Friday, May 6, 2011

Becoming a Family of 6...

You know those moments when the impact of a recent change really dawns on you??

Well, I had a few of those this past weekend. Friday was a calm afternoon. Butterfly hung out with Tweetle Beetle & I while Hubby took Ladybug to go get Doodle. The drive is a few hours each way, so by the time they got back Butterfly was in bed. Doodle got to meet Tweetle, and then we slowly got each kid to bed.
The next morning was our first big "different" moment. We had 4 children who wanted to eat! Hubby made coffee while I nursed Tweetle and then we all had cereal... We realized we didn't have any meals thawed for lunch so we discussed going to the store & meat market for sandwich supplies.
It hit me - all of us, in the van, all of us... we're going to fill it up!
Yes, that's the reason we got the minivan a month ago, because we needed to seat 6 and both our other cars sat 5 but neither will fit Butterfly's Booster with 2 Rear-Facing Convertible Carseats. The only way we can go anywhere is with the van, even when Doodle isn't here... we are forever now a minivan family! ...and there it was, that moment of "Wow, we do have a big Family"

That evening, friends stopped by to bring us dinner. They stayed for a little while to meet Tweetle and let the kids play together. They have a child near Doodle's, Butterfly's, and Ladybug's ages... and we also have Baby Tweetle...
So the big boys went one way, the big girls went another, the young ones stayed close to us parents and we passed around Tweetle... and again a moment of "Wow, we do have a big Family"

The next morning was Easter and we had planned to go to my parents house for Brunch & the kids' Easter Baskets and Egg Hunt. Thankfully my Parents had offered to take care of all of it, so we just needed to get everyone showered and dressed, & pack for our day trip to take Doodle back. As we began discussing all the things we needed to do that morning, we quickly realized that we had to start right away, we had to leave in less than 3 hours... and again a moment of "Wow, we have a big Family"

We had a wonderful Easter which I will soon share with you...

When I tried to get pictures of what each child was doing and got... I missed so much. We had 4 adults and 4 kids, and each kid wanted attention. Hubby had to leave (we actually forgot spare clothes for the baby!!) and and again a moment of "Wow, we do have a big Family"... while trying to pictures of them.
I didn't get the picture that I wanted of our family of 6, I didn't get just the 4 kids, but I got a nice picture of my parents with their 4 grandkids so we can all remember the day :)

Then we got ready to leave, and everyone had to say goodbye to Grandpa & Grandma 2-3 times, lots of hugs but wow it takes a while to leave now!
We stopped halfway through our trip for a potty break, which first required giving Ladybug a baby wipes bath and trying to clean out her carseat. Then I took the 3 littles into the family restroom, alone, and actually survived! (Hubby helped us all to the door, and then met us at the door to help us all back to the car, but inside I did it!!)

Finally, when we stopped for dinner just before dropping off Doodle we barely fit in a "normal" booth. I nursed Tweetle while in there and Butterfly sat next to me, Doodle sat with Hubby while Ladybug sat on the end in a highchair. Again it was a  moment of "Wow, we do have a big Family"

I guess during the months of pregnancy I was trying to get ready for the baby, but it never occurred to me to get ready for the bigger family!
With so many times of realizing it, I think I have it down now... we are a bigger family than most, but we wouldn't have it any other way!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My dream birth, the perfect ending for a perfect beginning :)

Last week I went to my normal 2nd appt for the week and was told that I was officially in "active labor" umm, ok... what does that mean?
There are stages, I had been in early labor for almost 4 weeks (most of which was modified bed rest since I had to take care of the girls, but we didn't want him coming early and being sick) and had finally moved to 4cm [by myself!!] and entered the 2nd stage. This meant little to me since I had been hearing that "the baby could come any day now" for the past few weeks.
Yet this was a small victory for me, each pregnancy I have had trouble with laboring naturally and only
making super slow progress. With both girls this caused health concerns and major problems with Ladybug's pregnancy, and they had to be forced to come out after weeks of my body not figuring out how to move forward.
All weekend we waited, and hoped, and Hubby was never far just in case...
Monday we took the girls to my parents with their bag and left the extra keys to go to my appt, fully expecting DrM to send us to the hospital. Once again checking me caused the contractions to increase, but he sent us home and told us to go to the hospital in the morning if anything changed.
Tuesday morning we went in early after another night of irregular but close contractions that kept me up all night. We all decided to break my water and an hour later to start pitocin to help him come out.
The nurse looked at my chart, my history, and my "Birth Plan" wishlist and told us how amazed that I had had such a quick labor last time using pitocin without an epidural and wanted to do it again after a 9lb baby. I just laughed and said yes. She said she was glad the Birth Plan was only a page, as most "natural" moms like me have so many pages it's hard to remember everything.
I again repeated what I have been telling myself for weeks "it's just a wishlist, the things that I want... but like Christmas you start with a wishlist and at the end of the day you're always happy with what you get, a healthy baby".
She agreed and said that she really thought they could do everything, and mentioned some extra things, like me going with him to the nursery, that she would try to help us get that I didn't know were possible in the hospital!
They started the pitocin and DrM let me stay on the birthing ball as long as I stayed on the monitors and let them know when I felt I needed to be checked again. A few hours later, DrM came in to check my progress since the contractions were getting much more intense (requiring me to move and get into bed), said I was 6cm and he wouldn't be far, joking that it had been 3 hours - a long labor for me, lol.

The next 15 minutes are kind of a blur. I got back on the ball and almost immediatly I needed to get in bed to get on my hands and knees, I felt the baby move around and down, my body was pushing and could barely get out the words "pushing.... Doctor.... PUSH!!!!" He walked in, and another check during which the contraction sent me from 7cm to 8cm, a few more contractions and I was a solid 10cm. Then he actually let me turn back around to my hands and knees! I tried to get away from the pain, but my body had already taken over. With my husband's arms around me, I reached down, half wanting to keep the baby in to stop the pain but I knew it was time, and I felt his head slide out. What felt like many long minutes later, but just one contraction and my one push for his shoulders and I actually felt my baby come out and slide down my hand! It was the most amazing feeling ever!
Just a short 15 minutes from 6cm to the birth of our baby boy, with only one real push from me.

