I love baking and cooking. As I have mentioned in the past, before I was a mom I was a school teacher and on the side (mostly during the summer months) I was a Pampered Chef Director. As such I had home parties cooking and demonstrating quality kitchen tools. As I would demonstrate I would describe myself as a “conditional cook”. What I meant by this was that if all the conditions were right, I loved to cook. My conditions were: a clean kitchen, enough time, and all the necessary ingredients. My conditions have stayed the same over the past 6 years. However as you mostly likely know, it is even harder to get all the conditions in place as a busy mom.
Often I do my meal planning in one of two ways:
A) The haphazard plan: I wait until late afternoon to start thinking about dinner. I will get struck with a brilliant idea but then remember that I would need to thaw, buy or grow something to make that recipe happen. Between my husband and I we figure something out but it is rarely a “balanced” meal.
B) The plan ahead plan: I sit down at the beginning of the week and plan my meals for the upcoming week while creating a recipe list for things that will be needed. The beauty of this plan is that there is no stress throughout the week figuring out what will be for dinner and because I have made a plan ahead of time I am better able to make sure that what we are eating is balanced and healthy.
I recently became aware of a website designed to take my “plan ahead” plan to the next level. Are you ready for this? Hot by 6 has a three step system that they describe in this way:
Step 1 – Create a meal plan for a day a week or even a month! You receive hundreds of delicious recipes to start your collection, with several new seasonal recipes added each quarter. All recipes are great for budget meal planning and full of ideas for planning your family dinners!
Step 2 – Assemble meals on your own, or with a group of friends! Using their invite a friend feature, you can create a shared meal plan and grocery list, helping put the 'budget' in budget meal planning.
Step 3 – All of the recipes are freezable! Prepare your meals each night or assemble meals in advance and place them in your freezer, giving you flexibility to rely on Hot by 6 for easy daily, monthly, or weekly meal planning!
Rachael, one of the owners of Hot by 6 contacted me and was kind enough to offer me a free trial subscription to Hot by 6 (one that is also passing on to YOU – read on for more details). I clicked through the many recipes on their site finding some that either sounded too good not to try or some that used ingredients that I has on hand and needed to use. Once my recipes were chosen, the system consolidated a personalized grocery list for me grouping like items together and categorizing them (dairy, fruit, etc) for ease of use. I printed both the recipes and the grocery list and then proceeded to check off on the recipe list the items that I needed to purchase (since I did have several items on hand already). Once I had the ingredients on hand I was set. At that point I could either assemble the meals ahead of time and freeze them for later use or prepare them as needed. I loved the flexibility of that choice. picked out a weeks’ worth of meals and was pretty impressed at the results. The Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff was easy but delicious (made in the crock pot) and I have since made it again because we liked it so well. The Peanut Butter cookies (oh did I mention there are dessert recipes too?) are yummy and because I am keeping them in the freezer I can pull out just the amount needed and cook them in the toaster oven ensuring that we don’t over indulge;). The Tortellini Soup with an Italian Kick was a hit with all who tried it . . . I have shared the Hot by 6 website with several friends and family members letting them know how easy an intuitive it is. I would love for you to try it out too (for FREE)! Simply use the promo code: "mom4life" (without the quotes). You will be asked for your credit card number when you sign up for the trail however, it will not be charged unless you do not cancel your account within the 30 day trial. If you decide not to cancel your account there is a $6 monthly fee. This code will expire on 12/23 so don't delay. I hope you try it out and use it to get some great holiday cooking and baking done ahead of time! Speaking of which: want to get an even better feel for how works? Click here to view the TV segment from the Fox 12 station in Oregon or on the video below for another great TV segment!