I am a planner. Did you know that? Of course you probably do.
I am also the cook in our house. That’s not to say my husband can’t cook. In fact, he can make up a nice meal every once in a while for my birthday or Valentine’s Day, but he really does not enjoy it and it takes him a while to plan it. So, it’s a job that falls to me day-to-day.
I also hate to spend too much money eating out and since my freelance work is going on hold for at least 2 months of maternity leave, the belt had to be tightened a bit. That’s why I decided to make one month worth of freezer meals.
It will be a great way to feed Brett and I after the baby gets here and we’re sleep deprived zombies. All we’ll need to do is pull something out the night before and put it in the oven when we are ready to eat.
The better news was that I was able to buy the ingredients to make 24 dinners, 12 lunches, and 22 breakfasts for $200! Here’s the breakdown of what I made and how many servings I expect from each…
- Mini Mexican Pies (6 days)
- Leftovers (6 days)
- Buffalo Chicken Bake (5 days)
- Enchilada Pasta Shells (6 days)
- Slow Cooker Chicken Chili (3 days)
- Tamale Pies (3 days)
- Chicken Stuffed Peppers (2 days)
- Slow Cooker Black Bean, Chicken & Corn (3 days)
- Chicken Mac n Cheese (4 days)
- Parmesan Chicken Risotto (3 days)
We’ll need to supplement these meals with fresh produce, salads, bread, eggs, milk and orange juice. I also plan to make sandwiches for lunch several times, but knew the ingredients would be better fresh.
Obviously this will not be EVERYTHING we’ll need to eat for a full month, but it’s a great base. It allows us some flexibility to eat out for lunch (when it’s cheaper and newborns are more socially accepted at your table). And we will also be able to fit in meals brought over by friends.
I found all of the recipes through searches online and on Pinterest. Every recipe should be linked above, but let me know if you have questions about any of them. In part two of this series I plan to share my grocery list and my schedule for making all of these items. I was able to do it all in 2 days, but if I had to do it again, I would have spread it out better over 3 days.
It should be noted that I did substitute out some of the ingredients for our tastes – I do not need beef, pork, or lamb so these items were replaced with chicken. This was more expensive, so I also subbed out expensive cheese for bulk cheese to cut down on the costs.
Seeing my freezer fully stocked makes me feel much more ready for our “peanut” to get here!
Have any freezer meal tips to share with others? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
Sticking with the French theme a little bit longer, I thought now would be a good time to finally wrap up the series I was writing about European adventures last fall since our last leg was in Paris.
We planned our trip to be open jaw which means that we flew into one city (Rome) and out of another (Paris). This is a great way to travel because you can spend your time visiting more locations instead of backtracking to your arrival city. And often you might find that flights this way can be cheaper. However, we flew on miles so it was the same mileage cost per leg.
The beautiful weather we had in Switzerland continued for our last 2 days. It was unseasonably warm and I was even able to wear the sundress I brought! That part was great, but the nice weather also meant that more smokers were out enjoying the al fresco dining and cafes as well. This did not bode well for my sensitive pregnant nose and I kept wanting to switch tables or sit far from the crowds.
Our trip started with a train ride from Olten, Switzerland to Paris, France. We had about a 90 minute stop in Basel so we took advantage and walked around the town. Unfortunately we were lugging our rolling suitcases over the cobblestone streets which was a bit embarrassing and obnoxious. There was just enough time to walk to the river, take photos, and stop for a mid morning snack. Then it was back to the trains. Thankfully the trip was quick.
One slight oversight on our part was misjudging hotel availability. We thought we’d ask our friends for help and book when we were in Switzerland, but time got away from us and we had not booked a hotel the night before we were to leave. The crazy part was that all the hotels we could find were super expensive – we’re talking $500+ per night! Thankfully we were able to find a last minute rental through Airbnb and the owners coordinated with their house keeper to meet us with the keys the next afternoon. There’s nothing quite like ending your trip with a little apprehension that someone will be there with the keys to your room, but it all worked out and we had the perfect little studio in a great part of town.
We arrived in Paris around 4:00pm and headed out to sight see. First stop was the outside of the Louvre. Unfortunately, there was just not enough time to go in.
Then it was off to Notre Dame. It was a Sunday and we made it there in time for mass. We weren’t there for the service, but it was cool to see and experience it. Can you imagine going to mass at Notre Dame each week?!?
