Monday, September 30, 2013

Freezer cooking (preparing for baby/postpardum recovery time)

Its time for me to start filling up our freezer with meals so that after baby is born my family can be fed with little to no effort on my part.  It makes me feel so good to know that once all of my help is gone I'll have these meals waiting for our family to make life easier as we continue to recover and adjust.

I started my freezer filling weeks ago by researching recipes that would freeze well (my old standbys no longer work as we need to keep the meals dairy free for our toddler).  I found a bunch here that look like they will work well for my family.  I made up a master list of what we would need, looked through the pantry/freezer to see what we already had, and then made up my grocery list from there.  The day before our big cooking day I did a big shopping trip.  When we got home we set everything we could out on our school table with the recipe they belonged to as well as the (labeled) bag or pan that would be needed.

I hit the ground running the morning of our cooking day.  Chicken breasts needed to be cooked up for a couple of recipes and beans also needed to be cooked up.  After breakfast I was able to start assembling.  The rest of the family was occupied with our regular Saturday cleaning chores.  My husband was kind enough to supervise this and take care of the little kids.  This allowed me to give my undivided attention to the cooking.

By the afternoon everyone had finished their regular chores and came in to help me.  What a blessing this was as I was starting to loose steam.  My oldest took over a couple of recipes for me.  One of my boys took over a recipe as well.

I was very thankful for my five year old's help.  She was my little runner that afternoon; getting things I needed and putting other things away.  She also peeled quite a few carrots for me.

By the end of the day I was beat, done, out of steam.  I was glad I had started our dinner in the crock pot that morning.  I put my feet up for the rest of the evening and enjoyed the thought of the 29 meals waiting in the freezer.

*To help keep track of what is in there and allow my helpers to know what is available we have an inventory sheet on the freezer.  As I added meals I quickly wrote down what they were.  Now the trick will be to find what you are looking for. ;)

**The key to one of these big cooking days is being well organized ahead of time, including the meals you and your family will be eating that day and the care of any young children.  Working together as a team REALLY helps too.  I could not have made it through the last 10 meals or so without the help of our crew.  It also gives the whole family a sense of accomplishment knowing we did this all together. 

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