Meal-planning after birth, and other questions

Farmhouse chicken recipe

Yesterday's main meal was Farmhouse Chicken... a delicious casserole that I hadn't made recently. Several people have mentioned Farmhouse Chicken in the past few days, and it reminded me that I should make it again! :)

We managed to make the Farmhouse Chicken last for 2 meals. I'm planning to make it again next week, because we just really enjoyed it! :)

I used a boxed stuffing mix from the grocery store, and used some cubed chicken from my freezer. For the past 8-10 weeks before Ruth's birth, I had made a roasted chicken once a week (it's one of Joshua's favorite meals!) and froze the leftover meat in 1-2 cup portions.

Vicky asked how my meal-planning was going, since making my new menus and all that. Well, I am not very good at sticking to menus, really. I love to make something spur-of-the-moment because it's what we feel like eating that day! I guess that's why I tend to keep my pantry/fridge/freezer stocked with ingredients to make most of our favorite foods at any time. :)

But, the menus have been a blessing because there have been days when I couldn't think of anything that sounded good... so I just picked something from my "easy menu" and made it... like the macaroni and cheese. :)

What has helped me the most has been all the goodies in my freezer! The pre-cooked chicken, meatballs, taco meat, pepperoni (because we love pizza!) and all the baked goods for Joshua's lunch... we have been enjoying the fruits of my labors over the past 2 months. :) The baked goods (cookies, banana bread, etc.) are dwindling, so I'll be back to doing some baking again in the next few days. I've also taken some "short cuts"... like making frozen garlic bread (something I didn't get made and frozen myself before Ruth arrived) or using boxed stuffing.

Another commenter asked how soon is too soon to start filling her freezer in anticipation for her new baby. :) Well, I think that depends on what you're making, and how it's packaged. I have had vacuum-sealed meatballs (cooked), taco meat, cubed chicken, etc. in my freezer for over a year with it still tasting GREAT. But, if your packaging wasn't air-tight, I would guess it would get freezer burn by that time.

Perhaps it might work better to start making menu plans now, and save the food-prep for the last couple of months before the birth. I started filling my freezer in late-November... I did meat items first, and then baked goods. I didn't do any ready-made casseroles, since I have a small freezer -- I just prepared the meat (etc.) so I could quickly assemble the casserole later. :)

And yet another reader asked if my boys get rowdy and wild... like boys do. ;) I know the picture of them so sweetly helping me make bread kinda makes it look like they are calm, peaceful little guys. ;) Well, they certainly have lots of wild, loud moments days where they run around the house, jump off the couch, and pull all my laundry off the clothes rack.

BUT, we do work on having quieter times, and one of those times is when they are helping me in the kitchen. In order to help cook, they have to at least try to be careful about spills, and follow instructions. My dishes-helper isn't allowed to spill water on the floor (if they accidentally do, they have to wipe it up themselves). :)

Comments

Tammy, I have 5 boys, so nothing could shock me as far as rowdy behavior!

When mine were little, even in a high chair, -and some of them still like this; I would get a (TINY) cup of water, a paint brush, and a piece of colored construction paper and let them "paint". it's almost 'mess-less' and what little it does make, they can wipe up with a dry washcloth.

More ideas: http://momsfrugal.blogspot.com/search/label/Preschool%20Ideas

Congrats again on Baby Ruth...she is absolutely beautiful! May God bless all of her days!

I can't plan a menu for a specific day either. I always have 7-15 meals that we could possibly have and it just depends on the day, how I'm feeling, what I feel like cooking, if I'm tired, if I have a lot of energy, the color of the sky...just kidding on the last one there, but you get my drift. I don't want to HAVE to fix whats on a list for supper. So, I play it by ear. In the mornings I look at my list of meals and figure out which one I want to make and then I'm off and running.

Thanks for answering my question:) I also have 5 boys(and 3 girls) so rowdyness is nothing new around here!!:)
I was wondering(because I love to read about peoples opinion on the matter)what your thoughts are on attachment parenting?

Hmmm... big topic. ;)

I guess I was doing some things (like cloth diapering, co-sleeping, etc.) before I ever heard the term "attachment parenting"... and so I have never really tried to follow any certain method, nor have I read many parenting books. From what I know of AP, there are things I agree and disagree with.

One of my main goals as a mom to a new baby is to successfully (exclusively) breastfeed, and so I definitely tend to stay away from schedules and things like trying to space out feedings or get the baby to sleep through the night at a young age... my boys really thrived as infants and were chubby and healthy... and happy! :) But I don't have set rules about things... I just do what seems best. :)

Tammy,

I made this recipe yesterday too. Everyone loved it. So far, all of your recipes are 100% approved by my sweet family.

Welcome to Baby Ruth! That is my momma's name so it is special to me.

God bless!

After adopting my daughter just 9 months ago, I have been very big on meal planning. I got into it so much I decided to create a website for those that like the concept but didn't want to take the time to get it done.

Now I post a weekly grocery list and menus for dinners every Friday. You should take a look. Maybe you will find the meal planning aspect helpful, or just find a good recipe.

Carrie
www.CarriesCooking.com

Tammy,
I keep meaning to ask you this....do you can your spaghetti sauce?
I have canned lots of vegetables, but have never tried canning sauces. Any rules about omitting the meat, etc.?
I would like to hear that someone else has done this before making a mess and wasting ingredients....

Thanks and Blessings on the new baby!
Sabrina
20feet@bellsouth.net

Hi, Sabrina!

Yes, I can my spaghetti/pizza sauce. I have never used meat in mine though. I'm sure it's possible (since I know others who can meats) but I don't know off-hand what the times/temperatures/guidelines are for canning meats! :) Try a Google search for "canning spaghetti sauce beef" or something like that. :) 

After seeing this recipe and wanting to make it I got the ingedients today.

I will be trying it out this week!

I'm Weight-Watchering right now, and just wondering -- do you think the chicken would come out OK with less butter?

(And while I'm at it -- do you do anything special with your frozen cooked chicken? Anytime I freeze cooked chicken, it ends up getting freezer-burnt or just tasteless.)

(Oh, and I tried the lasagna recipe you posted -- well, I started with the Kraft version and when it didn't seem to be coming out, I cheked your site to see that you add an extra 10 minutes' baking time. With the extra time, it came out great!)

Have a great week!

Less butter? -- yes, but you will need to alter the instructions. Instead of melting the 4T butter, stirring in 4T flour, and then adding milk to thicken, you should do this:

Whisk together 4T flour and 2 cups of cold milk. Then heat, while stirring, until milk boils and thickens.

:D

My frozen chicken is leftover meat from a whole roasted chicken (which I sprinkle with garlic salt, seasoned salt, and lemon pepper before roasting -- so it does have a little flavor). I take the meat off the bones, cube it, and seal in vacuum (Food Saver) bags.

It's much tastier than plain cooked chicken breasts, though it (obviously) can't always be substituted for cubed chicken breast meat (like in stir fries) since it falls apart somewhat. :) 

If you can't vacuum seal it, you could try freezing it in broth?

Thank you for your advice and helpful hints on preparing menus and food in advance. It is much appreciated! :)

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