Sadly, I was not able to see the sun streaming through the beautiful stained glass windows because it was too late. Oh well, something to do the next time we are there.
The night finished with a stroll along the Seine and a lovely 4 course dinner. I made it through without wine, but forgot about the pasteurized cheese restriction (for pregnant women in the U.S.) and ordered a plate of cheese for dessert. Oops! It all checked out fine later.
The next day was going to be busy! I mean we really only had one full day in Paris and I had things to see…
We started with a metro ride to the Arc de Triomphe.
Then proceeded to walk down Champs Elyesee.
I was determined to find the famous macaroon place – Laduree. I should have paid better attention to the map when I looked it up because we had to walk down one side and back up the other to find it. However, along the way we found the cutest children’s clothes store and bought a few outfits for our “peanut”. Still can’t wait to see her in them. Although, had we known she was a girl then…oh the little things we could have bought.
Bless my husband for his patience while we looked for Laduree. And then once we found it, the line was longer than we hoped. About 40 minutes later, we had a box of 8 colorful macaroons. We found a bench and tried our first one. It really did make the search worth it. Those little cookies are divine!
Then it was off to search for a little side street we read about in a travel book. When we travel we like to try to take in the more local scenes and get off the beaten path. Sometimes it’s great and other times, well it’s nothing super special. This time it was unfortunately the latter. Perhaps it was because we were trying to cram too much into one day. Or maybe it was the second pass down Champs Elysee that wore us out. Either way, I am a big proponent of finding your own small local adventures. Don’t take someone else’s word for it because it is a very personal experience.
Our final major stop for the day was the Eiffel Tower, of course. We took the metro to Trocadero because the view of the tower as you come around the corner is perfect. It’s an unobstructed view from a courtyard above the yard. There’s also a great little crepes place there where we stopped for lunch.
We completely lucked out when purchasing out tickets for the Eiffel Tower. When we first got in line, the top was closed and they were not selling tickets past the first tier. That kept the line shorter than usual and in fact some people in front of us even left when they noticed the sign. We decided to stay because it was the only time we were going to be there, even though I was a bit bummed. Then when were about 10 people from the ticket counter, they opened the top and we were able to get tickets without having to purchase them on the first tier (with another line!).
Then we spent an extra hour at the top waiting for sunset. It was pretty perfect! Of course, it helped that we had those delicious macaroons to snack on.
I just wish we could have toasted with bubbly from the Champagne Bar that the top of the tower.
By the time the sun had set and we walked to a cafe for dinner, we were ready to call it a night.
It had been a wonderful two weeks and the time had come for us to return home.
It was another good week for us and I am feeling really prepared for this little one to make her debut. We finished up buying all the essentials including her car seat, crib sheets, breast pump and diaper service and everything was delivered this past week (with the exception of the diapers). Now we just need to call “Bill the car seat guy” and have him meet us to install our car seat.
Do you have a guy like this in your area? He’ll meet you at your home, the hospital, or some other centrally-located place and install your car seat properly for FREE! How cool is that? The story is that he is retired and has a passion for making sure babies and kiddos are safe while riding in cars. I’ll see if there’s more to the story when we meet him.
Anyway, her newborn clothes were washed. Bottles were sterilized. Our bedroom furniture was rearranged just a bit so the rocking chair is in there now. I even made up some freezer meals. The rest of this week will be dedicated to wrapping up loose ends (both for work and home). Then I’ll just need to plan some fun activities so I don’t go stir crazy.
If you can’t read the board, here are the stats:
Age: 36 weeks
Height: ~18.75 in.
Weight: ~5.75 lb.
Notes: Baby was confirmed heads down. Yay! (Picture of a baby hanging out heads down in mama’s belly)
How far along? 36 weeks
Total weight gain? 38 pounds
Maternity clothes? Of course!
Sleep? It’s been pretty decent except that I am now getting up twice a night to use the restroom instead of just once.
Miss anything? My hands and feet. The swelling has started to kick in this week and it makes walking (especially without shoes) more uncomfortable.
Movement? Yes. She really likes to stretch her legs out and so her foot sticks out on my left side. It’s a very strange feeling!
Cravings? Still not back yet. I liked when my taste buds guided me more.
Aversions? Thankfully, no.
Labor signs? Definitely Braxton Hicks contractions this week, but that’s it.
