Hey everyone! Isabel here, I have officially been here on the farm for over 6 months and what a fun time I am having! There has been a big learning curve for sure, but I am loving it all. We just had our Barn Dance last month and now we are getting all set for Pumpkins on Pikes. I have heard so many great things about it and I cannot wait to experience it myself. I hope to see you all on the farm soon!
Massive Meal Prep
Like many of you I am sure, my daughter and I are still trying to settle into a good routine after the start of school. I always underestimate how busy this time of year is. August is crazy busy! We have four birthdays, my daughter has performances for her summer show, school starts and of course we have the fun filled Barn Dance here on the farm. With the whirlwind that is August, we seem to be playing catch up for the first few weeks of September. My daughter and I sat down at the beginning of the month to plan (my daughter loves planning, me not so much, but it’s worth it). After figuring out how busy we were going to be, we needed a way to make things easier for us both.
I don’t know about you, but for us the most challenging part of the day is dinner - who cooks, what are we eating, do we have the supplies … it’s so much to coordinate. If we don’t plan, inevitably we end up picking up something or eating out! We have been meal planning for quite a while now, and it helps a lot, but we often would still be too busy or exhausted to actually follow through. So after looking at the problem, we decided to take our meal planning to the next level by starting to use our crockpot (ok, it’s a pressure cooker with a slow cook function, but same difference). Priority number 1 - it had to be super-fast and easy in the mornings. To say I am not a morning person is a bit of an understatement, I loathe mornings! This meant we needed to literally be able to dump everything in the crockpot, push a couple of buttons and go.
This process is labor intensive; it took us most of a day to prep about 12 meals (including the shopping). But trust me when I say it is SOOOOOO worth it. Today my daughter has rehearsal until 7pm and I have errands to run after work. This morning we put a batch of chili in the slow cooker and tonight dinner will be ready when we get home. All I will have to do is slice up some avocado and if I am feeling energetic chop up some onions for the top. We have eaten out much less in the last couple of weeks! I think we will probably do this once a month or so. I can’t wait to try more recipes. If you find a recipe you love share it with me!
Side note: My daughter is what she calls a VeggieChickaTurkeyFishiarian, so we had to look for recipes that could be adapted to vegetarian or made with chicken. This is why all my recipes below are vegetarian or chicken. If I was prepping just for me, pulled pork, beef stew and so many more things would have been included.
Here is what we did:
Step 1: Plan the meals
We didn’t plan which nights we would eat what, we just decided on a variety of recipes to prep and freeze. My daughter loves Pinterest, so this part was quite fun for us. There are endless possibilities for what they call Dump Dinners (What an awful name!).
Step 2: Make a grocery list and go shopping
This is possibly the most challenging part of the whole thing. It is so easy to go down the rabbit hole on Pinterest and lose track of what you wanted to make! Just pin what you like and either write down ingredients right then or be able to quickly get back to it. We like to split our list up into sections of the grocery store, this makes shopping much easier! I recommend either physically writing down your list or using a list app (I like paperless). It is so easy to forget things if you don’t keep track, especially when you are talking about prepping 10+ meals at a time.
Step 3: Prep to prep
What? Before you can actually put together your meals you need to prep your groceries and space. This means starting with a clean kitchen, getting out the tools you will use, taking the time to sort your groceries into piles and washing all your veggies. Then cut everything you will need and put it all into bowls, so you can grab what you need for each recipe. Yes this meant cutting a whole bag of onions at a time, but everything else moves much faster when you do this!
Step 4: Meal prep
Once all your veggies and meat is prepped you can quickly put together what you need for each recipe and get it in the freezer. If you need things cooked before they go into the freezer – for example ground beef (we use chicken of course) then cook them all at the same time. Once all this is done actually meal prepping is a breeze! Find your recipe and place all the ingredients in your freezer container. Label them so you don’t forget what is in each container. Trust me you do not want to miss this step! It is so easy to forget. Safety note: Don’t partially cook meat that is going in the freezer, either cook it all the way through and cool completely, or leave raw!
Step 5: Enjoy
In the morning if you have a busy evening just grab a meal and dump it in the crock pot and set it for the number of hours you want it to cook -if you have a pressure cooker or instapot after the cooking is done it switches to the keep warm setting – I love this because if you are late you do not need to worry about it! When you get home your dinner is ready, just add something for freshness and possibly make some sides if needed. A salad, a steamed veggie, sliced avocado, or whatever goes with your meal!
Here is a list of what we made, but there are endless recipes out there, so just make what sounds good! We also tried to add more veggies to most of the meals, as a lot of crockpot recipes are kind of heavy. The veggies can get a bit soft, but I figure it’s better to have them in there! I also did not follow the recipes exactly as I rarely do unless I am baking!
Most recipes would make 2 meals since there are only 2 of us.
Ramen - We just prepped all the veggies and spices, will add the stock the morning of and the noodles right when we get home. I confess I did not use a recipe for this, as we eat ramen a lot, and I know what we like now. (This is easily done with pork, chicken or beef depending on what you like!)
Cilantro Lime Chicken – For tacos, or over rice
As the days get shorter and the mornings get colder we start looking to fall on the farm. This means Turkeys and of Pumpkins on Pikes! The turkeys have all arrived and are almost all big enough to move to their home on pasture (some are already there). The turkeys spend the first little bit of their time on the farm in the brooders and then are moved to pasture where they live a happy life. The baby turkeys are very curious and mischievous, getting into all kinds of pickles and keeping our farmhands busy. Once the turkeys start to jump up on the fence it is about time for them to move. You can see the turkeys if you come visit the farm. They will be here until the week before Thanksgiving … have your reserved your Thanksgiving turkey yet?
We are in full swing of planning for Pumpkins on Pikes. The pumpkin field is chock full of pumpkins! It takes over 1400 pumpkins to host two days of Pumpkins on Pikes. We are changing up the menu for this year and are super excited to be working with an amazing chef! Stay tuned for more info about what to expect, just trust me when I say it is going to be YUMMY! In addition to menu planning we are coordinating face painters, rock painting, ice cream, a hay pyramid and maze and of course the pumpkin carving. We are so excited; this year is going to be amazing! Tickets are already sold out; we are hoping to add some more days for next year!
Thank you for supporting our farm, and we hope to see you soon!