Freezer Friendly Meals

It is always nice to have freezer meals available at home. Whether you are stocking up your freezer to prepare for the upcoming busy school year, or you are getting ready to have a baby, meals in your freezer give you a sense of security. There are a couple different types of freezer meals that I use, ones that are frozen before they are baked, and ones that are cooked and then frozen in individual serving sizes. I personally prefer the latter, but use both.

Precooked Individual Serving Size Freezer Meals:

The meals that can be cooked first are nice because they can be frozen in individual serving sizes. This makes it convenient to pull out the desired amount and quickly warm in the microwave at a moments notice. I especially love doing this with soups and enchiladas. Click the links below to find recipes that I enjoy freezing in individual serving sizes.

Taco Soup

Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas (Coming Soon)

Chicken Enchiladas with White Sauce (Coming Soon)

Spaghetti

Tatter Tot Casserole (Coming Soon)

Asian Pulled Pork (Coming Soon)

How to Freeze Soup:

My mom taught me this nifty trick for freezing soup without tying up your dishes in the freezer. Check it out.

How to Freeze Soup

Ingredients

  • Soup
  • Muffin Tins
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Sandwich Bags
  • Gallon Bags
  • Permanent marker

Instructions

  1. Scoop soup into muffin tins.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil.
  3. Set on a level surface in the freezer until completely frozen.
  4. Once frozen, thaw out the soup just a little bit by setting the muffin tin in a cookie sheet filled with warm water.
  5. Use a fork to remove the frozen soup cups.
  6. Put two or three of the frozen soup cups into individual sandwich baggies.
  7. I like to double bag them to protect from freezer burn by placing all of the individual baggies into a gallon size freezer bag.
  8. Be sure to label baggies with the date and contents.
  9. When you are ready for a single serving of soup, place a few frozen soup cups in the microwave for a couple minutes and it is good to go!
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Recipes That are Frozen Before They are Baked:

These recipes serve their purpose too. Since they are not cooked yet, they take up a larger family sized dish. These are great if you know you will have company, and don’t want to miss out by spending all your time in the kitchen. However, they typically require advanced notice as they can take several hours to thaw/cook. These meals don’t work so well on those nights when 5:00 sneaks up on you and you haven’t prepared anything for dinner yet. You kinda have to plan in advance to use these type of freezer meals, which is why I don’t like them as much as the precooked individual serving size ones. I do however like to use these on Sundays. I let them thaw while we are gone to church, and then come home and bake them for an hour or so. Sometimes it is nice to have a break from all the meal prep and still have a home cooked meal. Some of my  favorite recipes to freeze before they are baked are listed below. Click the links to get my recipes.

Mom’s Lasagna (Coming Soon)

White Vegetarian Lasagna with Artichokes and Mushrooms (Coming Soon)

I hope you enjoy these freezer meals. Check back often for new freezer friendly recipes, or Subscribe to receive emails about new posts on the blog.

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Spaghetti

This Spaghetti Recipe is great because you can change it up depending on what you have in your fridge. If you are like me, you almost always have the backbones like spaghetti noodles, and spaghetti sauce in your pantry. Just throw in some extra ingredients and spices and you have yourself an exceptional Spaghetti. I like to serve this with salad  or steamed Vegetables and garlic Parmesan toast to make it a meal. To make the toast just butter bread and sprinkle some garlic salt and powdered Parmesan cheese. For extra flare sprinkle with Italian seasoning.  Bake in a toaster oven or in an oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until lightly toasted.

Spaghetti
Spaghetti Vegetarian Style with onions, bell peppers, carrots and celery.

 

Spaghetti

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Spaghetti

Ingredients

  • 1 jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp rosemary (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tsp oregano,
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Other Ingredients: 1 lb browned ground beef, 1 precooked/cured turkey sausage link sliced, diced onion, diced bell pepper, diced carrots, diced celery, sliced mushrooms, artichoke hearts etc.

Instructions

  1. In a Saucepan combine spaghetti sauce, canned tomatoes, brown sugar, rosemary, oregano, garlic powder, and Other Ingredients of your choosing. I prefer my sauce chunky, so the more add ins the better.
  2. Cover and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once sauce is at a boil, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer with lid, stirring occasionally.
  4. Simmering the sauce allows the flavors to blend together, dont be afraid to keep it in there for a while.
  5. While sauce is simmering prepare spaghetti noodles according to package instructions and prepare toast, vegetables or other side dishes.
  6. Be sure to taste the vegetables in the sauce to test tenderness before serving.
  7. Serve sauce hot over whole wheat spaghetti noodles.
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Enjoy!

If you have any leftovers, they can easily be frozen and served at a later time. To read more about freezing leftovers go here.

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Taco Soup

This Taco Soup is one of my favorites because not only is it a crowd pleaser, it is easy on the budget, and easy to make. It doesn’t get much easier than dumping all  the ingredients in a crock pot and returning a few hours later! This recipe is also super versatile. I like to alternate between using canned chicken and browned ground beef, and I have even made it vegetarian by adding extra beans and omitting the meat all together. I like to switch up what type of beans I use as well including, kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans. No matter how I alter this recipe, it seems to turn out great! It is a very forgiving recipe, so if you have an idea, run with it. I like to double the batch, eat some for dinner, and freeze the rest. Find out How to Freeze Soup here.