Wedding ring on or off? Off
Looking forward to: Our doctor’s appointment on Wednesday and working from home exclusively this week. I also took a dip in the pool yesterday and it was fabulous! I am hoping to do more of that this week.
Sticking with the French theme (that started with my baby shower), this week’s DIY is making macaroons at home. I was always terrified to try making these delicate little cookies because they seemed like such hard work. Then, I saw a video on YouTube that make me think otherwise.
Don’t get me wrong…these cookies are still a bit temperamental and this first attempt was not perfect, but they sure were delicious. And now I have a baseline for making them better.
Here’s the video from YouTube. This woman really demystifies the whole process.
Vanilla Macaroons with White Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from How to Cook That
4 large egg whites
1/3 cup plus 1 tsp fine baking sugar
1 1/2 cups plus 4 tsp powdered sugar
1 cup plus 3 tsp almond meal
2g salt (tiny pinch)
The original recipe was in metric cups so it was necessary to add a bit more to accommodate US measurements.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Place egg whites and fine baking sugar in a bowl and mix with electric mixer until stiff enough to turn the bowl upside down without it falling out, continue to whip for 1-2 more minutes. The total time depends on you mixer.
Sift the almond meal, powdered sugar and salt twice, discarding any almond lumps that are too big to pass through the sieve. Fold into the egg white mixture. It should take roughly 30-50 folds using a rubber spatula. The mixture should be smooth, thick and sticky, not runny.
Over-mix and your macaroons will be flat and have no foot. Under mix and they will not be smooth on top. See Ann’s macaroon troubleshooting post for examples.
Pipe a half dollar sized dollop of batter onto parchment paper. Then shake pan and rap (or bang) on a flat surface about 6 times to flatten mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes. Cookies should come off of the sheet cleanly. If not, bake for a few more minutes.
You can see that my macaroons were not mixed enough and so they were not completely smooth on top and they cracked a bit. A little more mixing would have made them just right…
White Chocolate Ganache
1/2 cup (3.53 ounces) white chocolate chips
1/8 cup cream
1 T pure vanilla extract
Bring the cream to the boil and pour over the chocolate and vanilla. Let stand for a minute and then stir. If it is not adequately melted then microwave for 20 seconds and stir – repeat until smooth. Allow to cool and thicken before piping onto macaroons.
Have you ever made macaroons or something else that scared you at first? If so, how did it turn out? I’d love to hear in the comments!
This was a very productive week for Brett and I. You could say that the nesting phase has begun. It was also a great distraction from the ever growing uncomfortableness that comes with the 3rd trimester.
So what did we do that was so productive you might ask…
First, we finished buying the really important things off our registry like the car seat, bottles, breast pump, etc. I was getting nervous that we were not really prepared, but am feeling great now. The car seat should be here in the next couple days so we’ll be ready to bring her home from the hospital should she decide to come early.
Second, we registered for the cloth diaper service and bought some super cute diaper covers. I can’t wait to try this out and tell you all about it. My mom had me in cloth diapers with a service and I think it’s great that something like this is available for our little one too.
Finally, we cleaned out our “attic”/storage space and sold a few items on Craigslist. Since both of our parents have sold our childhood homes recently we have been gifted some of our items from storage and needed to make some room for those things too along with all of the things a new baby brings into your life.
If you can’t read the board, here are the stats:
Age: 35 weeks
Height: ~18.0 in.
Weight: ~5.25 lb.
Notes: At 35 weeks there are only 35 days left until my due date (picture of a clock)
How far along? 35 weeks
Total weight gain? 36.5 pounds
Maternity clothes? Of course! There’s no turning back now.
Sleep? Hit or miss. I am starting to get energy back at night and have a hard time falling asleep. Then I am super tired the next day because I was up a couple times in the night. Unfortunately, it does not make falling asleep any easier. Oh well. Not like sleep is something I expect much of in the near future.
Miss anything? Still missing the feeling in my hands, but I’m adjusting. Thank goodness, it does not affect my typing.
Movement? All the time.
Cravings? Not really. The coconut water and pineapple popsicles I’ve been eating this week are delicious. I might have to see about having those during labor.
Labor signs? Nothing yet. We’ll see what our doctor’s appointment is like this week.
Wedding ring on or off? Off
Looking forward to: I am actually looking forward to the doctor’s for the first time in my life. Just want to meet her and these appointments mean that we are getting closer to that date. Yippee!!!
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