Sometimes life is really hectic. My most hectic time is during the first few months back to school. From mid-August through mid-November I coach cross-country, teach, and have a very active child. It turns out that children and grown-ups still like to eat, regardless of how busy you are! To make things a little easier, my friend (who is also a teacher and has TWO kids) and I decided to “bring down the zebra.” What do I mean by “bringing down the zebra”? When lionesses in Africa hunt, they band together and bring down the kill (such as a zebra). They can’t eat it all at once, so the rest of the pride, including the cubs, can feed off of it for a series of days. For humans, that would be disgusting. However, you can metaphorically bring down the zebra by making a bunch of meals before the really crazy time.
In the summer before Ben I had made and froze all kinds of meals. It was a really genius plan, but for some reason (probably named Ben), I never did it again. This summer was different. This summer, we went hunting and brought down the zebra making five meals in three hours. It was an accomplishment. Many sites on Pinterest give you recipes of what to make and I’ve listed mine below. But, here are a couple of key tips that we discovered from yesterday:
- Find a fellow lioness (or lionesses) to help you bring down the zebra. Cooking/chopping for several hours is much more fun with company.
- Preparation, preparation, preparation. I cannot stress this enough. Pin things on Pinterest, discuss it with your fellow lioness, and make a plan. Figure out what you are cooking and in which order.
- Look through your recipes over and over again until you have figured out your exact grocery list. On your grocery list, make sure you list the sizes of the items (e.g. 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes) and the quantity. Always check your pantry, too. We were going to make a chickpea dish and I accidentally ate the chickpeas the night before. Whoops!
- Multiple cutting boards are a god sent. Many lionesses chopping make light work.
- Buy tons of freezer bags and make sure that you label them with permanent marker BEFORE you put anything into the containers. Label the containers with what the dish is, when you made it, and cooking instructions. I like to also label the dishes with how many servings it is so we can judge on how hungry we are!
- Let all cooked items (such as soups) cool completely before putting them into the bags or storage containers.
- Air is the enemy. Try to get as much air out of the bags/containers as possible. The water in the air will crystallize and cause horrible freezer burn.
- Allow enough room for the liquids to expand. You don’t want any explosions in your freezer.
- If in doubt, double bag it. Again, freezer explosions are bad.
- Constantly discuss how awesome you are and how amazing having all the meals will be in two months. Remembering what the pay-out will be makes it all worth it!
- Helen’s thoughts: For people with chest freezers, I will be implementing this helpful idea: as you stash meals away, write down what’s going in, as well as the date, on a little dry erase board on the freezer itself. As stuff comes out, erase it. That way you always know what’s in there and if you should get on eating something if it’s been in there for months already!
Here are the recipes that we made yesterday:
Tortilla Soup and Sweet Potato Soup: http://whatvegankidseat.blogspot.com/2013/01/vegan-crock-pot-freezer-meals.html