Pre-Baby Freezer Meal Round Up

freezer meal plan

Last weekend I made my first ever large batch of freezer meals. One of my friends came over for an afternoon and we made 8 meals. A standard family sized recipe usually results in enough food for 2-3 meals for my family, since we only have two adults eating regular food. My freezer is quite well stocked now!

 

The most difficult aspect of making freezer meals was the planning. I really didn’t cook at all before I got married, and I still frequently consult Google to answer my questions. What can you freeze? What can’t you freeze? How long do freezer meals last? From my research, the consensus among pregnant ladies is that you can start making freezer meals at 34 weeks and have the food still be good when you need it. I was 34.5 weeks when I had my cooking day.

Prior to cooking day, I investigated which recipes would store well. I decided to select only recipes that I had previously made and enjoyed. I don’t want to take up valuable freezer space with something that we won’t actually eat. Next, I went to the grocery store with my husband in tow for moral support. I usually go alone, but this was just so. much. stuff.

When we got home, I put everything away and cleaned my kitchen thoroughly. I love waking up to a clean kitchen, and I especially needed a clean kitchen to survive a full day of freezer cooking.

On cooking day, we focused on making dinners. Earlier in the week, I had made several different breakfast options for the freezer as well. I don’t particularly love chopping food, but fortunately my friend does. She was a lifesaver, especially when it came time to chop vegetables for the soup.

Here is what I currently have in my refrigerator and freezer for after the baby arrives:

In the Refrigerator:

  1. Muffin in a Mug  (Original Trim Healthy Mama Book) – This is probably my favorite simple breakfast. It isn’t difficult to prepare, but it does require a decent bit of measuring out various ingredients. In the interest of saving time when I have a crying newborn, I put all of the dry ingredients in a snack sized Ziploc bag. The outside of each bag is marked with what wet ingredients still need to be added. I have 15 of these snack bags prepared and ready to go.
  2. Man Muffin in a Mug (Adapted from the original Trim Healthy Mama Book) – My husband bought a container of chocolate flavored protein powder before we got married, with the intention of mixing some of the powder in his milk and drinking it that way. It was the first time he’d purchased this particular brand, and he found that it didn’t taste very appealing when mixed only with milk. In an effort to salvage the disappointing protein powder, we developed a variation of the standard Muffin in a Mug recipe. We use the chocolate flavored protein powder instead of unsweetened cocoa powder. The powder tastes far better when it’s hidden in a baked good. As I did with the standard Muffin in a Mug, I put all of the dry ingredients in snack sized Ziploc bags and labeled them with further instructions. (Note: This wouldn’t be considered on the Trim Healthy Mama plan because the protein powder is not a type that is plan approved. However, it uses up something that would otherwise be wasted, and that works for us).

In the Freezer:

  1. Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls (Young Wife’s Guide) – These are a “treat food” that I normally wouldn’t make, but I am of the opinion that immediately after giving birth is not the time to go on a diet. I baked the cinnamon rolls completely and froze them in Ziploc bags. I made the frosting as well and froze it in a separate bag. My husband has sampled several of these and given them his stamp of approval.
  2. Bisquick Pancakes – I made up a large batch of these using the recipe on the box. I bought Bisquick a while ago to use in a recipe that we ended up not liking very much, so I’ve been looking for a way to use up the rest of the box.
  3. Trim Healthy Pancakes (Original Trim Healthy Mama Book) – Apparently there is a stereotype that low-carb pancakes have to taste like cardboard. These are AMAZING and are probably one of my favorite breakfast foods. No cardboard here! I made several batches. I’ll be able to easily reheat a few pancakes at a time.
  4. Banana Bread (Money Saving Mom) – I made two loaves of this. My husband and I ate one right away and froze the other. It’s delicious! Adding some chocolate chips to the top is optional, but I liked the added sweetness.
  5. Cheeseburger Pie (Original Trim Healthy Mama Book) – Cheeseburger Pie is a good “man meal.” I halved the original recipe, assembled it in a loaf sized disposable pan, and put it in the freezer. The lid is labeled with cooking instructions.
  6. Taco Meat – My friend browned the ground beef for me while I worked on assembling some other meals. We added some of my homemade taco seasoning mix and then froze the meat in 2 quart sized bags.
  7. Crockpot Chicken Fajitas (Cooking Classy) – This was one of the first crockpot meals I discovered on Pinterest, and it’s still one of my favorites. To adapt it for the freezer, I put the tomatoes in one bag, the spice-coated chicken in another bag, and the chopped vegetables in a third bag. Layering the ingredients in the correct order is important, so it wouldn’t have worked to freeze the whole thing in a single large bag.
  8. Crockpot Southwest Chicken (Coers Family) – Not from one of the official Trim Healthy Mama books, but it works great as an E and it’s SO EASY. I dumped all of the ingredients in a gallon bag and froze it as is.
  9. Black Bean Soup (Money Saving Mom) – I started making black bean soup after my husband requested a meatless meal. It’s very good, but it makes a massive amount of soup! When I make it, it’s typically dinner for two nights and my husband’s work lunch for most of the week.
  10. Ranchy Chicken Potatoes (As Jules is Going) – It’s a survival mode meal. Easy and tasty. I froze it in a disposable pan, so I’ll just need to pop it in the oven.
  11. Crockpot Chicken Teriyaki (Passion for Savings) – You have to sign up for emails from Passion for Savings to get the recipe. The chicken teriyaki recipe is our favorite out of this set. I originally signed up and downloaded her set of freezer meal recipes back when I was having horrible morning sickness.
  12. Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole (Briana Thomas) – I might write a blog post about how much I love Briana Thomas’ recipes someday, especially her breakfasts. All of them are Trim Healthy Mama approved, and all of them are delicious! I’ve really been craving carbs lately, so I’ve made this to eat immediately several times. I went ahead and cooked this one all the way through so I’ll just need to thaw and reheat it.
  13. Honey Mustard Baked Chicken (Simply Rebekah) – Another very simple recipe, and she even includes tips for freezing it!
  14. Chicken Tetrazinni (Shugary Sweets) – This thing is so off plan, but it’s tasty and it makes a ton of food. I cooked the full amount and split it into two 9×13 disposable pans.

My freezer is packed, and that makes this nesting mama’s heart happy.

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Blessings from Bible Study

I started attending a ladies Bible study at my church back in January. We’ve been studying the book of Ephesians, and I’ve learned a lot. Going through the book slowly has allowed me to really dive into the passages.Currently, I’m memorizing Ephesians 2:4-5.

blessings from Bible Study

We have about 20 ladies in the group, ranging in age from twenty-somethings up through octogenarians. I love how this provides so many different perspectives. Some of the older ladies have shared how they’ve seen God’s faithfulness in their own lives over the years, and I find their stories tremendously encouraging. One woman’s husband recently passed away. They had been married for 57 years. As a relatively newly married woman, I try to take in her thoughts on marriage as much as I can.

Apart from Bible study, we also enjoy times of fellowship with one another. Once a month or so, we’ll all go out for lunch together. Another time, a few of us got together and worked on knitting projects. While I’m the youngest by several years, I have 10 years of knitting experience. I was happy to help some others who were just starting.

Younger women spending time with older Christian women is a biblical concept, as evidenced by Titus 2.

“So that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” – Titus 2:4-5 (NASB)

Other translations use the phrases “keepers at home” or “homemakers” instead of “workers at home.” When my pastor gave a sermon on this topic, he quoted the Holman Christian Standard Bible, which uses “homemakers.” My curiosity was piqued, as I had never heard the passage in that translation.

As I’m in my current season of being a young wife, a homemaker, and a mother to a little boy on the way, I have a lot to learn. As Sheila Wray Gregoire wrote, “Homemakers are Made, Not Born.” There is no better way to learn about Christian womanhood than by being around ladies who have been faithfully serving the Lord for decades. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have a great group of godly women in my life!

 

 

Real Life Couponing – 2/18

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I had a great couponing experience at Walmart this week. Since I’m about two months out from having my first baby, I’m starting to stock up on health products, frozen foods, and easy to prepare foods.

Walmart

Dannon Oikos Triple Zero Yogurt, Original Price: $1.00 each

Final Price: $0.67 each

How I did it: I used a printable coupon for $1.00 off when you bought 3 of the individual yogurts.

Great Value 0% Milk, Original Price: $1.99

Final Price: $1.49

How I did it: Checkout 51 offered a rebate for $0.50 when you bought a gallon of milk. This could be for any brand of milk!

Boost 100 Calorie 4 pack, Original Price: $5.98

Final Price: $2.98

How I did it: I used a newspaper coupon for $3.00 off any Boost drink. Boost is probably not Trim Healthy Mama approved, but my doctor wants me to drink it and I’m complying. 😉

Birds Eye Steamfresh Flavor Full frozen vegetables, Original Price: $1.84

Final Price: $0.34

How I did it: I used a simple $1.50 off coupon from the newspaper, bringing the cost down to 34 cents! This was a fantastic and very easy deal.

