Today on the blog, I am sharing how my husband and I took a few hours on weekend, to prep a few meals for when baby arrives. We prepped FIVE meals and DOUBLED THE RECIPES, in addition to THREE CHILLI RECIPES that we made ahead (doubled them as well) that are freezer-friendly and you just dump in the slow cooker and enjoy a few divided/as needed over a few weeks, after baby girl arrives.
As the due date of our baby girl is approaching and I’ve been exhausted with not much energy, between our schedules, getting things ready and trying to have some downtime, we do what we can to cook a few meals during the week and we do enjoy cooking and take out every once and awhile too! We tested out some new simple recipes that we could manage at the time and to have on hand for after she arrives. Knowing that there will not be much time to prep meals when baby arrives, let alone time to cook meals, I still wanted us to have some HOME COOKED MEALS here and there (thankfully, in addition to our family members who have generously offered to bring some meals for us).
Before pregnancy and before my morning sickness and nausea phase, I was very set on making at least one to two meals ahead on the weekend for the week and if possible, having that one meal be a freezer meal, where we would make a double batch of a recipe and have that for the following week as well...but you do what you can! Being able to tolerate smells and being able to cook again, FREEZER MEALS are great, time efficient and you honestly feel better being able to have a home cooked meal made ahead, where you can control what goes into it, and look forward to it.
I will also be sharing some helpful FREEZER MEAL PREP TIPS in todays post!
MY TOP 10 FREEZER MEAL PREP TIPS:
Choose recipes that are similar to what you have tried before – you don’t want to be trying some exotic recipe if you are not into spicy food or add ingredients that you just will not end up enjoying after you make it. You are putting PREP and LOVE into these meals so make sure they are meals that you look forward to.
Be sure to make recipes that INCLUDE PROTEIN AND VEGGIES – whether it is meats like chicken, turkey, beef or beans and lots of veggies. Comfort food is great, and protein-packed meals are even better to get you through the week!
SHOP YOUR CUPBOARDS! Each week before I make a grocery list, I look to see what we have. We tend to buy a lot of canned items and sometimes don’t end up using them all that week or dinner plans change, so just see what you have first at home according to your recipes list and put those items aside as you are writing your list.
PLAN YOUR PORTIONS – are you making one batch of each recipe? Are you going to double or triple it? When purchasing items like meat for example, you can get a lot of meat out of one pack of chicken breasts if you pound/slice and divide the pieces. ALONG WITH BUYING CANNED ITEMS, PORTIONING WILL HELP CUT THE COST AS WELL ON YOUR GROCERY BILL. We did that for these freezer meals, bought a large pack and used them for multiple recipes including chicken thighs as well. DOUBLING UP ANY RECIPE IS WORTH IT IN THE LONG RUN!
5. Buy CANNED ITEMS – so much cheaper and more efficient for meal prep – includes sauces, veggies, beans, many options and try to get the sodium-reduced/no salt added cans and be sure to rinse a few times.
6. MAKE A LIST- either print or write out each recipe and beside it, make a list of what items you will need for each recipe (this will help you organize your grocery list). If you are not a fan of too many beans, or you do not like green pepper, use another kind or lessen the amount a certain kind of ingredient and divide that between 2 portions.
Lime Chicken x 2 PORTIONS:
1 pack of chicken breasts, divided
1 can of black beans, divided
2 cans of diced tomatoes divided
2 cans corn, divided
1 onion diced, divided
Garlic diced, x 8, divided
Salt and pepper
7. Making your grocery list: DIVIDE INGREDIENTS INTO CATEGORIES AND LIST THE AMOUNT FOR EACH:
Green peppers: 4
Red peppers: 6
Carrots: 1 large pack
Mushrooms: 1 pack
Chicken breasts: 2 packs
Chicken Thighs: 1 pack
Beef Strips: 2 packs
Diced tomatoes: 8
Black beans: 3
Red kidney beans: 2
8. WRITE THE COOKING INSTRUCTIONS/ADD-INS ON YOUR ZIPLOC BAGS: do this before you add ingredients to the bags. Also add in serving options ie. “serve with rice”, “serve in wraps”, “top with avocado”.
9. DIVIDE AND CONQUER: It is best to have another set of hands to make these meals, one of you can do the dicing, and the other can take care of portioning the meat/ingredients and opening the cans.
10. SET ASIDE ALL OF YOUR ADD-INS for each recipe: We found, by prepping one meal at a time, and putting a sticky note beside each group of items for that recipe, helped with organizing the bags, and made it less overwhelming.
BELOW ARE THE LINKS to the FREEZER FRIENDLY RECIPES that we used in our meal prep from my finds on Pinterest:
CHICKEN FAJITAS - onion, garlic, red pepper, green pepper,1 can diced tomatoes, chilli powder
In addition, we managed to make three different kinds of chilli; Beef, Turkey and Veggie to freeze as well and doubled these batches. We froze these in containers and just labeled the lids with the contents. You can click on the recipe below for instructions.
Veggie Chilli - you can find the recipe in this previous post + two other freezer-friendly meals
Beef Chilli – same as turkey ingredients, but no pasta sauce, no corn, no black beans, add green pepper, red kidney beans, add mushrooms and mustard. Cook time: 1 hour.
So, there you have it! It certainly is a lot of work to prep multiple meals. YOU WILL SWEAT AND MAKE A MESS. That is why it is important to divide and conquer and make the time for it. If you follow my tips and plan ahead, make the time to PUT MEALS TOGETHER that WORK FOR YOU, whether it is for the week ahead and you make one meal (fantastic!) of if you happen to be making a meal – just double it up, or if you want to save some time during the next few weeks and/or have a baby on the way, then these are some great options.
IN TOTAL, WE MADE ABOUT 16 MEALS. That is 16 MORE MEALS THEN WE HAD BEFORE and all the prep work is done – for the chilli’s warm and serve with rice or wraps, and the Ziploc meals dump in the slow cooker and let it do its thing! We certainly look forward to these meals and hope you will try some out too!