The cord was fairly short, so they had to cut it to move him so I could turn around to hold him, but they asked before cutting!! Then I was able to hold him for a few minutes before giving him to my husband for them to suction him better while I tried to push out the placenta... which took almost 1/2 an hour and me finally turning back to my hands and knees before it would come out.
Then they helped me up to go to the bathroom and changed my bedding real quick and we were left alone for an hour to just hold, snuggle and name our new little boy; "Tweetle Beetle". They came in an hour later to check my vitals and asked if I was ready to go to my room, offering me the chance to go with him and my husband to the nursery.
We both went to see our little boy weighed and measured and checked over, no bath and then we went to the recovery room. My parents brought our daughters to come meet their little brother and we were amazed at how quickly both girls took to him. They were sad to leave but being with Grandpa & Grandma made it easier, and we promised they could come back the next day.

A crazy night with Tornado watches & warnings, with nurses coming in to check vitals and give us updates on the storm, the only one that got sleep was the baby!! The next morning they told us that we were both doing very well and asked if we wanted to do the circumcision that morning and try to leave that evening. Of course we said yes, so Hubby went with Tweetle Beetle and was able to stay with him and love on him and bring him back very quickly.
We got some help from an Lactation Consultant, took showers ourselves, and walked around a bit before the girls came to visit again. We got the ok to leave after his PKU test at 24 hours old on the condition of seeing our pediatrician the next day so we made that appt.
Our first night home, I enjoyed sleeping for a solid hour or a bit more between feedings... it had been months!

We wanted 4 children, and while Tweetle came a couple years sooner than we originally thought, we are very happy that I am done being pregnant. Now we get to move on to just raising our kids and no longer growing our family. For us, especially me, I am so thankful and grateful that God gave us such a wonderful birth experience as our last one to look back on. I truly couldn't have asked for anything better.
All this time, I thought I wanted a waterbirth, I even thought I had wanted a homebirth, now I realize all I wanted was a birth where I felt in control of myself… it really does make a world of difference.

So hello family of 6, and already so many wonderful memories are being made! After only a week!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Looking forward… or my new dream for a safe birth

With just over a week until our planned induction... I have to have a plan.

I posted earlier on Ladybug’s birth… I touched on Butterfly’s too.
I want to first add that while I wasn’t there, Doodle’s birth impacts my Hubby and his views.
Doodle’s mother had a rough pregnancy and a hard hospital delivery that gave her a very difficult recovery. She quickly decided that it was too much and she had no desire to ever change Doodle’s status as “only child” and while that works fine for her, Hubby always wanted more.

So while we both wanted to try for children together, as long as we did so safely and carefully; we had different ideas of what that meant to each of us that we had to talk through in our first months of Ladybug's pregnancy.

When I started having serious issues in Ladybug’s pregnancy, he immediatly tried to convince me to listen to my gut and walk away from the midwives advice and get another opinion (sadly I mistook this for him wanting to take back his agreement to be open to more natural possibilities, when it was really just worry and concern)…

The night they told us that they would not help us through a homebirth; he quickly took over making decisions but showed me that he simply cared and wanted the best for us, he stood by my side and tried to voice our dreams and desired plans to the hospital staff so that we (I) could still have as much as possible from our birth plan.

That night, ignoring the fears and complications and issues in the hospital, we grew closer.
I finally understand why some women have said that they fall in love with their husband all over again when they see him hold their child for the first time. I have so much more love, and trust and respect for my husband after the birth of Ladybug.
Many fears that I had trouble letting go of after my first marriage are finally gone. Concerns that came from a failed marriage and an absent father in Butterfly’s first few years have disappeared. I truly have the best husband in the world!
For now, I will spare you the gushes...
I have put him through a lot in the past year since Ladybug was born. My post-traumatic stress and daily panic attacks for her first 5 1/2 months, 2 almost good weeks, then exhaustion and panic attacks for a few months until we found out I was pregnant (we conceived BD when Ladybug was only 6 months), then crazy life issues/events arising, and me just feeling overwhelmed.
Lately I have been prepping (nesting?) like crazy and now with just over a week until BD’s induction, I’m a bucket of complaints and still he takes it all in stride!

We finally started writing a Birth Plan for BD. Hubby actually had to convince me that it was worth the trouble so that we could try for what we wanted… well, out of the choices we have.
 - I know most women want a hospital birth, most of those are happy with the hospitals “normal procedures” and other than the basic: laboring with or without drugs, rooming-in or having the nursery keep the baby, and whether to breastfeed or bottle feed, many moms don’t question (or know they can question?) much more of their experience.

It’s the little things that mean so much to me. I want to have freedom in trying positions since laying on your back is the hardest position to push through. We want him placed on my bare chest to start bonding immediately instead of being rushed across the room. We want the cord to stop pulsing on its own before Hubby can cut it. We want him circumcised, and we want him to keep his own natural vernix. Along with not wanting drugs, wanting to breastfeed, and wanting him to room-in.
The silly things like wanting to wear my contacts so I can see him right away… There’s more but I will save that for later.

The point is that Hubby is showing me that there are still things that I want, and the hospital and DrM are willing to try to give me since overall this pregnancy is uneventful and “normal”… other than the fact that I have to be induced as my body does not go into labor on its own (do your own research before calling me crazy, I just wish I was wrong), but that’s not “bad” to me… I know once I get the pitocin I will have a short labor and we will get to meet our son pretty quick.

It may not be the same dream as the first or second time, but today my “dream birth” goes like this…

 - - We leave the girls early in the morning with my parents and head to the hospital after a cup of coffee, breakfast, and a shower for each of us. We go into our room, I change and get hooked up to the IV. We calmly talk and Hubby jokes and teases me for a couple hours, and we have an uneventful and fairly short labor and delivery. Our son is placed on my chest and doesn’t have any problems. (Hoping our older kids can come meet him at this time…) We bond until it’s time for me to move to the post-partum room while Hubby and BD head to the nursery for him to be weighed, measured and get his security band put on. He has his circumcision without issue. We have a short, uneventful stay in the hospital with our older kids free to visit us often. Then, we go home and have a quick recovery and easy transition into parenting our 4 children with 3 of them under 5 yrs old. - -

Yes it’s a dream, and this time I don’t expect it to go that smoothly. I have hope that it will, but my expectations or needs for this birth are to simply avoid a need for a c-section or excessive drugs, avoid extra medical intervention for our son, and be able to leave together after a few days. Then I hope to avoid post-partum stress and depression.