Hall’s Cough Drops, Original Price: $1.54 each

Final Price: $0.54 each

How I did it: I used a newspaper coupon for $1.00 off 2 bags of Hall’s cough drops. Additionally, I submitted my receipt to Checkout 51 for an additional $1.00 rebate. This made the cough drops only 54 cents per pack!

Kotex Pads, Original Price: $2.86

Final Price: $0.86

How I did it: Again, this was a great deal that came only from a newspaper coupon. Less than a dollar for a package of pads

Dreamfields Pasta, Original Price: $1.78 each

Final Price: $1.28 each

How I did it: This was a newspaper coupon for a $1.00 off two boxes of Dreamfields Pasta.

That’s it for this week!

The Type A Mom’s Guide to a Tough Pregnancy

The worst thing you can force a Type A person to do is…nothing. Type A people don’t do nothing, you see. We assess situations, we figure out solutions, and then we get things done. In high school, we stress over grades and college applications. If we play sports or participate in some other competitive activity, we spend vast amounts of time figuring out how to win. In college, we do every resume building activity possible.

What we do NOT do is nothing.

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A Christmas gift from my 14 year old brother…do you think he was trying to tell me something?

I started having issues with anemia the summer before my senior year of college. It made me chronically exhausted, but I was doing an internship in DC at the time and pushed through anyway. Once the school year started, I was working part time in addition to taking a full load of classes, being on the board of a service organization, and leading a prayer group on my hall. It ended up being way too much, and I had to drop some of my activities for the spring semester. Somehow I still managed to earn all A’s my senior year.

I got married the summer after I graduated. By then my health had started to improve slightly, much to my happiness. Having energy again was fantastic!

And then I got pregnant.

It’s pretty amazing that someone the size of a gummy bear can make you feel like you’ve been hit by a Mack truck, but that’s how it seems to work. During my first trimester, I would sleep for a completely reasonable amount of time at night and still need a nap during the day. My anemia reappeared during the second trimester, which meant that the “honeymoon trimester” and its accompanying burst of energy never happened. Now I’m in the third trimester, and the baby seems to have decided to be nocturnal.

Between being chronically exhausted and chronically nauseous, I haven’t been nearly as productive as I was before I was pregnant. For a long time, it drove me crazy. All my life, I’ve taken joy in getting things accomplished, and that came to a screeching halt.

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My brother also gave me this mug, which seemed fitting.

It hasn’t been the easiest road, but now I’m down to the last 10 weeks of pregnancy and the end is in sight. Here are some things that have made my life easier during this phase of life:

  • The freezer and the crockpot

These two items have become my best friends. I have good days and bad days with my energy levels, and I can never seem to predict which type a given day will be. When I have a good day, I try to do as much cooking ahead as possible. Particularly during the first trimester, freezer meals that could be prepared in the crockpot were a lifesaver. All I had to do was open the freezer, select a Ziploc bag, dump the contents into the crockpot, and let it cook all day. No standing over the stove and smelling food!

  • Accepting help

I’ve always struggled with this one. I don’t want to be an inconvenience or a burden, so I try to do everything myself. However, this pregnancy has forced me to allow my husband to assist with some of the household tasks. It took swallowing my pride, but it was worth it.

  • Remembering the big picture

As the saying goes, “this too shall pass.” So far no one has ever been pregnant forever, and it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll be the first person to break that streak. Little Bit, as I’ve affectionately nicknamed him, will come. When he does come, I’m sure I’ll be as tired as ever, but I’ll be happy too.

Productivity is more than a full planner or a completed checklist. It’s having an overreaching goal, and knowing what steps need to be taken to achieve it. Sometimes the steps are small. Sometimes they’re tedious. They are always worth it, if the goal is worth it. My sweet little boy will definitely be worth it.

 

 

 

Real Life Couponing – Week of 2/2

Last week, couponing didn’t happen. I was snowed in for a few days and my Sunday newspaper never arrived. This week I got back on the wagon with a few deals at Target and Kroger.

 

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This week’s haul: all Trim Healthy Mama approved!

Target

Since the beginning of the New Year, I’ve been having trouble with the Target closest to me not having the items I need in stock. Fortunately, they actually did have what I needed today.

