Nesting and Prepping

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Well, folks, I can officially say that I’ve entered into the nesting phase of this pregnancy. Maybe it’s the fact that my due date is less than 4 weeks away. Maybe it has something to do with trying to get my Spring cleaning done (even though we’ve had more days with snow this “spring” than we did through all of winter). Maybe it has to do with the fact that I went to the doctor last week and I’m already dilated 3cm. But time is definitely running out and I still have a long To Do list before I’m ready for this baby.

My seeds have all sprouted and are ready for the garden. Mother Nature, however, has other plans. Hopefully the weather breaks soon and I can plant them. Especially since it’s looking like I’ll be out of commission sooner rather than later. I planted a lot of different types of seeds this year because I wasn’t sure how the pod planter that I bought would work out, but so far it seems to be a very good investment for this year’s produce. There are carrots, Brussels sprouts, lemon balm, dill, parsley, chives, spearmint, basil, oregano, 3 types of tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, cauliflower, etc. If the garden yields anything like what it did the past couple of summers we will be all set this year. I’m looking forward to making homemade baby food this fall. If only it would stop snowing at night so I could actually plant everything. Which reminds me, I also have to build a vertical apparatus for the cucumbers this year to save space in the garden. More on that in a future post.

I’ve set up the bassinet and washed the gender neutral, hand me down baby clothes that I have. There’s a tiny little sock monkey baby outfit that I think will be perfect for the hospital pictures. I’m still hunting for the right dresser/changing table, though. I don’t know about you, but I get a picture in my head of how something should look and I cannot be stopped until I find that exact thing. I’m willing to compromise a little, but not nearly as much as I should. The hospital bag is packed and ready to go. I’m going to research hospital bag checklists, however, so I can make sure I’ve really packed everything we’ll need. I know there has to be something that I’m forgetting.

Friday night I was on a mission to clean up the clutter counter we have in our kitchen. That got done, I replenished the cabinets from the downstairs stock shelves, and I wrote out my list of what I’ll need to buy to replenish the backup stock. I also need to plan out some more freezer meals so that we’re ready to go for the next month or so. I’ve been focusing mostly on dinners, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to look up some good breakfast recipes as well so we’re not living off of cereal. Yesterday was a day of very little sleep and lots of running around, so I didn’t get anything done around the house, but T started on the laundry so that was a big help. Today, I attacked the bathroom with full force. Didn’t get to the tub, but I organized the closet in there, took inventory of what bathroom essentials I need to stock up on, and scrubbed everything else. Like, Clorox wiped the baseboards and scrubbed the tile walls and floors kind of cleaned. No one else will notice, but I’m happy with the end results and that’s all that matters right now.

Tomorrow, we have an ultrasound at 7:30am (yuck- at the time and the fact that T can’t make it. I’m excited to see how much the baby has grown, though) and then I plan on heading to the store for all the items on my list. I hope to replenish all of that so we are prepared for another 30 Day No Spend Challenge in May. With me being out of work it would help to save as much as possible and will make up for some of what I couldn’t save for my maternity leave. I’m also going to pick up the necessities to start my freezer meals, order the 1/4 cow that we’ve been waiting for, drop off some clothes and other items for donation, and tackle another room in the house. I should probably go with our bedroom since we’re going to be adding a roommate shortly.

I figure if I go room by room I will be set by the time the little one arrives. Maybe. Probably not. But here’s to wishful thinking!

 

Meal Prep Follow Up

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I posted a few weeks ago about wanting to prepare some freezer meals to make things easier on myself and my family on busy nights. Well, friends, I’ve finally started.

I started Thursday by prepping some chicken breasts a la the Martha Stewart recipe listed in that post. FYI, an 8 ounce container of Panko breadcrumbs was perfect for 12 thin-sliced chicken breasts.  I baked 6 that day for dinner and leftovers and froze the other 6 in 1-gallon freezer bags with parchment paper between each layer. I also froze 12 additional chicken breasts in the same fashion without the breading and seasoned 2 Eye O’ Round Roasts with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder before freezing them as well. On Friday, I received the phone call that my grandfather had passed. I spent the day moping around and being fairly useless. By Saturday, I had decided to completely turn myself around and be productive.

I started by defrosting about 5 lbs of ground beef. I used 2 lbs of that to make a double portion of baked ziti, which I then separated into 6-8.5x6x2″ aluminum foil containers and wrote the reheating instructions on the lid (pictured above). These containers are the perfect size for 2-3 people, or 1-2 people with some leftovers. My ziti recipe is listed below if you’d like to make it for yourself. The measurements are approximate because I’ve been making it for so long that I don’t measure anymore. I’m sorry in advance for that.

