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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Prepping ahead....

My new goal for the fall and beyond is to prep ahead....

Prep what ahead?? As much as humanly possible.

I'm a life-long procrastinator..... I'm not going to lie.  And becoming a first time parent to 2 children at the same time didn't help that at all.  I thought as the twins got older our lives would be less hectic and it would be easier to catch up.  In some ways it is, but with full-day school, homework and after school activities not to mention a full-time job and a 70 mile round trip daily commute.... it is hard to stay on top of all the things that need to be done at home.

One thing that I really need help with is meal planning and prep! I've seen a bunch of freezer meal workshops popping up, but with a picky hubby none of the menus I had seen would work for us.  Until now!  A friend from high school was having a Wildtree Freezer Meals Workshop.... I took a look at the menu figuring it would again not work, but it did!  All of the menu items were things that I don't currently cook, but sounded good (except one which I was able to substitute easily).  I went back and forth about whether to sign-up and even showed it to Jim and he encouraged me to try it out.

Here is the menu that we would be creating (I did not make the meatloaf):
Comfort Food Workshop Recipes:
Honey Balsamic Chicken drumsticks 
Italian "Medallions" (chicken tenders) 
Italian Flank Steak
Chipotle Lime Fajitas
Slow Cooker Chipotle Lime Chicken 
Smoked Mozzarella Chicken with pasta 
Hearty and Delicious Meatloaf
Adobo Grilled Chicken
Spanish Style Garlic Shrimp 
Best Burgers EVER

I had never heard of the company, but signed up anyway. (The company is certified organic.  We are not an organic family, but I thought that might peak some interest from organic friends.) The workshop cost $78 and for that fee I received all of the pictured items, plus the recipes and some shared ingredients.  On a side note - as I typed this post I decided to head on over to the Wildtree website to see what I would have paid for all of the products that I received had I only purchased them and not attended the workshop.  I was pleasantly surprised the product total came very close to the fee that I paid (without even tax & shipping added in).
 I received a grocery list and spent about $100 on the other necessary items for the 10 meals that we'd be making. I decided that this was an excellent opportunity to test out the Shoprite from home service since the workshop was on a Tuesday night and I wanted the meats to be fresh. I also figured that since I'd be using the majority of what I ordered right away, that it would give me a good chance to inspect what the shoppers chose.  I placed my order on Sunday night so that I could pick them up on Monday after work.  I ordered a ton of meat, produce and other groceries.  I was very happy with everything they chose.  There was one small error with something being wrung up twice but I called and it was very easily rectified.  I would definitely use this service again to save time during our busy weeks.
I went to the workshop with my bags of meats and chopped veggies.  A few of the recipes I felt had way more food than we'd be able to eat in one sitting and Jim is not a leftovers guy so I split them into 2 bags/meals.  It was fun to make prep the meals as a group.  We were given detailed recipes and instructions so that we can replicate the meals that we like.  We were also given labels for each bag with the cooking instructions and an inventory sheet with any additional ingredients we would need to make each meal along with suggested side dishes.

So far we have enjoyed 3 of the meals that we made and I have to say that they were INCREDIBLE and SO EASY and QUICK!  Our first meal was the Spanish Style Garlic Shrimp.... OMG!  This was definitely a spicy recipe, but you could adjust for your family's taste.  Bonus here my friends..... Jim has NEVER eaten bell peppers.  When I made our plates I tried to give him as few as possible since I knew he'd be picking them out and my plate had A TON!  All of the sudden I see him reach over to my dish to scoop out some of mine.  I almost fell off my chair (if you know Jim.... the man doesn't try anything new!)...

We have since had the Italian "Medallions" which I made with a rice side and some veggies.  There were leftovers because the kids had already eaten at Mom-mom's.  Jim actually liked the chicken so much that he took it to work to put over his salad at lunch and LOVED it.  Tonight we had the Italian Marinated Flank Steak and it was SO delicious.  

I love that all the prep work is done ahead of time for these dishes.  It is so much easier to come home to a thawed out completely prepped and marinated meal with the instructions RIGHT on the bag (no trying to remember where the recipe for this particular dish is) and so far they have cooked within 20 minutes!  I'm in LOVE and so is Jim.  He told me tonight.... I don't know which I liked best and do you have what you need to make these meals again!  I can't wait to try the rest.  

Oh and the consultant.... is a fellow mom of twins!  Check out her site....
http://www.mywildtree.com/TARAJO/