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Baking Day – Part 4

Well, I ran out of energy today before I ran out of items on my to-do list (that seems to be a fairly regular occurrence these days!) but I did get a big batch of meatballs made and a double batch of granola bars made before dinner time.

I have this big goal of having our second refrigerator/freezer stocked to gills with dinners, healthy snacks, and so forth by the time the baby is born. I've always made some extra food, but have never had the luxury of having an extra refrigerator, so I wanted to take advantage of that.

I'm also thinking that this being our third baby in four years and all, it's probably a wise idea to be as well-prepared as possible. I'm just guessing that cooking and baking in that first month or two after Baby arrives is not going to be the top priority.

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Seeing as I'm 11 weeks out from being full-term, I figured I can go ahead and get started with filling the freezer. So I made this batch of meatballs with that in mind. There's enough here to last us for five dinners so I'm going to freeze two dinner's worth to use before the baby is born and three meal's worth to use after the baby is born. I'm freezing these on baking sheets and then will divvy up into freezer bags once they are fully frozen.

(By the way, for those who may be interested in reading more about how we're preparing for Baby #3, check out my other blog, Mom of Littles. I post updates on my pregnancy over there and will be sharing a lot in the coming weeks on details of how we're gearing up for this big event and trying to be as organized and ready as possible!)

After the meatballs were finished and in the freezer, I tried out this new-to-me granola bar recipe. I've never made granola bars before, but these looked so good and so good-for-you that I couldn't resist. They were pretty easy to make, though I feel like I need to make them a few more times to really perfect the recipe.

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As always, I did some tweaking to it. I used some slivered almonds and flax seeds instead of some of the peanuts and sunflower seeds and added in extra oats to make up for the rest. Since I made a double batch, I added dark chocolate pieces to one of them as well. My hubby is quite fond of chocolate chip granola bars, so I figured he'd enjoy these better with some chocolate in them.

I wished I wouldn't have let the liquid mixture simmer for as long as I did; the bars turned out a bit crunchier than I was hoping as a result. But I'll know better next time! I also think that it was a little more complicated to make a double batch since you need to get them in the pan and shaped into bars quickly and doubling the recipe added extra time to it.

All in all, though, I was very happy with the recipe and will definitely be making it again.

That's all the cooking/baking that's happening for today. I still am planning to make pancakes, bread, muffins, and the spinach casserole that everyone's been asking for the recipe for. But that will have to wait until tomorrow afternoon. I promise that I'll do my best to share a post on that since so many of you have requested the casserole recipe.

And now, I'd love to see any baking you've been doing at your house today! If you've blogged about it, post your link or links below so we can all be inspired and motivated (and probably pick up some new ideas and recipes, too!). Thanks for joining in today and sharing another Baking Day with me. It's always so much more fun to have you all following along!

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32 Comments

  • Jenelle says:

    Did you really soak and dehydrate the oats. Seems like a daunting task…..is it really necessary?

    ***********************
    Money Saving Mom here: Um, confession time: no, I didn’t. I’d like to to try it sometime but I didn’t have time or energy to do it the night before so I just skipped that step.

  • Mikki says:

    I’ve been enjoying all your baking day posts. I’m interested in learning how you started this. Do you have a master plan that you follow or just think of things you want to make in bulk.
    I’d love to try some of this out, but just don’t know where to start.
    Maybe I’ll start making some muffins…

    *******************
    Money Saving Mom here:

    My advice? Start somewhere, start small, and just do it!

    I don’t have a master plan that I follow; I just go based upon what we like, what we have on hand, what I feel like making, and things I think we’ll need/use in the next few weeks. I usually always make some muffins/breads and waffles/pancakes and often cook up rice, too. And then whatever else I make is variable.

