10 Things I Always Keep in My Freezer for Quick Meals

freezer

It’s been hot and humid this week. And, of course, my air conditioner chose now to conk out. So, while we’re waiting for the AC repairman to fit us in, the last thing on EARTH I want to do is heat up my kitchen. Thank goodness for my stocked freezer of ready to eat and low prep meals! Here are 10 things I always have in my freezer.

1. Chicken Soup
Of course everyone loves chicken noodle or chicken and rice soup when they’re under the weather. So, instead of waiting until someone gets sick, I make a big batch of chicken soup and freeze it in 6 C increments. (2 adult servings plus two little kid servings)

Do not freeze noodles or rice in the soup. Cook these up as you’re reheating the soup.

 

2. Chili
Whenever I buy ground beef, I plan to make at least one batch of chili. Often, I double the recipe so I can have some to freeze. It’s perfect to reheat for a quick but hearty meal.
Read my post: <<5 Things to Do With Leftover Chili>>

 

3. Black Beans
Surprisingly, cooked beans freeze really well! I freeze in 2 C increments if using as a side or in soup, and 4 C increments if using for a main dish.
Read my post: <<5 Ideas for Leftover Black Beans>>

 

4. Pizza
Homemade pizza dough actually freezes quite well. Simply pull it out to thaw and let it rest before rolling out. Although, I have to admit that I typically store a few Trader Joes Organic Cheese Pizzas for a quick meal.

 

5. Frozen Fruit
When it’s 102 and humid out, frozen fruit is my lifesaver. Smoothies are one of our favorite light suppers (serve with PBJ sandwiches, soft pretzels, or French bread.)

 

6. Frozen Veggies
I always have organic broccoli, organic corn, and organic peas on hand to throw in soups or cook up as a quick side dish.

 

7. Organic Chicken Breasts
I love throwing chicken into my crock pot for a simple meal shortcut that doesn’t heat up the kitchen. Since we choose to spend money on organic meat, we have to make it go a little further. So shredded meat for soups, stir fries, salads, and pasta dishes allows us to enjoy quality meat with the most bang for our buck.
Read my post: <<Kitchen Hack: Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken>>

 

8. Organic Ground Beef
I usually buy the 4 lb. packs (three individually wrapped packs of 1.3 lbs) of organic ground beef from Costco, and keep at least two sections in my freezer at all times. I make tacos, meatballs, burgers, and chili.

 

9.  Wild Salmon
My kids love salmon, and I always keep some wild salmon in the freezer for a quick grilled meal with rice and veggies. It’s super healthy and super quick to prepare.

 

10. Meatballs
I cook up 4 lbs of meatballs at a time (makes about 40), and freeze them in increments of 8, which is perfect for one meal plus leftovers.
See my post: <<10 Ideas for Leftover or Frozen Meatballs>>

February’s Monthly Menu

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Last month I experimented with a monthly menu plan rather than my usual weekly menu plan. It actually worked pretty well–better than I was expecting, so I decided to plan a monthly menu for February as well. I know it’s already the 9th, but we were gone all last week (more on that in another post), so I’ll start with today and have 3 weeks to plan instead of 4.

I try to clean out my freezer regularly so I always keep things fresh, and here’s what I plan to use from my freezer this month:

Proteins
Pork Roast
Stew Beef
Salmon Filets

Fruit and Vegetables
Broccoli
Assorted Frozen Fruit

Homemade Precooked Meals 
Spanish Brown Rice
Carnitas
Spaghetti Sauce

In addition, we are getting about 18 eggs a week from our chickens, so I have one meal every week that uses eggs as the main protein. I just purchased some organic chicken breasts, organic ground beef, and bacon at Costco. What I don’t use this week, I will put in the freezer for future meals.

Since I like having options, I’ve been planning 6 meals for the week, and choosing which day gets which meal depending on what I feel like, time, appointments, etc. One night a week I either prepare something simple (sandwiches, frozen pizza, leftovers, etc), or have take out.

February’s Monthly Menu:

Week of 2/9-2/15

Week of 2/16-2/22

  • French Toast and Fresh Fruit
  • Spaghetti, French Bread, Green Salad
  • BBQ Pork Sandwiches, Coleslaw, Chips
  • BBQ Shredded Pork with Coleslaw over Corncakes
  • Beef Stew and Biscuits
  • Beef Stew and Biscuits (this is always better the next day!)

Week of 2/23-3/1

Book Review: Love Letters from God

Stinker loves getting mail, just like any other kid. She’s been having fun being a pen pal to her friend who lives across the country, so she’s always excited to check the mail to see if anything came for her.