Taco Soup
Gather all ingredients, I only had one can of corn and the recipe calls for two, but it turned out fine with only one.
Taco Soup
Open all cans (except the chicken) and dump them in juices and all!
Taco Soup
Add in the taco seasoning.
Taco Soup
Drain the canned chicken before adding it to the crock pot.
Taco Soup
Give the soup a good stir.
Taco Soup
Let cook in crock pot for 2-3 hours on high.
Taco Soup
Serve hot.
Taco Soup
This soup can also be garnished with tortilla chips, sour cream (or plain yogurt), and shredded cheddar cheese.
Taco Soup
Mix it all up, and YUM! This is my favorite way to eat it. Enjoy!

 

Taco Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours

Yield: 4 servings with a significant amount of left overs

Taco Soup

Ingredients

  • Soup:
  • 2 15 oz cans of diced tomatos
  • 2 15 oz cans of corn
  • 2 15 oz cans of beans (Kidney, pinto, or black)
  • 1 12.5 oz can of chicken breast (can use more if desired)
  • Taco seasoning- enough required for 1 lb of meat per instructions on packaging
  • Garnish:
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Gather all ingredients
  2. Open all cans (except the chicken) and dump them in juices and all!
  3. Add in the taco seasoning.
  4. Drain the canned chicken before adding it to the crock pot.
  5. Give the soup a good stir
  6. Let cook in crock pot for 2-3 hours on high.
  7. Garnish with tortilla chips, sour cream (or plain yogurt), and shredded cheddar cheese.
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A Birth Story- Finding Peace in the Lord

This weekend, we celebrated my son’s 4th birthday. I cannot believe that he joined our family and changed our lives forever 4 whole years ago! Time is such a strange thing, it seems to stand still, yet circle around at light speed all at the same time. Something about this month is emotional for me. As his birthday comes around each year, I can’t help but reminisce on the events leading to his birth, and that beautiful moment when I first heard him cry. My life would never be the same again. In that moment, everything belonged. I felt my purpose, and the joy I shared with my husband as our son was born was more celestial than I could have ever imagined, or hoped it to be.

A Birth Story- Finding Peace in the Lord
My loving husband did so much for me while I was pregnant. I am so glad, I had him by my side to help me through it all.

All throughout my pregnancy I would envision how my labor would go. I planned to have a natural birth doing most of my laboring at home. Once I got to the hospital, I planned to labor without an epidural. I didn’t want to have an IV, but wanted a heparin lock to provide quick access to an IV in case of an emergency. I had taken a birthing class, and had a birth plan typed out to take with me to the hospital. Being a structured individual, having a plan comforted me. However, as many know, sometimes babies have a mind of their own, and labors do not always progress the way you think they will. Having my son was a very humbling experience. It taught me to really trust in my Father in Heaven, and how to act upon the promptings of the Holy Spirit, even when it was uncomfortable for me. I was able to stay unbelievably calm in what would normally be a very scary situation for me. I have no doubt that there were angels there comforting me along the way.  Here is how the story goes.

It was 5 days past my son’s due date, and at 1:30 am, my water broke. The fluid was clear and I was not having any contractions so I went back to bed. At about 2:30 am I woke up again to use the restroom and this time the fluid was a golden green color. I still wasn’t having contractions, and I wanted to do a majority of laboring at home, so I tried to contact my doctor to see if he thought it was safe, to stay home, or if I needed to go to the hospital. After trying to call several times and only reaching a voicemail, I decided to call the hospital. They said that the golden green mucus was meconium. This meant that the baby had passed his first stool in the womb. This can sometimes be an indication that the baby is in distress so they recommended that I come in. We gathered some last minute things and by 3:30 am we were off to the hospital. I started having very minor contractions about 3 min apart in the car. We arrived to the hospital by 4:00 am and went to triage.

The nurse in triage confirmed that my water had broken and we were admitted. She checked me and found I was 85% effaced and I was only dilated to a one. I was a little disappointed that I was not further progressed, since I wanted to do most of my laboring in the comfort of my own home. However, my highest priority was making sure my baby was safe, so it was comforting to know that I was in a hospital with people who were ready to assist if anything went wrong.

By 7:00 am we were finally in our laboring room where my husband gave me a priesthood blessing. We decided to take a nap since we only had a few hours of sleep that night. The contractions were too uncomfortable for me to nap, but they weren’t too painful yet. I was happy my husband was able to get some rest. I wanted him to have energy later on to lend support when the labor became more intense. I tried several positions on the hospital bed, standing and on the birthing ball. I began to feel exhausted from the contractions, and lack of sleep so I decided to take a shower to help me relax. I felt much better after the shower so I tried to nap again. This time my husband sat with me in the hospital bed with his arm around me supporting my tired body. Finally in my husband’s arms, I was able to relax enough to fall asleep.

