I am officially 36 weeks pregnant with baby number two, and since my daughter came before her due date, I just have a feeling this one will follow suit. That gives me, at a guess, about two weeks to prepare for life with a newborn – and let me tell you, I have A LIST! While I am stressing just a tad (really, baby, you are more than welcome to take your time!), I have realized that my to-do list now with baby #2 is vastly different from my to-do list with baby #1. I have found that for us, that there are some things that we thought were important but really weren’t -like having a nursery painted and decorated to the max- and there are some things that we never thought about that really would have been quite helpful – like having easy freezer meals ready to go so that we don’t have to stress about what to eat, or, more importantly, what to feed our two-year old.
Honestly, the thought of making freezer meals sounded fun – until I went to make out a list and had a mini panic attack. I have never really prepped/frozen meals before, and I had no idea what to make! Google and Pinterest only overwhelmed me, with their lists of fancy recipes, foods that would or would not freeze well, and differing ideas on to cook or not to cook before freezing.
After chucking my phone and my notepad and hiding under my blanket for about an hour, I took a deep breath and decided to use a couple recipes that I already know my family loves. My toddler is obsessed with pancakes (she actually calls anything remotely similar – muffins, cake, doughnuts,etc- “pancake”) and requested them for lunch recently, so I decided to take the opportunity while my kitchen would already be a mess and make a giant batch of batter so that I could freeze the leftovers. I’ve frozen pancakes and waffles in the past, so I knew the taste would keep, and who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?
My biggest hurdle with making pancakes is that I’ve never really used the same recipe twice. I’m always tweaking it slightly and playing around with different ingredients. I was able to narrow down my “base”, however, and this is what I came up with:
Basic Pancake Recipe
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
Cinnamon & Vanilla
I’ve been playing around with alternative flours, and so far my favorite is mixing 1/4 cup of coconut flour with 3/4 cup of regular wheat pastry flour. I also like my pancakes a bit lighter, so I tend to add a bit more milk until the consistency is thinner. The cinnamon and vanilla is really just to taste; I’ve never really measured it before, but I love the addition. The banana I usually just mash up, but this time I used my Ninja food chopper to really get a creamy texture (best Christmas gift ever!).
I decided to quadruple the recipe for my freezer batch, which meant 3 cups of wheat pastry flour, 1 cup of coconut flour, 8 teaspoons of baking powder, 4 eggs, and 4 bananas. I ended up using 5 cups of milk, assuming I usually add about an extra 1/4 cup to my regular recipe, and I think maybe a couple tablespoons of vanilla and cinnamon (sorry I can’t be more specific than that!). I mixed all the dry ingredients in one bowl and all the wet ingredients in another before adding them together in a giant pot. If you are going to use a recipe this big, you really need to have some big bowls – I was quite unprepared for what it would look like to have this much batter. I also realized that a huge batch of batter turns out different pancakes than a small batch. I’m not exactly sure the reasoning behind this, as I’m pretty sure my math was sound, but my pancakes came out a lot lighter and just a little bit different texture (still good though!).
Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, I was able to make about 20 pancakes before I got really bored of flipping them (side note: I cook my pancakes on an electric griddle using coconut oil instead of butter), so I decided to try out these “pancake muffins” I have heard so much about.
Bake pancake batter in greased muffin tins at 350* for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Add toppings (nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruits,etc) for extra fun.
At this point, my toddler really wanted to help, but the only “topping” I had on hand was raisins, so I let her spoon some batter into some tins and drop raisins on top. She thought it was quite fun and was a good little helper!
With the rest of my batter, I came out with 12 regular sized muffins (still about 1/3 cup of batter each, so potentially 12 more regular sized pancakes) and 24 mini pancakes. I love my mini muffin tin; it makes the perfect sized muffins or cupcakes for little toddler hands!
So, that’s pretty much it. I now have a ton of freezer baggies containing pancakes and muffins that I can thaw out quick when in need of a meal or snack. All in all, it was pretty easy, although maybe just a tad messy.. but that’s ok, too! As I said before, I love to tweak my pancake recipes, and have added things like different fruits (berries work great) and vegetables (pureed beets or pumpkin are both amazing and healthy). Try it out, and have fun in the kitchen – sometimes the best meals are the ones that you wing! I don’t think I’ve ever had a meal come out the same twice, yet we always seem to enjoy them. Same with my hubby; whenever he cooks, this best meals are the ones he doesn’t pay much attention to and just throws things together.
So, like I said – try it out, and let me know how it goes – or how YOU decide to tweak it. I’m always open to (healthy) suggestions 🙂