Love Letters from God Bible Stories is a new children’s book written by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Sophie Allsopp. It presents a handful of favorite Bible stories, each story accompanied by a verse, some wonderful illustrations, and a lift the flap envelope that is written as a love letter to the child from God. I love the layout of the book and the illustrations, and Stinker was duly impressed with each “letter from God.” There is even a letter at the very end for your child to write a letter to God.

The only con to the book was the creative liberty some of the stories took. I understand that it is a Children’s book, and the stories have to be appealing to kids, but it’s still the Bible, and I don’t like anything added or taken away. In the story of Adam and Eve, Satan is presented as a snake instead of a serpent, and Eve eats an apple, instead of the fruit, as is said in the Bible. (Many of us grew up with those misnomers, so it’s not a huge deal, just something that bugged me.) However, in the story of the Loaves and Fishes, the boy with the food is named “Nathan”. Nowhere in the Bible does it mention the boy’s name, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable adding things just for the sake of entertainment.

That said, I still enjoyed the book, and I love the concept of the “love letters” from God. I only wish the creative license had been toned down.

*I received a free copy of this book from Zondervan Publishing and BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Book Review: “Good News for Weary Women”

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Being a mother is the hardest job in the world. Being a mother to a special needs child adds just a little more of everything. More stress, more exhaustion, more second-guessing, and more expectations. I’ve been going through a rough patch lately in dealing with all of Junior’s appointments, trying to keep up on his therapy routine at home, homeschooling, and keeping the house in order with food on the table. I’m tired and often weary, so I was very much looking forward to Elyse Fitzpatrick’s new book Good News for Weary Women: Escaping the bondage of to-do lists, steps, and bad advice. 
Every woman knows that there are certain societal pressures put on her from “them”. (Who exactly “they” are, we may never know.) Things like: “you must prepare all your family’s meals from scratch using only organic ingredients.” Or: “You must always be perfectly groomed with make-up done and wearing attractive clothing to keep your husband’s eye from wandering.” Or: “Your house must always look like something from a Pottery Barn catalog, spotless and smelling like fresh linen.” As a result, we feel like we must do it all, but quickly become disillusioned when we realize we can’t do it all. So, what are we, women who can barely keep their heads above water in dealing with the tasks of life, to do?
This book was a breath of fresh air. Elyse basically says that these expectations do little more than make us feel worthless. They do not encourage us, and take our eyes away from what really matters. What God wants from us. The one good work God wants us from us is to believe in Him. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “you’re only a good Christian girl if you make all your cleaning supplies from scratch and wake up at 5am to make fresh bread before your family awakens.” 
The most important thing we can do for our children is to model a strong relationship with the Lord for them, and to make them feel safe and loved. Elyse argues that impossible expectations put us on edge, and keep us from fulfilling those most important things. (How many times have I told my kids I couldn’t play because I had to clean, or yelled at them for making a mess on my clean floors? How can I model grace when I’m too busy focused on outward appearances?) 
This book really encouraged me, and it made me feel better about some of the judgmental comments I’ve received in my parenting journey. (The most painful being, “If you had more faith and prayed better, Junior would have been healed.”) It reminded me that the opinion that matters most is from God, and we remember what He said about Mary and Martha. Obviously, tasks need to be done, and the house does need to be cleaned, and food does need to be served, but sometimes the act of doing these tasks becomes more important than the outcome. (Such as, “I did all these things because I’m Supermom and I’m awesome.”, not “I did all these things so I could show my family how much I love them.)  The main point? Give yourself grace, and put more time into the relationships in your life than the to-do lists.
As a con, I think this book was a bit repetitive, and could have been a blog series instead of a book, but I did like the overall message, and have been telling my family and friends about it.
Bottom Line: 7.5*/10*   
Thank you to Tyndale Publishers for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. 

The “Ah Bahm Oo” Miracle…An Update on Junior

Junior talking to Bionic Buddy, the mascot for his cochlear implant company.

To most of you it would sound like gibberish. The meaningless jargon of a toddler, as he learns to find his voice. But to me, it’s a miracle.

“Ah bahm oo”

It represents our journey. All the fears and pain. All the things I thought I was giving up when I accepted that Junior was deaf. The dreams I thought I had to abandon because our child wasn’t “perfect” in the eyes of the world.

It represents the last two years of sacrifice, appointments, therapy, and tears.

It represents hope. Picking up the pieces and realizing that joy doesn’t come from circumstances. That miracles happen in the mundane.

Because this time, when I picked him up and said “I love you”, Junior looked at me and replied “ah bahm oo”.

The dream I had once discarded–of my child hearing me say I love you–was picked up, dusted off, and  presented to me as a gift. A gift of his not only hearing me, but telling me that he loved me too.

“Ah Bahm Oo” may mean nothing to a stranger, but to me it means everything.

Have you read Junior’s Story?

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