Then things took a turn. We were only sleeping for about half an hour when suddenly the baby began kicking very hard. I had never been woken up by his kicks before so this seemed strange. I could hear his heart beat on the fetal monitor, and it started to slow and eventually stop. Though I was terrified for my baby, I was able to stay calm. I took a few deep breaths and tried to nudge the baby around, and change my position hoping his heartbeat would return. A nurse rushed in (the machine must have notified her that there was no reading on the heartbeat.) She tried moving the monitor around on my belly to get a better reading. It took four minutes before they found his heart beat again. Those were the longest four minutes of my life.

I tried staying as calm as possible taking deep breaths. My mama bear instinct kicked in.  If my baby was in distress, I couldn’t be in distress too, I needed to be strong for him. This thought kept me calm. While the nurse was looking for the heartbeat during those scary four minutes, another nurse came in and gave me an oxygen mask. She hooked my heparin lock up to an IV. It started to stinging, so I thought something was wrong with it. The nurse quickly responded and put another heparin lock in my other hand.

A short while later the reading on his heart beat was lost again. All I could think was, “My baby is suffocating in there, we need to get him out! I want him safe in my arms!” The nurse did an internal exam to see if I had progressed enough to try and deliver vaginally. She found that I was still only dilated to one cm after several hours of labor. The nurse called my OBGYN to give him an update on the baby and me. He wanted to do an Emergency Cesarean Section. When I heard this, I felt relief, and a very strong sense of calm came over me. I knew that this was what we needed to do to keep my son safe. It is insane how much your personal preferences change when your babies safety is in jeopardy. I would do anything to make sure he was safe! (Mom’s do hard things for the welfare of their children, even get C-Sections!) I knew he needed to come quickly, and I was so grateful for modern technology and capable doctors and nurses that were prepared to save my baby’s life.

I have never been good with needles. I tend to faint when blood or needles are around, or even when they are talked about too graphically. It is something that I have struggled with since I was a child. Throughout my pregnancy, getting blood work done was always very scary for me. I found that if the phlebotomist let me lay down during the draw, and if I had my husband there holding my hand talking to me and distracting me, I could get through it without fainting.

I told the nurse about my fainting tendencies, and asked if I could lay down and have my husband with me when they administered the anesthesia. Although they were grateful that I let them know my tendency to faint, this particular anesthesia had to be administered while I was sitting up. Also, my husband would not be allowed in the operating room until after the anesthesia had been administered. This information would normally have created much anxiety, but I was overcome by a great feeling of calm as they wheeled me away from my husband and into the operating room.

Though my husband was not permitted to enter the room, I believe that angels accompanied me. I felt God’s love so strong, and knew I was not alone. I was sure that there were ancestors that had passed on before me, there in that room by my side giving me peace. As they administered the anesthesia, they had a nurse stand in front of me and I put my arms around her neck until they were done. It was kinda like a big bear hug, and I didn’t feel faint at all.

My husband  was permitted to join me, and he lovingly stroked my hair as the doctor worked. We couldn’t believe that it was finally time to meet our little one. All of a sudden we heard a loud scream from our son. My OBGYN jokingly said, “Hey, you’re not out yet, you can’t scream!” We laughed and cried with pure joy. Life is such a miracle! I can’t believe that we had the privilege to create this amazing little child together!

A Birth Story- Finding Peace in the Lord

The nurse took him across the room to make sure he was healthy. My husband was with him the whole time. Once they knew he was healthy, they brought him by my face and I was able to see him for the first time. He was so perfect. His eyes were open and he was just looking around. I cried and said “Mommy loves you so much, we have been waiting for you for a long time, we are so glad you are here safe.”

A Birth Story- Finding Peace in the Lord

My husband accompanied him back to our room and they held hands while the doctor finished working on me. My husband waited to hold him so that I could be the first one to hold him. They kept him in the warmer to make sure his temperature stayed high enough. When the surgery was done, I joined them in the room and the three of us held hands. I couldn’t believe that we were finally parents! Nothing but joy filled my heart.

A Birth Story- Finding Peace in the Lord

The nurse said that instead of using the warmer, I could hold him with a blanket to keep him warm. I had waited my entire life for this moment, and it was as sweet as I had anticipated. There is nothing like holding your baby for the first time. I just loved snuggling him skin to skin on my chest.

A Birth Story- Finding Peace in the Lord

I was able to nurse him and daddy got a turn to hold him too. He was so proud to be the father of this little boy. What an amazing thing it was to finally have him there with us.

A Birth Story- Finding Peace in the Lord

Now 4 years have gone by: This boy has taken me on an emotional roller coaster. He has taught me so much. He has had boundless energy since day one. He has taught me about unconditional love, and patience, and most of all how to have fun. His personality is so different than mine in many ways, and he has taught me to laugh, and to find wonder in the beautiful things in life. In many ways he is just like me. He is stubborn, and is all about following the rules. Sometimes when I look at him all I can see is my husband, and other times he reminds me of myself. He is getting so big, adventurous and learning so fast. Oh how I love this boy!