Simply at the least, I need what most would consider “typical and uncomplicated”. While I hope for more, Hubby is helping me to realize that as long as our son and I are healthy and unharmed, we had a successful delivery.

I am finally ok with that.

Your dream birth.... or what can you dream when they are no longer possible?

**Written in late June of 2010. While dealing with post-tramatic stress and regular panic attacks, caused by blaming myself for the choices I had made that led up to a birth that almost cost my husband the lives of his wife and baby girl.
 - Finally posted because I feel the need to move past this as we look towards our last birth, and I am writing a follow-up before and after this birth on my feelings. So that I don't forget, and so that I can see my progress.**

You have a birth plan, then... plans change... you roll with the punches and if the outcome is what's best, then you accept what brougt you to that point, .....

Lately I have been struggling with facing the last minute changes to our plans for our daughter Ladybug's birth. She's 4 1/2 months old and there are some things I don't know how to move past.

Through Butterfly's pregnancy, I was planning a waterbirth. Then, because she was 2 weeks late (I think caused by extremely high stress) they decided at my 42 week ultrasound to induce me that day.
- No waterbirth... stay in bed, high pitocin levels, and I wound up needing an epipdural to relax and breathe... less than 12 hours from the split-second decision, I was holding my first baby...
Then her father took over making the decisions... none of the things we had agreed on, fighting with me in the hospital until the nurses gave me a sleeping pill and took my baby away to the nursery "so I could rest" when all I wanted was to peacefully hold this child that had just joined the world and changed my life.
I dealt with post-partum depression for over a year after her birth.

So this time I wanted a waterbirth even more, and I was beyond grateful that Hubby was supportive of looking for a way for me to have what I wanted in a city that does not have "birthing centers" and does not allow hospital waterbirths.
We believed that we had found a way to have a safe homebirth (with people who we understood to be experienced and trained, and that could get us the proper care we needed in the event of us needing to go to the hospital) and Ladybug would be introduced to our family in the safety and security of our own tub.

It sounded like a dream come true, and I talked with many women who had done this, read book after book, online articles, and watched plenty of movies, shows, and documentaries about more who had loved their safe, happy, family oriented, home births...
Then we hit almost 32 weeks. I knew something was wrong, I was scared daily that something was going wrong with the baby... over 7 weeks of frantically stressing myself out (and yes, calling the midwives each night, and they would assure me that I was fine and that everything was "normal" and to just relax), until we were told over the phone (at 39weeks), that the midwives no longer felt comfortable with a homebirth as they thought that everything I had been saying needed to be re-evaluated by a Dr and I needed some bloodwork done to rule out serious conditions that could be causing my life-threatening symptoms. (you could say I was scared, and so was Hubby).

I hadn't kept food down in 4 days, I had been dehydrated for almost 3 days, I hadn't slept for more than an hour at a time for over a month, and I had been having contractions lasting 20-45 minutes for almost 8 weeks consistently, and I wanted to tear my skin off it itched so badly (just to name the high points that didn't seem like "normal pregnancy" issues to me or hubby).

So my parents took Butterfly and we went to the hospital. Where they didn't want to listen to anything that had happened while under the "care?" of midwives that didn't have "hospital affiliations" like we had been told.
Eventually, just after midnight, we did convince them to draw some blood and run some tests, we also convinced Dr M that we weren't leaving without a baby so he put us in a room to get some rest (I laughed), and an IV of saline to rehydrate me, and said he would see us about 8am after I was rehydrated, and we could have a baby BEFORE NOON (based on 2nd labors going faster and my 1st was very fast).....

They got the test results back just after 3am, they put me on pit, and broke my water - he said we would have a baby before 6am and smiled...
If I had known him better, I might have seen the concern in his eyes. If Hubby had met him before (and wasn't so sleep-deprived, the sweet man) he might have realized that when DrM said "a baby before 6am", he meant that was all the time I was going to be allowed to try for a natural delivery....
[I had 4 serious conditions, if I had been under a Drs care, our daughter would have been born weeks earlier... the midwives said they could get us in with a Dr in the next week and we could be induced a few days later. DrM later told my husband that waiting another week could have cost one or both of our lives.]

Just after 5am the contractions got to be more than I thought I could take, no time for an epidural and saving the many details...
Ladybug was born at 5:30am, into a Drs hands instead of my husbands, cord cut and taken across the room instead of being given to me to check and snuggle and console, wiped clean and wrapped up before I could get my wits and try to sit up... one short hour with her and then she went with Daddy and the nurse to get weighed and checked and it took forever for her to come back because they couldn't get her foot alarm to work right.
((Then she had to get poked a few times a day for blood draws, and I was not allowed to move from my bed for 24hours, then I developed something similar to bronchitis, we had to stay longer in the hospital, and it took weeks for me to finally be able to do enough to care for my children... all in all, a much harder recovery and a harder bonding with Ladybug then I had imagined in my nightmares.))

- In our plan, she was going to be given to me, we would relax and snuggle as a family, she would be weighed in my room and never have a reason to leave my side except for restroom breaks.
Different... both outcomes are a healthy mother and baby, so it doesn't matter how, right?

While Ladybug and Hubby were gone, the midwife who had made it in time to attend the birth (we asked her to come still hoping for her to act as a "monitrice", and help us know when to re-voice our wishes) looked at me after we had been told so many things, and she said "you were right, something was wrong, we always tell you to trust your mother's intuition, a momma always knows".
... for me there were no words that would come, and while I wanted to scream at her:
"then why didn't you listen to me the last month and a half?"
"why didn't you tell me that I needed a backup Dr to run other tests?"
"why did you let this happen to us and not prepare me, while feeding me a dream and a lie that you would be able to take care of us and be there on our behalf if something were to come up?"
"why? why? why?......"
I simply said "yes, but I hate that I was right".
Then, when discussing the desire to have one more child, our 4th, 2nd together, my 3rd and final pregnancy....
I learned that next time I will be high risk, I will never get my water birth, I will never be able to safely attempt a home birth, I will not be able to let Butterfly witness a birth like we prepared her to do, Doodle will not have a choice in wanting to be there or not, and I will probably need to be induced again next time...

Dreams out the window, what is left to want? Do I just accept what I have to have and focus on the healthy baby that I can only have if I obey the rules I believe shouldn't contain my experience???

