43 Minute Lab Series: One Pan Taco Dinner

After noticing continuous requests for lab suggestions that are doable in 43 minute class periods, I’ve decided to do a recurring series, featuring recipes that can be completed from beginning to end in a 43 minute time frame. In some cases, longer recipes will broken into two day labs. In addition, I will include my pre-lab review questions that pertain specifically to the recipe. This helps to ensure that students are reading the recipe. It also allows me time to show any videos that may demonstrate the product or specific techniques. So, without further ado, I present the 43 Minute Lab Series: One Pan Taco Dinner!

Teachable Concepts

  • Whole vs Processed Foods (some of the materials are updated below)
  • Dietary Guidelines
  • Combination Foods
  • Quick & Easy One Dish Meals

Pre-Lab Activities

  • Ask students why American diets need to include home-cooked meals using real (unprocessed) foods and healthy cooking methods? Hopefully their answers align with the dietary guidelines and health risks previously discussed in class.
  • I also like to show students the DVD “Nourish” to reinforce the reasons why consuming real, unprocessed foods is so important. Students fill out the video guide (see attachments) as they view and follow-up with a short writing prompt. The writing prompt could be optional for you as we are asked to reinforce reading and writing standards in our curriculum.
  • To really dive into the differences between whole foods and processed, I have my students view and complete the Whole/Natural Foods vs Processed Foods: What’s the Difference? assignment (see attachments). Students pop in their earbuds and complete this individually so they can pause the YouTube Clip: “What are Whole Foods vs Processed Foods?” if necessary. After students have finished, we go over the correct answers as a class.
  • If you are paperless this year or you want a digital version or review of the Whole/Natural Foods vs Processed Foods: What’s the Difference? assignment, you can have your students complete this Flippity Net Sort version of the activity. Students use the red and green term boxes as their headers and sort the characteristics into the appropriate column as they listen/view the above YouTube clip. When their sort is finished they can screen shot it and share it with you in Google Classroom. You can still go over it as a class to correct answers.
  • Students then compare and contrast the convenience vs scratch ingredients for the whole foods One Pan Taco Dinner recipe they will be making in the lab to the Hamburger Helper processed version of the same product (see attachments). Students quickly see the differences between the products based on the ingredients alone.
  • Next, students are provided with the recipe along with some pre-lab questions. I do want to mention that I make a batch of homemade taco seasoning for use in this lab instead of using the premade mixes that are not only processed, but very high in sodium. There are tons of recipes to choose from online.
  • After preparing this dish in the lab, my students rave about how good it is. We also talk about how it can be made spicer by adding a hotter salsa or jalepeno peppers as well how it can be prepared with other protein sources such as ground chicken, turkey, venison, bison or even just beans if no meat is preferred. There’s a lot of versatility in this recipe!


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