#freezer30: Back to School Edition

It is Back to School, and I thought there was no better time to do another round of #freezer30 to ease into the school night dinners, and also have healthy breakfasts and lunch box staples ready to go! My oldest is starting TK in just a few short days, and aside from the fact I have had to deal with the mommy emotions of my baby growing up, I am also stressed because I now need to pack a daily lunch for a very picky eater (her daycare/preschool has provided lunch since she was a baby). So having some ready to go sides (her lunch will also have fruit, yogurt, and a sandwich which I plan on meal prepping on Sundays) to throw in each week will be a ton of help!

To recap, my family has spent the last few months eating freezer meals on our busy weeknights that I batch cook once every 4-6 weeks (with vacations and special events, our meals generally last us longer than a month, we also eat out or make fresh food on the weekends).  The meals I make attempt to check all the boxes: healthy, kid friendly, interesting for an adult, easy to prep, easy to heat up, and overall regular everyday food you look forward to eating. This has changed our lives, significantly. We are saving a ton of money, a ton of time, and a ton of stress. The hardest part is deciding to do it. The prep and the time feel daunting, trust me, I know, it took me YEARS to decide to do this. Below I have shared my tips on how to tackle the prep, and hopefully provide enough insight to show this is worth it, so, so, worth it.

  • Prep staple ingredients first: chop the onions, garlic, etc. Having everything chopped ahead of time will make the meal prepping so much faster.
  • Once ingredients are chopped, prep meals in groups. For example, I do all the chicken marinade dishes first, then move on to the meatball dishes. Prepping in groups makes it much more manageable.
  • Freeze meals in single night portions, freezer meals do not make good leftovers.
  • I adjust recipe size based on family needs – some I double, some I halve.
  • No need to pre-cook the food except for the soups, browning ground meat and baked goods.
  • Store marinated meats, soups, and sides in Ziplocks, and casserole like dishes in disposable aluminum trays (I recommended the small trays).
  • Always plan on adding a fresh ingredient to each meal the day you make it, it helps keep things light and take out that freezer feel.

Below are this round’s recipes! This is my biggest round yet. If this feels daunting, then just pick out your favorites, enough for a week or two, and see how it goes. Also, feel free to check out past #freezer30 rounds here and here to get more recipe ideas. Alter recipes as needed that fits you and your family’s needs, I rarely make recipes like for like. Lastly, have fun and think of all the weekday free time you will have!

Breakfast

Lunch Box

Dinner

More Tips

  • I will be freezing herbed olive oil ice cubes so i can easily add to fresh veggies or grains that I will be prepping with the freezer meal.
  • Also try pre-cooking and freezing grains or blanching fresh veggies for quick weeknight side dishes!

I have shared my shopping list below. I have broke it down by my actual shopping list, and what is assumed to be a pantry staple. My list is tailored towards my family (no mushrooms on my list!), so feel free to edit as needed. Also, I beg you to not put yourself through the misery of going to the store for these ingredients, and instead do grocery delivery with your local grocer. Of all aspects of this challenge, this is the only thing I will insist you do.

As always, please share your feedback, and tips and tricks you may have, or any other insight you want to share.

I am all ears!

Shopping List for a Family of 4 (2 Adults & 2 Young Children)

  • 24 eggs
  • 5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1.25 cups of shredded mozerella
  • 6 slices of cheese
  • 1 pack of English muffins
  • 6 slices of lunch meat
  • I pack of turkey bacon
  • 1 container Rolled oats
  • Flax seeds
  • Dry coconut
  • 2 cans Pumpkin puree
  • Vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 large tub Vanilla yogurt
  • 4 peaches Peaches
  • 2 pints of strawberries
  • 1 bunch Bananas
  • 1 orange
  • Coconut sugar
  • Hemp seeds
  • 4 lbs ground turkey
  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 7 yellow onions
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 jars of marinara sauce
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 16 cups chicken stock
  • Light cream cheese
  • I bunch of green onions
  • 2 limes
  • 1 box of whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1 butternut squash (I recommend getting a pre-chopped one)
  • 3 zucchini
  • 1 small jar of Salsa
  • 1 small can of tomato sauce
  • 1 tub of light ricotta
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans
  • ½ cup of corn
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 lbs of stew meat (chuck roast cut into chunks)
  • 5 carrots
  • 2 turnips
  • 4 lemons
  • 1 piece of ginger
  • 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 18 thin cut chicken breasts
  • Hoisin sauce
  • 1 package of firm tofu
  • 1 can of water chestnuts
  • 1 package chicken italian sausage

Ingredients in Pantry

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Chili flakes
  • Coconut oil
  • Maple syrup
  • Vanilla extract
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Quinoa
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Chili powder
  • Taco seasoning
  • Peanut butter
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Rice vinegar

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