A Birth Story- Finding Peace in the Lord
This boy has so much personality! He cracks me up. I am so lucky he is mine!

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Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons

Common Questions about Introducing Baby Food:

Introducing your child to baby food can be an exciting milestone for you and your little one. I didn’t realize how much there was to know about baby food until I was in the thick of it. I had heard all types of advice from friends, relatives, and our pediatrician. When my first child’s pediatrician gave me advice about introducing baby food, I remember feeling more overwhelmed when I left the office than when I arrived. His advise though good, was a little vague, and left me with lots of questions. His general advice was this: (My thoughts in response to his advice are in the parenthesis below.)

  • Baby can start eating baby food anywhere between 4-8 months. ( In the life of a baby, 4 months is such a long time! They develop so dramatically physically over the course of 4 months, how will I know when my baby is ready?) All kids are different. I decided to introduce baby food to both my children at 6 months respectively. While my daughter was eager, my son was not ready. I just gave it a break for a week or so until he demonstrated he was ready. Read more at “Is Your Baby Ready For Solid Foods?
  • Some foods should not be offered to baby in the first year including honey, peanuts, and cow’s milk. Other foods tend to give baby’s gas and should be avoided until their digestive tract is more developed and they can handle it better. (Is there a list of when certain foods should be introduced/foods to avoid?) See a list here of appropriate ages to introducing certain foods to your baby courtesy of Wholesomebabyfood.com.

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons

  • Only introduce baby to one new food at a time. Wait 4 days before introducing another new food to be certain baby doesn’t have an allergic reaction. (This makes sense, sounds good.)
  • Introduce new foods to baby in the AM rather than the PM in case of adverse reaction. This way, in the case baby has a reaction, you can resolve a bloated/gassy stomach during wake time rather than in the middle of the night. If there is a severe reaction, care can be obtained easier during the day as well. (Ahh! Severe Allergic reactions? This sounds scary!)
  • Generally people believe that baby should start off with rice cereal, however this doesn’t have to be baby’s first food. ( I am allergic to rice, and so is my brother. The pediatrician said that food allergies can be hereditary, so I think I won’t be using rice as my baby’s first food just in case he is allergic too.) Find out why “Rice cereal is a less than perfect choice...”

With all these questions/concerns bouncing around in my head, I set off to search the internet for answers. Thankfully I stumbled across a wonderful website called wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com. It has a plethora of information, including a section for common questions. I literally got lost for hours reading and gleaning information from this website. I was able to get the answers I was looking for and also received a lot of encouragement to make my own baby food. With my many questions answered, my anxiety changed to  ambition.  I wanted to make my own baby food!

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & ConsHere I am at the grocery store with my son buying a sweet potato to make his first baby food. This is not the most flattering picture of me, but it really illustrates the excitement I felt about making my own baby food for him. Unfortunately my first run with making baby food didn’t go so well. Read  about what I learned from my mistakes below.

Two Things to Keep in Mind Before You Start Making Your Own Baby Food:

  1. The right tool makes all the difference.  I set out to make my own sweet potato baby food. Unfortunately, I didn’t use an immersion blender on my first attempt. I just used a normal blender, and it was so frustrating, I felt like I blended that sweet potato forever, and it was still lumpy. I tried feeding it to my son on the day he turned 6 months, but he was not too excited about it. The texture was nowhere near the smooth texture I had seen in store bought baby food. Suddenly baby food from the store started to sound really good. Because the store bought green vegetable baby food smelled so bad, I attempted to feed it to my son only once, and after both of us were grossed out, I didn’t try again. He is about 4 years old now, and still doesn’t like green veggies. May be it is because he didn’t get much exposure to green veggies when he was little, or maybe he wouldn’t have liked it any way.  Who knows? Sorry bud! The first kid always seems to be the guinea pig.

When my second child started to get old enough to eat baby food, I decided I would try to make it myself again. This time I tried peas, and I used an immersion blender. I was blown away by how simple It was to make! Making my own baby food became a whole new experience! I wish I hadn’t given up so easily the first time around. Making the peas went so well that I tried it with carrots, green beans, corn, cauliflower, broccoli and I even attempted sweet potato again! The Immersion blender made all the difference!

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons
Frozen Home Made Baby Food. I couldn’t believe how much easier it was to make with an immersion blender!

Simplicity is the Key to Success: I recommend starting out with a vegetable that is easy to cook, preferably one you can steam right in the bag in the microwave. If you experience success early on, you will have the confidence later on to try making veggies that require a little more work. I didn’t realize that sweet potatoes were one of the more complicated baby foods to make since they take more work to cook/peal.

Homemade Baby Food Verses Store Bought:

Whether you choose to purchase baby food from the store, or make your own baby food at home, depends on what is important to you. Do you want convenience with a higher price tag? Do you want something cheaper and fresher but that will take a bit more time to prepare? What is important to you and your family? It may change according to certain circumstances. I have and use both homemade baby food as well as store bought baby food.

