I have decided to do something great. Or it could be crazy.
I have decided to have a full and ready freezer by the time this kid makes its’ appearance in March.
So what does that mean?
It means that I will have a complete plan of every meal we will eat from the middle of February through March. It also means that I will have a goodly number of those meals in the freezer ready to pop in the oven.
No, I do not plan to keep Stouffer’s or Banquet or even Schwann’s in business for the next 6 months.
I plan to cook almost everything myself. Yep, mostly homemade stuff.
I realized that after Phoebe was born, there was about 6 weeks where we ate a lot of junk because I was just not up to cooking healthy meals and Moo wasn’t up to gourmet cooking either.
Don’t misunderstand that. My husband is a great cook. He’s the only man I’ve ever met who doesn’t know how to grill, but he’s a great cook.
It was just that by the time he got home from dinner, listened to whatever post-partum rant I had going on, and decompressed from work, the only thing to cook were burgers or hot dogs.
I have decided this time will be different. I have decided that this time, the only grocery trips right after the Nugget arrives will be for fresh milk, bread and whatever I’m craving.
So how to plan something like this?
First, I needed to know how many meals we were talking about. I decided that this calendar needs to start the week before my due date because I’ll have the c-section about a week before that. My meal planning cycle starts on Saturdays so I started my calendar on the Saturday of the week before. I also decided that since I will at that time be 9 months pregnant, there’s no way that I’ll want to do anything much besides lie on the couch like a beached whale anyway.
I want the meals to be planned through March and again, since my plans always run Saturday through Friday, that takes us through April 1st. That is a total of 6 weeks. That’s 6 weeks of breakfasts, lunches and dinners. I also wanted to include snacks but decided to give up that – at least for now.
So 42 breakfasts, 42 lunches, 42 dinners! WOW!!!
The next thing is to come up with things to fill in. I came up with a list of everything I can and like to cook. I decided the like to cook would be important since I don’t want this to be a huge mountain of dread.
I came up with a list of 50 items that I can cook/prepare. I say prepare cuz I’ve got cold cereal on that list. YES, I COUNTED CEREAL. MY KID LOVES IT!!!
Not every one of these meals will freeze beautifully to quote “Steel Magnolias”. So I had to notate which ones will have to be made from scratch – like a big salad – we love big salads in this house - and also the ones that were slow cooker meals. I also noted where something was a good lunch option or would also work for breakfast (this is important cuz who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner?)
My goal is for every meal to be something that requires less than 20 minutes of prep time. Note, I did not say 20 minutes of cooking time. Most of the meals that I plan to cook ahead need to thaw in the fridge overnight and then be cooked in the oven for at least 30 minutes.
I already do a lot of this now. It’s why I love my slow cooker. Take 10 minutes in the morning to put together an amazing meal, throw it into the cooker on low and it’s magically done in time for dinner.
One example of something that totally fits my requirements is my homemade veggie beef soup. It’s simple simple simple. It takes 2-1/2 to 3 hours to cook, but most of that is simmering time. There’s very little prep work – only about 10 minutes of chopping. Then, all I have to do is keep an eye on it. If I want to add homemade cornbread, I just set a timer for an hour before dinner is done to remind me, then at that time, I throw together the ingredients and stick it in the oven. It adds maybe another 10 minutes of prep time.
Part of what I’m trying to avoid come March is that feeling that there’s nothing to eat – even though I’ve got a cabinet full of stuff – but it’s all going to TAKE SO MUCH WORK… <insert whining> when I’m already tired… <more whining> and then we’ll have to go to the groooooooccccceerrrrryyyyyy stoooooooooorrrrrrrreeee.
In my head, I’m thinking is that if I’ve got something already planned and the majority of it is in my freezer or thawing in my refrigerator and all I’ve got to do is wander into the kitchen at 5:30 and throw it into the oven, then I’ve got no real excuse.
And Mickey D’s will not make any money off of us this Spring cuz I’m too <whining> TIIIIIRRRRRREEEDDDD
I’ll post my list when I get it done…