**A few months after first writing this, we found out that we were expecting again, and it threw me for a huge loop. Ladybug felt my stress and fear and acted accordingly, and in the months following just living life each day felt like it was more than we could take.
We were over 4 months into the pregnancy before I accepted it, and 7 months before I was happy, and excited and looking forward to a son... but I wanted AND loved this child from the moment I found out.
Please come back and see how my feelings have changed...

Meals prepped for BD, final list...

So I figured you would all want to know what I finished and how much it made, so here is each list.
Here is the first one from the beginning of the month - "So here's my planned list:
4 Turkey, err Chicken Pot Pies (filling and crust separate)
4 Meatloafs (orig recipe thanks Mommie)
4 batches of meatballs(orig recipe thanks Mommie)
4 Batches of Chili (Regular Beef Chili)
4 Enchilada Casseroles (orig, recipe thanks Katie Reinke)
4 batches of Beef Veggie Soup
2 batches of Pasta e fagioli soup
4 "Tacaroni" Bakes
4 Cheeseburger Macaroni Bakes
4 Taco Stuffed Shells (orig recipe on a food site posted by Laura Foor)
4 regular Lasagnas
4 Chicken Vegetable Lasagnas
3 batches of Chipotle Chicken Chili
4 meals from 2 Roasts with veggies, each doubles as Beef Stew a day or 2 later
3 Slow cooker Chicken Divan (orig recipe from Sandra Lee)
4 Beef Stroganoff
and some helpful starts:
3 Marinated Chipotle Chicken - for burritos
4 Marinated Teriyaki Chicken and peanuts - for Asian Wraps
4 Marinated Salsa Chicken - for Baked Chicken and Rice
= 71 original (I only made 45) planned meals/batches"

Final List: (or how much each planned recipe made)
4 Chicken pot Pie fillings
6 bags of meatballs
2 Enchilada Casseroles
8 Beef Veg Soup *Plus dinner one night
8 “Minestrone” soup (lunch portion or add sandwiches to make dinner) *Plus dinner one night
5 Tacaroni mix *Plus dinner one night
4 Cheeseburger macaroni sauce *Plus a lunch and a dinner
2 dinner & 2 lunch Taco stuffed shells *Plus 2 dinners and 2 lunches
4 regular Lasagna *Plus dinner one night
5 Chicken vegetable lasagna *Plus dinner one night
3 Divan cream sauce & 4 lemon-herb marinated chicken
4 Mushroom Alfredo for Beef stroganoff
2 Chicken Gnocchi Soup *Plus dinner one night
1 Chicken & Dumplings *Plus dinner one night
= 60 meals into the freezer, 73 meals made

Somehow I made more meals in half the time, so overall it works out a little better :)
If I had to do it over (or if I know before something comes up, no more babies here), I think I would have started a month earlier, giving me 2 months to prepare while still relaxing the last few weeks and having plenty for about 2 months afterwards. *JIC any of you are doing this for yourself :)
Overall this has taught me that with a little extra planning I can have more control over my family's food and money, and in the end that will help us out for our coming son's entire life!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Food Prep for BD - Day 8... Chicken Vegetable Lasagna and I'm done!!

It took me a few days to get this written, after it took me 5 days to finish this meal... but I guess I didn't originally factor into my time plans the fact that cooking 4x the amount of food will take longer... or the fact that everything takes longer when you can't stand on your feet for more than 10 mins. :)

So I cooked the chicken and made the cream sauce, then spent a couple days chopping the veggies, and then a day sauteeing the veggies individually.
Finally over the weekend, Hubby watched the girls for a while when they weren't playing in the toy room and I started mixing batches of the cheese sauce mix, and the veggies in another bowl, and put the lasagnas together!!
So here's the recipe for 1 9x13, I made 4x this and it was exactly enough for 6 8x8s!!

Chicken Vegetable Lasagna
I made the "Chicken pot pie savory sauce" (recipe in Day 1) and added 1 cup of parmesan cheese to make a "Cheesy Alfredo sauce" or you could use 2 cups of your favorite.
1 lb of Chicken (I threw this in the slow cooker for a few hours with 1 1/2 tsps garlic, S&P, and 1/2 a onion minced so that it would shred. Or you could cook these together in a saute pan and chop it).
1/2 cup each: diced carrot, sliced mushrooms, chopped green pepper (I forgot the pepper in ours)
1 cup each: chopped broccoli, julienned zucchini, julienned yellow squash, chopped tomatoes (I used a bit more, a large can of diced tomatoes drained)
1 TBLS each: basil, oregano, thyme, S&P
2 cups cottage cheese
2 eggs
1 pkg lasagna noodles
1 cup grated parm cheese
2 cups shredded mozzerella cheese
saute squashes, carrots and mushrooms until soft (with butter or olive oil as needed)
then mix into a bowl with the rest of the veggies, tomatoes, and seasonings
in a separate bowl, mix ricotta, eggs, 1/2 the mozzerella, and "alfredo" together

start layering, a small amount of the cheese sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish
noodles  -  1/2 veggies  -  1/3 cheese sauce  -  parmesan  -  noodles  -  1/2 veggies  -  1/3 cheese sauce  -  parmesan  -  noodles  -  1/3 cheese sauce  -  mozzerella  -  parmesan

Cover with foil and bake 30 mins @ 375, uncover and bake 20 mins or until golden brown. Let rest for 15 minutes before cutting.

If freezing, wrap in foil. Thaw 6-8 hours in the fridge and bake 50 mins covered, then 20 minutes uncovered or until golden & bubbly. Let rest before cutting.
OR bake frozen 1 hour 15 mins covered, 20-30 mins uncovered.

We had 1 for dinner, so only 5 more meals in the freezer, but BD has tried to make his appearance early so I have quit cooking and we are now living off freezer meals!!

Hope you enjoy!!
I may not be updating until after we welcome our little bundle, but I hope to start doubling meals after I get back in the swing of things once a week so that we will always have a quick meal on hand for a busy day. With kids, you can plan to have atleast the occasional busy day ;)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Food Prep for BD - Day 7... or I'm not getting as much done as I planned :P

Today gives us exactly 3 weeks before our scheduled induction and our day to finally greet "BD"!!

