And baby makes three. 3 kids to feed, that is. With the boys being in preschool 2 days per week now, I really enjoy our lunches at home. They seem to be so much easier for me than packing a lunch to go. Maybe it’s because I often just warm up leftovers and cut up some fruit. Easy! And, Anna just loves to watch her brothers eat and they think it’s so fun that she gets to eat with them now.
Here’s a sample of my lunch for 3 this week. The boys had creamy chicken and black beans from the freezer, a leftover sweet potato from dinner the previous night and kiwi. Anna had porridge and sweet potato.
Creamy Chicken and Black Beans
in the slow cooker or crock pot
- 1 1/2 lb uncooked frozen boneless skinless chicken breast
- 15 oz can black beans, drained (or dried beans soaked overnight and cooked)
- 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes OR 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
- 16 oz jar salsa
- 8 oz whole fat cream cheese
- Put frozen chicken breasts in crock pot, cover with black beans, tomatoes and salsa.
- Cook on high 4-5 hours or until chicken is cooked.
- Place block of cream cheese on top. Cook for an additional 30 minutes. Stir to incorporate cream cheese into sauce. The stirring
- should cause the chicken to shred.
- Serve with brown rice and guacamole.
- Roll in tortillas and add your sides of choice.
- Put a serving on top of salad greens and add any salsa, sour cream, or guacamole.
- Put on a tortilla and make into a quesadilla.
- This is a great recipe to freeze. I just store in serving size containers that I know I want to use for lunches.
Posted by tntmck on Mar 7, 2012 in Batch
, Freezer Cooking
Ok, warmer weather is on the horizon. We love making our own cool Smoothies and Summertime Yogurt Pops, but here’s another quick idea for Frozen Yogurt Bites. Mix up whatever flavors you like best and freeze away. I could see freezing these in individual batches so you can just pull out a batch for the kids (and probably yourself) and enjoy a nice, cool treat!
Source: Uploaded by user on Pinterest
NOTE: After seriously going back down the line to at least 50 different pinners, I have yet to find the original pin. If anyone knows the source, please let me know and I will give credit.
A 10oz. bag of frozen veggies is perfect for cooking and puréeing using your favorite method, then freezing.
You might enjoy these more detailed posts:
BATCH PREP METHODS: Part I – Cooking
BATCH PREP METHODS: Part II – Storing
Well, we had a completely fun-filled, outdoor weekend for sure! The boys got to stay with their favorite babysitter, while we went canoeing with some friends. Then, we spent a day off with extended family… outside, of course! This week, I also embarked on a new adventure to make some soaked-grain breads for the freezer. The boys got to enjoy them for a snack and seemed to like them quite well. I still love making things for the freezer as they make life so much easier and a fun, holiday weekend more enjoyable without having to constantly eat out or eat packaged food.
Soaking really isn’t difficult at all. It is just an extra step to remember the day before you to plan to bake. I actually find that it makes the process easier by breaking up the time needed for preparation. I made blueberry muffins and banana bread this week. Both used whole grain flours soaked overnight.
You don’t see any grains or liquids in these pictures, because those are actually in the white bowls in the background with plates on top since they were soaked overnight.
Soaked Whole Grain Banana Bread
2 cups flour or more, depending on consistency, (I use spelt, kamut, or whole wheat) and dash of salt
½ cup extra virgin coconut oil
½ cup sour milk (you can use regular milk just add a few drops of vinegar to sour it)
½ cup warm water (only for soaking)
¾ cup raw honey
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup walnuts (optional)
The night before baking, combine the flour, oil, milk, and warm water.
Cover and leave at room temperature 12-24 hours.
Preheat oven to 350.
Add honey and eggs and mix thoroughly.
Fold in the mashed bananas.
Quickly mix in the salt and baking soda.
Pour mixture into a buttered loaf pan.
Bake for 45-60 minutes. Cool on a rack.
Soaked Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
2 TBS kefir or buttermilk (for soaking)
water (for soaking)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup rapadura or sucanat
1 1/2 cups blueberries, frozen
2 eggs, well beaten
The night before baking, combine the flour, oil, kefir or buttermilk, and just enough water to get all the flour wet.
Cover and leave at room temperature 12-24 hours.
Preheat oven to 400.
Add remaining ingredients to soaked flour and mix well.
Pour mixture into 12 muffin cups.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool.
What I Learned
Freezing is a great option for breads. Based on your needs, freeze in slices or in half loaves. Preheat the oven to 350 and reheat for 10-12 minutes. If you do loaves or half loaves, you will need to take them out of the freezer the night before.
The boys loved these, but they love anything in bread form.
I love, love, love bread. I am officially a carb lover and soaking the grains and using healthy ingredients like coconut oil makes me feel better about mine and my family’s grain consumption.
When you’re making food cubes to store in the freezer, save yourself some materials. Freeze them in regular ice cube trays, but put them inside of large freezer bags that you will use for storing in the freezer once you pop them out. This saves the extra piece of foil, cling wrap, or wax paper that you would have used to cover each tray.