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons

Homemade Baby Food:

Tends to be more fresh, and vibrant in color. In most cases, It is cheaper than store bought baby food. Two jars of store bought baby food will cost more than a whole bag of frozen veggies that can make several servings of baby food.

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons

Store Bought Baby Food:

Store bought baby food is quick, easy, portable and convenient. It does however cost more than homemade baby food. I have store bought baby food packed in my daughter’s 72 hour Emergency kit. I do feed her store bought food at times, and it is comforting to know that she eats it just fine, and will have food she is familiar with in case of an emergency.

Using Both:

I am not extremely opposed to store bought baby food, in fact I have used it for both of my kids. I currently prefer using homemade baby food on a day to day use when we are at home. When we are out and about, or traveling, I  love the convenience of store bought baby food. I do not personally purchase the premade baby food with green veggies or meats, they just look unnatural and smell weird to me. Have you ever smelled them? I think they are gross! I have often wondered why the peas have a dull color in the jar when they are so vibrantly green when fresh? Something just doesn’t seem quite right about those green veggies. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of feeding my child something that made me gag just by looking at it.

I am not saying they are bad, and I do not think you are a bad mom if you use them for your kids. I just don’t personally love them, and I would be lying if I said I did. I do however love the store bought  fruit/veggie baby food pouches! Because these are so expensive, I only use them for convenience when we are out an about. If we are gone for an extended amount of time, but will have a kitchen available, I like to pack the plastic baby food jars and transfer them into my own reusable pouches to save a little money. I use the reusable pouches at home with my homemade baby food as well.

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons
GoGo Squeez 

If you plan to use either reusable or disposable pouches, I highly recommend getting a couple of these pouch toppers. They are soft so baby doesn’t hurt their sensitive teething gums on the hard plastic spouts that typically come on pouches. These keep eating clean as baby has to actively suck in order to make the food come out. I love that I can give my baby a food pouch with this special topper, and she can feed herself independently while I eat my own food. Sometimes it is nice to eat your own food uninterrupted.

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons

Reusable Pouches Pouch Toppers

I once accidentally took a bite of my baby’s food because I was distracted while feeding her from a spoon, and feeding myself soup from a spoon. Yuck! Lets face it, when you are feeding a toddler, and a baby and yourself at the same time, things can get a little crazy, so sometimes it is nice to let the baby feed themselves with a pouch. She really loves the independence too! Another handy thing we like to use is the Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder. Just toss a piece of apple, pear, banana etc inside of the mesh net and let baby go for it. With the mesh net, you don’t have to chop the food into so many tiny pieces. It is so convenient, but allows you to still use fresh food.

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons

How to Make Your Own Baby Food:

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons

  1. Start with some steamed Vegetables. I like to use the frozen vegetable packages that you can steam in the bag in the microwave. Smiths sells a variety of  Kroger brand frozen vegetables for $1.00 each. Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons
  2. Pour Vegetables in a small but deep bowl.Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons
  3. Pour Breast milk, formula or water over vegetables, starting with about 2 oz, adding more depending on the desired consistency. Keep in mind that different vegetables will require various amounts of liquid. Corn, peas and cauliflower tend to be naturally more moist than carrots or sweet potatoes, and will not require as much additional liquid.
    Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & ConsBaby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons
  4. Blend liquid and steamed vegetables using an immersion blender. You can purchase a hand blender like this one with a bonus measuring cup that would be perfect for blending your baby food on Amazon.Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons
  5. Once it is smooth, I like to use a cookie scoop to easily dish the baby food into an ice cube tray.Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons
  6. Cover the ice cube tray with plastic wrap and aluminum foil before freezing.

    Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons
    Pictured in order from top to bottom: Peas, Carrots, Corn, Cauliflower, Sweet Potato.
  7. Once frozen, twist the Ice cube tray to pop the baby food out and store in zip locked baggies in the freezer. Side Note: I have also tried using mini muffin tins  in place of ice cube trays. This didn’t work as well as you can not easily release the frozen baby food from the muffin tin like you can by twisting the ice cube trays. In order to release them I had to thaw the frozen baby food a little by placing the muffin tin in a cookie sheet filled with warm water. This allows them to melt a little so they can be released. Because they are semi thawed, they tend to stick together once they are frozen again. It works okay in a pinch but is definitely the ideal option.Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons
  8.  You can easily thaw one or two at a time in the microwave
    for about 30 seconds when you are ready to serve. Always test the temperature of the baby food on your own skin before feeding to baby in order to avoid burning your baby’s mouth.

I hope you find success in making your own baby food. If you have any questions, or need encouragement, write a comment below.

