Baby Preparation | Making Freezer Meals | Part 2

If you just stumbled upon this post, or need a refresher, read this to get a better understanding of how I prepare for making freezer meals!

One thing I didn’t mention, though, was once I made my lists of food to buy, I went back through and put a blue dot next to the items to get at Costco or Amazon. My main reasons for purchasing these items online or at a big box store are:

  1. Buy in bulk and save money (especially if you hit their sale days)
  2. Stores in my area do not sell certain items
  3. Overall cheaper than in store.

I purchased these items over the course of the month (maybe six weeks), buying items that freeze well or are non-perishable first.

FL Costco
Costco
FL Amazon
Amazon
FL KS
King Soopers

Once everything was purchased, I made a quick schedule of how the weekend would look. It totally took the guess work out and made things run smoothly.

But, I digress! Let’s get into the recipes, cooking, organization, and storage! Basically, my guidelines for choosing what to cook and/or prep were simple. They needed to have

  1. at least 4 servings per meal (leftovers or feed family that visits)
  2. easy to prep, cook, and store/freeze
  3. hearty and filling
  4. requires minimal effort beyond throwing it in a crockpot, oven, or reheating on the stovetop.

My reasoning behind food prepping was to be able to spend my time recovering, caring for baby, and for us to learn how to be a family without having to think about preparing and cooking full meals for a little while.

I looked on Pinterest, rummaged through favored cookbooks, and searched through family recipes to create the perfect list of nutritious, diverse, and flavorful foods.

The meals found through Pinterest were:

  1. chicken and vegetable bake
    Follow the given directions
  2. lasagna
    Follow the given directions
  3. no bean chili
    To freeze, cook only the meat (let cool) toss everything into a gallon ziplock bag and freeze upright. When ready to cook/eat thaw over night, place into crockpot, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  4. bran muffins
    I omit the raisins. To freeze, bake as directed and let cool. To speed up the cooling process, I will let muffins cool on wire rack for 5 minutes and then place them on a cookie sheet, and into the freezer for 30 minutes. From there, they can go into a freezer bag, into the freezer, and stay until ready to eat. Take out the night before and let them thaw. You can warm them in a toaster or conventional oven on low for 5 minutes, if desired. 

Meals from family/old (unknown books)

  1. teriyaki salmonSalmon
  2. chiliChili
  3. kung pao chickenKPC
  4. stir-fryStir Fry
  5. egg scrambleScramble

Lastly, was creating dinner kits! Hands down the EASIEST thing to do! I made fajita, taco, and pizza kits for easy, fun dinners.

Fajita
Taco
Pizza

Once everything was prepped, cooked, and ready for the freezer I re-tallied all the meals to create a check off list. Then into the garage freezer it all went! Slowly as we plan out meals, the food will make it’s way into our main freezer, fridge, and/or crockpot!

Be on the lookout for Part 3 of the Food Prep in the coming weeks! It will be all about organizing the pantry and the checklist for the freezer meals! 

alaina

Baby Preparation | Hospital Tour

So now that I’ve had time to process the whole thing, I’m able to talk about the Hospital Tour! Holy anxiety ridden, “I have so many questions and concerns”, week. The week leading up to this tour seemed so long.

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Bumping through the tour!

Our tour was 30 minutes long, highly informative, and a lot of my questions were answered as we went. Every hospital is different, and every year things change, and I highly recommend going to your hospital’s tour. 

Anyway…we learned everything from how to navigate the Labor and Delivery floor, checking-in, pre-registering to avoid filling out paperwork while in labor, and what we wanted to happen in an ideal world (a.k.a our birth plan).

Going into the Tour, I had 33 questions. Yes, I realize that’s a LOT and that most of them were answered by the end, but … hello, anxiety and grasping for some control! Of the 33 questions, these 14 were at the top of my list. They also led to other conversations that would not have come up had we not asked.

Hospital Questions

I hope these questions help guide you in your hospital tour journey! Leave your hospital tour experiences and top questions in the comments!

alaina

Must Haves | Second Trimester

Goodbye, Second Trimester! Hello, Third!

While the Second Trimester of pregnancy was better than the First, it was still quite difficult for me to get through. I had nausea/vomiting still, was exhausted, sore, swollen, and terrified that at any moment this would all be gone. It was quite a mind-F to go from “happy I’m pregnant” and feeling him move to “this is going too well” and “who’s body is this”.