Posted by tntmck on Apr 29, 2010 in Batch
, Freezer Cooking
Once you’ve made a batch of food, you’re ready to put it away in a nice, organized, easy to use fashion. When it comes to making batches of purees or even finger foods, there are many ways that you can store them in the freezer for easy access.
Ice Cube Trays and Freezer Bags
This was my go-to method for freezing purees. Once you’ve prepared your food, let it cool somewhat and then pour or spoon into ice cube trays. You can buy fancy ones made especially for baby food or you can just use regular ice cube trays. You may want to pay attention to see if they are BPA free. If yours come with lids, then cover and stack in the freezer. If not, then cover tightly with aluminum foil before stacking in the freezer. Let them freeze overnight and the next morning they’ll be ready to pop out. Do this on a clean surface and have your freezer bags ready and labeled with the name of the food and date. I use the quart size and only put 12-20 cubes in each one. I would suggest coming up with a number that is convenient to thaw at once. With two boys, I knew I could go through this money in just a couple of days. Keep in mind that this may change as your variety grows or as your baby’s appetite grows as well. Another idea is to freeze them in batches of meals mixing a number of fruits and vegetables that you would want to thaw together. Either way, avoid making extra large bags of too many cubes that you have to open and close over and over again just to get out a few for thawing.
- Be sure to measure the amount your cube trays hold so you know how much your feeding your baby per cube. Trays vary in size.
- Cubes are super easy and I think work best for just starting out and the younger babies who eat less. If your baby is eating more or your feeding more than one baby, going straight to individual dishes does save an extra freezing and transfer step.
This soon developed into my method of choice as my boys grew and were eating more at a time. I could still prepare a large batch of food, but then spoon or pour into individual containers for freezing. I use various containers, but tend to like glass best. It just seems more natural than plastic and I’ve always liked good, sturdy containers like these pyrex ones. They seem to be just the right size for my needs and I like that you can see what’s inside. I still put these inside of large gallon freezer bags so that I could seal and label the outside with the item and date. It just seems like an extra layer of protection and made for nice organization in my freezer.
- Choose dishes that will hold the amount that you can thaw and use from the refrigerator in just a couple of days.
- Remember to keep out a fresh dish for the refrigerator so that you can serve something that day or the next day for meals.
- It’s also best to put the amount for the meal in a dish to eat from with the spoon so that the remainder doesn’t have any bacteria or contamination for the rest of it’s time in the refrigerator.
- You can also expand on this idea and make dishes of whole meals that can be thawed for a quick lunch or dinner left with a babysitter when you’re away. Think ahead as to how you will use your food once thawed and make it work for you.
Cooked Pieces and Freezer Bags
This continues to be my current method for freezing some of my boys’ now favorites such as spinach bites and pancakes. Once you’ve prepared a food, let it cool, then put it in freezer bags to freeze. Remember to only fill your bags with an amount you would want to freeze at one time. This is such an easy way to prepare ahead and be ready for great, healthy food at any time.
- You may need to separate or layer some items with wax paper inside your bags or even let some things cool or solidify more in the refrigerator before transferring to bags for freezing.
- These are also great items to freeze in bags as whole meals. Mix items together that can be thawed together to be enjoyed at the same meal.
There are many, many other ways to freeze and store your food, but these are the ones that I have found to be my favorites and the most convenient over the past 10 months. I started making food for my boys before they were ready to eat and storing the cubes in the refrigerator. I no longer make cubes, but still make batches of things to freeze in individual dishes and bags. These are great to be able to pull out and thaw for a few days worth of healthy options. I’ve mentioned this before too, but these frozen foods are also great for on-the-go. You can always have a healthy snack or meal to take with you to the ball park, an afternoon at grandmas, or a road trip on the weekend.
Remember, you don’t have to have a huge amount of freezer space to make a big batch of food for your baby or toddler. I only have the side-by-side freezer in my kitchen refrigerator and still make enough to last a good bit while still keeping the rest of my frozen items in there as well. My freezer is full, but good organization will help you make the most of your space.
Please share your thoughts and ideas.
This week has seemed monumental in some strange different ways. No, we didn’t master a cup or spoon. Neither boy said a first word. We didn’t stay clean throughout a whole meal. But, cups are being held on their own and meals have been fairly quiet and uneventful. Well-rested boys make for good mealtimes. I know I’ve said this before, but I speak again from experience. We’ve just gone through a period of some wacky waking in the mornings, super tired for morning naps, and some long periods trying to fall asleep in the afternoon. This can now visibly be attributed to teething. This has happened before and when it does, mealtimes tend to go a little haywire. I don’t have any new recipes to share from this week, but do have some notes on some foods the boys devoured.
FOOD DESCRIPTION & PROCESS
These were the staples in our meal list this week.
- Cheese Fingers – made and frozen last week
- Spinach Bites – made and frozen last week
- Baked Sweet Potato Fries – made more this week, froze some extras
- Carrots – thawed from the freezer
- Green Beans – steamed from frozen, organic bag
- Tofu – cut in pieces and mixed with other foods
- Porridge – variations on oats, brown rice, lentils, black beans
- Eggs – my boys eat them scrambled and a little dry so they’re easier to pick up pieces
- Cottage Cheese – fed on a spoon…it’s a favorite
- Apples – a favorite of mine, too
- Toast – while wheat bread with real butter and sometimes melted cheese
- Pork Chops – they didn’t eat them with us, but enjoyed some grilled leftovers
- Chuck Roast – some tender meat from the crock pot with pinto beans and tomatoes
- Bananas, oatmeal, avocado, applesauce, cheerios, Graham crackers, and Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies were in the menu, too.
