The Big Freezer Meal Prep

Posted by Emily Poynter on

So I know in my last post I said I'd document the prep towards the end of the week... I decided to just count a week from that day since I needed a little post-meal-prep detox. And because I am clearly the procrastinator of the family... if you want something done quickly, just tell my husband to do it.

We finished up youth football camp last week and the kids had a blast.. Colt fit right in with the 1st grade group, which I think is a source of pride for my ex o-line husband, but slightly terrifying for me watching him take on the other big kids at full speed with absolutely no fear. Landry walked all over the field like she owned the place. We are so incredibly thankful to be at a school where family is a priority and the kids can be all up in the middle of it. They certainly love seeing Daddy in action!

 I scheduled my grocery pick up so I could run by on the way home from camp before putting two very exhausted kiddos down for hopefully very long naps. When I went to check in I found I never actually did the last step and confirmed it (insert face palm). However, this actually worked out well. Later that afternoon, after coach came home, I went to Aldi and did the shopping myself. There's something oddly fulfilling about walking the grocery aisles by myself with no one grabbing unwanted items off the shelves or terrorizing one another in the cart. Plus, I had wanted to see what the price comparison would be, so it actually worked out well. My Walmart checkout was $143. This is without any added chicken since I already had the chicken breasts on hand. At Aldi, I checked out at at around the same but I also found a great deal on a potty chair for Landry and a hammock chair for me... a girl needs a blogging perch right?!? So without the extras the food was around $99. The downside is they didn't have two things so I swung by Walmart on the way home and low and behold chicken was at a great price so I spent about $40 totaly with three more 6 packs of large chicken breasts. So I'd say if you have the time to shop around, then go for it. If you don't then the price of convenience is totally worth it. (I will also include the updated shopping list of what I actually ended up using for these 8 recipes)

I went home and went ahead and put together the Hawaiian Chicken Breast Bake that night. It was super easy - I cut the large chicken breasts in half long ways because, for one, they're huge, and two, it'll cook a lot faster when it comes time to bake. It really was as easy as the recipe said. Lay the chicken, drizzle the bbq sauce, top with pineapples and cheese. I made 5 8x8 pans. For the last pan I didn't have enough provolone but I purposefully bought extra mozarella so I topped one of them with mozarella because I kind of wondered if I'd like that better anyways. We shall see! We did eat the provolone variation a couple of nights ago over brown rice and it was on point! And the halved breasts were plenty for both myself and my husband. 

To see all the recipes used check out my previous post here.

The next day, we went to the second day of football camp and I took the kiddos home primed for a GREAT nap time. However, mother nature had other ideas. About the time BOTH kids are asleep AT THE SAME TIME with water boiling and bacon sizzling on the stove top, the tornado sirens start going off. Tommy was still at school and under a different tornado warning. If I'm being honest, it totally crossed my mind to leave the kids asleep, and then the sane non-exhausted mother side of me kicked in and I went upstairs and got both kids out of bed, intending to put them downstairs in our room.. my kids don't transfer. Once you get them up, they're up. So instead we camped out in our tornado safe room until everything passed. Thankfully, the tablets were charged so they actually stayed put... typically I keep them dead unless we need them so there's no argument.. "sure you can have your tablet... oh it's out of battery.. shucks... let's go make up a fun game". 

They were still fairly tired after the storm passed so they watched a movie and ate popcorn while I got started in the kitchen. Whenever I am looking over the recipes, I always write down what needs to be prepped in each recipe on a separate page. I covered more on this is the last post on prepping for the prep. 

I got the water boiling again while I chopped some bacon. Then I threw the pasta in the water and the bacon on the stove. While those were both cooking, I picked a recipe that called for uncooked chicken, since it would be a quick, throw-together type recipe. I again sliced the chicken breasts in half, layed parchment paper in the foil pan, and layed the chicken breasts down. I followed the tuscan chicken recipe, topping with minced garlic, spinach, artichoke hearts (quartered), sundrided tomatoes and cheese. For the garlic, it essentially uses one tablespoon for each pan. This is a little more than originally called for, but I just buy the minced garlic in a jar because this mama doesn't have the time or patience to press it all. 1 tablespoon is also 3 teaspoons (thank you nursing school for this tidbit being burned into my brain), so I just did one teaspoon per breast. I also pulled about the artichoke hearts a bit so they were more scattered across. Then we won't get a huge chunk of it when eating it later.  Every so often I would step over and stir/flip the bacon pieces and check the water on the pasta.... or it'll boil over so it makes me come tend to it... not that that happened or anything..

