Baby Preparation | Maintaining Freezer Meal Organization | Part 4

One of the most challenging things I find is maintaining a system. Cleaning, cooking, starting a new habit…it doesn’t matter what it is, finding a practical way to maintain anything can be HARD!

It took a bit of trial and error, but I finally came up with a system that works for maintaining our pre-made freezer meals.

FM4

If you have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to this Freezer Meal prep work, you can go and get caught up with these two posts–Freezer Meals Part 1 and Freezer Meals Part 2.

I had a few guidelines that I was hoping to follow. This system needed to be simple, SUPER easy to use, and easy to find the items. With parents/family visiting, I want them to be able to utilize the system with very little (or no) guidance.

The first maintenance step actually started during the cooking and bagging process. I labeled every bag/container with the following:

Meal name
Ingredient/add-in instructions
Cooking instructions.

Each bag was then placed in the freezer with a bit of order. Going from left to right, and top to bottom we have

  • Breakfast muffins, egg scrambles, fried potatoes, waffles, English muffins
  • Lasagnas, chicken bakes
  • Cookie dough
  • Kung Pao chicken, stir fry kits, teriyaki salmon
  • Chili, Chicken soup kits, chicken soap broths
  • (In the basket) Taco, pizza, and fajita kits
  • Miscellaneous extras–bread, bacon, veggies, chicken breasts, etc.

Knowing what I had and the number of containers, I set about looking for an easy maintenance system.

After some trial and error, I came up with this simple, easy to use system.

A check-off list!

Every item is accounted for and each vertical line represents a bag or container. These lists are broken up into 3 sections.

Breakfast

Meals

Miscellaneous

It’s pretty simple. These lists sit taped to the top of the freezer, in a sheet protector. A dry erase marker sits near the lists to check things off as they are removed from the freezer and brought into the house. If you want a FREE printable version click here!

It isn’t a new state of the art system, but it’s simplicity and functionality work for this chaotic time! 

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 | 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!

IMG_0583.jpeg
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.

IMG_0566.jpeg
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