  • Alison Armstrong says:

    When I was pregnant with #2 I stocked up the freezer. I had about 40 meals, plus deserts, side dishes, frozen cookie dough, and cooked hamburger in the freezer. It lasted about 5 months! (we eat a full meal for lunch and supper with the whole family) It was such a life saver on many occasions. Since then I have tried to keep a few meals in there for when I need it. I used these pans: http://www.amazon.com/Glad-OvenWare-Pans-3-Count-Containers/dp/B000EG7DSM/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=grocery&qid=1232508938&sr=8-3
    They are re-usable. They stack really good and the lids are really nice. I used many of the recipes from 30-day gourmet. Your hard work will really be appreciated after you have the baby and don’t have to cook!

  • Kris says:

    Great job! You are so wise to plan ahead with the cooking! I had my third baby in 4 years in April (a boy, yeah! I also have two older girls) and it would’ve helped me tremendously to have food in the freezer! Thanks to your blog, I’ll be better prepared for #4, should the Lord will for us to have more littles. Thanks for your inspiration…I just found your site (through biblical womanhood) and I LOVE it! Keep up the great work!

    In Christ,
    Kris

  • MJ says:

    It’s great that you’re freezing meals and snacks for after the baby comes. I did that this time around (with baby #2) and was SO glad. I made sure to include some quick snacks (like muffins I could defrost in the microwave) for when I was so hungry from nursing but too busy to make anything. It was a lifesaver! Get some rest.

  • Evie says:

    Um…I looked and I couldn’t find the recipe for the meatballs. Can you tell me where to look to find it?

    Thanks!!

    Evie

    **********************
    Money Saving Mom here:

    That would be because I just made up the recipe on the fly based upon what we had on hand. I used some seasonings, oatmeal, milk, eggs, and a little ketchup and mustard. I like to add in onions but we didn’t have any on hand.

    I’ll make a quick BBQ sauce for the top when I pull them out of the freezer to cook.

    Sorry I can’t be of more help, but I never use a recipe when making BBQ meatballs!

  • Davonne says:

    I really wanted to join in on baking day, but I’m in my first trimester of pregnancy, and didn’t have enough energy to plan out a list and go grocery shopping, let alone actually bake everything!

    I enjoyed reading your posts though, and I am hoping to join in once my energy returns (I am almost 11 weeks, so it may work out before your new baby is born).

  • Kacie says:

    If there’s one thing I did right before having my baby, it was stocking the freezer with meals! That has been a huge help to us in these early weeks.

    Next time, I hope to do the same, as well as stock up on my non-perishable items.

    By the way, for the meatballs: Do you freeze them uncooked, or do you cook then freeze? Or can you do it either way?

    **********************
    Money Saving Mom here:

    Kacie, you were an inspiration to me in this–so thanks!

    I usually freeze the meatballs uncooked, but you can do it either way you prefer. If you wanted to have them on hand for a quick lunch, it might be easier to have them precooked before you freeze them.

  • Antonella says:

    hi crystal,
    do you do anything with the pulp of veggies and fruit left in the pulp container after you make fresh juice?

    I give them to my doggie for extra vitamins/fibres but guess they could be used for humans alike..
    keep up the good work. I’m learning a lot from you and hope someday to have a family of my own.
    God bless
    Antonella
    (from Italy)
    *********************
    Money Saving Mom here:

    I have tried using the pulp in muffins before but have never been very successful.

  • Jaime says:

    how big is your freezer? mine is so full i could never put cookie sheets in there? or do you have a separate one that you fill?

    ************************
    Money Saving Mom here: I just had two over-the-fridge freezers I’m working with right now. Neither are very full since we just moved a few months ago and went from one refrig to two then. But I’m hoping that changes over the next two months! As I said in the post, I’m using our second refrigerator/freezer to put all my after-the-Baby meals and snacks in.

  • Emily Mitchell says:

    I think it’s wonderful – all of the healthy food and snacks you have prepared for your family! Inspires me to have a similar baking day. I have recently decided to go grocery shopping once a week (plus a quick fruit run the following week). I am thinking with the ‘extra day’ I can try doing something like this!
    I just want to let you know that your Blog has taught me to save over $200 per month on groceries and not only that but I also have a little stockpile in the basement – amazing!
    Take care, Em

  • Kat says:

    All I baked today was a loaf of bread to go with the stew we’re having for dinner. The last thing I baked and blogged about was apple bread.