Next, I took the remaining ground beef and used it to make my homemade meatballs. This recipe is also listed below if you’d like it. One of my 1-lb bags of ground beef looked a little short, so when I say I used approximately 3 lbs of beef, that’s why. The recipe I use yielded me 64 meatballs. I put 24 meatballs each in 2 1-gallon freezer bags, one meatball jumped to it’s death and was given to the dog, and I put the remaining 15 in another freezer bag. These are perfect for nights when we don’t really feel like cooking and pasta is a quick option. Throw the meatballs in with the sauce for 30 minutes, and now you have a protein too. Peanut swears these are the best meatballs she’s ever had. At 6, she’s not exactly an expert, but I’ll take the compliment any day.

Because we were driving out to New Jersey for my grandfather’s services and it’s hard for me to be there for my grandmother when we live 6 hours away, I brought 2 containers of ziti and the bag of 15 meatballs. I want to make sure she’s eating well and I know how much it sucks to cook dinner for one. They won’t last forever, but they will last until the next time I visit. It’s a small thing to do, but it’s a way for me to be there for her even when I can’t be.

So, for anyone who’s keeping score, that’s 6 breaded chicken breasts, 12 unbreaded, 2 roasts, 4 containers of baked ziti, and 48 meatballs that I was able to prep in 2 days. Not too shabby if you ask me. And I’m just getting started. 🙂 Press the Read More tag for the recipes.

Until next time!

-C

Continue reading “Meal Prep Follow Up”

Snowed In

With all of the snow we’re receiving here in SWPA, I figured today’s topic of make ahead freezer meals would be perfect. Please keep in mind that this is just the research phase of these meals. I haven’t actually made any of them yet. This, however, is the perfect solution to “I don’t know what to make for dinner” or “I’m too lazy to cook, let’s get takeout.” These meals would give me the option of spending a day or two prepping various meals and ensuring my family is eating healthy. They will also save me a ton of time and aggravation once the baby arrives and I have zero interest in doing anything productive.

I found many sites with a lot of good suggestions, but I’m only going to post the meal ideas that my family will actually eat and those that can also be stored in freezer bags. While I’d like to eventually get to the point where we have a freezer full of BPA-free glass containers with beautiful matching lids and so much organization you just want to scream, realistically I am far too cheap to spend that much money on containers at the moment. Besides, I know a lot of expecting moms and I usually like to prepare them a homemade meal like a tray of baked ziti or something along those lines. Those work better in aluminum foil pans because then I don’t worry about getting my container back. Also, as I’ve posted before, this is a time for saving.

The first item that really caught my eye was on marthastewart.com and was for, simply enough, Breaded Chicken Cutlets. While I always try to have chicken on hand in our freezer, I never thought to prepare them this way and have them ready to go. Instead, I freeze them individually, defrost them the day of, and then prepare according to recipe. This would save me so much time and they can be used in virtually anything. Now, when Peanut wants Chicken Parmesan, I can have it ready in a snap. I will definitely be preparing these tomorrow while I’m snowed in and have nothing better to do.

Over at Happy Money Saver, she has a post for making 50 freezer meals in one day. While this seems a little ambitious, I am willing to eventually take that challenge – just maybe not tomorrow. Her lasagna recipe seems simple enough, however, I would go the traditional Italian route and use ricotta cheese instead of cottage cheese. She also has a fried rice recipe that I’d like to try. I have a recipe I got off of Pinterest that my family loves, but, again, I never thought of making it in bulk and keeping some on hand in the freezer. There are a few other recipes that stand out, but I’m going to let you check out her site yourself and see what your family would enjoy.

Finally, I went over to Thriving Home and found an article on over 70 healthy freezer meals for your family. While I love the glass pans she endorses, I don’t think they’ll be making their debut in my kitchen just yet. Save, save, save, remember? This woman is super organized. She is part of a Freezer Meal Club (I wasn’t aware those even existed… Friends? Anyone interested?). She has quizzes on food safety and freezer meal labels, and all of her recipes are divided up by category. She is the level of organized I aspire to be one day. I especially liked her breakfast ideas because it means Peanut would still be eating healthy in the morning before school, but also that I wouldn’t have to wake up super early to prepare said healthy breakfast. That’s a win/win situation if you ask me. Her other recipes were very interesting also and I’ll have to look through them further when I have more time. Maybe we’ll try a few out and I’ll write a follow up post to let you know what my family thought of them.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for tonight. I’d love it if my family could go multiple months without dining out. It’s not like we eat out all that often now, but I don’t even enjoy restaurant food anymore. I’ve become one of those homemade snobs without the flair or dedication to cook a homemade meal every night. It’s a very confusing existence. 😉

Have a great night and keep warm. I will write again tomorrow.

-C