourself
Feel Better about the Pop-Tarts

That’s right.

The world of microwaveable vegetables has expanded
significantly in recent years, but I stick with plain steamed broccoli to
punish my upstairs neighbor, whose giant boxer does laps around her apartment
every morning exactly 20 minutes before my alarm goes off, no matter what time
I have it set for*.

You can’t really go wrong with the Pop-Tart flavor (I’m
partial to blueberry). But whatever you do, remember this, and repeat after me:

Pop-Tarts without frosting are for people in prison.

Thank you. You are dismissed.**

5. Hummus With Seriously Almost Anything in My Fridge/Pantry

My favorite hummus. Too spicy, some say. I say NAY

Crackers, pretzels, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, popcorn, rolled up lunch
meat. Sometimes I just grab a Pepperidge Farm Pirouette and suck up the hummus
through it, like a straw. HAHA. Sorry. I just grossed myself out. I don’t do
that with Pirouettes. It would be disrespectful.

Well, there you have it, folks. My debut into the world of culinary blogging.

Now in the comments section give me all your recipes that
take less than 5 minutes, involve no chopping, and are better for me than Pop-Tarts.
*Just kidding, I
actually like her boxer. I also just like steamed broccoli. But it’s totally
true that my apartment complex is so old that cooking smells and the sound of
human/canine footsteps travel between units effortlessly. Also, I’m aware that
my last sentence ended in a preposition, but what am I supposed to do, “For
what time I have it set, there is no matter”? That just makes me sound like my
body has briefly been taken over and channeled by the spirit of an 18th
century English gentleman***. Grammar is dumb sometimes.
**This will be the line that sends people home when I start
my own reality dating show for teachers.

***Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad, AMIRIGHT


  1. Anonymous

    So if you ever need new teacher bffs, let me know. My coworkers and I read your blog, crack up, and empathize.

    Let me know if you need some challenges for your reality dating show for teachers, because I bet we could think up some good ones. I mean, "cutting laminated stations pieces" *sounds* easy enough but all of us teachers know it is actually the devil. 🙂

    1. Anonymous

      Another challenge, un-jamming the massive paper jam in the photocopier and making the 25 double side copies you need before the kids return from lunch 3 minutes ago!

  2. Anonymous

    I was so excited when I saw you posted a new blog…and this made me laugh out loud. Thank you for teaching and writing about it. I have done the popcorn/wine thing too often to still be doing it…especially on Sunday nights. I'm trying to get my own blog going, but I just read yours instead.

  3. Anonymous

    I LOLed. Hard. Sometimes, I feel like you have a direct window into my soul.
    Also- teacher meal: 4 chicken breasts. Or chicken thighs. Whatever's on sale. Put them into a crockpot (frozen) on low. Cover them with 2 tsp. of chili powder, and 2 tsp. of chicken bouillon, and 1 pint of salsa. When you return home in 10-14 hours, shred the chicken with 2 forks. Voila! Chicken chili.

    1. Anonymous

      Nearly same recipe. Chicken in crockpot frozen on low with either balsamic vinegrette OR frank's red hots. Shed when you return home (taking all the frustration from the day out on the chicken!) and you have either Balsamic Chicken or Buffalo chicken that can be used to make a decent sandwich or can be thrown on top of some salad. I always use my leftovers in the salad I make for lunch the following day.

  4. Anonymous

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I look forward to your posts even more than I look forward to a big bowl of regular flavor Lucky Charms for dinner after an exceedingly long day.

  5. Anonymous

    Jenky guacamole aka avocado mashed up with whatever's around, spread on whatever's around or used as the aforementioned hummus.

  6. Elizabeth Shepherd

    Thank you for saying the things that I thought only lived in my head. 🙂
    Bagel pizzas – on half a bagel (or english muffin or triscuit) grab whatever randomly might taste good together from the fridge and pile it on. Warm up in microwave until whatever cheese you used is melty. Use a toaster oven if you're feeling fancy.
    Also ramen but that takes 6 1/2 minutes so cheating.

  7. Christi Diggens

    Reading this on my nightly 1 am potty break, ' cept it's 2 am because of the time change! I was completely enjoying your foray into the world of culinary blogs, being highly amused. Then I began to read the astricked note at the bottom and snorted, lost my breath from laughing l, snorted some more, and finally peed a little ( TMI I know, but I was on the potty after all!) It is difficult to not sound like The Bard at times! Thank you for the gigglesnort!

  8. Kim

    I must admit I've done most of these. I prefer Orville Redenbachers Smart pop. (I like the fact that it's smart), paired with a good cheap Chianti in winter, and 3 buck chuck Chardonnay in warmer months. Then I add extra butter on the popcorn and lick the butter residue out of the bowl after the popcorn is gone.

  9. Anonymous

    You forgot my favorite first year teacher special: dinners your mom (a teacher with seven years til retirement, but who is counting?) made, froze, and delivered to your freezer. Hahaha!

  10. Inside this Book

    Tonight I had a single serve bag of chips, the rest of the pint of Ben and Jerry's from this weekend, and a Lean Pocket. Because I'm a health nut like that. And – true story – I was thinking about microwavable green beans right before I read this! And being hyper-suggestable, now I really want them!

    Testing season is sooo long this year – I may have to look into the cheap wine!

  11. Joan Wright

    One cold afternoon when my daughter (in 4th grade at the time) and I got home late from school (the usual grading-papers/revising-lesson-plans activities for me, doing homework for her), looked at the stove, and we both agreed that it was a popcorn night! But the "Good Mother" part of me insisted on something "nutritious" (to mollify my mother's nagging voice in my head –she, of 200 miles away at the time) said, "We need something with it… How about some soup?" Thus began a new family dinner tradition after a stress-filled day of school: the "Soup-'n'-Popcorn Night" No wine — not our style — but a can of ginger ale is a fine substitute! Love your blog.

