Many of you may have watched my recent Facebook video sharing that I was going to embark on an endeavor today. My task was to complete 29 freezer meals this afternoon. Life is constantly busy. My family is always on the run- trying to get from one place to the next trying to fit in everything we need to- my goal was to take this time to help alleviate the stress/thinking and preparation of dinners for my family on long days (today and in the near future!)
A week ago, Coach Jodi posted this link from New Leaf Wellness:
I pulled it up and looked at the contents, impressed with nearly all the recipes, and was able to come up with EASY adjustments to make them even healthier. Plus, I personally didn't have to compile crockpot ideas and a grocery list. She did it all for me. That convenience really works well for me as a busy mom who refuses to give up her ME time and still prioritizes feeding her family well.
Now, you may notice right away, the link says 31 Freezer Meals. I only made 29. Why? I actually looked through each individual reciepe and the ingredients involved. There were two recipes that were a definite "no go" for my family. The fat content was WAY too high and truly wouldn't get eaten in our house. So- I removed recipe 4 &14 from my "to make" list and grocery list. That left me with 29 Freezer meals.
To prepare for my morning/afternoon of preparation, I went to the grocery store to collect all the items I needed. What I realized in scanning the grocery list, I had A LOT of the items already. I mostly needed the canned beans, some produce, and meats. The rest, we already had in our cupboards.
I first clean up the kitchen- made sure all the dishes were put away and the garbage can was emptied. I laid out all the items in organized piles (produce, canned, meats, etc...) over the counter and dining room table. I put out three cutting boards, knives, can opener, measuring spoons, scissors, alongside anything else I could think of I would need easy and repeated access to.
I chose to approach this day of preparation meal by meal. It was easier for me to stay organized knowing what needed to be cut in what manners and the ingredients involved. I continued methodically moving through each recipe- chopping meats and veggies, combining necessary additional ingredients, labeling the bags with the name as well as crockpot cooking time.
The first few recipes I was able to FLY through. I was on the third recipe in the first 10 minutes. However, some recipes were very quick to assemble; while others took more chopping and tending to. Overall, the whole 29 Freezer Meal journey took me approximately 3.5 hours- start to finish with interruption. I had a three year old running around my legs, asking for snacks, playing with my legs, and wanting to play ring-around-the-rosy (and we DID!).
I do feel rather satisfied and accomplished! Whew!
There are several things I learned in tackling making 29 meals at once.
1. Pre-minced garlic is a MUST. Otherwise you will spend a lot of time mincing cloves. I am glad I had "cheaters" garlic in the fridge.
2. Know what you have in your cupboard. I looked before I grocery shopped. This way I knew although I had honey- I should get more because I wouldn't have had enough. However, I chose to buy chicken and turkey even though I had enough in the freezer. I like stockpiling food for those weeks that things just get crazy! Always have clean food on hand- ALWAYS!
3. Sure, you can chop all your meats and veggies at once, then compile- whatever works for you. Just keep in mind that not ALL recipes have you chop the meat. Some veggies and chopped and some are sliced. Look before you begin:)
4. Get an extra garbage bag out. I had emptied mine, but I had to pull out another! LOTS of recycling and garbage when you prep 29 meals at once!
5. Write on each bag: write the name of the recipe, and if you need to add anything day of cooking. For example, many of the recipe need broth the day of cooking- write that on the bag for easy knowledge. Also, write the cook time and temperature.
6. Keep the printed recipes- you can refer to them later or write improvements on them for next time!
7. If it call for sugar- do 1/4 of what it says. You really don't need that much. Plus, we all know what sugar does to our body- you are just better off this way!
8. Don't be afraid to omit/substitute ingredients. I found myself doing particular substitutions out of habit. Remember your Clean and Lean Challenge knowledge?? Apply it!
9. I am glad Fonseca buys all the cool kitchen tools. A pineapple corer was AWESOME for this day! Yum fresh pineapple and ease of cutting it!
10. Have garden veggies? This is a PERFECT time to put them to use! I was able to use garden zucchini, green beans, and snap peas!
11. Instead of cranberry sauce- consider using cranberries and pure cranberry juice with a bit of sugar. Instead of peach jam- use some fresh peaches!
Now, you may be thinking- this is just dinner! What about breakfasts and lunches?
Coach Fonseca and I prepare all our snacks and lunches every single Sunday! Cooked, measured, and put into individual containers ready to run out the door (for our kids too!). Breakfast in made fresh in the morning. Usually takes me an "extra" 15 minutes to make a veggie and egg scramble filled with DELICIOUSNESS for the entire family!
Enjoy and happy 29 Freezer Meal preparing! Here is the link to the New Leaf Wellness website where she gives you free access to all the recipes and grocery list! Remember- use YOUR knowledge and adjust them to make them even healthier for you and your family!