20 Home Tasks to Get Done During Downtime

When I read this list of 20 Home Tasks to Get Done During Downtime, the first thing that came to mind was this: I can’t honestly remember the last time I did ANY of these things! (But I’m pretty sure the correct answer is before I had a baby.)

I’m not sure what’s worse… The fact that we have three years’ worth of dust + grime in our remotes or the fact that I just admitted it on the internet (hehe).

I thought it was a fabulous little reminder of those tiny little jobs that aren’t actually hard to do, but could easily turn a quiet snowy day at home into one that feels ACCOMPLISHED – even if I just do one of them.

What would you add to this list?

– Lindsay

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Welcome to Nicole!

Please welcome Nicole to our MOMs website team! She’ll be joining Annemarie + I in helping to keep this space updated, moderated, and generally fabulous.

Effective immediately, she’ll also be stepping into our vacant role of Volunteer Coordinator – so if you have any questions about snacks or devos, she’ll be the person to talk to. If you don’t have her personal email address or phone number, you can always find her through our general Bethel MOMs email address.

– Lindsay

Freezer-Friendly Recipes (Part 1)

I thought I’d get us started with two of my favourite freezer cooking recipes / ideas. Please send yours in and we’ll share them here!

Sweet + Sour Baked Chicken
This Canadian Living recipe has been a favourite for years – especially once I discovered that I could easily multiply the recipe, prep it once, and freeze two or three extra dishes for future dinners. There’s even a calculator on the recipe itself so you can scale it up without doing any math at all (yep, I hear angels singing too). I make the recipe as described, but stop before the final 20 + 20 minute bake. When I make it later, I defrost it in the fridge overnight and then follow the regular baking instructions.

Grill-Ready Chicken
When I buy big packages of chicken breasts at Costco and I’m dividing up some portions to freeze, I freeze some of them with marinade. I just add my marinade of choice to the bag with the chicken, seal it up (using a straw to suck out the extra air), and keep it in the fridge for a few hours before throwing it in the freezer as usual. Later, I’ll pull it out and let it defrost in the fridge overnight before I use it – but the combined pre- and post-freezer marinading time makes it AWESOME (and ready to throw on the BBQ with absolutely no prep work). There are lots of great recipes for marinade around – my favourite is this Jillian Michaels one – but if I’m exhausted + in the hurry, I really like some of the olive oil based salad dressings and just use that instead.

I also wanted to share two FABULOUS and super relevant websites that I use: Still Tasty and Once a Month Mom.

Still Tasty: If you’re like me, you stare at items in your fridge / freezer / cupboard with a look of bewilderment on your face on a regular basis and wonder how long you’re supposed to hang onto things. This website lets you search for whatever you’re wondering about, and it will tell you exactly how long you should keep it – and when it should be unceremoniously tossed. It’s such a simple concept for a website, but it’s SO SMART and I find myself checking it often.

Once a Month Mom: This site has monthly menus featuring seasonal recipes – and unlike many freezer cooking sites, this one has unique menus for vegetarians, families that eat gluten or dairy free, people watching calories, recipes with a focus on whole foods, and even a menu for making baby food. GENIUS, right? Something else that sets this site apart is that the menus include breakfast and lunch ideas. This mom does an incredible job of holding your hand through the whole process – including printable recipes, photos for those of us who are visual, a printable grocery list, and printable labels. If you don’t want to go all in, you can just browse the menus + look through her recipes to find a freezer-friendly idea that will work for your family. That’s all I do, though I look at the full plans every month and think about it very seriously… SOMEDAY!

– Lindsay

Wrap-Up: Freezer Cooking

Well, it sounded like several of us learned quite a bit about cooking in advance this morning! I did my best to remember all the HOT TIPS but if I’ve forgotten any or you have some of your own, you definitely need to put them in the comments.

Things that don’t freeze well:

  • Dairy (except for grated cheese)
  • Eggs
  • Un-blanched vegetables with a high water content
  • Red potatoes (russets and Yukon gold ones will work better)
  • Raw meat that’s been frozen and thawed once already (it’ll dry out AND it is more likely to make you sick) – but you can cook it and then refreeze it

How to blanch your raw veggies for freezing: Dunk them in boiling UNSALTED water for 10-15 seconds and then shock them in cold/icy water to stop the cooking process. This keeps the veg from going mushy and gross, and it also helps prevent the nutrients from breaking down (it goes with the mushy-fying process).

Don’t salt your freezer-bound meals – salt dehydrates!

Labels are your friends.

Freezer bags are your friends too. You can freeze broth, beans, sauce, and all sorts of things in freezer bags and store them FLAT so that more fit in your freezer AND they freeze/thaw faster. Make sure you get all the air out – either squish it out with your hands, or seal the top around a straw and suck the air out before you pull out the straw and seal the hole.

Ok, that’s all my pregnant brain held on to. Was there more?

And please send in your recipes! You can send them to Lindsay or me (our addresses are linked under the contacts tab at the top) or to the Bethel Moms address – bethelmoms AT gmail DOT com. Thanks!

~Annemarie

Around the Web

This week, it felt like there were LOTS of parenting-related articles making their rounds online – even more than usual – and I thought I’d share links to a few of them here. Some of them made me cry because I could totally relate. Some of them made me want to throw things because I disagreed so strongly. All of them made me think…

What do YOU think?

– Lindsay

Social Moms

There’s a lot that happens between Thursdays… And social media is a great way to stay in touch! Lots of our moms are active on Facebook / Twitter / Google+ / Pinterest / blogs / etc. If you’re one of them, please let us know by commenting here (with links so we can find you!).

– Lindsay

Next Up: Freezer Cooking

At MOMs this Thursday, we’ll be learning the ins and outs of freezer cooking (aka being super organized and making things on a slow day that you’ll be super grateful for on some future busy day). Maria from The Food Studio is coming to talk to us – and then walk us through assembling a freezer meal each of us to take home! OH HAPPY DAY.

Because we’re each going home with dinner for our families, our cost for this session is obviously much higher than usual. If you’re planning to participate, we’ll be asking for an extra $4 for everyone – so that’s $4 extra for people who’ve signed up for the entire Winter Session or a total of $10 if you’re paying to drop in. Please see Megan on Thursday if you haven’t prepaid.

Nothing is required except for a *suggested* apron + a hair tie if yours is long enough to get in the way. If you have a small child who stays with you, a baby wrap or carrier might not be a bad idea… But we’ll all pitch in and make sure that if you want to take a meal home, you’ll have a meal to take home.

If group cooking just isn’t your thing, please come anyway! Grab an extra cup of coffee and just hang out with the other moms who are opting out.

We’re also asking you to submit your favourite freezer cooking or make-ahead recipes that we’ll share right here on our blog… So start thinking about what you can share – and email us so we can share them with the rest of the group. Thanks!

– Lindsay

Last Call

Just a friendly reminder that we’ll be drawing for a *small* door prize tomorrow morning at MOMs! Anyone who leaves a comment on the Winter 2012 Schedule page (until midnight tonight) will be entered to win…

And yes, you do need to brave the cold and come to MOMs to win. I KNOW. I hate toddler snowsuits too. But I promise the coffee will be hot – and we’re all looking forward to seeing you there!

– Lindsay