Friday, November 21, 2014

Freezer Meals

     This coming week I have the pleasure of going to a freezer meal exchange. Tonight was prep night. Funny that I made dinner to freeze and the family enjoyed leftovers. Guess who still got stuck cooking and cleaning up after cooking...yep...this girl. But let me tell you how seriously awesome this is. IT ROCKS! Why? Because I do the work for 1 meal, double...errr...quadruple the recipe, and I come home with totally different meals, that I didn't have to prep. Plus I can buy all my supplies in bulk. And as the holidays are coming on us that is one less meal a week that I have to stress about, and I think we all could use a little less stress around the holidays.
     So how does this freezer meal exchange work? Well, My group takes a count of how many individuals want to participate, and then you make that many meals, freeze in 1 gallon Ziplock bags, and meet for some well deserved mommy time out while you exchange your meals. Easy-peasy. There are other ways of doing it, but this works for us and our group number.
     I believe the toughest part is deciding what you would like to make and can afford to make for a group. Last time my meals worked out to about $10 a meal. Not too bad. And the seriously great part is that you get to try out all sorts of different recipes without having to do much of the work. Some are home runs for the entire family, some are not. And that's part of the fun.

 So here are some tips I have for you:

1. When making a large quantity (in other words multiplying your recipe by 8-10) try to do your mixing in the bag of each individual portion. Less dishes, and lets be honest, I do not have a bowl big enough to mix 20 cups of rice, nor a spoon strong/long enough.

 2. Make something that you know your family will like. That way you know you have at least 1 meal that your kids will eat.

 3. Freeze your bags flat or folded in half. It takes up less freezer space that way, and folded in half is easier to put into the crockpot when the meal is frozen. Also freeze with cloth between the bags so that they don't stick together.

 4. Make sure that you can read your label. Either print the directions onto stickers or double bag and slide the instructions in between the bags if your food is dark (I learned this lesson the hard way when I made Mexican chicken rice bowls and just wrote on the bag with brown sharpie...oops). It's okay to write with sharpie, just make sure that it will be easy to read with the color of your food. And on that note, label before you fill the bags. Trust me on this one.

 5. Don't be afraid to try something new. It's good for you and good for your family.

 6. Make an extra if you can. That way you are set and prepared for when you are taking a meal to a friend after surgery or having a baby or whatever hardship may befall someone in your life.

Oh and on a side note: A rotisserie chicken from Costco yields about 4-5 cups of family will be eating a ton of chicken in the future. Praise God it freezes!

Are you inspired to try this out with your friends?

Christmas Simplified

Tis the season. I don't know about you all, but we are inundated with lots of ads, commercials, flyers, you name it, telling us and our kids what we need for Christmas. I seriously think my 4 year old wants everything he sees. Seriously. While watching TV in the afternoons, he'll see an add for Barbie and tell me "Mommy, I need that." Oh to be 4. Well, a few years ago, my husband and I decided to "simplify" Christmas. We decided to combat the consumerism that drives the holiday season that we had had enough. Christmas is about so much more that getting, and even giving gifts. So we set out for a way to still enjoy some of this giving to our child (now children), but tame it down. I'm sure you know what I mean if you have a child, because man, my son's first Christmas it looked like Toys R Us threw up under our tree. And he was seriously done after opening about 2 gifts. So we decided to nip it in the bud early, that way he wouldn't know the difference as he grew up ;) So, with the help of Pinterest we came up with our new tradition, 3 years strong in our house. Christmas Eve we exchange a new set of PJs. For everyone in the family. Why not wait until Christmas morning you ask? Well, this way the entire family has on fresh, CLEAN pajamas on Christmas morning for pictures and whoever may be stopping by. Plus, I don't know about your family, but mine relishes the PJ Day. A day where all you do is hang out in your PJs. All. day. long. Yep, best day ever, plus it cuts down on some laundry ;) Then Christmas morning the kids get something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. A Santa gift, which is usually educational. A gift that the boys pick out for each other. And their Christmas stockings, filled with snacks, toothbrushes, toothpaste, bubble bath, and a few knickknacks. Then we do a family gift. One for each child to unwrap. Usually a movie and a game to watch and play together. Done. I find that my oldest really only plays with a few gifts anyhow and sometimes he would rather play with his old toys. Not to mention grandma and grandpa are really good at loading him down with toys, and we really want to simplify. What do you do to simplify the season?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I'm back :)

It's been quite a while, and man has my life ever changed. Funny that I am picking this up again when my second child (Trouble) is in about the same stage as my first was when I stopped writing on this blog. Recently, since about the beginning of October, I have felt a pull, small tug at my heart, to start blogging again. Maybe it's the crazy roller coaster of events in my life right now, and my desire to sort through my feelings. Maybe it's the craziness of taking care of 2 little wild things, AKA boys. Maybe it's the change in my life from working mommy to stay at home mommy (a job I feel blessed to be able to do). But whatever it is that is calling me back to my random blog after a few years of not working on it, I'm here, more scatterbrained than ever, and with way less time than before (who knew that littles demanded so much of your time and energy? I say this as trouble is currently throwing his lunch on the floor to make me pay for putting him in his high chair as I try to remember my password to log onto this thing). But most importantly, I'm here. I don't plan on picking up from where I left off. Mainly because I am not the same woman I was back then. I have learned so much about myself and life since then, and it would be a shame to try to be a previous me when I am so happy being the current me. And isn't that what we should all be doing? Growing, changing, learning from our past mistakes and successes so that we can ultimately be the best versions of ourselves? See you all soon :) I say that like there are really people reading this. Maybe someday soon there will be :)