5 Chicken Freezer Meals

Happy Monday, beautiful! Today I am going to share with you a super simple meal prep that can be done in 30 minutes that yields 5 easy dinners that can be tossed together in a pan or insta pot. These meals are easily prepared with fresh fruits and veggies, steamer rice or even in a delicious spinach wrap. They’re versatile, easy and make dinner time a breeze.

Chicken is the protein of choice in our house so I start with about 3.5-4 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts. That’s about 6 chicken breasts. I dice up my chicken into bite size pieces and distribute evenly to 5 freezer bags. Now, these meals are made for about 2.5 people so if there are more mouths to feed in your house, simply adjust the amount of chicken you need. Once you have the diced chicken divided up into their bags, we can start adding the rest of our ingredients.

The recipes of choice in our house this week are:

  • Honey Mustard Chicken
  • Honey Pepper Chicken
  • Sesame Chicken
  • Southwest Chicken
  • Buffalo Chicken

The nice thing about this meal prep is that there is no chopping up vegetables. I like to keep items like steamer rice, fresh broccoli and greens, spinach wraps and cauliflower rice on hand to pair with these recipes.


Honey Mustard Chicken

  • 2 cups cubed chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp grain mustard
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp cracked pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 sweet onion or chopped green onion (optional)

Put ingredients into freezer bag and shake to incorporate. Release the air, label with the date and contents and freeze. To prepare, thaw and toss contents into a frying pan on medium heat or into your crockpot or insta pot until chicken is well done. Serve with rice and fresh veggies.


Honey Pepper Chicken

  • 2 cups cubed chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 1/2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cracked pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Put ingredients into freezer bag and shake to incorporate. Release the air, label with the date and contents and freeze. To prepare, thaw and toss contents into a frying pan on medium heat or into your crockpot or insta pot until chicken is well done. Serve with rice and fresh veggies.


Sesame Chicken

  • 2 cups cubed chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • chopped green onion & sesame seeds (optional)

Put ingredients into freezer bag and shake to incorporate. Release the air, label with the date and contents and freeze. To prepare, thaw and toss contents into a frying pan on medium heat or into your crockpot or insta pot until chicken is well done. Serve with rice and steamed broccoli.


Southwest Chicken

  • 2 cups cubed chicken breasts
  • 1/2 can of yellow corn
  • 1/2 can of black beans
  • 4-5 tablespoons of salsa
  • 1/2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put ingredients into freezer bag and shake to incorporate. Release the air, label with the date and contents and freeze. To prepare, thaw and toss contents into a frying pan on medium heat or into your crockpot or insta pot until chicken is well done. Serve over rice, in a tortilla, use as a base for burritos or quesadillas.


Buffalo Chicken

  • 2 cups cubed chicken breasts
  • 1/2 can of yellow corn
  • 1/2 can of black beans
  • 2 tbsp ranch dressing
  • 4 tbsp buffalo sauce (or more if you LOVE buffalo)
  • chopped white onion or green onion (optional)

Put ingredients into freezer bag and shake to incorporate. Release the air, label with the date and contents and freeze. To prepare, thaw and toss contents into a frying pan on medium heat or into your crockpot or insta pot until chicken is well done. Serve as a salad over greens or in a spinach wrap.


 

Full honesty, I eyeball a lot of my ingredients instead of measuring them out. So use what you have, feel free to experiment and enjoy having some easy meals on hand to keep your weeknights simple. Enjoy!

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Basic Budgeting Tips for Paying Off Debt

If you’re like roughly 80% of the U.S. population, you more than likely have some form of debt, whether that’s credit cards, student loans, car payments or mortgages. It has become almost a right of passage as an adult. You go to college and rack up thousands in students loans. You graduate and “gift” yourself a brand new car payment (gee thanks!). You get married (or don’t- you do you) , and you make the biggest investment to date, buying a house. And if kids are in your future, prepare yourself for thousands of dollars in medical bills because insurance doesn’t cover everything and even healthy people can end up in the hospital.

Basically what I’m saying is, I’m right there with you. I grew up with parents who set a great example for financial independence but I also grew up in a world that encouraged me to take out thousands of dollars in loans to finance an education with the understanding that I would then work for decades to pay them off. If you ask me, that’s a crap deal. So a little over a year ago, my husband and I decided no more. We weren’t going to do the debt thing any longer and we got really serious about paying it all off. Mind you, we bought a house, had a baby, took vacations and have lived our lives all at the same time. We are not debt free but we are well on our way and the biggest take away has been our understanding of what debt really is and why we as a family are making some big changes.

There are TONS of resources out there that can help you pay off debt quickly and encourage a “beans and rice diet” to get you to those financial goals. If that’s your thing, then this post likely won’t be helpful. But if you’re just trying to get your finances on track, pay off debt, and still enjoy your stage of life, this is going to speak to you. Below are some of the ways we have really focused our intentions are made a huge impact on our financial future.

