I don’t know how to juggle. I have never been able to, even though I have tried many times. I can’t even do the first step in juggling: simply throwing 2 of the balls between your hands at the same time. Now that I have gone back to work, I often feel like a clown in a circus trying to juggle all of my responsibilities: work, hubby, boys, dinner, cleaning, baths, storytime, cuddling…. and the list goes on and on. Everyday I have 3 very precious balls… I mean boys, up in the air and I am trying not to leave any of them unattended or feeling slighted. Most days there just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to feel like I have done a good job giving everyone what they need. My time is precious, especially the hours between work and bedtime.
Since returning to work, I really miss the time I was able to spend with my boys and that has left me in a desperate quest to find something….anything I can do to carve out a little extra time each day for them. The first thing I did was start to get up earlier so that we could all eat breakfast together (did I mention I am NOT a morning person so this has really been a challenge….thank you coffee) and the second thing I did was decide I was going to try to make dinner time faster and easier. This brougth me to the decision to try out the freezer meal fad covering the pages of Facebook and Pinterest.
I was pleasantly surprised at the time and effort required to assemble these culinary shortcuts. Finding the recipes and deciding which meals I was going to include in my trial run seemed to be the most time consuming part. I had searched for usable recipes that sounded good and were dairy free or could be made dairy free. For my trial run, I found a lot of good options at www.sixsisterstuff.com. No need to reinvent the wheel when there are lots of good recipes floating around. Next I made a shopping list, careful not to include anything I already had in my pantry.
Here are some tips I picked up during my first trial run:
- Include 4-5 chicken recipes in your group of meals: it is convenient and economical to buy the large packs of chicken breasts for use in these recipes. I personally went to BJs and purchased a 10lb bag of chicken breasts.
- Once you decide which recipes you want to make, double the items necessary for that recipe so you can make two of those meals. This will eliminate the need to find 14 new meals (you can just find 7 and have each meal twice).
- Consider whether you want to include extra meat in each bag so that you can have leftovers for lunch the next day.
- Label all bags first with Meal name, cooking instructions and what side you plan to have with it if a side is necessary before you put the ingredients in.
- I have seen suggestions that you use the crockpot liners. I found this to be an expensive option if you are using your crockpot every night.
Hubby was extremely impressed as we flew through the week without the usual hustle and bustle at dinnertime. I was able to come home and play with the boys while I threw on a simple side like pasta or rice. Clean up is super easy and I achieved my goal of more time in the evenings and less stress. All in all I would say I am sold on freezer meals and I will be posting more recipes in the near future as I try new things. If you are dairy/soy free stay tuned, I have some interesting ideas up my sleeve.
Enjoy, stop thinking about it and get to stuffing some freezer bags!
PLEASE NOTE THAT THESE RECIPES HAVE BEEN ALTERED SO THAT THEY ARE DAIRY FREE AND SOY FREE. I HAVE INDICATED THOSE SUBSTITUTIONS IN RED. I AM NOT A DIETICIAN OR A DOCTOR, I AM SIMPLY A MOM WITH A LOT OF EXPERIENCE CUTTING OUT DAIRY. PLEASE READ ALL INGREDIENTS IF ALLERGENS ARE A CONCERN TO YOU.
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