The Ultimate Before Baby Freezer Cooking List (Fill the Freezer February)

Fill the Freezer February

The time is quickly approaching for our new baby’s arrival! Baby is due to arrive around the middle of March so I’ve dubbed the month of February as “Fill the Freezer February”. Clever, right? 😛  Last month during the January Declutterathon, I made a bit of room in our freezers so I can fill it up with plenty of freezer meals to keep us well nourished for a while.

Preparing meals isn’t one of my favourite things to do at the best of times, so I know I have to make it as easy as possible for myself once the baby is born. I want to avoid as much eating out as possible but I also want well rounded meals.

So today, I present to you, Fill the Freezer February with my Ultimate Before Baby Freezer Cooking List! My plan of attack is to make the meals I have picked throughout the entire month of February. I want to avoid a big one day cooking session because my body is just not handling extra standing as well these days. Once I create the meal, I will do a post for you with a photo and the recipe.  How does that sound?

Whether or not you have a new addition arriving in your family, I’d love for you to join me. After all, in the long run, freezer cooking can be a great money and time saver.

If you’d like to join me, today I will provide my list of meals and snacks I plan on making plus, a free downloadable Ultimate Freezer Cooking pack. The pack includes a grocery list, recipes and labels!

Here’s what I have planned to fill my freezer. All recipes will be included in the Freezer cooking Pack unless otherwise noted:

Breakfasts

  • Waffles (1 batch)
  • French Toast (1 loaf)
  • Maple Oatmeal packets

Lunches:

  • Chicken Noodle Soup (2 containers)
  • Cream of chicken soup (1 container)
  • Hamburger soup (1 container)

Dinners:

  • Pizza (I plan on buying a few frozen pizzas)
  • Lasagna (I can’t make a decent lasagna for the life of me so I will buy 2 President’s Choice Lasagnas, they’re yummy)
  • Pre-made bought meals from a local store (4 – 5 meals)
  • Perogies & Sausage (These will be bought)
  • Balsamic Roasts (2 bags)
  • Ham with Brown Sugar Maple sauce (2 bags)
  • Teriyaki Chicken (1 bag)
  • Spaghetti sauce (2 bags)
  • Turkey Pot Pie (My mom made us a turkey pot pie so I don’t have to)
  • Meatballs (2 bags)
  • Slow Cooker Chicken Broccoli Alfredo (2 bags)
  • Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells (2 pans)
  • Shepherds Pie (2 pans)
  • Cream cheese chicken taquitos (1 batch)
  • Cooked ground beef (for taco night) (2 bags)

Snacks:

  • Soft Pretzels
  • Banana Muffins (1 batch)
  • Bran muffins (1 batch)
  • Banana Bread (3 loaves)
  • Smoothies (I may throw some fruit and spinach into freezer bags to make it extra easy)
  • No-Bake Energy Bites

That list should give us over 30 meals, taking care of breakfast, lunch and dinner for a while. Plus, there are quite a few snacks. Since I am not making everything in one day, I didn’t have a budget in mind, because I will pick things up while they are on sale with my regular grocery shopping.

Get the downloadable Ultimate Freezer Cooking pack here.

Also, I’m really considering purchasing a set of these Hands-Free baggy racks. I think they would be so handy!

baggy rack

I’d love to know what your favourite freezer meals are. Let me know in the comments!

8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas: Plan your Food

One way to lessen your Christmas time stress is to Plan Your Food! Sit down for a short spell to plan your meals and make your grocery lists to feel like you're on top of the season.

I think this will be a fun week in the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas series!  It’s all about food! Specifically, we’re going to plan our holiday menus.  You’ll want to think about:

  • Christmas dinner
  • Christmas brunch
  • Christmas eve
  • Boxing day

And well, any meal surrounding Christmas day.  My planning is quite simple.  My parents cook our Christmas brunch and dinner so all I have to do is bring the cheesecake and some baking!

For inspiration, I highly recommend taking a look through Pinterest.

While you’re planning out your dishes, be sure to start adding items to a grocery list.  You don’t want to forget anything!

To help you out, you’ll want to check out the Christmas dinner planner and grocery list that are available in the Holiday Planner, here.

Also be sure to print off the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas checklists to make sure you’re on track for the final week’s until Christmas day!

What will be on your holiday menu?  Leave it in the comments! Any food traditions you have to uphold?  How do you keep on budget?

