How I Nest: Stock the Freezer

A couple weeks ago, I had the urge to pull Finley’s 0-9 month clothes out of storage, wash everything, and hang it all in Baby’s room. So that’s done. 

Baby’s room is almost complete. We need to install the monitor (we ended up buying the same wifi one we have for Finley), buy and put up a tree stencil, and do a little more decorating with small items. I do have a few more items to purchase (sound machine is on back order, maybe the Solly Wrap, and newborn diapers). 

Otherwise, we are pretty much set. So how does this mama continue to nest? I make food. 

After Finley was born, we survived on quick meals for about three months: frozen ravioli, sausages, Stoeffer’s lasagna, and who knows what else. All I remember is that I rarely cooked. I know that after Baby is born, I’m not going to feel motivated to cook, and even if I am, I may not have the time or energy. Plus, those easy meals aren’t all doable anymore with our more grain-free lifestyle. Enter: freezer meals.

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I’m in a freezer meal group that meets monthly. From that I’ve accumulated a bunch of recipes I know we like and that freeze well. Otherwise I’ve started bookmarking new recipes and going through ones I’ve already bookmarked which I assume would be fine frozen for a few months.

Even if you’re not preparing for a baby, having meals ready can be so nice for busy weeks or to gift to friends with new babies, sick family members, or new neighbors. 

Here’s what’s in my freezer so far:

Chicken wings (from February’s freezer meal group)

Crockpot sesame honey chicken

Chili chicken, kale and quinoa casserole (I used rice instead of quinoa and didn’t add black beans because I didn’t have any.)

Crockpot Santa Fe chicken

Playgroup granola bars (I used less sugar, coconut oil, and chocolate chips but no raisins.)

Small loaf of Paleo banana bread (The recipe made enough for two small loaves, and we ate one to try. Thanks to Kate for sharing this one on her blog!)

Blueberry muffins (I didn’t make the glaze. Also, Finley and I have tapped into that bag for a couple breakfasts last week. Whoops!)

Taco meat (No recipe other than beef from the 1/4 of a cow we bought this fall and Costco taco seasoning.)

Crockpot cashew chicken (I can’t find the recipe online, but there are tons out there.)

Here’s what I want to prepare still:

Double pumpkin muffins

More Paleo banana bread (link above)

Lots of waffles for Finley (The recipe is from my friend’s cookbook, which I’ll share how to purchase once it’s available.) 

Tomato and lentil soup

Chicken and broccoli rice casserole

Maple nut baked oatmeal

Crockpot short rib tacos 

Chicken tortilla casserole

Do you have any great freezer meals? As you can see, I’ve got lots of chicken ones, so maybe other kinds of meat or vegetarian options. Thanks!

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June Freezer Meals

Although I have no photos, I’ve got some delicious freezer meal recipes to share.

I feel so blessed to have found (and been invited to) this group. Last month I bowed out as many of the recipes called for grains that Brody and I are avoiding. (Side note: We’re still going strong following a Paleo/Primal lifestyle. An update on this is long overdue, no?). But this month, all but one meal were basically meat, and we eat a lot of meat around here.

To the assembly night, we each brought four pounds of chicken (for two separate meals) and two 1-lb flank steaks. Otherwise, one woman bought everything else. We each owed her $46 and ended up with ten meals.

Turkey Picadillo
*Apparently this is quite good but spicy. My friend made it and served it over rice which cuts the heat a little.

Beef Enchiladas
*Because this has flour tortillas, I’m bringing it to a lunch play date at a friend’s house next week. Brody’s been much stricter while I strive for more of an 80/20 approach, so I’ll be chowing down on these.

Turkey Burgers
*This recipe was doubled, so I have eight burgers in my freezer.

Sweet Hawaiian Crockpot Chicken

Marinated Chicken
*I had four large chicken breasts in my gallon ziplock, which gives us two meals.

Marinated Flank Steak
*I bought a two pound steak and cut it in half. This will give us two meals. Also, I don’t have a recipe for this one – if I get it, I’ll post it next month.

Italian Beef

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*I’m not sure when or if I’ll make this one. Brody doesn’t care for slow cooked beef (texture issue), but it may be a perfect meal for a congrats-you-had-a-baby-and-don’t-have-time-to-shower-let-alone-cook situation.

Happy weekend folks!

April’s Freezer Meals

Hey hey! How are things? I’m checking in to share the recipes from this month’s freezer meals group and talk a little about what’s going on with food in our household.

The group skipped March, and like me, I’m guessing everyone had empty freezers ready to be stuffed with delicious meals. Seven ladies were in for this month, and we met on Monday night for assembly. After putting Finley down, I grabbed my meat in gallon baggies, some food I prepped ahead of time for assembly, and a cookie sheet and headed out the door.

Before meeting, the super woman who organizes this whole operation informed us we’d need to bring the following meats: 2 lbs raw chicken breasts, 2 cups cooked diced chicken, 1 lb cooked Italian sausage, 1 lb cooked ground turkey, and 3 total lbs of cooked ground beef. On Monday morning, my mom (who was visiting for the weekend), Finley and I made the trek to Whole Foods in Madison to buy meat.

