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Posts Tagged ‘time-saver’

I don’t know where you live, but here in Florida we are getting drenched! It’s been several years since we’ve had such consistent rain. I have a kiddo who likes to be outside, and we don’t have a yard, so it’s a challenge! The nice thing is that the rains keep the temperatures down.

Well, as I have mentioned before, I work full time. So, when I started on the baby food train, I immediately set out to come up with a streamlined process and method for storing it. After all, what would be the point of making it if I couldn’t manage it? In my last post I gave you a run-down of my method for making the food, so I figured it would only make sense to follow up with an explanation of how I stored it all.

I tried several different options, trying to figure out what worked the best for me. In the end, I used three different methods for storing it.

I ususally made large batches of food on the weekends, saved a couple of meals worth in the fridge, and froze the rest to prevent spoiling. I know some mommies who make their baby’s food fresh each day, and others who use a food mill and simply give their baby whatever the rest of the family was eating. I don't think there is any one best way to do this – you just have to figure out what works best for you and your lifestyle.

Here are the three storage methods I used:

Ice cube trays and freezer bags: Once the baby food was made, I kept a few meals worth in the fridge, and the rest I poured into ice cube trays. I didn’t measure it out – I just poured it into the little pockets and made them as even as I could. Once they were frozen solid, I stored them in ziplock freezer bags. Obviously, I didn’t bother with trying to make them pretty!

frozen baby food

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One tip here – always label your bags! I know it seems like you’d have no trouble telling them apart, but I promise you, once you have squash and sweet potato side by side, it can be really hard to tell! The same goes for those peas and green beans. They are different shades, but after a while, in your sleep-deprived state, you’ll get them all confused.

Storage containers:
I found these at BabiesRUs, and they really are nice becasue they have a rubber seal, which makes them virtually spill-proof. They also come with a little tray, which is nice, but not always convenient.

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They were a little bit expensive, but they are a nice option. I have two sizes – the tiny 2-oz containers (pictured), and the larger 4-oz onces. They were nice for sending to daycare or when we stayed at someone else’s home and I wanted to take already made frozen food. I packed them in a an insulated bag and even though they thawed a little on longer road trips, they never spilled. I did use these for freezing food, but in general I used them more as take-along containers.

Pouches:
You know those handy little pouches of fruit you can buy for about $1 each? I love those things, but they are a little pricey. So, when I discovered the Infantino Squeeze Station, I was intrigued. This little treasure allowed me to make my own, which opened up the variety and also made it a little cheaper in the long run. I didn’t use these until A was a little older (almost a year), but ended up loving them. I try to keep a few of these pouches in the freezer at all times so I have a ready-to-go, healthy snack for A when we’re out and about. They are especially nice for when we are in the car, as it eliminates the need for a spoon. And let’s face it – that’s a big deal! I’ve put all kinds of stuff in these little pouches, including yogurt.

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I have the squeeze station tool that makes them super easy to fill,

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but I’ve read that the puree can be poured in with a regular thin-spouted funnel. Personally, I never tried it that way and it sounds like a messy chore, but it might be worth a shot? I’ve found the whole kit and kaboodle at BabiesRUs, and Amazon. (You’re probably thinking those are the only two places I shop!) Extra pouches can be ordered online, and I’ve seen them in a couple of stores.
The biggest drawback to these is that they are not re-usable, so if you consider yourself “green” at all, you’ll want to look into something else. There are some different ones out there that are reusable, (click here and here for some examples). To be completely honest, I’m just too lazy busy, to bother washing them out!

Like I said, these are just the options I used and liked. You might find another method that works better for you. But until you figure it out, hopefully this will help to get you started.

Hope you all have a wonderful July 4th tomorrow! We’ve having a cookout – yum!!

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Anyone else out there seem to be always in a rush in the morning?  What is it about mornings anyway?  The work day may drag, but that bit of morning you have at home before the work day begins just flies by like a… well, like something really fast. 🙂

Ahh… life as a stay-at-home mother is my dream!  A dream I have thoroughly enjoyed the past 8 weeks while on maternity leave.  I mean, how can you not love moments like this?

But as with so many good things, that is coming to a soon end.  Back to work I go.  And I’m determined to be happy and make the most of it!

In my efforts to prepare myself, I have been trying to get a little more organized and streamlined in my get-up-and-go process.  There are several different ways I am working on this, and I’ll probably share a few more of them with you in future posts; but, today I wanted to share my efforts in make-ahead breakfast foods. Three of them to be precise. 🙂

Most of the time we are cereal and milk breakfast people.  Not because I don’t like a full breakfast.  Believe me, I would love to have a three course meal at breakfast most days.  I wake up hungry and cereal leaves me empty by about 8:30am.  But cooking a big breakfast every morning is not realistic (at least not in this house) when you are going to head right out the door to work at 7am and leave the sink full of dishes.  The hubs, however, wouldn’t mind dining on cereal and milk four or five times a week! So, I deal, Hubs is happy, and we both make it out the door on time (most of the time).

Now that we have a little guy added to the mix of the morning routine, breakfast is even more of a hurried event for me.  So, I came up with a few ideas, and have begun to implement them.  Hopefully all these ideas will actually do their job of making my morning a little less hectic. The funny thing is, all three of them center around the use of muffin pans… minus the muffins. 🙂

Idea #1: Breakfast casserole.

I just make the breakfast casserole like normal, but instead of making it in a large dish and cutting it into individual pieces, I divide the mixture evenly into a muffin pan!  There ya go – individual portions of breakfast casserole right out of the oven!

Idea #2: Egg, cheese, and sausage sandwiches.

Again, pretty basic.  I cooked up sausage patties in a skillet, toasted english muffins, and baked scrambled eggs in a muffin pan. (A fast and easy way to cook multiples and make them that perfect round shape.) Wrap in foil, freeze, and ta-da!  McMuffins a-la-home ready to eat without going through the drive-through!  (And most likely a bit healthier version.)  I add the cheese after I warm them up, but I’m sure you could freeze the cheese along with the rest of the sandwich.

Idea #3: Baked oatmeal!  (I gotta admit – these play with my brain a little.  No matter what, my brain thinks these are muffins and when I take the first bite it takes it a second to recover and realize why they taste like oatmeal!)

Now, this one is a bit more involved because the recipe calls for more ingredients than just oatmeal and milk… but it’s not complicated in the least, and I think they’re delicious!  Again, I divided up the mixture into the muffin pan, baked them, and once they were cool, I wrapped them up and froze them. A fairly healthy breakfast I would say, right?

So, there you go!  Three simple breakfast ideas that can be made ahead, frozen, and then reheated individually!  I’ve found that using the muffin pan method, you can easily make a variety of “flavors” at once.  For example, you’re not locked in to 2 dozen raisin oatmeal portions.  I made four different kinds by dividing up the mixture into four containers, added strawberries to one, chocolate chips to one, raisins to one, and the last one I decided to leave plain but once I poured it into the pan I sprinkled the tops with brown sugar. You can sort of see the different ones in this picture…

You could do the same with the casserole idea.  Give yourself some variety by making some with bacon, others with sausage or cheddar cheese.  I’m sure there are a ton of other casseroles that would work.  The ideas are limited only by your palate!

I think I’m going to get one of those jumbo size muffin pans to make larger portions… for the times when  an “individual portion” just won’t cut it. 🙂

So, how about you?  What little tricks do you use that help you get out the door on time in the morning?  (Getting up at 3am doesn’t count!)  I’d love to hear them.  I’m going to need all the help I can get!

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