Dannon Oikos Triple Zero Yogurt, Original Price: $3.99

Final Price: $2.17

How I did it: Target had this product on sale this week for $3.25 each. I had a $0.75 off coupon from this week’s paper. There was also an offer on Target’s Cartwheel app for 10% off, which brought the price down to $2.17. Triple Zero Yogurt is recommended as a part of the Trim Healthy Mama plan because it has no added sugars, artificial sweeteners, or fat. It’s also sweetened with stevia, which is a plan approved sweetener.

In true Target fashion, this was the last package of this brand of yogurt that they had. My husband thinks there must be someone who reads the same coupon blogs as me who clears out the good deals. It’s a plausible theory, I must say.

Market Pantry Brown Rice, Original Price: $0.89

Final Price: $0.84

How I did it: This was just a 5% off offer from my Cartwheel app. This is an example of my “every little bit helps” belief coming into play.

Kroger

I love my Kroger mainly for the health food section. Nine times out of ten, it can save me from an expensive trip to Whole Foods. I’ve heard that Wasa crackers can also be found at Walmart, but I’ve checked two of the Walmarts in my area and I’ve never found them. Thus, I always get mine at Kroger.

Wasa Crackers, Original Price: $2.99

Final Price: $1.84

How I did it: Wasa crackers were on sale for $2.59. Once I got home, I uploaded my receipt to my Ibotta app and received a $0.75 rebate, making the final price $1.84.

Thankful Thursday

In all honesty, I haven’t been doing as well with having a grateful heart this week. Third trimester is in full swing, with all of its associated discomforts. My grandfather died last May right after my college graduation, and his birthday would have been last week.

The biggest thing I’m thankful for this week is my husband’s support. I really don’t know how I would manage if I didn’t have him to help me. Sometimes I’m pretty exhausted by the end of the day, and he is always happy to help with washing dishes, folding laundry, or whatever else I might need. I don’t like feeling unproductive, but he reminds me that I’m growing a person, and that is productive.

Grief sneaks up on you. I’ll probably write a full post on this subject another time, but I’ve found it to be true. Granddaddy died five and a half weeks before I got married. I know that he was saved, and I know that he was suffering a lot, so I’m thankful that he is in heaven. I miss him all the same though, especially when I went to my Granny’s house for Christmas and he wasn’t there. He would have been 70 last week, and his birthday brought up a whole new host of emotions.

Hebrews 4 talks about Jesus being the great high priest. Verses 15 and 16 say “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Jesus understands being in pain. Jesus knows what it is like to lose someone you love (see John 11). He knows.

And this week, I’m thankful for that comfort.

Food is a Love Language

Perhaps one of the most important life lessons that I learned in college was that I cannot “fix” other people. While my intentions were good, I could only change my own behavior and reactions, not those of other people.

With that being said, I can show my support and love for other people, even if I can’t fix their challenging situation. One way that I often did this was through food. I had several roommates go through breakups. During one of my roommate’s breakup, she casually mentioned that she had barely eaten in two days. Well, I couldn’t make her ex-boyfriend behave like a civilized person, but I could fix the lack of food problem. I drove to her favorite fast food joint and ordered something that I knew she liked. She was still upset over the breakup, but I think she knew that I was trying to offer my support.

When my husband and I were engaged, he had a particularly busy day in which he needed to rush to the airport right after a final for his capstone course. He wasn’t going to have time to go get supper from the cafeteria before he needed to leave. During his final, I went and picked up some food for him from one of the better quality campus eating establishments. He quickly ate it as I drove from campus to the airport.

“Food is a love language,” I told him. “It makes me feel better if you get fed before a six hour flight.”

I really didn’t cook much until I got married. Since it was a newer skill, I was self-conscious about letting people besides my husband eat things that I had prepared. My husband will eat almost anything without a complaint, but I know that most people are not quite as tolerant.

Being pregnant has given me a new perspective on numerous issues. Before I had ever been pregnant, I knew that people typically bring food to new mothers right after their babies have been born. What I did not know is how much of a chore cooking can be when you are chronically nauseous. (As a side note, I also didn’t know that nausea can continue past the first trimester. I’m in my third trimester now and I’m still nauseous some days. What’s up with that?)

Anyway, I met a girl at church a couple weeks ago who is close to my age. She is due to have her first baby about three months after I have mine. She had mentioned not feeling the best lately, so I decided I would take the plunge and offer to bring over some chicken tetrazzini, a recipe that I ate a lot when I didn’t feel well.

It actually turned out pretty well, and she and her husband seemed to appreciate it. I’m glad I got outside of my comfort zone to bless someone else.

“Contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” – Romans 12:13