    I really enjoy your blog and you have way more energy on baking day than I do 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    Just had my 3rd baby in 4 years, and my stocked freezer is great. She is 6 weeks old, and we still have plenty of food left in the freezer. What I am doing now that she is actually here is planning meals during the week (while my husband is at work) that come from the freezer. Then on the weekends, when my husband is home to share the work, I cook. It is making my freezer food last much longer. Also, we have been blessed with lots of people from our church bringing food, so that helps it stretch even farther.

  • Trisha says:

    THANK YOU for posting the granola bar recipe! My son Joshua (3 and a half) adores granola bars, but even buying them at Aldi’s it irks me to pay $0.18 a bar. Now I can make my own!!!!!!

  • Tausha says:

    Yeah! I’m so excited. I baked my first loaf of bread that actually turned out well. I found out about bread flour. I had no idea there was more then one white flour. I have alot to learn. That is why I appriciate these baking day posts so much. They give me a glimpse into how a stay at home mom can effectively spend her time and some cooking basics.

  • Joscelyn says:

    Crystal
    I have a recipe similar to that.
    If you want them to have peanut butter…stir in a half cup or so to the honey/ brown sugar mix *after* it’s done boiling.
    (And maybe add a little bit more oats or something) They are so delicious with the peanut butter! I add chocolate chips a lot too! :o)

  • Joscelyn says:

    Crystal
    I have a recipe similar to that.
    If you want them to have peanut butter…stir in a half cup or so to the honey/ brown sugar mix *after* it’s done boiling.
    (And maybe add a little bit more oats or something) They are so delicious with the peanut butter! I add chocolate chips a lot too! :o)

  • I didn’t bake these today, but I did bake them over the weekend….and boy are they good!

  • Donna says:

    Good Luck with all of your planning… I would love to have an extra fridge/freezer! I also have had 3 kids under 4 years and I am only now starting to get back to a “normal” routine and Ethan just turned 1 last month. Things will be hectic for a while… just enjoy your time with your new baby and don’t sweat the small stuff! Time goes by so quickly…..

  • gina says:

    very inspiring! think i could pull it off with only five weeks to go in my own pregnancy?

  • Sunshine says:

    Great ideas! Thanks for sharing!

  • FrannyFrugal says:

    Thanks to your inspiration I’ve begun my own baking day. It is amazing how much quicker meal time prep is when most things are already done. Plus, it’s a much more peaceful time of the day. And the savings (to buying the premade stuff at the store) are amazing.

    Thanks!

  • Tara says:

    How did you like the rice cooker? I’ve always thought that it would be wasted space (and money) to buy this when I can cook it in a boiler. But I have had a lot of people tell me how much they love their rice cooker recently. Curious as to how it did.

    I would also love the BBQ meatball recipe. Thanks for sharing your days with us!

  • Janet says:

    Wow, you really accomplished a lot. You will be very thankful for those freezer meals with 3 littles.

    I do a lot of freezer cooking. Mostly not once-a-month, as that is so labor intensive to me. I always double recipes and freeze the “extra” one. Also, when I get a great deal on meat, I freeze already cooked hamburger and chicken portioned into two cups for casseroles, tacos, BBQ sandwiches, etc. Other times chicken can be frozen in a marinade for cooking later. I never freeze raw hamburger as-is. I mix into meatloaf and freeze raw; just line the pan with saran wrap and pop it out and put in a ziplock once frozen. My meatballs I bake in the oven and freeze cooked since they go into a sauce later on. I make hundreds at a time since this saves so much time. Just flash freeze on a cookie sheet or tray and bag them, so they don’t all freeze lumped together.

