As of this Tuesday, we are exactly 3 weeks from our due date and 3 weeks and 1 day from Christmas! Talk about planning, emotions and holiday-time craziness!
Our growing family decided months ago to do Christmas a little different this year. With a due date of December 24, who knows what Christmas will look like! Instead of presents, we are taking a family trip to Disney (so, Baby #2, please keep cookin’ until at least December 13!).
With holiday plans out of the way (and no need to rush around searching for gifts), I decided to experiment (in my spare time!) with a cooking method known as “make-ahead-and-freeze”. My biggest struggle as a full-time working mom of a toddler and another on the way is the lack of time to cook good, nutritious food for my whole family — not just the toddler (whose food I have always made, never any jarred baby food) but me and my wonderful hubby, too. So like everything else in life when I have no idea where to start, I bought a book: Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead & Freeze Cookbook by Jessica Fisher! With my new cookbook in hand (thanks, Amazon!), I experimented for the first time.
After reading the introduction, tips and “how-to” pages earlier this week, I picked four recipes we wanted to try and we hit Aldi for some great discount grocery shopping. (If you have not discovered the awesomeness that is Aldi, go check them out!)
We came home with ingredients for four wholesome recipes. In total (with multiple breaks in between), I dedicated about six hours to cooking, cleaning and storing the food I made. While that sounds like a lot of time, during those six hours I made three out of the four recipes, plus my toddlers food for the week! I plan to make the fourth recipe later this week. However, those recipes made 12-14 wholesome, homemade meals! Even I was surprised at what I ended up with, how good it all tasted and how one day could yield so much good for my family. Those who know me know I care a lot about the food my family and I eat. This new-found method has started off great and I am believer thus far! Even better, once the new baby is here, I know we have several nutritious meals waiting in our freezer so I won’t be scrambling for something to eat!
The meals I made were:
- White Bean Soup: Originally a veggie dish but I added shredded chicken. I used my slow cooker to reheat and just set it aside for the entire day and let the pot do the cooking!
- Red Sauce with Sausage: I used lean turkey sausage and let it simmer for about four hours on the stove. This recipe involved very little effort!
- Green Chili Casserole: Another all-veggie dish that tasted great as is or you could easily add a protein when ready to serve. It truly took about 15 minutes to prepare and store!
- Ham and Swiss Potato Gratin: This one is on my radar for later this week!
I followed all the prep and storage directions outlined in the book. Each also comes with directions on how to defrost, reheat and serve when ready. To keep it simple, I wrote out the recipes with the page number in the cookbook and stuck on my fridge so when the time comes, I have a quick reference on how to heat and serve asap!
Quick pregnancy update: This week starts my weekly OBGYN appointments as we prepare for our sweet baby’s arrival. Our doula, parents, family and friends are all anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Christmas season and the birth of our very own Christmas miracle! My next post could likely be from our recovery room with our new baby typing with me!