First I gathered up all the ingredients I needed and collected the necessary bowls, pans and utensils. I found it very helpful to have a large Rachael Ray style garbage bowl set out to save me a hundred trips to the trash can.
On Monday afternoon, I tackled the list of freezer meals. I already had a few meals frozen as well as some twice baked potatoes, but I managed to add seven more meals to the list.On Tuesday, I spent several hours in the afternoon baking. Because I already had all the ingredients out, it didn’t take long to bake up two different kinds of muffins and two types of quick bread. I also made a chocolate zucchini cake to share and one to keep my husband happy. I knew he wouldn’t like it if I spent all day baking only to tell him he couldn’t eat any of it. 🙂I double wrap everything that goes in the freezer. Breads and cakes get wrapped in foil or waxed paper (the liner of a cereal box, actually) and then put in a freezer bag. Muffins go straight in the bag and then I double bag them, making sure to squeeze all the air out. You can also vacuum seal the bag by zipping the bag almost all the way closed, putting a straw in it, sucking out as much air as you can and then zipping the bag the rest of the way closed. It works really well. The less air in the bag, the longer the food will last without getting freezer burn.
Freezing meals is a little trickier. The method that works the best for my family is lining a Pyrex bread pan with foil, freezing the meal in that until solid and then removing the meal, wrapping the foil around it and placing the frozen block into a freezer bag. When it comes time to thaw the meal, I put it back in the bread pan and let it thaw in the refrigerator. Then I stick the whole thing in the oven to reheat. For soup, I wait until it’s defrosted enough to dump in the crockpot to heat. I find that a “loaf-size” meal is more than enough to feed my little family, and there’s often enough leftovers for a lunch as well. Freezing meals in this way also cuts down on waste since I’m not purchasing foil containers. To make sure I can also reuse the plastic bags, I label them with a sticky note (stuck down with extra sticky tape) instead of writing directly on the bag. Because I cooked most of these meals so close to my due date, they should keep for several months after the baby is born.
Here’s the complete list of what I now have on hand for those first few months when we’re adjusting to life as a family of four:
I’m including links to several of the recipes, but I have modified most of them for my family. Typically, instead of using all white flour, I’ll use a third or more whole wheat flour instead. I also replace much of the oil with applesauce or veggie purees that I have on hand in the freezer. I toss veggie purees into almost everything I cook–it’s my own version of the sneaky chef.
If there’s a recipe you’d like to try and there’s not a link, leave me a comment and I’d be happy to share. Now that that’s done, I’m off to tackle the rest of the to-do list!