Showing posts with label tips and tricks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tips and tricks. Show all posts

Monday, July 7, 2014

Slow-Cooker Freezer Cooking!

Hey all! 

I have gotten some questions about my freezer cooking, so I thought I would take some time to share my tips/tricks/method to the madness. Well, there's a method, but it's still pretty much madness!

Just a warning, this post is a little on the longer side. But I promise, if you're interested in freezer cooking at all, it's worth it! 

I don't know about you, but I have a really hard time being domestic during the school year. I try to eat healthy, but after a long day of teaching, grading, lesson planning, dealing with parents, etc. I have zero desire to make dinner when I get home. And let's be honest, my husband is less than talented in the kitchen. Not to mention his idea of healthy is putting peppers on a pizza. I'm not even kidding. 

During my first year of teaching I realized that I wasn't eating well and that my wifely duties were slipping so I devised a plan! I scoured the internet for slow-cooker recipes. 
(If you aren't familiar with the term slow-cooker, it just refers to anything you can cook in a crockpot! That confused me at first!)  I  compiled the recipes I wanted to try, went grocery shopping and prepped everything! I even made a weeknight menu. I have to be honest though, my first attempt took forever. But have no fear, you can learn from my mistakes! I have learned some time saving tips and tricks!

Usually, I will do all my prep once a month! You heard right, once a month! It's wonderful to get it all done in one day. Then, I pull out a meal before I leave for work every day, my husband puts it into the crock pot at noon (it's nice having him home to do that, but not necessary!) and by the time I get home, there's a hot meal ready and waiting!

Since it's summer, I'm only doing 14 meals. We go out to eat and BBQ a lot in the summer. 

So here it goes!

Step 1: Gather your recipes! 
I don't need to tell you how amazing Pinterest is. I get a lot of the recipes I use from there. Below is a link to my freezer cooking board if you wanna peek around!

Another great resource that I have found is the book Don't Panic: Dinner's in the Freezer. This book has a lot of great recipes AND the best part is that it gives you the conversions in case you want to double, triple or even multiply a recipe by 6. I don't know what the word would be for that….It's very handy!

I like to switch up my recipes every month. Here are a few of the new recipes I used this time around!

Step 2:  Create a shopping list! 
When putting together your shopping list, don't forget to check for ingredients you already have. I know that sounds obvious, but I can't tell you how many times I've gotten ready to cook and then realized I didn't have enough of a certain ingredient. And it is super frustrating to have to stop in the middle to run to the store! 

Here is my little grocery list that I like to use! It helps (well, it helps me at least) to have my items broken down by the aisle they will be in! You can get the freebie by clicking on it below!

**When you're shopping don't forget containers for your freezer meals**

 Gallon Ziploc bags work best and store flat if you have limited freezer space like I do! I also use a lot of aluminum containers from Dollar Tree!

Step 3: Shop 'til you drop!
Hopefully not literally! Having your list outlined helps to make the trip quick and painless!

Step 4: Prep

Make sure your counters are clean and clear. This process tends to take up a lot of space!

Gather all of your ingredients on the counter to make the process go by quicker! That way I don't have to dig around for stuff once I get into full on bag stuffin' mode!

 Here are all my grocery store items! I forgot to take a photo after I pulled out the stuff I already had at home!

When I first started freezer cooking I tried to do one recipe at a time. And let me tell you, it took much longer than necessary. You have to clean cutting boards between items and it becomes a hassle! Now, I look for ingredients that are similar among recipes to prep all at once! Typically that will be your onions, peppers and meats!

 Get the meat going first. (note: most meats don't need to be pre-cooked but there are a few I like to pre-cook to save time the day of). If your recipe calls for ground beef or shredded chicken, those are the meats I would pre cook! 

While the meat is cooking, you can start dicing the veggies! 

Also make sure you get out your Ziplocs and a Sharpie to write with!