Luckily, I found a few items that made this trimester easier for me to handle! Let’s start out with food and drinks since that’s really the ONLY thing I can think about for long periods of time!

Food! Need I say more? Okay, but seriously let’s welcome in the cravings. While I haven’t craved anything out of the ordinary for me, I have needed the temperature of these items to be specific. I’ve wanted apples, cantaloupe, muffins, chocolate, pretzels…any food that I was fine with eating at room temperature now needs to be COLD. Almost too cold to eat.

Like all cravings, keeping things cold has proven tricky. Trying to anticipate what I’m going to want and keeping the fridge stocked is not something I want to spend a lot of my time doing. Which, I’m sure, makes me fun to live with!

Beverage choices, on the other hand, are so weird to me. I am craving bubbly drinks, not something that I like to keep in the house unless it is seltzer. Unfortunately, seltzer just doesn’t satiate me the way a cold soda does. Unless it’s for a party, I don’t keep soda in the house; it’s a treat and I’m usually pretty stingy about consumption. Towards the end of this trimester, though, I’ve wanted a few sips every night. Yes, I’ve caved and finally bought a pack of soda, but limit myself to at most 1 per day.

Now that I’ve gotten food and drinks out of the way, I can try to concentrate on actual must have ITEMS!

First up, PILLOWS. No matter where I go (couch, bed, or chair), I need at least one pillow. Sitting up? I always keep a pillow behind my back. Elevating my legs? A pillow or two goes under my feet. Laying on the couch? I NEED two pillows at my head, one under my hip/stomach, one between my knees and possibly a pillow behind my back. Bedtime? Two pillows under my head, body pillow to mold to, and possibly another at my back. My apologies to my husband who is trying to lay or use the same area as me. 

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I am, single-handedly, getting our monies worth out of these pillows. This is new to me. I’ve always liked the look of pillows on a couch or bed, but always removed them. Now, I can’t get enough and always seem to need more!

White noise has helped me nap during the day. During the Second Trimester, I went from two naps per day to none to one nap a few times a week. I downloaded an app on my phone that has MANY white noise options and play it loudly. My alarm turns the white noise off briefly when sounding and then resumes.

Phone Screen1

For some reason, though, I can’t play it at night. It keeps me up and makes me a bit anxious. I’ve also noticed that when I turn the white noise on, the dogs calm down and nap near me. I guess that’s one trick up my sleeve for when baby comes!

Then, there is lotion. I had to go from the Vaseline brand to Aveeno because of the Stearic Acid. I developed the PUPPS rash during the beginning of this trimester. According to my doctor, Stearic Acid  can worsen the rash and make you more miserable. I specifically started using the Aveeno Skin Relief 24-Hour Moisturizing lotion and body wash.

Related image

Here we go again with the temperature thing, but sometimes sticking the lotion bottle in the fridge for a few minutes brings the sweetest relief.

My last, and most important, must have for the Second Trimester is a mental health professional.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not saying that every (pregnant) person needs to seek mental health help, is depressed, or anxious. This is a very person-specific topic and what works for one may not work for another, or even be necessary. 

I was diagnosed with prenatal anxiety and depression towards the end of the Second Trimester. I already have a history of anxiety, pre-pregnancy. I probably should have spoken up sooner to my doctor, but hindsight … Anyway, while medication has helped, I truly feel that talking to someone is going to make the most (long-term) change. Working on managing, intervening, and ultimately preventing anxiety/depression “flair ups” has been so beneficial that I truly wish I started earlier in the pregnancy.

What are or were some of your Second Trimester Must Haves?

alaina

The Middle | Second Trimester Recap

During the First Trimester Recap, we left off with week 13 and the beginning of 14 and found out we are having a BOY!

Month 4

This month seemed to be filled with a lot of business, but looking back seems relatively uneventful. Funny, how that works! During the 14th week, we had yet another ultrasound! He’s still measuring in the 97th percentile for height and weight (YIKES!). His heartbeat was nice and strong, but it took a while to count the beats because he moves around like crazy! The 16th week appointment confirmed that his heart rate is around 150 bpm and that the small visible movement I see is, in fact, Baby!

Around the 15 week mark, the all day nausea and vomiting was replace with early morning nausea. Luckily, this ends within the first 20 minutes of waking! With the lack of nausea came these horribly vivid nightmares, though, and I’m not sure which is worse. I wake in a cold sweat, sometimes yelling, and my heart racing. It is the MOST bizarre thing to not know if the dream is a dream or reality.

