Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Do good Challenge: Week 2

So, I know I'm a little late with this linkup for the week, but it's never to late to do good, right?

In the past week, here are a few of the things I've done

  • Cleaned out some clothes and a few household appliances that we don't use anymore and donated them to the Red Cross.
  • Went through the canned goods in my cabinets to find some to drop in the food bank bin.
  • Supported some good causes, like the Army of Women, by retweeting their requests for help.
  • Bought 2 board books to donate to the Children's Hospital through my MOM's Club service project.
And here are a few easy ways you can donate online without spending money.

For each like on their Facebook page, Leap frog will donate $10 to Toys for Tots.

Donate meals to the World Food Project by taking or sharing this quiz.

Subaru will make a donation to the cause of your choice for every like on their Facebook page.

For every virtual cookie you send from Glad's cookie exchange, they will donate 10 cents to Pediatric Cancer research.

And there's still time to donate through Kidfresh or Huddle to Fight Hunger

Happy Do gooding! Please link up!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Menus and freezers and budgets, oh my! (Part 2)

Okay, so in part 1 I said that next time I would talk about how I shop. But I also said I'm not good at sticking to a plan. So today instead, I'm going to talk about how I cook to freeze. There are three main strategies I use, and they work well for different things.

1. Freezer Day

The idea here is to block out a day (usually a weekend) and to just make a whole lot of food to put in your freezer. Some people call this Once a Month Cooking, and actually make 30 different meals in one day, but I have never managed to do anything like that. Usually I just choose one thing to make a lot of, or a few things that have common ingredients.

For example, this past weekend, my husband and I made 15 pans of lasagna. This honestly isn't much harder than making one or two pans of lasagna. Mixing a ton of filling isn't any harder than mixing a little. We just made the sauce, cooked some ground beef, then assembly lined the lasagna in disposable foil loaf pans. We had extra sauce so I froze that in Tupperware containers for easy spaghetti nights.

I find that this method works really well for me for most casseroles, where cooking the ingredients is really the most time consuming part, and having them pre-assembled means a super easy dinner. I don't pre-bake them; I just bake them on the day I plan to eat.

The problem with this method is that it takes a huge time commitment. Especially with a toddler running around, it's hard to block out that much time. My husband and I ended up doing the bulk of the prep after bedtime, and were up until 11:30 cleaning up. Boo.

2. Just make extra

This is actually the method I prefer. Instead of trying to make a month or a year's worth of something, I just make a little extra. Since it's just the two (and a half) of us, and most of my recipes are for four, I usually have extra anyway. Sometimes I go one step further and double it. Then after dinner, I pack up the extra and freeze it.

This is so easy because it doesn't take any extra time at all in my dinner prep, and gives me fully cooked, microwavable dinners for nights when I don't have time to cook. I like to do this with chili, sausage and peppers, shredded meat for tacos or sandwiches, stews, or anything that might require a long cooking time the first night.

3. Prep and freeze

Some things are just better if you make them the night of, but you can make your life easier and save money by doing the prep work ahead of time. For example, I keep a bag of diced carrots, onions, and celery in my freezer. I can dice it during naptime and then just grab a handful when I need it. I also buy bell peppers when they are on sale (because holy crap they get expensive), cut them into strips, and freeze them in freezer bags. You can even cook your meat ahead of time for recipes that use cooked meat. Browning an entire 3 pound package of ground beef doesn't take any longer than browning a single pound, and then you have some options for fast cooking dinners. Baking a whole bunch of chicken breasts ahead makes life easier too - just defrost as many as you need to make quick enchiladas, salads, or sandwiches.

Some people will even prepare and measure the ingredients for a specific recipe into a freezer bag. For instance, you could freeze sliced peppers and onions along with a chicken breast in a bag for quick, no prep, fajitas. Just dump the whole bag into a pan and sautee it up. I don't have much experience with this, but it's something I'd like to try more of.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Do Good: Give 30 (or more) meals

Just in time for my Do Good Challenge, I found out about this awesome initiative from Kidfresh.

Kidfresh is a company that makes ready to eat food for kids that it is both healthy and delicious. Since I am always interested in getting more real and whole foods into our lives, and especially into my daughter, this is something I would love to try. It's also a family run company, which makes me want to support them even more.

But what I'm here to talk about today is their initiative with City Harvest. City Harvest is a food relief organization in New York that feeds over 300,000 people a week. And until December 15, for every new like on their facebook page, Kidfresh will donate 30 meals to them. How amazing! And what an easy thing to do!

Because I wrote this post, Kidfresh will donate an additional 300 meals to City Harvest. If you have a blog and would like to do the same, let me know, and I will send you the details. Happy do-gooding!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Do Good this holiday season: A linkup and challenge

It's the holiday season, and I know that for me giving and helping others is a huge part of what makes it special. So, I thought I'd go ahead and start a Do Good challenge here on my blog. I'm going to try to come up with at least one thing I can do every day to help others, particularly things that I can do without spending a lot of time or money, and share them with you. I may not post about them every day, but I'll try to get at least 5 of them up every week.

I invite you to participate in my Do good challenge also! Link up below any Do good posts you write for your blog this week. Link up as many times as you like!

So here goes, my "do good" task for today is to read a book on We Give Books

We give books is a great website where you can read digital copies of children's books for free. For every book you read, Penguin Publishers donates one new book to the children's charity you choose. I cannot think of a simpler way to enjoy giving, and teach your children to give, this holiday season.

Now get linking!