To back up a smidge, the super woman who did the shopping dropped off 10 lbs of onions, 2 heads of celery, and 7 boxes of chicken flavored rice for me to prep before Monday. It was quite fortunate that my mom was in town and likes doing stuff in the kitchen, because she helped me with the dicing and sautéing. 

The assembly took only an hour or so. I was responsible for putting together the bags of food for the Pasta Fagioli and labeling the cans of broth and kidney beans with everyone’s name and the meal it goes with. Everyone had come with gallon baggies with their names and the meal on each. This system, or each person putting together all seven of the same meal, works well, and as I said, went really fast.

So the recipes – here they are! I haven’t made any, so I can’t vouch for what’s good or not, but they all sound great.

Breaded Ranch Chicken

Pizza Casserole

Pasta Fagioli

Poppyseed Chicken Casserole

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Emily’s Sloppy Joe Recipe (no link)

  • 1.5 lbs. ground beef
  • 3/4 cup finely diced green pepper
  • 3/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 can Healthy Request tomato soup
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbs yellow mustard
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • small drizzle of maple syrup
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: Saute green pepper, onion, celery and garlic. Brown meat. Add all other ingredients. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Italian Rice Bake (no link)

  • 1 package chicken flavored rice
  • 1 lb Italian sausage (sweet)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 1/2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese

Instructions: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare rice according to box. Brown the meat, sprinkling with onion powder as it cooks. Combine rice, sausage, marinara sauce, and seasonings. Put into greased baking dish. Pour extra sauce over top if desired and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Sadly, some of these freezer meals may sit in our freezer for a while, as Brody and I have officially started eating Paleo/Primal. We’re not 100%, especially me – I’ve cheated a bunch. Brody, though, has been. From what I’ve read, following this lifestyle is quite personal – what works for you may or may not work for others. In essence, we’ve cut out all grains and processed foods. We’re still eating dairy, and I highly doubt will ever go the raw route.

I had already been transitioning into this way of eating, and it hasn’t been very difficult. Being home full time, I’m surrounded by the food I buy, so as long as a package of Oreo’s or Wheat Thins doesn’t end up in my shopping cart, I don’t have access to it. Brody, on the other hand, has faced some obstacles. On Monday he sent me pictures of amazing looking desserts from his office, and on Wednesday he went to the Brewers game to which he was handed a beer as he walked on to the bus.

I’ll keep you posted on our journey and on the freezer meals we eat.

Happy Friday!

I’m in Another Monthly Food “Group”

If you’ve been reading about my life for a while, you know that I get together with a fabulous group of women once a month to eat food, share the recipes, drink wine, and enjoy each other’s company. I love our monthly Wine and Recipe get togethers!

Two ladies in this group are also in a Freezer Meal group. They explained it to me and suggested I give it a shot. After speaking to Brody about it, I told them to count me in.

This was my first month doing it, and I sadly couldn’t even attend “the” event (explained later), but here’s the gist of it.

One (super) woman in the group compiles recipes from everyone else as possible meals for the month. Last month there were categories, like breakfast, Crock Pot, and soup, with two options in each. We have a private Facebook page, and everyone voted for their favorite option.

Once the meals are decided, said (super) woman does the shopping for the majority of the ingredients. Considering there are nine ladies in the group, that’s a lot of food! She also tells us what we need to bring to “the” event. This month, everyone had to bring one pound of raw chicken breasts, two cups of cooked cubed chicken, one pound of cooked Italian sausage, and one pound of thinly sliced raw steak. The meat cost me about $25, and we all owed (super) woman $28! Only $28! Seven meals for under $60!

This month’s night of assembly met on the last day of February at 7:30pm. You can tell these are all moms because it starts after the kiddos go to bed. Unfortunately, this was the day Finley had a fever and went to the doctor. It ended up being teething and has been the beginning of a very rough time for her (and us).

Anyways, back to the food. My meals were put together by the rest of the group, and a friend dropped them off after around 9:30pm. Apparently the whole production is like a well-oiled machine, and I can’t wait to be a part of it in March.

Here are the recipes and links to the freezer meals from February:

Teriyaki Pork Chops
*I used chicken breasts but they dried out a little. I’d like to make this again but with boneless pork chops.

Szechuan Steak Stir Fry
*I made this already and it was really good. However we used frozen veggies, and if I made it again, I’d use fresh or somehow get some of the water out of the frozen.

Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup
*I’m making this for dinner tonight!

Chicken Pot Pie
*This one is SOO good! I made it for dinner on Sunday and have been eating it for lunch. Not the healthiest but great comfort food.

Parmesan Sage Meatloaf

Baked Brownie Oatmeal
*I’ve been eating this for breakfast and loving it. This morning I heated up a square and then added a dollop of peanut butter to the top. Finley likes it too!

Quinoa Chili

If I didn’t add a comment under the recipe, it’s because I haven’t made it yet. This month I’ve been a little too excited to try everything – next month I may need to pace myself and spread the meals out. Or not.

It’s been so convenient to have these meals all ready to go in my freezer. Although it does require a little planning ahead (i.e. taking the food out to thaw), everything is done! No extra runs to the store for a missing ingredient. Not that that’s ever happened to me. Not like that happened last week when I was making tacos and didn’t have seasoning…and had been at the store earlier that day.

I hope to share the freezer meals I come home with every month.

Questions:
Do you stock your freezer with food or meals?
Are you or do you know someone in a freezer meal group?