Sunday, December 4, 2016

Food Prepping Before Baby Arrives

I was fortunate to have a lot of time off work in my last trimester, so I did everything I could to take advantage of the time off and do what I could to make life easier after the baby comes. I'm so glad that I devoted a weekend to filling up our freezer with easy, heathy foods. We had some wonderful family and friends that brought us meals right after Charlie was born, but after that stopped, it was so nice to be able to pull some food out of the freezer and make a reasonably healthy meal with ease. It's been nearly three months since our baby was born, and we still have a ton of this food in our freezer. 

We decided that a chest freezer was a worthwhile investment. Our other freezer is very limited in space, so we use it mostly for frozen fruit for smoothies and Lean Cuisines for easy work lunches. This freezer gives us the storage we need to plan ahead. 

We bought three of these collapsible milk crates from Walmart. They stack and fit perfectly in the freezer. We use the bottom one for game meat (my husband hunts and has the meat processed occasionally). The middle crate has frozen chicken, beef, and turkey. We buy the bulk packs of chicken breast and ground beef/turkey from Costco. The top crate is for frozen veggies. 

We use the other side for other random frozen items: pizzas, casseroles, tortillas, tamales, etc. 

Getting Started:

All of this took the better part of a Sunday to do. Being 36 weeks pregnant, it was exhausting, but it was so worth it. It's ten times harder to find the time to cook elaborate meals now that we're both back at work and taking care of our three month old. Dinner is all about what's easiest now! 

I laid out all of my supplies:

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Frozen ground turkey
Green Beans
Red Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Seasoning (for cooking the meats)

To start I filled my Crock Pot with the frozen chicken breasts. Then I used powdered chicken broth and water to fill the pot to the line.

I let this cook on low for about 5 hours and then drained the liquid. 

This is by far the easiest way I've discovered to shred chicken. Just take a hand mixer to the pot, and in a couple of minutes,  it's shredded perfectly. 

I borrowed my sister's Food Saver to portion out the chicken into little baggies that could be saved and frozen.

I love being able to thaw out the chicken for a quick and easy dish like chicken quesadillas. 

I also cooked about four pounds of ground turkey as well. 

Two pounds at a time, I browned the turkey and portioned it into bags as well. 

These are perfect to add to spaghetti, baked ziti, chili, tacos, etc. 

Finally, I prepared the veggies. I think a lot of food prep involves heavy carb. dishes that are not always the most healthy. I wanted it to be easy for us to have some vegetables in our meals as well. 

After peeling all of the potatoes, I cut them into cubes to be frozen. 

When we want roasted sweet potatoes, we can just thaw one of these bags, spread them out on a pan and roast them in the oven with olive oil. 

We also prepared the broccoli and red potatoes by washing them and cutting them into bite sized pieces. 

Another thing I did to prep before baby arrived was make double batches of dinner and freezing half in these aluminum dishes. 

One night I made a double batch of baked ziti.

And another night a double batch of Chicken Pesto Pasta

I used a little tape to ensure that the lid of the pan was on tightly (just be sure to remove all the tape fully before putting the dish in the oven). 

Finally, we made smoothie packs for quick and easy breakfasts. We used freezer friendly bags and filled them with all the dry and frozen ingredients we use in our smoothies (fruit, spinach, oatmeal, protein powder, sometimes peanut butter)

These are great for tossing in the blender, with almond milk for a quick breakfast!

Whew! Just typing all of that made me tired. But I am so glad we took the time to do all of this. Even though he's totally worth it, this little guy sure makes things like dinner time more tricky for his parents. It's a good thing he's so darn cute. (: 



Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Our Baby Boy

Introducing the newest member of our family, Charlie Reed. We were blessed by his arrival last month and have been soaking in his newborn sweetness ever since. He weighed 6 pounds 8 ounces, much smaller than any of us guessed!

I managed to get a few pictures while we were at the hospital. He's already changed so much in the time that we've had him! His once skinny, little chicken legs have now filled out, and those little cheeks get chubbier everyday. 

This was my last bump picture before I was induced. I was pleasantly surprised with how smooth and easy my induction was. I had heard horror stories, but it seemed our little guy was ready to make his debut, and things progressed quickly and smoothly.

Aside from a little discomfort at the very end, I really enjoyed my pregnancy. We made a point to document the growth of my belly every other week. We put together a little video here if you'd like to see. 

Becoming a mother has been the hardest yet most fulfilling thing I've experienced. The sleepless nights have been rough, but I'm reminding myself daily that this sweet newborn phase won't last long. I'm trying my hardest to soak it all in while it lasts. 

Thanks so much for all of the support and encouragement along the way. How fun that this blog has followed me through so many life events, from a college sophomore to a married teacher with a baby! I have some more baby related projects to share soon, but for now I'll be hanging out with my sweet baby boy. You can follow me on Instagram if you'd like to see more regular updates on baby Charlie. (: 

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