Sign up for the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas newsletter to receive a FREE Christmas Dinner Checklist!  This checklist is quite detailed and will help you remember all the details needed for a memory filled dinner with family and friends. You’ll also receive a weekly email with each week’s “task”.

Here are the posts in the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas series so far:

8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas

Free July 2015 Monthly Menu Planner

E.H.M.-July-2015-Monthly-Meal-Planner-1

Download a free Monthly Meal Planner for the entire month of July!  Included in your download you will find all of this:

  • Meal Planner for 7/1/15 – 7/4/15
  • Meal Planner for 7/5/15 – 7/11/15
  • Meal Planner for 7/12/15 – 7/18/15
  • Meal Planner for 7/19/15 – 7/25/15
  • Meal Planner for 7/25/15 – 7/31/15
  • July Flexible Meals
  • July Flexible Meal Calendars
  • July Blank Week
  • Dessert Menu for July 2015
  • Dessert Calendar for July 2015
  • Fill In the Blank Ingredients List – Entire Month
  • Fill in the Blank Ingredients List – Weekly
  • Blank Family Shopping List (Food, Sundries, you name it included)
  • Blank Costco Shopping List

Download your menu plan now.

Take Them a Meal

ttamlogotoptight

I came across this really neat website that is perfect for those of you that may find yourself in a situation of organizing meals for a family you may know.

TakeThemaMeal.com is a free service that allows you to create a meal schedule for a family in need. It’s easy to do!  One person creates a profile for the family with instructions for drop off and dates needed.  Then you are provided a link that you can share so that others can sign up for the days they can prepare a meal for the family. No more time consuming phone calls!

You can read the TakeThemaMeal.com story here.

How neat is that?

The Eating from the Pantry & Freezer Challenge: Week 4

Welcome to the fourth  and final week of the Eating from The Pantry & Freezer Challenge!  Here’s what it’s all about or you can read the post from Week 3.

For those of you who have been doing this challenge all along, way to go!  You’ve reached the end!  And to those of you who have joined in at some point, even for a week, thank you!

I’m sure that by this point you’ve seen some significant savings or you’ve even noticed that you’ve been shopping less often.  Even just a week or two of eating what you already have can make a big difference and help you put extra money towards larger grocery purchases, debt payments, or simply to help save up for something you’d like to buy!

Here’s my update from last week

There’s actually a bit more room in our freezers!  Enough room that my father-in-law was able to store some stuff while he was looking for a new fridge/freezer after his broke.

But, as I suspected, I can keep going on this challenge for a while yet since we’ve still got plenty of food!

In total I spent about $25 this week on milk, eggs, produce and yogurt.  I’m quite pleased that I’ve mostly been able to stay under my $25 limit for the week!

I’ve still got plenty of chicken, ground beef, steaks and a few already made freezer meals.  So, we’ll be having some chicken dishes, and most likely some beef dishes! 😛

Here’s what we’ll be eating this week:

My mother-in-law is here with us this week so the plan may not go according to what I have written. But I’m going to try my best!

Monday:

  • Breakfast:  Refrigerator Oatmeal
  • Lunch:  Smoothies
  • Dinner:  Marinated steak, pasta salad, grilled veggies

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Thursday:

  • Breakfast:  Cereal, fruit
  • Lunch: Egg salad sandwich
  • Dinner:  Roast beef, roasted potatoes, steamed veggies

Friday:

Saturday:

Sunday:

  • Brunch:  Waffles
  • Dinner:  At my Parents!

Now it’s your turn, what will you be eating this week?

Now that the challenge is coming to a close, has the challenge been difficult for you?  What types of meals have frequented your table?  And most importantly, did you get things cleaned out and meet your goals?

The Eating from the Pantry & Freezer Challenge: Week 3

Welcome to the third week of the Eating from The Pantry & Freezer Challenge!  Here’s what it’s all about or you can read the post from Week 2.

Here’s my update from last week

Well, this is a bit embarrassing, but not many of the dinners I had planned for last week got made! Sienna and I were on our own for a couple evenings and we had a couple of rough days so I opted for the drive thru. Another evening we were invited for dinner to a friends house.

The meals we managed to eat were breakfast every morning, egg salad sandwiches, pancakes, peanutty Asian wraps (twice), and smoothies.  Needless to say, we still have quite a bit of stuff in our pantry and freezer!

