Chronicles of a First Time Mommy: Getting Dinner on the Table

Ashley Smith

Chronicles of a First Time Mommy

Getting Dinner on the Table

In response to many emails regarding my freezer meal tips, ideas, and recipes, I thought Id share some general information about how I organize my freezer meals and get dinner on the table efficiently each night.

Here are a few tips to make getting freezer meals ready in a breeze:

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1. Maximize the space in your freezer. I use freezer gallon bags that lay flat. So clear out a space to lay bags one on top of the other in the freezer. Make sure you can move the bags and see the labels easily without creating an avalanche effect.

2. Label each bag clearly. For me, this includes labeling the title of the dinner, cooking instructions, and what to add to the crockpot or serve it with (if anything) on one small label near the zipper closer.

3. Do all the prep work in one day. It can take some time to clean and chop all the meat and veggies, but it is worth it. I can get 5-7 freezer meals done in under 2 hours if I work straight through. A glass of wine doesnt hurt my efficiency, either.

4. Place the freezer bags in a blender (without the blade!) or vase to keep them upright as you are filling them. Theres nothing like spilling veggies, sauce, and raw meat everywhere to cause a kitchen catastrophe in mere seconds. I learned this one the hard way.

5. Have a game plan. When prepping the meals I have each recipe in front of me so Im not fumbling with my phone or computer looking them up. I lay out each ingredient, clean it, chop it, and place it in a bowl like an assembly line. Then, when stuffing the bags, I just need to scoop, dump, and seal.

6. Stick to the schedule. After I label each bag and place it in the freezer, I check the pantry. Some meals are best over rice, orzo, egg noodles, with a salad or crusty bread, etc. So, I make sure I have these items for the week. Then, I write it down on our chalkboard door in the kitchen. This is key! I write a weekly list of our meals and sides so I literally dont have to think about it. Just pull the bag out of the freezer and place it in the fridge the night before. In the morning, I dump the freezer bag in the crockpot according to the label, and checking the board, I pull out the sides I will need when I get home. I walk in the door, check the crockpot, prep a side and salad, and were ready!

7. Clean-up. I wont lie, it sucks. After two hours of prep work the kitchen looks like a tornado hit it, the baby is crying, and my feet hurt. I usually whine until my husband cleans up. (We are the couple that decides who does the dishes for a month based on our March Madness brackets, seriously). The good news is, some amazingly wonderful person invented crockpot liners. I put a liner in before I dump in the meal. When Im done I scoop out leftovers for lunch and toss the liner. The pot only needs to be cleaned lightly and its ready for the next day. Brilliant!

As per many requests, here is my recipe for Breakfast Burritos in the freezer. They are a serious morning changer. Note: As I have mentioned, my husband and I eat little to no meat and are gradually switching to a vegan lifestyle. The burritos can be made with meat and dairy products or vegan meat and dairy. They are delicious and convenient no matter what!

Breakfast burritos:

10-12 Flat Out wraps

10-12 eggs or egg substitute

1 can black beans

1/2 onion

1 red pepper

1-2 cups shredded cheese

1-2 cups soy crumbles, or chopped meat of your choice

paper towels and one large freezer bag

Lay out each wrap on the counter. Crack 10-12 eggs in a large bowl with a splash of unsweetened almond milk or any milk or cream you have. Whisk them up. In a greased muffin pan, pour the egg mixture evenly. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. You can salt and pepper them, too,

While those are going, make a bean spread. Put 1/2 an onion, a whole red pepper (chunked) and a can of black beans (drained and rinsed) in the food processor with a little oil. Spread the bean mixture lightly on each wrap.

Next, when the eggs are done, remove them from the muffin tin carefully and cut them in half (like two half moons) and place them end to end on the wrap.

Top the bean spread and eggs with a meatless or meat product of your choice and then top with shredded cheese. I roll each wrap very tightly and place it in a paper towel and roll again. Each burrito is wrapped individually and put in one large freezer bags. Then, just remove one at a time and microwave right in the paper towel for one and a half minutes and breakfast is ready!

Ashley Smith resides in Berks County with her husband, Aaron; daughter, Gracie, 6 months;her dog, Sam; and cat, Jack, who runs the show. She is an English as a Second Language teacher by day at Wilson, and an amateur chef, yoga enthusiast, Modern Family fanatic, and first time mommy by night.Contact her at greenforgrace@gmail.com.