WHAT I LEARNED
Keeping it simple can be a good thing for everyone involved. I was also reminded that freezer is my friend and thawing some of the basics sure came in handy.
Everything still seems to get a generally good reaction. Even the pork and fish were scarfed up without hesitation. I can definitely see some preferences, especially in the order they choose to eat things and which things require seconds, but we hardly have a plate that doesn’t get emptied.
When you’re making something, make extra for the freezer. You’ll thank yourself later.
Please share your thoughts or ideas.
This week included lots of toddler-friendly, healthy finger foods. It is great to see my boys grow and so nice to be able to feed them many of the same things that I am eating, but I also like making things especially for them to have on-hand in the refrigerator and freezer. This just makes life much simpler.
I made Baked Sweet Potato Fries this week and continued with some of our previous creations such as pancakes and spinach bites from the freezer. Mixing things with porridge is getting more and more as well.
- Baked Sweet Potato Fries These are another great way to get a mushy vegetable in tiny little fingers. Get creative with the seasoning…you can’t go wrong.
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 2 Tbsp butter, melted
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- Dash ground nutmeg
- Heat oven to 425°F
- Lightly coat baking sheet with olive oil and set aside.
- Scrub potatoes; cut lengthwise into quarters, then into wedges or the size pieces you desire.
- Mix melted butter and spices in a bowl and toss potatoes to coat.
- Arrange potatoes in a single layer in pan.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes or until brown and tender.
I stored these in the refrigerator and reheated for a few lunches and dinners this week.
- Super Porridge Varieties We’ve been mixing up different combinations for the past few weeks and some things seem to be working out really well. Here are just a few ideas to get started.
- oats + apples + cinnamon (a breakfast staple)
- brown rice + lentils
- brown rice + garbonzo beans
- oats + tahini
- brown rice + lentils + yogurt + fruit
WHAT I LEARNED
Think about what size you make your pieces. I ended up cutting mine after reheating, which was fine, but I could have just done that better in the beginning.
The boys loved these. They have always loved sweet potatoes. The pancakes continue to be a big hit with just a little butter spread on top and they still enjoy the spinach bites as well.
The baked sweet potato fries are another great addition to our healthy foods. Both the pancakes and spinach bites seemed to freeze, thaw, and reheat well. The Super Porridge is a great, great thing. I’m on the edge of my seat for the boys to be able to use spoons and feed it to themselves!
Please share your thoughts or ideas.
This week was leftover week. I made a breakfast casserole in my crock pot and a large pan of baked ziti. The boys have eaten many lunch and dinner meals from those as well as new lima beans and nectarines. They liked both new introductions, but I think the nectarines are causing a yucky diaper rash.
The baked ziti was a regular recipe using ground turkey and whole wheat pasta noodles. The breakfast casserole included sausage, hashbrowns, cheese, and eggs. On both of these, be careful with salt. I definitely wouldn’t add any if you’re planning to serve to your baby or toddler, but also look at the ingredients on any pasta sauces or other ingredients. I always use whole wheat pasta and used cottage cheese in the ziti.
- Lima Beans I love, love, love these beans and can’t believe I haven’t introduced them to my boys yet. Just peal the shell, cut into smaller pieces if desired and let them go for it. I’m sure you could mash these for spoon feeding as well.
- Spinach Bites These are a great way to get a green, mushy vegetable in tiny little fingers. This recipe yields about 48 bites.
- 16 oz frozen chopped spinach, cooked and drained well
- 1 cup bread crumbs (if you save old bread, you can make these yourself)
- 1/4 cup wheat germ or flax meal
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 3 Large eggs (or 5 egg yolks)
- 1/2 tsp basil
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Heat oven to 375°F
- Lightly coat 2 baking sheets with olive oil and set aside.
- Combine all ingredients and mix well.
- Chill in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes to help mixture set.
- Shape mixture and place on baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, turning over after 15 minutes.
I stored 12 bites in the refrigerator for upcoming meals and froze the rest in a freezer bag.
WHAT I LEARNED
The mixture was super messy when I first tried to make the shapes. This is when I decided to chill in the refrigerator which did help. I also think that I did not drain my spinach well enough, so be sure to do that.
Also, be careful with your olive oil as you don’t want them to burn.
My boys ate the spinach bites up right away and loved them. I’m excited that we have so many more in the refrigerator and freezer. They also enjoyed the lima beans.
The spinach bites are great to have on-hand in the freezer and could be good snacks or part of a wholesome lunch or dinner. Adjust the spices to make them your own and everyone’s sure to love them! The leftover casserole and ziti were also hits and wonderful to have ready-made lunches without having to prepare ahead of time.
Please share your thoughts or ideas.