This week should be different.  My Mother-in-Law is coming to visit for a week so we should be going through quite a bit of stuff.

Getting creative with what you have left

At this point in the challenge you may have come to a point where you need to be creative when it comes to using up what you have an abundance of and filling the spaces of those things you wish you could go out and buy.

There are a few great websites out there that will come up with some recipes for the ingredients you already have on hand.  All Recipes is one of them.  Simply input the ingredients you have and the ingredients you don’t have and it will pull up a list of recipes you could make!  Recipe Matcher, Supercook and Ingredient Chef are also good resources!

Here’s what we’ll be eating this week:

Since not many of my planned meal got made last week, you’ll see some recycled meals on this week’s menu.   To complete my meals this week, I spent about $17 on yogurt, produce, milk and eggs.

Monday:

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

  • Breakfast:  Banana chocolate chip muffins, yogurt, fruit
  • Lunch:  Leftovers
  • Dinner:  Perogies and Sausage, steamed veggies (needs to be a quick dinner)

Thursday:

  • Breakfast:  refrigerated oatmeal
  • Lunch:  Potato soup
  • Dinner: Marinated steak, pasta salad. grilled veggies

Friday:

Saturday:

  • Brunch: Bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, toast
  • Dinner:  We’re headed to a baby shower/birthday party (I have to bring a salad)

Sunday:

Now it’s your turn, what’s your update and what will you be eating this week?

The Eating from the Pantry & Freezer Challenge: Week 2

Welcome to the second week of the Eating from The Pantry & Freezer Challenge!  Here’s what it’s all about or you can read the post from Week 1.

Here’s my update:

As it seems with all my weeks, not every meal I had planned got made.  Things just come up or we have more leftovers than we thought!

But I did manage to rid our freezer of a few things!  Some chicken is gone (BBQ chicken salad, Chicken in basil cream sauce), a container of chicken noodle soup is gone, along with quite a bit of produce.

I added up my receipts from my groceries last week and I ended up spending $34.60.  Over my $25 “budget” but I did use a gift card that my husband got from work. Milk, yogurt, and fruit & veggies is what I bought.

Here’s what we’ll be eating this week:

Monday:

Tuesday:

  • Brunch:  Waffles with berry sauce
  • Dinner:  Fettucine Alfredo, Caesar salad, garlic bread

Wednesday:

Thursday:

  • Breakfast: Banana muffins, yogurt, fruit
  • Lunch:  leftovers
  • Dinner: Leftovers

Friday:

Saturday:

  • Brunch:  French Toast
  • Dinner:  Appies (whatever appy things I can find in the freezer)

Sunday:

  • Breakfast:  Oatmeal/cereal, yogurt, fruit
  • Lunch:  Egg salad sandwich
  • Dinner:  Marinated steak, pasta salad. grilled veggies

Now it’s your turn to share your menu plan with the rest of us!  We’d also love to hear your progress and savings report!

The Eating from the Pantry & Freezer Challenge Starts! Week 1

It’s time to start the Eating from the Pantry & Freezer Challenge!

I told you last week that I’d be sharing my goals and plans, so here’s what I’ve got in mind:

My number one goal is to clean out the pantry and freezers, especially the freezers!  It seems like we’re always throwing stuff out because it gets lost for far too long. :(

Secondly, I’d like to spend only $25 each week on the items I decided to keep buying (dairy, eggs and produce).  I think this is going to be quite feasible!

It’s important to decide on an amount you’d like to spend during the challenge.  By not setting an amount, you could be setting yourself up for spending too much!  Determine how little you think you can get by on.

Also, I think it’s important to say to make this challenge your own.  Decide what will work best for you to help you clear out your pantry and freezer while still making it a challenge.  Maybe this means you won’t be buying any household items (toilet paper, toothpaste..etc) because you really do have enough to get you through until the end of the challenge.  Or maybe you realize that you have a ton of stuff to go through so you can actually do the challenge for 5 weeks.  Make it yours!

Now, how am I going to make this happen?