During week 17, Michael felt the baby move for the first time. We’re saying it’s the first time because it was unmistakibly Baby. There was no question in his mind if it was my stomach growling, gas, or a muscle spasm! It was the coolest thing to watch his face as the Baby flipped and kicked and he realized the strength this kid has!

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Lastly, and most excitingly, we picked a name! Hello, Michael William, III. While we are still playing it by ear, we are thinking that we will call him by his middle name — William.

Month 5

By week 18, the vivid dreams subsided, but by week 19 they were back in full force!

This month my feet and hands have decided that swelling and stiffness is a new nightly ritual. I officially do not fit into most of my shoes or sandals, and flip flops are quickly becoming my new best friend! Also, wedding rings are off and I am wearing my grandmother’s Claddagh ring in it’s place.

Michael is also able to consistently feel Baby during hard kicking times and/or can see him when he settles into a certain side. Now, at least, he understands why I will say “ow” or “stop it” to myself. I swear I’m not crazy; this boy is just that strong!

The final week of Month 5 we went to NY and then my family came back with us to Colorado. With flying to NY, driving around, flying to CO, then walking, and visiting galore the swelling was at an all time high! We went to the mountains and spent the day in Breckinridge, went to the Garden of the Gods, Ikea, the mall, and so much more! It was fun, but holy moly I was exhausted by week’s end!

My parent’s were also able to see the baby at our anatomy scan, too! He’s starting to look like a real baby, but of course, was being stubborn. Because his face wasn’t 100% visible, we get to repeat the scan at 30 weeks!

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Our New York trip to see my brother graduate college!

Month 6

For the entire pregnancy we (I) have been terrified of every little twinge, tweak, and movement from both myself and Baby. I figured that was expected considering our journey to get here, but now I’m getting very overwhelmed and weepy. The planner and organizer in me is starting to freak out that I can’t seem to get things done. With that being said, I think the nesting stage is starting because all I can think about are completing tasks before he gets here.

I traveled back to NY for a Baby Dinner Celebration during week 22! Flying increased my incredibly swollen feet which was not fun and it took them forever to return to their non-swollen state. The week/dinner, though, was great! I got to see friends and family, get a mani/pedi, go to my favorite ice cream shop (twice), and go shopping! After coming home, though, I hit the wall and was exhausted. For the next week, it took everything in me to get out of bed and do something, anything, during the day.

At my 24 week appointment, we examined my hands and feet, talked about how I’m feeling and handling the pregnancy, and came up with a plan. I had an ultrasound to rule out blood clots, a quick ultrasound to check on Baby, a urine test to check on protein, and was diagnosed with prenatal depression and anxiety. It was quite a week.

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Month 7

Because of my 24 week appointment, week 25 was full of discussion and seeking help. I found a therapist, spoke to numerous people about medications, and started taking Zoloft. Because of the Zoloft, my nausea and dizziness came back in full force, but I’ve been told that it will go away with time. For the first few days, I had some insane insomnia at night and was exhausted all day. This, too, was because of the Zoloft, but has since abated.

To be honest, I’m not sure how this whole Zoloft thing is going to go and it makes me a bit nervous, but time will tell! On the positive side, the work that I’m doing with the behavioral cognitive therapist is challenging, but going well. 

Closing out the second trimester with a bang was not something I was anticipating. Unfortunately, we rang in week 26 with a fall down the stairs and my landing belly first onto the lawnmower! This lovely fall down the garage stairs placed us in the Emergency Room and then Labor and Delivery so that we could be monitored for over 6 hours. Better safe than sorry! The baby is unharmed, but I got some lovely scrapes and bruises on my knee and stomach and injured my abdominal wall! Yay!

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Now that we are headed into the third trimester, all things baby prep are in full swing!

General Info
Weight: still very much, and happily, unknown!
Cravings/Aversions: really just cold food, but in the last few week COLD CHOCOLATE AND ICE WATER are my go to items!!
Sleep: comes and goes, not up as often, but still multiple times a night. No longer able to lay on my back, even propped up. Having a hard time getting to sleep. I’m lucky if I get a solid 2-3 hours at a time.
Medications: Prenatal with methylated folate (3 pills/day), Baby Aspirin (81mg AM), Zyrtec (10mg AM), Pepcid (20 mg AM), Zoloft (50mg/day)
Misc.: PUPPS comes and goes, seemed to become milder as the second trimester continued.

alaina

My Summer Essentials

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY !

It officially feels like summer here in Colorado! After living in southern states for the last 4+ years, and never escaping the heat, it was nice to be reintroduced to summertime!

This year I was so looking forward to laying in the sun, relaxing by the community pool, and living in easy breezy clothes. What this summer is ACTUALLY looking like is living in the AC, under fans, and in front of the freezer, I have yet to visit the pool, and am living in shorts, sports bras, and dresses. Oh pregnancy, how you’ve changed things! 

Because we’ve had a lot happen this year (moving states, moving homes, jobs, baby) and are high risk, we plan to stick close to home this summer! Luckily, there is enough to do/explore in our area that I’m pretty sure we will be totally fine! Anyway, because of our homebody/pregnancy state, my essentials list looks a tad different from a “normal” summer.

Beauty

Summer Beauty

facial wash|moisturizer|sunscreen|mascara|eyebrow pencil|lipstick|hair clip

Fashion

This makes me laugh because, this year, comfort and keeping cool is the name of the game. Style is just an added bonus!

The dress here is the only non-maternity clothing piece, but fits me better now than pre-pregnancy. Note, that the dress’ link is for the maternity style. Old Navy is currently out of the non-pregnancy style. 

I have the shorts in the light, distressed wash, a white wash, and a dark wash.

Summer Fashion

dress|shorts|skirt|tops|body shaper|baseball cap|shoes

Swim

Summer Swim

The swimwear is not maternity. I simply sized up until the bikini pieces fit me!

swimsuit top 1|swimsuit top 2|swimsuit bottom|hat|flip-flops|sunglasses|bag

Life

Summer time to me means catching up on reading and podcasts! I just finished this book and really enjoyed reading it. I think this book will be my favorite summer read!

I, also, just found this podcast. They are quick 30-45 minute discussions of now-solved cold cases. I mainly use podcasts as background noise, but these I find myself stopping and listening to the stories.

Summer Life

book|water|podcast|notebook

Don’t forget to check out Instagram, as there is a follow me around segment today!

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Baby Preparation | Freezer Meals | Part 1

We are close to the final countdown! From the very beginning, we were told our goal for this pregnancy was 34 weeks (delivery after this mark will be bonus). We’re also preparing for the potential of bed rest, but who knows if and when that’ll happen. Well, here we are EIGHT weeks from that goal…TIME TO START FINAL BABY PREP!

For us, Baby Prepping involves food! We like to eat out on occasion, but really love home-cooked meals. We knew that planning some breakfasts, lunches, and a lot of dinners would keep us fueled with food we know that we like, allow us to grab and go, and really give us time to just focus on our new little family without needing to think about shopping, cooking, and cleaning/preparing meals.

Like the title says, this is Part 1 of the Baby Preparation/Freezer Meals series! Stay tuned for more posts following how I buy, cook, and store these items.

The first thing we did was make a list of meals/dishes we like to eat and knew would freeze well and could be easily reheated (stove/oven, crockpot, toaster oven). Fish, chicken bakes, chilis, pizzas, stir fry, pasta dishes, egg bakes, and muffins!

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General meal list that will freeze well

We then went through and decided how many of each dish we’d create. We figured a good guide would be to have 3 dinner meals per week for 6 weeks. This would allow for leftovers, lunches, and/or extra for when visitors stopped by. We also are making enough food for 3 weeks of lunches for Mike to bring to work and about 3 weeks of warm breakfasts for both of us.

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Ingredients list for each meal

After deciding on what we wanted to make and store in the freezer, we made another small list for each meal time. This list consists of quick, easy, non-(or not as)perishable items that can be made into single-serving or family-sized dishes. This helped us to decide what we wanted to slowly stock (and then keep stocked) in the house.

The final pre-prep box to check off was making sure we had the non-food items to help cook and store the food. For us, this meant buying a chest freezer (we bought this one over the weekend while it’s on sale), different storage containers (foil pans, plastic bags, aluminum foil, plastic wrap), and cooking trays (muffin tins).

All of this pre-prep work will help us to buy the correct ingredient amounts, purchase the food when on sale/with a coupon, and to cook and store efficiently in the coming weeks!

Don’t forget to join me on Instagram to follow the cooking adventure in the coming weeks! You’ll see it on Instagram, as it’s happening–the good, the bad, and the messy!

alaina