I finally cooked the chicken... and used some to make Chicken Gnocchi Soup!!
With plenty left over to make 4x Chicken Vegetable Lasagna. I have started slowly prepping everything else and now all I need is to make the cream sauce, mix things together and assemble them.
So that is the plan for today, and then we will have one for dinner tonight!
After we bought the name brand veggie lasagna a year ago, I found it a few months ago and we had it for dinner.
Butterfly said she didn't like the store's recipe, she "only wants mommy's recipe lasagna". I beamed and so this is one meal I could not cross off my list.
I have now removed a lot of meals that if we really need them, I think Hubby can make them.
Meatloaf is just measure, dump, mix and bake.
Chili is measure and dump into a crockpot, roasts are chop and dump, and the marinated chicken meal starts I had planned just mean that we have to throw them together in a bag the night before.
So 7 things have been removed (26 planned meals) but somehow, I have more meals in my freezer than originally planned. Or will as soon as I finish these last 3 things.
Crossing those things off, means I only planned to make 45 batches of the meals that are still on the list. I have almost 60 meals in the freezer with 12 more batches planned with these last 3 meals, at this rate I think they will make a few more than just 12 meals...
I will post my recipe for my lasagna, and the enchilada bakes if I finish them.
I'm making meatballs sunday and then calling it quits!!
I thought I would have all this done by now, but a lot has come up this month that wasn't planned so I'm on day 7 instead of day 15 like I thought (thought I could finish in 15 days, with prep days, or bean soaking & cooking, or stock days inbetween).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Food & BD update, 3 1/2 weeks to go...

Had a Dr appt and while he would like to put me on bedrest, he has learned that I take care of my pregnancy and I'm pretty stubborn :) (Did I really just admit that? hmmm, guess that's where the kids get it, LOL).
I'm only 1 cm dialated at 35weeks 3days, so I will continue to do what it takes to take care of my kids, and hubby is being amazing about helping with housework and anything else that I can't do right now <3

Having escaped bedrest for a little longer, with the well meaning advice to "rest as much as possible, drink plenty of water and make sure you sit down when anything hurts" haha... I went for some more blood tests, and I was on my way home!!

I came home to my mom doing "science" with the girls, homemade ice cream!! So much fun, but I think I need coffee cans for them for next time. They made vanilla and loved it, but next time we need to be more adventurous, add fruit or chocolate chips! I love when they have fun learning new things, and my mom is great at coming up with fun ways to learn new things!!
After we ate the, umm, ice milk (they are 4 & 1, so we were impressed and enjoyed what they did!), my mom hung out with them a while longer so I could finally finish the Beef Vegetable Soup.

So added to my tally is 4 bags of Cheeseburger macaroni sauce (after eating it for dinner one night too!) and 8 bags of Beef Vegetable soup (again, after eating it for dinner last night!).
We have already eaten a few of the freezer meals, and still have 51 meals made this month in the freezer!!

We decided to modify the plan since I can only stand for 10-20 minutes, and so many things have come up this month that were not planned but kept me from cooking :(... so some meals have been scrapped from the original list. I want to spend the last 2 weeks just enjoying our littles and preparing for BD, in hopes of keeping him in until eviction day!
This morning I'm thawing 4 1/2 lbs of chicken so that hopefully in the next 2 days I can make Chicken Vegetable lasagna which is the plan for dinner tomorrow.
Then, I will make the Enchilada Casseroles this weekend.
I think I am going to make the meatballs at the beginning of next week, and I'm debating about the Chipotle Chicken Chili next week.
Hubby can go shopping and cook simple meals if we do run out, but with our huge chest freezer about 2/3 full and our side-by-side indoor freezer filled, I think we will have more than enough to last us until I feel like cooking again, or it's warm enough for him to start grilling!!

Off I go to cook chicken... hope the girls let me and I hope the boy quits head butting my, uhh, hips so I can get something done today.  Just glad that he has stayed head down for a week, so while it hurts it also makes me happy :D

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Food Prep for BD - Day 6... or time to hurry!!

So, we didn't get Doodle this weekend :(
After labor pains on friday, we sent the girls with my parents for another weekend. I got some folding done so I'm almost done with regular and new baby laundry, and food prep was only what I could do sitting down.
Tried to rest and relax all weekend, Hubby had lots of work to keep him busy and I feel a sudden sense of urgency to be ready for BD. So hopefully my next post is about more food, not his birth, but we shall see. God won't give us more than we can handle and only he knows if we or I can handle any more right now.

So I sat and chopped veggies and cheeses when I didn't want to just sit... Hubby finished my homemade beef stock and so I was easily able to take over this morning with adding onions and meat to pots.

Cheeseburger Macaroni x4 in one: Browned 4lbs of ground beef w/2 onions, drained and added flour, milk, cheddar & velveeta, dijon mustard, and spices (S&P, thyme, sage).

Into the other is 4+lbs of beef stew cubes with onion, aminos, and beef stock until they are tender. I will add carrots and potatoes that I chopped already. Then diced tomatoes, shredded cabbage, frozen lima & green beans and peas. Spices and such to make it taste right, then they will both cool.

Each should make 4 meals or more, putting us at over 50 meals :D So we should easily have more than the original 70+ planned meals at this rate, even if I don't finish everything!!

The Veg-beef soup is just thaw, heat and serve.
The Cheeseburger Mac is thaw then heat with a 3/4 to a full box of fresh cooked pasta.

Hope this is helping someone :) If not, atleast I know the internet will never lose my recipes!! So if I ever need to cook for a month or more again, I won't have to re-create these ones :D

Friday, March 25, 2011

Food Prep for BD - Day 5... or what do I call my soup??

Soo, I made homemade kidney beans (from dry... nothing fancy, just takes a while and then I have to use them!) so that I could make a pasta/bean soup.
Minestrone? Pasta e fagioli?
IDK, but I wanted soup with pasta and beans, in a little bit of broth with tomatoes that I could add ground beef to. Ohh, and it had to be yummy...
I have made this a million times, but it was not until after Lady bug was months old that it occurred to me that I should write down and save my creations/recipes, so that I could re-make them.
This is the first time since then that I have wanted to make this, so in search of a recipe that fit :D
Friends sent me their favorites, and I googled... but no, no recipes gave me what I wanted. Sadly, pregnancy takes away my ability to substitute something "similar but easier" when I have a craving. So I had to create my soup from scratch.
Here is what I made, we all loved it here! Just no idea what to call it :D HAHA!