Home Made Baby Food

Home Made Baby Food

Ingredients

  • Steamed/Cooked Vegetables
  • Breast milk/ Formula/ Water

Instructions

  1. Steam Vegetables.
  2. Pour Vegetables in a small but deep bowl.
  3. Pour Breast milk, formula or water over vegetables, starting with about 2 oz, adding more depending on the desired consistency. (Keep in mind that different vegetables will require various amounts of liquid. Corn, peas and cauliflower tend to be naturally moister than carrots or sweet potatoes, and will not require as much additional liquid.)
  4. Blend liquid and steamed vegetables using an immersion blender.
  5. Once smooth, use a cookie scoop to dish baby food into an ice cube tray.
  6. Cover the ice cube tray with plastic wrap and aluminum foil before freezing.
  7. Once frozen, twist the Ice cube try to pop the baby food out and store in zip locked baggies in the freezer. Side Note: I have also tried using mini muffin tins in place of ice cube trays. This didn't work as well as you cannot easily release the frozen baby food from the muffin tin like you can by twisting the ice cube trays. In order to release them I had to thaw the frozen baby food a little by placing the muffin tin in a cookie sheet filled with warm water. This allows them to melt a little so they can be released. Because they are semi thawed, they tend to stick together once they are frozen again.
  8. You can easily thaw one or two at a time in the microwave for about 30 seconds when you are ready to serve. Always test the temperature of the baby food on your own skin before feeding to baby in order to avoid burning your baby's mouth.
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How to Have a Meaningful Fast Even with Health Restrictions

Since I was eight years old, I have fasted just about every first Sunday of the month with other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We call this special day, Fast Sunday and we give up all food and water for 24 hours, and meet together to have a fast and Testimony meeting where we can share our testimonies of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Fasting together as a Ward family brings unity and strength.We are advised to start and end our fast with a prayer, and fast with a purpose. This is a special time to ask Heavenly Father for things that we need.  I have personally received answers through divine revelation while participating in such fasts. On occasions, where trials or temptations were particularly strong, I have fasted and prayed to ask the Lord for extra strength. Fasting helps me to focus on what is important. When I get hunger pangs while fasting, I try to think of my Savior, Jesus Christ who personally atoned for my sins. His sacrifice was so great that he bled from every pore. Fasting can be a very eyeopening and humbling experience that draws me closer to my Father In Heaven and Jesus Christ. Fasting has always been a testimony building part of my life.

When I was pregnant for the first time, I was sad when I realized that I couldn’t fast in the traditional way that I had done before. I had to eat every few hours in order to keep myself from getting sick. I also learned that I couldn’t fast while Breast Feeding, or my supply would drop. I really missed being able to feel that Spiritual connection with the Lord that comes through fasting. Thank goodness for my friend who gave me some wonderful advise about fasting several years ago.

When My friend joined the church, she began fasting just like the other members of the church. However she had a health restriction that would make her very ill when she fasted. She would go to sacrament meeting, and then have to rush home afterwards to eat and this would result in her missing her other meetings. Her loving Bishop noticed that she was leaving and asked her about it. When he realized that she was leaving because the fast was making her ill, he gave her some suggestions. He let her know that she could modify her fast so that she could still participate without making herself sick. She still had to eat in order to be healthy, but she could still sacrifice by fasting from certain things. For example, instead of having brown sugar and butter on her oatmeal, she could eat it plain. Instead of cream cheese on a bagel, she could eat it plain, instead of dressing on a salad, she could eat just vegetables etc.

I am so glad that she shared this with me. It has provided me with a way to still participate in fasting in a capacity that is doable for me. Some months while I was pregnant, I was not able to sacrifice much because the morning sickness was so overwhelming. Sometimes I simply could not keep a bagel down unless it was slathered with butter and honey. I simply had to eat what I could eat without tossing my cookies. This may sound ridiculous, but women who have experienced the mystery of morning sickness can relate. Through the sickness, I did what I could. Some Sunday’s the sacrifice was simply, no candy, Gatorade, or extra sugar, because that was all I could do.

The important thing, was prayer. I would pray to begin and end my fast. I prayed throughout the fast and asked for strength to make it through my difficult pregnancies. I suffered fatigue, nausea, anxiety, and stress throughout my pregnancy, but prayer and fasting helped lighten the load, and gave me reassurance. It created that spiritual connection with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ that I so desperately needed.

I have adapted my fast to meet my personal health challenges, and as a result, I have been able to participate while still maintaining good health. If you have struggled with fasting because of your own health challenges, I hope this post will give you some  ideas and encouragement. I hope you will be able find a way that works for you. I hope you will be able to experience a meaningful fast regardless of any physical restrictions you may have.

How to Have a Meaningful Fast Even with Health Restrictions

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Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016

The August Visiting Teaching Message  is titled Nurturing Families Together. This message has so many wonderful quotes, and inspired several handouts for your choosing. If you like these ideas, and would like an email notification when the new Visiting Teaching Handouts are available, please Subscribe! If you are viewing this on a Computer you can enter your email into the side bar, or if you are viewing on a cell phone you can access the subscribe option by tapping the pull down menu at the top of the page. Thank you for joining our community!

In this month’s message, President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said,

“The home is to be God’s laboratory of love and service,”

Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016

Click The Home is God’s Laboratory for the Free Printable Download of the above handout.