I took inventory of our pantry and freezers (and discovered I had a lot more than I thought)!  Here’s what I’ll be working with:

  • Lots of chicken breasts
  • Quite a bit of beef (ground, a roast and a few steaks)
  • One package of ground turkey (will make two meals)
  • Plenty of flour, oatmeal, rice, pasta, quinoa
  • Lots of frozen fruit (peaches, strawberries, mixed berries, raspberries)
  • Chicken kabobs
  • Chicken fingers
  • A little pack of leftover diced ham

I’m actually quite shocked at how much I found and I’m sure I could do this challenge for longer than I have planned!

Don’t forget to join the Simply Frugal Pantry Challenge Facebook group!  I want it to be a place where we share meal inspiration, tips and more!

Here’s what we’ll be eating until next Sunday 

Monday:

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

  • Breakfast: Bran muffins, yogurt, fruit
  • Lunch:  Smoothies
  • Dinner:  Perogies and Sausage, steamed veggies (needs to be a quick dinner)

Thursday:

Friday:

  • Brunch:  Smoothies
  • Lunch: Grilled cheese sandwhiches
  • Dinner:  Leftovers

Saturday:

  • Brunch: Waffles with Berry sauce and whipping cream
  • Dinner: Marinated steak, pasta salad, grilled veggies

Sunday:

  • Breakfast:  Oatmeal/cereal
  • Lunch: Smoothies
  • Dinner:  At my parents

On Monday, May 11, I’ll be back with my next menu plan and how much I actually ended up spending on groceries to get through this week’s menu!

Now, it’s your turn to share your menu plan, goals and plan of attack with the rest of us!

How to Meal Prep for a Week

How to meal prep for a week

Preparing meals ahead of time can be a big time and money saver. You’re doing all of your cooking on one day, and will be saving money because you’re only buying the ingredients you know you need.

Cooking all your breakfasts, lunches and dinners for a week, in one day, may seem daunting, but with these tips you’ll be able to meal prep for a week and not have to wonder, “What’s for dinner?” anymore!

Find your recipes. Before even starting the process, you should print out the recipes you will be using for the week. This means printing or writing down recipes for all meals for 7 days. If you will be making snacks, like homemade granola bars or protein bars, print those recipes as well. Now you have a master list of all the ingredients you will need.

Divide up your grocery store list. Go through each recipe and categorize each item. Your grocery list should have sections broken down into protein, carbs, vegetables, fruits, spices, and other. Doing this will make it much easier (and quicker) to find the things you need when you’re at the grocery store.

Buy the right containers. If this is something you will be doing on a regular basis, you want to make sure you have durable containers that are made to last. Don’t skimp out on this.

Cut your vegetables and fruits. Once you’re back from the grocery store, start by chopping up your vegetables and fruits. Organize them by whether you’re using them as a snack or will be using them as ingredients in a meal.

Use the oven. The oven is great for baking meats, potatoes, vegetables and more. Make a list of every item that needs to go in the oven and put it all in. If your oven is going to be on, you might as well cook everything at once!

Use your slow cooker. Many people who meal prep like to make freezer meals. This can be preparing something, like meatballs, and freezing them to cook at a later date, or preparing an entire meal which will then be thawed and cooked. If you have a slow cooker, doing this is especially easy. Take a look at my post 9 Slow Cooker Freezer Meals or you could Google slow cooker freezer meals to find recipes. Even if you don’t want to freeze your meals, you can still prepare all of the ingredients you’ll need and use your slow cooker to cook the meal. It will save you time all week!

Use different seasonings. One can only eat so much plain chicken. When you go grocery shopping, make sure to pick up different seasonings for each meal. Get creative with how you season or marinate your protein options.

Make one huge dish. If you don’t want to prepare 5 different dinner options, you can make enough of one recipe that will last you a few days. Find one you really like and cook it in bulk. If you have meals or items that will last longer than 3 days, put the leftovers in the freezer and cook it when you’re ready.

Make grab and go meals. The last step is to just divide everything up into your containers. Take each meal and put it in a container so it is ready to go for each day of the week.

Meal prep can be a great way to save time throughout the week. Although it may take a full day on the weekend, once you know what meals you’re making and what ingredients you’ll need, you’ll become more efficient at it. No more worrying about what’s for lunch or dinner!

Do you do any sort of meal prep at your home?  What does your current system look like?

Non Planner’s Guide to Menu Planning

NonPlanningMenuPlan

Do you like the idea of planning a regular menu, but have difficulty with actually making plans or sticking with them? Check out this Non Planner’s Guide to Menu Planning over at I Heart Planners.