  12. Anonymous

    What about those little triangles of spreadable cheese, the ones that are good for you, but you eat the whole wheel of triangles, spread on any available cracker or stale bread. And I buy my wine in a BOX yo.

  13. JANE DOE

    Cousin Willie's popcorn is the very best. I went to the grocery store after work today and when I got home I ate steam in the bag potatoes with bacon and cheese, and now I'm having princess shape spaghettios. If it involves more than two steps, I am too worn out most nights to do it. Some nights I eat a clif bar and a dr pepper.

  14. Anonymous

    On Mondays, after teaching middle school all day, then my college class at night, it's Chipotle. Most other nights it's leftovers that I have frozen, although Tostito's Cantina chips with salsa are amazing!!

  15. jwg

    Peanut butter and anything cold and crisp-celery,apple,cucumber,carrot… and not the healthy kind of peanut butter with the oil you can't fully stir in.

  16. Anonymous

    LOVE this blog! On my "popcorn and wine" nights, I sing (with apolgies to the B52s) "I'm goin' to the store for popcooorn and wine!" over and over, out loud, until it's done.
    Here's my current fave: 1 can corn, drained plus 1 can black beans and 1 jar salsa. Eat with chips. (If you buy the organic stuff, this is health food. If you eat it with blue corn chips, it's gormet health food.)

  17. Anonymous

    The dinners of my first year included microwave potstickers and avocados with pita chips. Thats thats it. Pretty much all of what I ate that entire year. Oh and for my school snack/luch Welch's fruit snacks. It was a bad first year.

  18. Anonymous

    My go-to easy meal is Top Ramen with the chicken flavor seasoning, eaten like pasta, not like soup. On the side I have a spoonful of peanut butter – for protein.

    This is a meme I made on Valentine's Day that relates to both the goodness of TJ's Mac 'N Cheese and dating: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/76139049926541903/
    Let me know when you start that reality show, I'll be in line!

  19. Anonymous

    A teacher after my own heart… My non teacher friends and roommates don't understand the popcorn, cereal, scrambled eggs dinners that I routinely have. They just don't get it. And YES, yes, yes… Homestyle Pop Secret is the absolute BEST.
    I don't remember how I stumbled across your blog, but I've been ghost reading the past few weeks. Love it!

  20. Anonymous

    I highly suggest supplementing your popcorn and wine with four Double-Stuffed Oreos. It has worked wonders for my proctoring skills.

  21. blissteach


    Also, Orville Redenbacher's Smart Pop Kettle Korn and a Diet Dr. Pepper.

    These food items are mainstays in my life. Plus, whatever bag of chips is in the pantry that I can eat while the pizza or popcorn is cooking.

  22. Anonymous

    Popcorn and wine is a go-to! Also, my God send is this frozen tilapia in a green package that's called Parmesan Crusted Tilapia…takes a bit longer, around 20 minutes, but I usually multi-task (aka power shower or drink wine or maybe both) while it is baking. It pairs very well with microwavable steamed broccoli or mac and cheese. Or both.

  23. Anonymous

    Cup of Noodles for me! My fellow teachers harass me about my dangerously high sodium level, but I find it comforting (the noodles, not the sodium level–that may be of some concern). I am a seventh grade teacher who is sitting in my empty classroom during spring conferences. I have had two parents show up today. I should be grading, organizing, lesson planning, finishing SBAC training, responding to emails, finishing IEP and ELL paperwork, or anything else on my list, but instead I read your blog posts. Every. Single. One. I love them and they have given me some GREAT ideas for my classroom and greatly improved my attitude. Thank you for helping me through my first year!

  24. Anna P

    So easy- toss tortilla chips haphazardly onto a plate, sprinkle (*read "dump") cheese on top, add any other toppings, microwave for 30 seconds, and voila. Gourmet nachos.

    Another one my mom would do for appetizers, but equally doubles as a snack/dinner is to take a block of cream cheese and pour raspberry chipotle sauce on top. Dig in with any chip/edible scooping item you want 🙂

    p.s.: Thank you so much for starting this blog. I just switched out of a Nursing program and was at a loss for what I was supposed to be doing career-wise when I stumbled upon your blog. It has made me snort-laugh in front of my brand new coworkers, and I can't say that I mind. I completely want to go into teaching now! You've truly opened my eyes and I can't thank you enough. Also, the blog is so funny that I have passed it along to teacher friends and non teacher friends alike, just for them to have a laugh. THANK YOU.

  25. Heather In Progress

    Sit down with a banana and a jar of peanut butter. Use a butter knife to slide plops of peanut butter onto the banana after each bite. Bonus: drop a couple of chocolate chips onto each plop of peanut butter for each bite. If you have this with a glass of milk or some toast, it's pretty filling! And I'm always down for popcorn and wine for dinner.

  26. Anonymous

    Annie's Mac and Cheese with broccoli florets!
    Popcorn with parmesan and basil flakes (feels fancier)
    Crackers with parmesan cheese
    Parmesan cheese straight out of the container
    (I may have a problem…)

  27. Anonymous

    This is probably gross to everyone but me, but I make a mashed potato volcano with applesauce instead of gravy, and then eat that with baby carrots. The applesauce cools the mashed potatoes and the carrot gives the whole thing a nice crunch. And since there's technically both veggies and fruit, I can delude myself into thinking it's a healthy dinner!

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