I then put two layers of aluminum foil over the top and label them with a sharpee. I write the name of the recipe and the cooking instructions. After the time I've spent pouring over the recipes, I pretty much know the cook times, but some of the meals will be made by my husband or will be gifted to other friends having babies, surgeries, etc. so I take the time to write it all down. 

Next I took on another uncooked recipe while draining the pasta and letting the bacon cool off a bit. I chose the Green Fiesta Chicken recipe. I cut the breasts in half and tried to take off half my finger in the process... Note to self... make sure the chicken breast is ALL the way thawed before trying to cut in half... Thankfully this was just a small delay and nothing a butterfly bandage couldn't fix. My mother was (and still is) the queen of butterflying wounds together when I was growing up... My father was also a firefighter/paramedic so if any of us went to the ER for something, you knew it was legit. Anyways, Tommy came home in the middle of all this mayhem, so I left him to finish cutting the half-frozen breasts while I patched up my finger. 

Once all fixed up, I mixed together all of the other ingredients in a large bowl (per the recipe instructions) and YA'LL this spread could definitely have a little more corn and maybe some black beans added in and be a legit poolside dip. So next potluck, I'm for sure using this as the dip! I then spread it over the chicken, topped with bacon, only to realize I got a little ahead of myself and bacon is not called for in a mexican dish (although I'm in the bacon goes good on anything camp), plucked said bacon back out and topped it with the cheese that the recipe actually calls for. Just reinforcing that this mama does not have it all figured out and has a permanent seat with her own gold faceplate on the hot mess express. 

I'll talk a little more about how much of the ingredients I actually used and portion sizes, but I will mention that I don't know that I would have had a big enough bowl for more than two recipes-worth of that spread. So if you are going to make more than that, you might have to split it up, but I am going to go a little more into that at the end. 

I next chose to put together the recipe that actually calls for the bacon to save myself the chore of plucking back pieces out one at a time again. The Chicken Bacon Caesar was pretty straight forward, so I prepared according to the recipe (although I used shredded chicken instead of cubed - less prep work to just shred it all). I also used fresh spinach instead of frozen because spinach is typically one of the dirtiest veggies as far as pesticides and other such things so it's one of the things I buy organic. 

It was by this time that I was kind of over the prepping for the day, but realized that I already cooked the pasta.... so I had to go ahead and make the Sausage Alfredo dish. It was a little more involved because you have to actually make the sauce in a large skillet. Confession... I didn't add the flour to the sauce until the end.. I guess I just overlooked that small step, but it still thickened up just fine and tasted delish. I actually had some extra after making 5 8x8 pans so we had it for dinner that night. I did leave out the cayenne pepper and went easy on the red pepper flakes to tone down the spice a bit. Landry will go to town on pretty much anything pasta and can handle some spice, but not cayenne-level of spice. (side note: this recipe would also be fantastic with chicken or veal)

This was Day 1 of meal prep and I ended up making 25 freezer meals from those 5 recipes. The 3 recipes I had left were pretty straightforward so I probably could have pushed and gotten through all of the prep in one afternoon/evening, but two kids who didn't have naps... enough said. I don't want to bombard you with everything all at once, so I will do a second post in the next day or two covering the last 3 recipes, tips for when you get ready to make the meal (ya'll instant pot is going to be a game changer!), and an updated shopping list of how much I actually ended up using of everything so you can easily duplicate!

If you end up having some fun ideas/substitutions, mishaps, or want to hear more/less about something, I'd love to hear from you! 

Hope ya'll are having a great week!

<3 Emily

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