I love the story Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared about the love that his father had for his mother. I won’t spoil it, I will let you read it, but his father shows an excellent example of love and service. After such a grand sacrifice, his wife must have known without a doubt that he loved her.

Sometimes it’s a culmination of the little things that help show love towards a spouse. My husband is not fond of Country Music, but he knows that I love it. When we are in the car together, he switches the radio to the Country Station. This small gesture goes a long way, and I can feel his love as he puts my desires before his own.

When we love someone, it is natural to want to serve them, and vise versa. I find that serving others helps break down barriers and allows you to love them in a way you didn’t before. I remember camping one year, and there was an individual who offended me. After crying on my bed a little, I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to help me forgive him. Immediately, I remembered a General Conference talk titled Your Mission Will Change Everything by Elder David F. Evans Of the Seventy. He told a story about President Hinkley when he was on his mission and feeling discouraged. President Hinkley’s Father wrote him a letter and said,

“You want to be happy? Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause, and bend your efforts to helping people”

I gained my composure and set out to serve this person. He was in charge of dinner that night, so I offered my help. As I served him my heart was softened. I was able to see him in a different way. I was able to learn how much work he had put into making this event happen. I quickly realized that the words he said that had offended me previously were not a direct attack at me, but rather a result of extreme exhaustion from his lack of sleep and hard work. I was able to forgive him and gained a love toward him instead. When we give Service to someone, we naturally learn to Love them.  When we Love someone, we naturally want to give Service to them. It is a beautiful cycle.

Here is a peak of the handout using the above quote about Love and Service by Elder Russell M. Nelson.

Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016

Click below for your Free Printable Download of this Handout.

Love and Service Visiting Teaching Handout.

The handout will look something like this when it is all put together.

Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016

Have your sisters combine the sprite and cranberry juice for a sweet summer refreshment.

Another quote that I loved from this months message was:

A “husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children.”

This is a quote taken from The Family A Proclamation to the World, so what better way to present it than with a picture of a loving family.

Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016

I thought it would be perfect to include a First Aid Kit or a “Love and Care” Kit with this Handout. I found a great tutorial on how to make some cute ones here at the Some of This & Some of That Blog.

Aren’t these adorable? I just love these!

For your Free Printable Download of this Handout click the link below.

VT Handout Aug 2016 Love and Care

Okay, Here is one last handout idea using the following quote by Elder Russell M. Nelson:

“Our Heavenly Father wants husbands and wives to be faithful to each other and to esteem and treat their children as an heritage from the Lord.”

Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016

Click the link below for your Free Printable Download of this Handout

VT handout Aug 2016 Faithful

You could easily include either of the following candies with this handout.

Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016
Ring Pops
Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016
Hershey’s Kisses

Happy Visiting Teaching! Hope you liked these ideas!

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How to Choose the Preschool Thats Right for You and Your Child

You are Running out of time! The pressure is setting in. What are you going to do about preschool this year? July is more than half gone, and school starts back up next month! The craziest part  for me is that my son is old enough to go to preschool! He was just a baby yesterday right? Where did the time go?  I don’t want to even blink because before I know it, he will be driving a car and picking up girls for dates. For now though, he is my little ‘Big Guy’. I recently asked him if he ‘liked’ girls, and he responded, “Grandma is a girl, she is a lady!” I hope he stays in this phase for at least another 16 years! But alas, he is getting older, and he is growing up. It is time for him to start to experience new things, and grow as an individual and not just be my baby. So back on the age old question, What are we going to do for Preschool this year?

Getting Silly with preschool at home. One of the most valuable lessons mothers can teach their children is that they are important and loved.

I love doing  preschool with my son at home. He is at the age that he loves to learn, and often asks me if we can do Preschool together. I think he enjoys the one on one Quality Time we share together. My goal when we do preschool activities is to create an exciting and safe space where he can learn and gain self confidence without fear or judgment. I try to keep it fun, and if the lesson becomes frustrating for either of us, I try to change gears. At home, I want him to have good memories and feelings towards me, and towards learning. We are not very structured in our preschool at home, which can be good and bad. It is good because he has a loving environment at home to learn in, but bad because the learning is not very consistent. No matter how hard I try, we do not do preschool everyday. That being said, we will be using a hybrid method between home schooling and schooling away from home for Preschool starting this fall.

How to Choose the Preschool Thats Right for You and Your Child
Little Stars Learning Program at Hollywood Kids Academy’s Henderson Location.