Pasta/Bean "Stoup"
(note: I made 4x this amount and it gave us one meal last night and 8 in the freezer)
1/2 lb ground beef cooked to crumbles then drained, with
1 crushed clove of garlic, 1/2 an onion diced, 1 diced carrot, and 1 diced celery stalk
- meanwhile cook 1 dry cup of your fav small pasta (I used shells)
then mix the meat mixture with the cooked pasta, and 1 can (or 2 cups cooked) beans, 1 small can diced tomatoes, 1 cup sliced zucchini, and 1 cup cut green beans and 4 cups of stock (I used homemade turkey!)
to the meat and then to the "stoup" I added about 1/2 tsp each of: S&P, basil, oregano, and parsley

Hubby doesn't like cooked spinach or I would have added that, and if theres more veggies that I could think of, I would have added them to, but for my first atttempt in almost 2 years, the family & I were happy with the results! .... and when pregnant, I think thats all that matters :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cleaning & a visit, Baby shower and no food prep...

So hubby was on a mission last week to help me clean house. Thinking he was on board with my baby countdown, I dropped the food and focused on cleaning and we got a lot done! Just in time as a friend needed me to take her kids a few times for some minor emergencies.
Hubby's reason, I found out friday, was much better!! We had company :D
Being a non-Doodle weekend, my parents take the girls sat & sun to get Ladybug used to being away from mommy & daddy (prep for baby) and they also reward a week of good behavior with a friday trip.

So friday we were kidless and I was craving chinese. Hubby went to get it and came home with 4 dinners, and my best friend! She moved out of state months ago and with both of us adding a 4th child this year, we had no idea when either of us could visit the other.
Or so I thought.... She planned with my hubby to stay with us for the weekend so she could be here for my baby shower. My other best friend gave me a shower even though this is my 3rd pregnancy & our 4th child... but this will be my first boy, and every child should be celebrated!! So we had a wonderful brunch with lots of chatting, (no games, lol) and hanging out being kidless moms!
We all had fun and I love and thank each wonderful friend there that cares about my family, our coming son, and I. Thank you all!!

We spent a great weekend and even had our first double date as married couples (or ever!) and got to sort through lots of baby clothes. Things that had been passed down to me for my boy and things my 1 yr old has outgrown for her coming girl!! Now we both are a lot closer to being ready to clothe our coming babes, and I got a weekend to refresh and feel like me. It ended with a dinner/play visit from another friend and I felt ready to face this week.

The week started by saying good bye to my friend, my tire going flat, and having to run all over downtown :P Then a morning of taking on extra kids for an unexpected hospital trip for their baby brother.
Finally, an ultrasound of our BD. He is finally head down, and measuring a bit small, but hopefully thats fine when we see the Dr again next week.
So now we look to finish this week on a high note, after amusing the meat market again with buying 25 lbs of meat, again, and promising to see them next week :D
They like me, or they like my money!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Food Prep for Baby D - Day 4 ... after a great family weekend!!

We went to a hotel this weekend. It had been a month since we had seen Doodle, and since he's getting older and doing more with school functions, and friends up there... we decided if we can only have him for 24 hours, we would make the best of it!!
So we cashed in some of Hubby's points from his massive travelling this summer for a hotel 5 mins from Doodle's house, took the drive in our "new to us" mini-van (YAY!!!) and enjoyed every minute that we had with him... even though there wasn't much to do there, I still think we all had a great time with swimming & talking & hanging out!!

So this week is full of appts and plans, but I am determined to still get some extra meals cooked!!
After a morning dr appt to check on BD, I made 6 Tacaroni bakes (seriously; cook 1 lb of meat with onions, add taco seasoning & 2 "cans" of beans - add pasta, cover with cheese and bake 20 mins).
So I froze 5 bags of the meat/bean mix, and then made the last one into dinner for us!

I also finished marinating the chicken for the divans and bagged those for the freezer! Somehow I have 4 bags of chicken, but 3 bags of sauce.

Today's Recipe : Chicken Divan
3 lbs of chopped (raw) chicken - (orig recipe makes 2 meals, so you can make 1 and freeze one for a busy night!) - into a lemon-herb marinade
Here's mine:
zest & juice of 1 lemon,   1 small onion grated or minced,     1/4 cup olive oil,    
1 tsp each: garli, parsley, basil, oregano, & salt
1/2 tsp each: thyme, celery seed, & pepper
 - Mix well, divide into 2 bags the night before cooking. 1 in fridge to marinate for next day and 1 in the freezer for another day.

Cream Sauce:
3 TBLS butter & 2 TBLS flour - melted & cooked for 2 mins
add 2  1/2 cups milk, whisk in, cook until thickened and remove from heat
add 1  1/2 cups shredded cheddar, 1 cup grated parmesan, 1/4 cup mayo, 1 tsp garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp curry powder & 1/2 tsp pepper.

Put 1 bag (1 1/2 lbs) of marinated chicken, cream sauce, and a 12-16 oz bag of chopped frozen broccoli into slow coooker for 6 hours on low.  Serve over fresh cooked, hot rice :)

Funny story:
As I write this, Butterfly & Ladybug are playing in the toy room... they are putting food into pots, pans and casseroles :D Butterfly keeps getting upset at Ladybug "eating" the chicken that she's "trying to freeze so we can eat it next month!".
I love that my girls learn from trying to copy me!!

Now onto a morning of making Taco stuffed shells, and an afternoon of getting ready for a visitation :P

Friday, March 11, 2011

Food Prep for Baby D - Day 3... or the 2 err, 1 day of grounding...

So... like I said, Butterfly was grounded yesterday. The negotiations showed me that she was getting the idea that attitude and aggressive behaviour are NOT acceptable. She very sweetly tried to convince me all day that she had learned her lesson and so 1 day was enough. So after only seeing her for meals and snacks, she was let off this morning on good behavior (she is still 4 and my baby, and I missed her... plus I really NEED her to distract Ladybug from hanging on me :D).

Lesson learned = reward for everyone!!

So yesterday, during the girls breakfast; I started the morning by draining, rinsing and starting the beans that had soaked overnight. Thanks to my parents no longer needing big crockpots, I have 3 so I can make Kidney, Black, and Pinto for refried; all at the same time!

Butterfly went to her room and I left Ladybug in her highchair. She watched me peel onions and chop them in the processor and throw them in the pot with 4 lbs of meat. I don't know what it is, but since our switch to the grass-fed beef from a local meat market the ground beef just melts into crumbles and as long as I move it around a bit, I don't have to chop it like I always did before!
So I left that to start cooking, and started making spagetti sauce and slicing mushrooms.

