Sunday, January 20, 2013

Planning Ahead: Meals!!

Well after quite the hiatus from blogging, I am back! Now, I can't say how often I will be writing, but I will try to post when I've had an exceptionally good project.  Today's project was not my usual- no scrapbooking, Cricut cutting, paint applying, or Sharpie-using. :)  It was cooking!

I have been very blessed the past three months.  First, by the arrival of our son Landon!  He arrived on a beautiful day in October weighing 9lbs and 5 oz!  Mommy and Daddy were so overjoyed and proud, but more on that later! :)  As I was saying, I have been very blessed to be home with him the past three months.  We have loved spending our days cuddling, reading, playing, and napping!  Sadly, my maternity leave is coming to an end in a week.  I am very nervous about going back to school and balancing being a teacher, a wife, a homemaker, and a mommy.  Especially since Colby is back in his evening masters classes this semester.  Before Landon arrived, Colby and school were my life basically.  I stayed until late most nights, came in at least one day on the weekend, and took things home as well.  As you can imagine, my priorities have changed.  While I still want to be the best teacher I can be, I have the most special little boy in the world waiting for me at home and I am going to try to not am not going to be spending the hours at school like I did before.  The other thing I have considered is making dinner.  When I get home, I'm just going to want to cuddle my little bug- not cook.  I needed a plan.  I was on Pinterest a couple of weeks ago and saw a couple of pins about freezer cooking.  I started to look into it and realized this was just what I needed.  Today was my freezer cooking day and it went really well!  Granted, there were a lot of interruptions, but overall, it took me about 3 hours to make 15 meals!  Not too shabby!  And I know how much I will LOVE this in a couple of weeks.

I posted a picture on Facebook of the process and had a few people ask about how I did this, so here we go!  First, I researched a lot of pins and websites that had anything to do with freezer meals.  I quickly discovered that I wanted to make crockpot freezer meals.  I can thaw it the night before.  Colby is often home at lunch so he will be able to pop it into the slow cooker and it will be ready by the time we get home!  Add a veggie and maybe some rolls/pasta and ta-da! Dinner!  I was hooked.  Then, it became finding the meals that a.) I could eat since I am currently dairy-free and b.) that we would like!  I found some great websites with a lot of yummy recipes.  The website where I got most of the recipes is here.  She is awesome and gave GREAT tips for freezer cooking!   Here are the meals I made with the link to each recipe:

Cilantro Chicken
Pasta and Fagioli Soup (made into two servings)  - imitation of Olive Garden's soup
Black Bean Taco Soup
Honey Garlic Chicken
Savory Chicken (made into two servings)
Mongolian Beef
Island Chicken (made into two servings)
Chicken Fajitas
Slow Cooker Beef Tips
Chicken Caccitaore
Chicken Tacos
Teriyaki Chicken

A lot of these websites have more recipes on them as well- they just didn't fit my taste/dietary restrictions. :)

The first thing I did to prepare for my day was to copy the recipes and make a huge shopping list.  The bill may have made me swoon a bit, but my thought was Hey! This will feed our family for almost a month!  Plus, I went to Kroger to get the chicken on sale, which helped tremendously!  Plus, I found a use for the elusive can of tomato sauce I bought on accident over a year ago!  See Colby- I do use those cans eventually! :)

Today, it was basically following the recipes and making the bags!  I started by labeling each Ziploc bag with the directions for cooking each recipe and what sides need to go with it, just in case Colby is the one prepping dinner! Or if my mommy brain is running low that day!

 Then, I started with all the chicken recipes. I prepped the veggies, added in the canned items and the spices, and finally cut the chicken and added to the bags.  Then, I moved on to the stew meat recipes, and finally the recipes that called for ground beef.  If I could change something from today, I would have browned the ground beef first before doing anything so it would be completely cooled by the time I needed to use it.  I saved those for last and then had to wait on the beef to cool to complete the bags.  I guess it gave me time to clean up, right??

All in all, today was a great success and it will feel even better when I start back to school and know dinner is not something I have to worry about when I get home!  Here is our freezer with lots of yummy dinners just waiting!

I will (hopefully) have more posts coming soon.  I hope this was helpful and you get inspired to make your nights much easier!

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