    Most baked goods freeze well and I often individually wrap them so the kids can get one at a time. Slices of banana bread, cinnamon rolls, muffins, unfrosted cupcakes, etc. are all good choices.

    There is a yahoo group called friendly-freezer that I belong to and they are a wealth of info if you want to post your recipes and see how it can be frozen best or ideas for freezer foods. I would recommend getting the emails in digest if you join though, with 5000 members there are a lot of emails! Janet

  • Sarah says:

    You may not have gotten everything done on your to-do list, but you sure accomplished an impressive amount!

    I filled up our extra freezer with casseroles, taco meat, rice, breads, etc. these last few months in preparation for #4 (who is now 8 days late!) and am looking forward to the luxury of all those ready-made meals!

    Other things to do ahead: baby announcements (all done except for filling in vital stats and printing), laying out outfits for the other kids (I ironed and laid out Sunday outfits so Dad won’t have to do it), making sure bills are paid ahead, arranging for others to fill in for me at church, filling in the baby book (as much as can be done ahead, because there’s not much time afterward), of course washing and organizing the baby clothes, having thank you notes ready. There are many things one can do ahead of time (which I’m sure you know all about, being an old pro at this by now).

  • Victoria says:

    I want to have a baking day before baby #3 comes. (I am due just a few days before you, April 28) My last round of bloodwork showed that I am severly anemic. I’m hoping that the iron supplements do the trick and I’ll have the energy to get things done! I’ve already started my list! 🙂

  • a.k says:

    I baked dinner…some chicken breast soaked in water salt,garlic, pepper flakes, and vinegar. dumped it and then cubed it. then chopped peppers onions and cauliflor. Mixed the veggies with a can of cream of mushroom, some sour cream, and shredded moz cheese (all low fat). also threw in some extra seasoning based on how spicey u like it. put raw chicken in baking dish, cover with veggie mizture, then top with stuffing mixture. turned out pretty tasty.

  • Veronica L. says:

    First of all, let me say that I absolutely LOVE your site! I am also pregnant with #3 and due in April. So I have been looking for great ways to try to stock my freezer full of food so it will help my husband and our other kids out when the time comes.
    I enjoy your ideas and your menu planning. Congratulations on your little one and I look forward to reading more about your Baking Days 🙂

  • Elena says:

    Very impressive!!! I am glad you have enough energy to do this all. I like your recipes – they are so healthful, yummy and easy. I just wanted to share a few things with you to make your life a little bit easier next time you are going to make these things. First, when I make my sweet potatoes, instead of peeling them, I just wash them and put them in the oven on a baking sheet at 425F. When they are done, they will be easy to peel and mash. I hate peeling sweet potatoes. They are so tough. And second, I prebake my meatballs before freezing them. That makes things easier too, because you can just put them frozen in a sauce of your choice and cook in a slow-cooker. I am not trying to butt in or say my way is best. Just wanted to share some things I do. Hope this helps.

  • Janice says:

    Before my twins came 2 1/2 years ago, I started stocking our freezer about 3 months out. It was the best thing I ever did! (I also had a 2 year old at the time.) I kept a really organized spread sheet on the refrigerator, so we could keep track of what was in our basement freezer. The babies came in July. Between what I had frozen and meals from family/friends, I didn’t have to cook a “fresh” meal until the Holidays!!

    Also, I think the process of “project cooking” works well for me. I have always dreaded the daily grind of trying to come up with something for dinner. If I plan ahead and make a day of it, I enjoy it much more…and it is much more time efficient!

    Good Luck! and thanks for the inspiration!

  • Kris says:

    I made your waffle recipe. It was great. Thanks.

  • Lucky says:

    It was such a help to me to have a fully stocked freezer when my boy was born. One thing I made sure I did was put really easy to follow instructions for reheating on everything. Experience told me that I wouldn’t remember as much as I thought I would!

    Do you have a stand a lone freezer?

    I had a kitchen day this week as well, which I linked to above.

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