If you’re considering having people write guest posts on your blog, I’d highly recommend you find someone that will say super nice things about you like Kayla has done here. 😉 She is a super mom, wife, teacher, friend, artist, writer and board game expert! I highly value our friendship and I am so glad she was able to share her cooking experience with us all. I hope you enjoy!
A Crock of (Friend)ship, Why Freezer Meals are the Best Gift Ever: A Guest Post by Kayla Young
Have you ever had a friend who just gets you? Like, maybe even better than you get yourself?
I’m lucky to have such a friend, especially when I really and truly don’t think that I am even half as good of a friend to her as she is to me. But, for whatever reason, she hangs around and gives awesome and thoughtful gifts to my family and I, and I try to reciprocate her kindness by feeding her popcorn with extra butter and giving her unlimited access to baby snuggles and every episode of Project Runway. This formula seems to be working so far, but I am always trying to come up with ways to sweeten the deal for her, like tagging her in funny memes and sending her Snapchats of myself as a puppy every now and again.
If you ever find someone who is willing to fly across the country to come and visit you and then insists that you “let” her babysit your child so that you and your husband can go on your first date in three months, by golly, you hang onto that friend and you never let her go. And if you happen to find that that very same person surprises you with a week’s worth of freezer meals on the last week of your maternity leave (when you are feeling very emotionally unstable and are also filled with equal amounts of anxiety and despair) then you don’t just hang onto that person, you kidnap them and chain them to the furnace in your basement so that they never have a chance to escape.
But seriously. Becoming a new mom was filled with challenges and unexpected twists and turns, but having incredible support from my family and friends was instrumental in making it through that first year. I am fortunate to have a fairly easy-going baby, but that doesn’t change the fact that life in this new rhythm was made so much better by the people who were there by my side the whole time. And knowing that I have a friend who consistently sacrifices to show me how much she cares for me makes me pretty much the luckiest girl in the world.
There are many ways to support a family going through transition, but I have to say, possibly one of the most impactful of those is keeping that family fed.
Having meals that I could simply throw into the crockpot made for some of my most stress-free days both during my maternity leave and once I had gone back to work. The meals that Laine made for our family were delicious, healthy, and made mealtime so, so easy, since all I had to do was pull the pre-made dinner out of the freezer and stick it in the crockpot before work, and make a pot of rice about 30 minutes before we were ready to sit down to eat (for the meals that required this side). While I promised Laine a guest post about the process of making these meals, I realized that I didn’t have much to write because it was literally less work than writing this paragraph.
Something I really loved about the way she prepared the meals was that she wrote down instructions on what was best to pair with each dish (like rice or tortillas). That way, I could easily look at the bag and decide on what meal I would stick in the crock pot based on whether I had the accompanying ingredients on hand (and if I didn’t, reminded me what I might need to pick up from the grocery store on the way home). This is something I have never thought of before when making freezer meals, but would highly suggest. I also thought it was great that she wrote out the ingredients on the bags so that we knew exactly what was inside. This made it easy for me to know what to use if I wanted to recreate the dish again in the future, and is especially smart for gifting freezer meals to families with picky eaters or allergies, so that everyone knows exactly what’s going on their plates!
When we made the Lemon Garlic Chicken, I sautéed some kale (one of the leafy greens of choice in our house!) with garlic, olive oil, lemon and red pepper flakes. I usually just eyeball the ingredients, but if you are looking for a recipe, this one works great.
I shredded the chicken and served it with the kale over rice. Delish!
I chose to serve the Cilantro Lime Chicken over quinoa and added some sautéed red peppers and shredded cheese on top. I know that making this recipe was the ultimate show of love on Laine’s part, because she cooked it for me despite her intense dislike for cilantro! Thanks, Laine!
Who doesn’t love Fajitas?! Although we served ours in flour tortillas, this mix would also have been perfect over rice or quinoa for anyone looking for a gluten-free option. Adding rice also would have been a great way to squeeze an extra meal out of this recipe. I added sliced avocado, grape tomatoes and pickled jalapeños to the mix. Yum!
The Honey-Sesame Chicken was so flavourful and delicious! I was feeling a bit lazy on the veggie front, and just served the meat and sauce over rice with sesame seeds for a garnish. If I were to make it again, I think I would add some sautéed baby bok choy using a recipe like this. I like to chop my bok choy up and add napa cabbage to the mix to make it easier to cook and a little more appealing to picky eaters (ie my husband and my baby).
For all of these meals, we were able to feed one mama bear, one daddy bear, and one baby bear – twice. As I mentioned above, the more veggies and starch you add to these meals, the further you’ll be able to make them go. Again – having these meals ready to throw into the crockpot was a lifesaver, because the only thing better than having your dinner taken care of is having leftovers for lunch the next day! It’s so worth the effort to make meals like this ahead of time for your family, and Laine has some excellent tips for doing this in an efficient way to save yourself some time. Be sure to check out her previous post to read more about the process and also to get the recipes for each of these delicious dishes. I’d recommend them all!
If you’re feeling like the process seems daunting, why not invite a friend over, double the ingredients and each of these meals for both of you? Put one person in charge of chopping veggies while the other takes care of the meat and canned items. Stick some Netflix on in the background, et voila! You’ve got yourself a party. OR, you could try hunting down your own amazing friend who will do all of this work for you, but don’t even think about trying to steal mine.
Thanks so much for sharing with us Kayla! Please let us know what you cook for your family in the comments. If you would like to do a guest post for Guliash Girl, please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook.
Kayla is a 29 year old wife, human mom of one and cat mom of two living in Calgary, Alberta. Recently, she returned back to working full-time as a teacher, where she spends her lunch hours crying in the bathroom while looking at pictures of her son on her phone (just kidding, things are actually going reasonably well). Kayla’s blog, The Aspiring Something, received its name in honour of the many things she has found herself aspiring to become, including (but not limited to) a pretty good wife, a passable mom, a decent human being and a blogger whose posts you hopefully want to read. You can follow her pursuits at www.theaspiringsomething.co