Step 5: Label bags
Most ingredients can be frozen but there are a few things that don't freeze well and need to be added the day of! Here are some of the no-no's for freezing:
- potatoes
- cheeses
- sour cream
- yogurt
- lettuce

**Most recipes will tell you what can freeze and what to add the day of**

On my bags I write the name of the recipe (obvs) and then anything that needs to be added the day of. I will also write what to serve it with (ex. if it is to be served over rice).

**You can freeze the water/milk in recipes, but I like to add it the day of! It's just a personal preference, it doesn't impact the outcome of the recipe!**

Step 6: Throw stuff in bags!
Yes, it is as fun as it sounds! It doesn't have to be pretty, in fact, the more mixed up the better! Here is where you can do one recipe at a time! All the ingredients that needed to be pre-prepped are ready to grab and go. Just throw it all in!

Lay bag flat and squeeze out as much air as possible. And voila! Done!

Now just repeat with each recipe!

**Another note, since it is just myself and my husband I get a lot more out of 1 recipe. Sometimes I can get 3 even 4 meals out of 1 recipe!**

Step 7: Enjoy!
Now you're done and don't' have to worry about dinner for awhile! Enjoy a glass of wine, or whatever beverage you like, and have your spouse do the clean up. Fair is fair, I think.

I hope that was at least mildy helpful! If you have any questions let me know! 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Trying to Keep My Health in Check During These Crazy Times

Well, it's official. I have lost my mind. We are smack dab in the middle of our end of the year countdown. Between grades, cum folders, end of the year festivities, packing, moving schools, etc, etc I can barely remember my name!

But I wanted to pop in and share a few things! I have gotten several questions about my health/fitness tips and tricks. I thought this was the perfect time to share because during all the hustle and bustle at the end of the year it can be really difficult to make time for our own health. Here are my 2 lifesavers right now!

The first one is this bad boy! I posted a picture of this on Instagram and it blew up! So I will share more about it! This little guy is my lifesaver. Fun fact about me: I am the absolute WORST at drinking water. Like seriously, I don't know how I'm not dead. It's not that I'm drinking other things, I just don't drink anything at all. SO a few years ago my husband bought me this and while I still struggle to reach my water goals, it has definitely had a huge impact and made me more aware! I like to see my average oz/hr go up! Weird, I know. 

Upon set up you get to input your water intake goal. Mine is set for 60oz. The bottle tracks how much you drink, your average oz/hr and what percentage of your goal you are currently at. Best $30 I ever spent! :)

Get your Hydracoach {here}

The next thing is this app called 30 Day Fitness Challenges! It is free on the Apple app store (I'm not sure if it is available for Android)! I found it a few weeks ago because a friend of mine was looking for a 30 day challenge. So far, it has been great! It has been difficult to get my regular workouts in with the school year coming to an end and my mile long to-do list. This app reminds me every day to do my workout. And it is only 2 moves so it can be done quickly. NO EXCUSES. 

It can be difficult to balance everything in this crazy thing called life. But it is always important to keep your health a priority. These 2 tools help keep me focused even when I can't go all out at the gym like I want to. Every little bit helps. 

I hope you guys are all ending the year strong or enjoying some much deserved down time. You all rock! I am so happy to have started this blogging adventure and am excited to see where it takes me. :)

Our Countdown:

9 - Marker day: We got to use markers for all of our activities today. Something so simple, but they loved it! And I loved the no prep!

8 - Glow stick day: We will get to turn off the lights and use glow sticks to read/write.

7 - Students become the teacher: We will work in partners to come up with words of wisdom for the incoming 1st graders.

6 - Compliment day: We will go around and write one compliment for each of our friends. I am going to compile these on Wordle for an end of the year gift.

5 - Field trip day: We're going on our field trip! That was convenient for planning :)

4 - Letter day: We will write a letter to next years teacher.

3 - PJ and stuffed animal day: We will wear our PJs to school and bring our favorite stuffed animal. We will read to our animals, write them a letter and help teach them the rules of the school.

2 - Game day: We will spend the day playing board games that we bring from home!

1 - Movie day: We are going to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and compare it to Chocolate Fever the book we've been reading!

Can't believe the year is almost over! Going to soak up every last minute :) Happy Monday!