By this time, Ladybug was wandering the kitchen and toy room asking for her sister and throwing fits when I told her that sister was "nite-nite"... so I started feeding her snacks of mushrooms, cheese, and anything else I could find :D
Meat drained, spices & mushrooms... I had to find my BIG pot before I could add the sauce! More fun playing with Ladybug, until she melted so I got her down for a nap.

Girls had snack time, I finished the meat sauce and put it in a bowl to cool and started lunch. While they had lunch I entertained them with more onions then mushrooms in the food processor :)
Then I started the mushroom alfredo & the divan cream sauces in the pots and sent Butterfly back to her room.
Ladybug tried to "help" me with the cream sauces and then finally she went down for another nap and I finished them. Along with shredding a lot of cheese, and making the "cheese sauce" layer for the lasagna. I was ready to assemble and had the creams off the heat and cooling by the time Ladybug woke up.
Assembling took a lot longer than planned with my lil "helper" but I got 5 done out of the planned 4, so even with eating 1 for dinner (with lunch leftovers for hubby!) I put 4 more meals in the freezer!
Plus 4 1/2 bags of mushroom alfredo for stroganoff, and 3 bags of divan sauce means after I bag and freeze the meat (chicken divan marinade today) I am closer!!

Today's Recipe - Homemade Mushroom Alfredo
1/2 an onion, minced
3 TBLS butter & 2 TBLS flour
an 8oz pack of mushrooms thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 cup parmesan & 1/4 cup mozzerella cheese
salt, pepper & 1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp garlic powder (side note: I normally use 1 lg clove, but this much cooking = some cheating!)

Saute onions in butter until soft, add mushrooms until juicy, add flour and spices then cook 2 minutes. Slowly mix in milk (easier if warm, but I never remember) stir occasionally until thickened, remove from heat and stir in cheeses.

I usually use this with 1 1/2 lbs of beef cubes mixed with some Braggs Aminos for a Beef stroganoff. Throw beef and sauce into crockpot on low all day (8hrs+) then mix in 1/2 cup sour cream at the end, make egg noodles, and add a veggie side dish = Dinner!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

more prep, shopping & kids...

To make this whole experience a bit easier on our food budget, I am only buying massive quantities of things as they go on sale each week.
So last week I bought some sourdough bread 1/2 price, bought 6- 3lb bags of potatoes for $1 each (the 5lb bags next to it were $3.99 for comparison) and 15- 8 oz mushrooms, and some other things.

Yesterday, I toasted the bread and made breadcrumbs for the freezer (until I'm ready to make meatballs) then I sliced and froze the mushrooms that I wasn't using today & tomorrow. Yes, you can freeze mushrooms!! Fresh or cooked, lay them on a sheet pan with wax paper (I did 3 layers the second time and it worked a lot better) then a few hours later they go into a bag - like mushroom chips! Then I sorted 3 kinds of beans to soak overnight in crockpots so I can start cooking them today. Along with a grocery trip to buy more cheese, noodles, and meat at my new favorite meat market!

My plan for today & tomorrow is to make the veggie packs/starts to the roasts, the mushroom alfredo for the stroganoff, the chicken divan marinated chicken & cream sauces (separatly), and lasagnas.

I have gotten to thinking....
I multiplied each of these recipes by 3 or 4, but when I made 1 enchilada bake last week, it made 2 - 8x8s, and an 8x8 is enough for a meal for us (usually). So I think the lasagna should make 6 or 8 - 8x8s and one of those extras will be tonights dinner as well :)
With that math, hopefully some of these things will double as lunch the day after we make them, which wasn't in my original plan, so I can save money later with buying less "lunch stuff"!!

I am hoping that Ladybug will let me get plenty done, but we will see.
Today starts with Butterfly being grounded for 2 days...
Yes, she's almost 5 and this is her 2nd grounding.
Dad, Mom, I'm sorry for everything I put you though. If she is just like me, then there's hope... right?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Food Prep for Baby D - Day 2... or 6 done, 67 more planned

After a long morning of trying to figure out a way to budget this massive food trip... with no answers, I decided to finish what I started the day before!!
Last night I found 2 packs of 2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs in the freezer, while looking for a sweet treat to make me feel better. I found some homemade Zucchini bread and that made me happy :)
So the thighs were put in a crockpot and covered with water on low over night. I removed them in the morning and put them in the fridge to cool (HAHA, dogs can't open the fridge :P).

So after lunch, the girls went down for naps, and I chopped chicken! then I mixed the 1/2 the chicken, 1/2 the cooked veggies, 1/2 a bag of broccoli, 1/2 bag of green beans... darn, no peas! (Oh well, hubby isn't a big fan, so we'll just go with it). Added some sauce until it was nice and creamy, then put it in 2 bags to freeze (these sat in my pie plate so I'm sure I have the right amount!!). Then I did it again with the rest of the chicken and veggies, adding sauce until it was creamy.
I finished with 4 bags of Chicken Pot Pie filling, and a 2 cup bag of Savory cream sauce! Guess I made too much :)

As I was getting the food out of the fridge, I saw the ground turkey that I had thawed the night before... but I already had a frozen lasagna in the oven (2 1/2 hour baking time) so I decided to go ahead and make last night's Enchilada Casserole and just freeze it for later.

So I did, and the original recipe is for a 9x13, but with my changes, it made 2 full 8x8s!!
That's 6 meals into the freezer :) and 2 are bonus, unplanned meals!

The Chicken pot Pie recipe is in Day 1.
But here's the recipe for the Enchilada Casserole - with my HM Enchilada Sauce & HM Taco seasoning recipes. (Orig casserole recipe thanks to Katie Rienke)

Homemade Taco seasoning:
1 TBLS each: chili powder, cornstarch
1 tsp minced garlic or 2 garlic cloves or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 a small onion or 1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne, crushed red pepper flakes, or 10 shakes of Red Hot
1/2 tsp each: oregano, paprika, black pepper
1 tsp salt
1  1/2 tsp ground cumin
I usually add the garlic and onion to the cooking meat, then after draining the fat I add the rest with about 3/4 cup of water and keep over med heat until it thickens, stirring regularly.

Homemade Enchilada sauce
1 28oz can of tomato puree
1 taco seasoning
1 TBLS cornstarch (yes, extra added to the taco seasoning)
Stir and heat until thickened.

