Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Preparing for Baby v.4

I've been scouring Pinterest for ways to store away good meals as we prepare to welcome baby number three in the next few weeks.  We do not eat out very often and pride ourselves on cooking healthy, fresh food on a budget.  Meal planning is essential to the running of our household and I don't want to loose all of that because we are so busy with three little ones.  I pinned several different crockpot meal ideas that enable you to prepare the entire meal and then freeze it for later use.  This is the perfect solution to prepare for a new baby: I could prepare a healthy meal, still within my budget, and have it ready to drop in the crockpot whenever we needed it.  I made out a shopping list this weekend, mindfully picking recipes using ingredients we already have on hand (meal planning 101).  I then spent about an hour chopping veggies, measuring out spices, and putting everything into large freezer Ziploc bags.  I labeled each bag with the name of the meal inside and then stored them in my freezer one on top of the other.  When we decide to eat one of the meals, we simply pull the bag out of the freezer, defrost in the fridge overnight, drop it in the crockpot in the morning, and serve a healthy and delicious dinner!  
I chose the following 4 meals because they all use fresh ingredients and are big enough servings to provide for 2 separate meals.  Again, will all the chopping and mixing of ingredients, it only took me about an hour to prepare all 4 bags.  Because I stored them in the freezer flat and one on top of the other, they take up very little room.  Best of all, all four meals were made for less than $50.  
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Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore:
2 lb. chopped chicken breast
6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 chopped red onion
2 chopped green bellpeppers
8 fresh tomatoes chopped
1 package sliced mushrooms
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic minced
Add all ingredients to freezer bag and freeze. When ready to cook, thaw slightly and add to crockpot. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Serve with hot pasta and top with Parmesan cheese.
Crockpot Chicken Fajitas:
2 lb. Chicken Breast
1 red onion sliced
1 medium green pepper sliced
2 cans of Rotel
2 cans of green chiles
2 packages of fajita seasoning
4 Tbsp. olive oil
Place all items in freezer bag. Toss and freeze flat. When ready to cook place all ingredients in crockpot and cook for 6 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Remove chicken from mix, shred and then add back into the mix. Serve with warm tortillas.
Beef and veggie soup:
1 pound boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
5 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
6 medium red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium red onion chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 green bellpepper chopped
1 red bellpepper chopped
4 fresh tomatoes chopped
1 pack frozen peas
1 pack frozen corn 
2 cups low sodium beef broth
2 cups of water
Brown chuck roast pieces, allow to cool.  Chop all other ingredients.  Place all ingredients together in Ziplock bag and freeze.  When ready to cook place all ingredients in crockpot.  Cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. Serve with a side of corn bread.
Zuchinni and black bean skillet:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups quartered lengthwise, sliced zucchini
1 diced green bell pepper
1 can whole Black Beans, drained, rinsed
4 fresh tomatoes, diced
1 cup water

This meal will actually be cooked on the stove in a skillet.  After defrosting in the fridge, place all ingredients from bag into skillet, bring to a boil, simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Serve over a bed of rice, sprinkle with shredded cheese.
There are hundreds of links on Pinterest for these types of meal ideas.  I liked these four in particular because they use mainly fresh ingredients.  These meals would make great gifts to give to new moms or friends and family members who are ill or as house warming gifts.  Here's to happy, healthy, stress free cooking!!

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Ashley said...

Great idea! I just started the 'freezer meal thing' about 6 months ago and love it. Any time I can I try to prepare extra meals - it will not go wasted!

Olivia said...

I am so into it! I think I'm going to make a few more this weekend!!