I just thought I’d give a little “buggy list” update, though this will be pretty much just dealing with the food thing. It took some research, and experimenting with how well a favorite recipe of D’s and mine would work, but I now have a list of recipes to prep. And a HUGE grocery list, since I went back and made a spreadsheet of every single ingredient listed on every single recipe, except for water. I sound so organized, right? Honestly, this is more so I survive this massive cooking project with my sanity intact and without having to run to the grocery store every time I forget something. Plus I needed to know how much meat I really need to buy for this. (Hint: it’s a lot.)
I ended up with a list consisting of over 250 lines on the spreadsheet. Granted, lots of ingredients are listed multiple times, since I also wanted to see how much I’d need per recipe. But still. 250. YIKES.
As I said earlier, the big challenge was finding recipes that aren’t “winter” foods–soups and stews and the like, which is what a lot of freezer recipes tend to be. I can see why, but June going into July gets pretty hot and humid around here, so there’s no way we’ll want to eat that! I think I also did a fairly good job of coming up with breakfast/lunch options that I can eat one-handed. So here’s my plan:
Breakfasts: I’m mostly relying on muffins and baked oatmeal for this one, since I’m also trying to mix in as many foods that are considered good for nursing as possible. Apricots, oatmeal, berries and almonds are all on the list.
1. Apricot Muffins. I’m ok with both gluten and dairy, so I’m planning on swapping out the gluten free flour and almond milk for the regular stuff.
2. Baked Oatmeal, which I’m basing off of this recipe– I’m planning a double batch with blueberries and raspberries, though I’m still trying to decide whether to separate or mix the berries. Should be easy enough to dump in a bowl and add some milk, right? I’ll probably skip the scrambled eggs just to make things easier, though.
3. Cranberry orange muffins– I already have a recipe I like for this, and it’s one of my favorite flavor combos in breakfasty baked goods. Of course, this is assuming I can still find frozen cranberries, since we’re nowhere near Thanksgiving…if that doesn’t work, I’ll probably do something like lemon-blueberry instead.
4. Pumpkin quinoa muffins. I got this recipe from a friend who tried them and let me sample. I actually have a lot of the stuff to make them already, including an extra can of pumpkin, and extra quinoa, because I made a batch back in the fall, thinking that would be a great pregnancy snack. Unfortunately, a couple of days later, the
morning all-day sickness set in, and I just couldn’t handle them and ended up having to throw them out. But I think my stomach should be able to handle them better post-pregnancy, quinoa is supposed to be amazing for nursing, and who says you can’t eat pumpkin when it’s not fall?
5. Banana-almond muffins. Another recipe that I’ve made a few times and liked, and I can’t remember where I got it from.
I’ll be honest and say one regular-sized muffin really doesn’t fill me up sufficiently for a meal. So assuming I eat two muffins at a time, and since D generally doesn’t eat breakfast at all (when he does, it’s usually a bowl of cereal), this should set me up for a little over a month.
Lunches: I may end up with less time out of these, since D gets a week of paternity leave and is planning on using some vacation time right after to help me out while I’m recovering. So I’m sure he’ll be eating some of these too. I got most of these meals from the same website, and hope they work out–finding healthy lunch options has been a struggle for me while I’ve been home more, especially since peanut butter is one of those things I just don’t want any part of right now and that’s what I used to eat every day. So being able to prep several thaw-and-go lunches at a time would be lovely, even once I get a better handle on life with a baby! There’s a couple of things on here that I’m not sure if they’ll be filling enough on their own, so here’s hoping…
1. Cheeseburger Eggrolls
2. Chicken Alfredo Calzones
3. Chicken parmesan meatloaf “cupcakes”
4. Chicken quesadillas (I’m planning a double batch of these, since we both loooove quesadillas.)
5. Mexican turkey roll-ups (Since this one is just thaw-and-eat, I’ll probably skip the red onion, because I am not a fan of raw onion. At. All.)
6. Pizza spirals (I’ll just use my usual pizza dough recipe for this one. And probably ditch the red onion, because even though it’ll be cooked, I still don’t want extra onion in my pizza. But I like that they’ve got extra other veggies in them!)
And finally, Dinners:
1. A big batch of our favorite baked chicken tenders–I found this recipe years ago, and I’m not sure where it’s from. But this was my experiment recipe, because we both think they’re delicious and D specifically requested this if it worked. I’ll probably do a separate post on this at some point. But I did find that they stay pretty juicy after freezing, though I think I’ll stick with freezing them raw instead of cooked. I tried both ways, and the pre-cooked ones really didn’t reheat much faster. So I might as well go with the way that cooked them a little better.
2. Taco meatloaf– another favorite around here. So I’ll probably make a double batch and then freeze it raw, so I can either throw it in the oven or crockpot and be done with it.
3. Slow cooker bacon ranch chicken and pasta- I tried it once, and we both liked it. So I just need to work out how the freezer prep part of this will work.
4. Crock pot Jamaican chicken stew- ditto. Yes, I know I said I wasn’t planning on making too many stews, but this one reminds us of our summer Jamaican honeymoon. So it can stay.
5. Hearty Western Casserole- it’s labeled as basically a Tex-mex sloppy joe, so how can it be bad?
Crock pot lasagna- a recipe I got from my mom, which has become an extended family favorite. This one I’ll probably freeze in smaller containers, just for ease of thawing out in single-night servings. She usually makes a huge batch in a roaster oven, which works just as well as a crock pot for this, so I may go that route.
6. Barbecue turkey meatloaf- Did I mention D loves meatloaf?
7. Family favorite Pasta Sauce- Because surely if the sauce is done, I can handle cooking spaghetti noodles with a baby. Right?
8. I’m also planning on pre-cooking some batches of taco meat and regular sloppy joe meat, because even though they’ll require adding shells and buns and such at the end, cooking the meat is the most time-consuming part of throwing those meals together.
As for sides to go with these meat-laden dishes, if there is any room left in our regular freezer + small upright freezer after all of this, I’m probably going to stock up on some of those Green Giant veggie steamers (because EASY and we both like them), make a batch of mac & cheese (because I’ve tried this recipe before, and it made so much that I had to freeze several small containers full, and it worked pretty well), and try out these mashed potato cups from a specifically freezer food magazine that I’ve had for awhile. I may try to work in some bagged salad mixes too, because maybe between having two of us there for dinner, we may be able to take the time to eat that.
Did I mention that I need a lot of meat to pull this off? Looks like there’s a Costco run or two in my future…
So the next thing I need to do is to go through my massive grocery list and see what I already have here. Probably mostly herbs and spices, though I may already have a few other things in the pantry. And then I need to figure out what the most time-efficient/inexpensive way to do this is. I’m planning on saving the baked goods for last, since they’ll probably hold up in the freezer for the shortest amount of time. But I need to figure out the rest, and hopefully start actually preparing these things around the end of this month/beginning of April.
Have you ever done this type of freezer cooking? Any tips?