Enchilada Casserole          (makes about 1 9x13 or 2 8x8s)
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 taco seasoning
1 can or 2 cups corn
1 can or 2 cups HM black beans
1 enchilada sauce (28oz)
12 corn tortillas
12 oz shredded cheddar
While heating enchilada sauce. Cook ground beef with onion and taco seasoning, add corn and beans until warm, then mix in 1/2 the sauce.
Layer in baking dish: sauce, tortillas, 1/2 meat mix, little cheese, tortillas, 1/2 meat mix, little cheese, tortillas, rest of sauce, rest of cheese.
Bake 20 mins or until cheese melts (can freeze before baking, bake frozen 35-45 mins).
Serve with fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and sour cream or your favorite taco toppings.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Food Prep for Baby D - Day 1... or "the dogs got the meat"

First, the idea behind this was that I had been craving Turkey and stuffing... and we had a whole Turkey in the freezer!!
So I had Hubby get it out and we thawed it, then cooked it with a small batch of stuffing (If i knew how to freeze that, I soo would!! Homemade sourdough stuffing is amazing). Back to the point. I was making Turkey stock from the bones, and had a lot of turkey meat left since I only wanted it for the one meal. So I decided to make pot pies to freeze for Baby since they didn't sound good to me right now (crazy preggo, I know).

So I chopped and measured the turkey and had almost 8 cups. I think 2 cups is about a lb, so I started planning to make 4 pot pies.
I chopped the potatoes, carrots and celery and boiled them.
I made the sauce.
Mind you, to write each step takes seconds, but to do each step took over an hour each with Butterfly "helping", Ladybug copying and needing diapers or drink refills, both of them needing snacks, stopping for lunch, letting the dogs in and out, and me getting exhausted so easily.

Now for the fun part of the day:
Everything was almost cool, so I took the turkey out of the fridge and set it on the table (so I could sit and mix instead of standing at the counter... it seemed like a good idea at the time!)
The girls had just woken up from their naps, so they wanted to taste the veggies and the turkey... I left the lid off the turkey bowl and we all went for a bathroom/diaper break and for me to check the time of an event that we were supposed to go to that night.
So just as I sit down to find the time, I heard a thump and a mad scramble from the dogs... yup! you guessed it, I got in the kitchen just in time to see them eating the last bites of turkey off the floor :(
* Mommy had a meltdown *
Then we put everything away, I scrapped dinner plans, totally forgot about going out, and we used our BOGO free Chipotle coupons and watched a movie.

The recipe for my pot pies:
to make 1 -
1 lb (2 cups cooked) chicken, chopped
1 cup potatoes, cubed
1/2 cup each: carrots, celery, broccoli, peas, and green beans (1st 2 chopped, last 3 frozen)

Savory Sauce:
1/3 cup each: minced onion, butter, flour - I usually guess that 1/2 a small onion is good
1/2 tsp each: salt, celery seed, sage, ground thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
1  1/2 cups chicken broth (I used turkey!)
1 cup milk

Pie crust (1 or 2, your choice, and I'll share my recipe later)

Preheat oven to 425.
Mix raw veggies (and chicken if raw) in a pot, cover with water and boil 12-15 minutes.
Drain, and let cool.

To make sauce: melt butter in a saucepan, add onion and cook until translucent.
Whisk in flour and spices, then let cook 2 minutes.
Slowly add broth and milk (slightly warm if you remember) and whisk until thick.
set aside to cool.

If freezing, let everything cool completly. Mix and freeze. Thaw, then assemble before baking.

Mix everything together, pour into pie crust or pie plate (your choice).
Top with crust, seal edges, cut slits. * can brush with egg wash if desired.

Bake 30-35 mins or until filling is bubbly and crust is golden brown.

Family variation: double potatoes, omit crust, can use ground turkey - 8x8 baking dish for 20-25 mins. Serve with biscuits if desired for a different budget friendly meal.

Food Prep for Baby D - Intro...

We are 7 weeks from "BD" (Baby D, he's #4)'s eviction day.

 - Short background story on that: With Ladybug we had a lot of issues/complications at the end of the pregnancy that caused us to need an immediate induction. To avoid the re-occurance of some of those issues and avoid some new possible ones from such close pregnancies; we have already set the induction date for this baby as long as we can keep him in that long.

Back to this week: I realized looking at the calendar that we are running out of time! Standing on my feet for very long, bending over, and general "keeping up with kids and feeding the family" has gotten beyond difficult. Yet our family doesn't eat "typically".
We don't eat processed or pre-packaged foods, we avoid all artificial colors and especially sweeteners, and we generally try to make as much as possible from scratch to help our health and our budget.

I know after baby comes, a lot of people buy frozen meals or wind up eating out so that they don't have to cook. We don't have that option.
So I have come up with a plan that I will try to share with you, and we will find out together if it works!

Step 1 - Collect "freezable" recipes, make ingredient lists, and figure out how much food I need to buy to make enough food for us to last the final month of pregnancy and the first 6-8 weeks after BD comes.
Each meal has 10 mins or less of final prep, because I figure Hubby or I can only spare about that much time :D

So here's my list:
4 Turkey, err Chicken Pot Pies (filling and crust separate)
4 Meatloafs (orig recipe thanks Mommie)
4 batches of meatballs(orig recipe thanks Mommie)
4 Batches of Chili (Regular Beef Chili)
4 Enchilada Casseroles (orig, recipe thanks Katie Reinke)
4 batches of Beef Veggie Soup
2 batches of Pasta e fagioli soup
4 "Tacaroni" Bakes
4 Cheeseburger Macaroni Bakes
4 Taco Stuffed Shells (orig recipe on a food site posted by Laura Foor)
4 regular Lasagnas
4 Chicken Vegetable Lasagnas
3 batches of Chipotle Chicken Chili
4 meals from 2 Roasts with veggies, each doubles as Beef Stew a day or 2 later
3 Slow cooker Chicken Divan (orig recipe from Sandra Lee)
4 Beef Stroganoff
and some helpful starts:
3 Marinated Chipotle Chicken - for burritos
4 Marinated Teriyaki Chicken and peanuts - for Asian Wraps
4 Marinated Salsa Chicken - for Baked Chicken and Rice

So there you have it, 71 meals... (maybe more, some of these are 4x a 9x13 recipe and I have found that an 8x8 is enough for dinner so this amount might make 6 lasagnas instead of 4??)