He will start attending Hollywood Kids Academy “Little Stars Learning Program” for a couple of hours a few days a week. I am hoping this will help him transition easily into kindergarten next year. I feel that it will be a great way for him to gain independence and individuality. He will be able to socialize, learn, grow, and I think he will love it! I have been very impressed with this company. Hollywood Kids Academy offers more than just preschool. They offer classes in Musical Theatre, Dance, and Vocal for ages 3-19. They are now based out of 3 locations including their newest Summerlin/Southwest location at 4145 S. Grand Canyon Suite #106. My family and I have been to several performances, and are so pleased every time. Hollywood Kids Academy is a noncompetitive atmosphere where kids have a safe space to learn and gain  self confidence while developing their skills at whatever level they may be. To read more about their mission click here.

hka logo

My goal as a mother is not to raise the next Genius, Olympian, or Billionare, but to raise kids with good Character. I’m not saying that it’s not possible to do both, but rather that my focus is geared more towards instilling integrity, honesty, hard work, self discipline, charity, leadership, organization, etc. If the next generation is raised to have these characteristics, we will have a bright future. A person with character can accomplish anything! I feel that the environment at Hollywood Kids Academy will help reinforce the values that I teach my son at home. I am trying to establish a house for my family that is pleasing to the Lord as taught in Docterine and Covenants 88:119:

Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;

We will still continue to have our unstructured ‘learning moments’ together at home. I don’t think we will ever stop. There is so much to be learned throughout our lives. You may even be suprised at the things that your children teach you. Creating that safe space at home can make it easier to teach the hard lessons in life. My house is, and always will be, a house of learning.

2016-07-06 11.33.04

Whatever decision parent’s make regarding their children’s education whether it be public, private, charter, or home school is personal.  If homeschooling is going to stress you or your child out, or add tension to your relationship, it might not be worth it. It can be so different in each household with each child and their unique needs. This hybrid method is what we have decided is best for our son at this time. His needs may change over the years in which we will need to prayerfully adapt. We may make a different decision for our baby girl, or other children we may have in the future based on their individual needs. I hope that mothers will be blessed with inspiration on what to do for their children’s education. I hope they will have the courage to see what is best for each of their children rather than yielding to the ‘norm’. Mother’s who pray regularly with, and for their children, can receive divine guidance for their well being. As for us, we are excited for this new opportunity to grow! Best of luck to you and your little one(s)!

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How to Say I Love You in a Way They Will Understand

Imagine that someone you love speaks a different language than you. If they only speak Chinese, and you only speak English, saying I love you in English isn’t going to mean much to them. In The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, he discusses how to communicate love effectively by learning the Love Language of your loved one. I love his book and will be referencing it as I write this post.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
I have had this book for years, an updated version was published in 2015. You can purchase it here.

What I have Learned About the 5 Love Languages:

  1. Words of Affirmation- Through your words, you can build or destroy a person who’s Primary love language is Words of Affirmation. The bite of criticism can sting just as much as a complement can lift. It is important to genuinely notice and verbally express gratitude to this type of person. Their drive to succeed stems from the compliments they are issued. When you praise them, they feel loved and appreciated.
  2. Quality Time- This love language may take the most time to communicate, but it is just as important as the others. Spending Quality time means listening. Turn off the TV and listen to what they have to say. Give them your full attention. If you are in the middle of a task when this type of person wants their attention, consider this statement. A person who’s Primary Love Language is Quality Time would rather wait a moment for you to finish your task so that they can have your undivided attention, than to have only part of your attention while your attention is divided. It is okay to say, wait a moment while I finish this, I would like to give you 100% of my attention. They will feel that they are important and wanted.
  3. Receiving Gifts- If a person is constantly giving gifts to make you smile, this may be their love language. This person may also give gifts to say “I am Sorry”. This type of person responds positively to being given gifts. They don’t have to be expensive gifts to make them feel loved. The gifts that mean the most are ones that are thought out. They appreciate you taking the time to know them and understanding what will make them smile.
  4. Acts of Service- Helping out with household chores, or running errands for this type of person can go a long way. They feel loved when you step in to help, or surprise them with a clean home, or a hot meal. If there is a chore you dislike, and your spouse knows it, think about what it will communicate to them if you do it happily for them. Doing something like this says I am doing this because I love you loud and clear.
  5. Physical Touch- Keep in mind that Physical Touch is more than physical intimacy. Physical touch can mean a pat on the back when you are proud, a gentle caress of the arm as you walk by, a hug when they come home, an embrace when they are sad. This type of person thrives when they experience positive physical interactions. When you touch them in a loving way, they feel accepted and loved.How to Say I Love You in a Way They Will Understand

 

You can go to 5lovelanguages.com to take a free quiz to determine your primary love language. I took the test and found that my primary love language is Acts of Service. I also found that Receiving Gifts ranked 0 in importance to me. I had fun taking the test so I had my husband and 4 year old son take it too. (We had to simplify the verbiage to help  him understand the questions.) Their results both showed Receiving Gifts as their Primary Love Language. Sounds like I need to learn how to speak that language so that I can keep their “Love Tanks” full (As Gary Chapman calls it). You can take a quick test here to determine your primary love language.

Speaking the Love Language that your loved one speaks will go a long way when you are trying to communicate your love for them. The book The five Love Languages is such an easy read, and can improve the quality of your relationships. Gary Chapman is a marriage counselor who tells some wonderful stories about his clients over the years, and how their relationships improved by speaking their spouses love language. To get a more in depth description about the love languages and how to speak them you can purchase The Five Love Languages here. There are several different books aimed for different audiences including singles, children, teenagers, and men. Check them out here.

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