Stop Using Credit Cards 

Ya’ll this one is HUGE. I don’t care if you are a responsible adult that only uses credit cards for this or that, blah blah blah. If you have debt, then credit cards are not your friend. Hopefully you have some semblance of a savings account. If you do not, you need to stop what your doing and save $1000 ASAP. Once you have a safety net, then you can focus on your debt. Growing up, my parents made me save half of my paycheck which felt like a punishment but as an adult I’m so grateful that saving money was ingrained in me early on. A savings account is your emergency fund, NOT credit cards. It is far too likely that if you use a credit card, even if you intentions are to pay it off within a month, you won’t. That means you pay interest on that balance which is money you could be using for other things. If you don’t have the money for something right now, then you can’t afford it so do yourself a favor, cut up the cards or put them in a safe place OUT of your wallet so the temptation to use them is gone.

Prioritize Your Debt

This will be different for everyone. High interest rates can be a scary thing but small victories can also be super motivating. It’s up to you to decide what your goals are with your debt payoff. For us, we starting attacking small balances first. That helped us cut down on the number of accounts we had to keep track of very quickly and the money that we were using for those smaller payments could then be applied to the next account on our list. Some people prefer to take down bigger debts with higher interests rates first. My only critique with this approach is that it can tend to feel like using a squirt gun to fight a house fire. Your efforts are far more subtle and can take longer which can lead to you loosing steam. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you can stick to and see it through.

Consider a “No Spend” Month

This is pretty much what is sounds like- a month where you don’t spend any money outside of your bills, groceries, and transportation costs. This was something we did to really get an understanding of where our money was going. We wrote out our budget for the month, including anything that we knew we were going to have to purchase. Birthday gifts, dinner out with friends, it was all included but once the budget was set, there were no impromptu dinners out, amazon purchases or target runs. If we absolutely needed something, then that money needed to be taken from another designated fund, so less money for gas, or groceries, etc. We were amazed at how much money we had left over at the end of the month and that became our first big payment towards our closing costs, money we thought we’d have to take out of our savings. This takes a lot of cooperation and dedication but it really does help you understand how you feel about money and some of the ways that you can really tighten up your budget.

Your Tax Return is Not a Bonus 

This one is a two part-er. With tax season coming to a close, many of us are waiting on that sweet sweet refund check or freaking out that we are paying in this year. Let me be very clear. Your tax refund is money that you LEANT to the government for a year, and now they are paying you back. It is not a bonus. So let’s all agree to use that money for good and not evil. Using that money to pay off a balance will put you in a much better financial position than using it to eat out, get your hair done, or buying 45 unnecessary things from Target… you get me?

Piggy backing off of that, you should be able to pay your bills with your regular income. So anything extra that you bring in each month, should be money you can put towards your debt. If you can’t cover your regular expenses, nothing extra, with your regular paychecks then you need to look at what you can cut back on. Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, and other subscriptions might feel like necessities but they can add up quickly. By eliminating extra expenses that you don’t actually need, you can free up more money in your budget to help get you in the black.

Remember You Aren’t Perfect

Some months, you will be the debt payoff GODDESS you were meant to be. Others, you will have expenses pop up, unexpected bills or spend more on groceries and eating out than you expected. As long as you aren’t going into debt further, you are still on track. Coming from an all or nothing type of person, this is really hard! Just remember that you are doing your best and as long as you are continuing to push forward towards your financial goals, you will get there.

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Creating Your First Budget

Creating and sticking to a budget can be incredibly overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Most of us are not 100% sure where our money goes every month and this is a problem if you have big financial goals. So to make budgeting a little less scary, I’ve broken down some simple steps that will help you get a handle on your personal finances and start

Get Real, Real Quick

You need to fully be aware of your financial situation if you’re going to budget effectively. That means really taking a look at where your money is going each month and what your current debts are. Sit down and do a complete audit of your monthly spending. That means actually looking at your bank account statements. Add up everything you spent money on and where it was going. Using different categories to figure out what could possibly be changed will be super helpful. Below is a list to help get you started:

  • Eating Out
  • Groceries
  • Utilities
  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Subscriptions (Spotify, Hulu, Netflix, Audible, etc.)
  • Gas/Transportation
  • Shopping
  • Daycare
  • Misc. Expenses
  • Savings

Decide on a Plan

Once you’ve taken the time to figure out where your money is going, then it’s time to decide where you want it to go moving forward. I recommend figuring out if your primary goal is debt payoff or saving. If you have large debts accruing lots of interest, you may want to focus on debt payoff (I’ll share more about this later this month). If you are debt free or your debts are minimal, then a savings focus budget is in order. The important thing is to be honest with yourself about where you need to focus your energy. Remember this is not a punishment and budgeting is helping you towards your financial goals.

Get Creative

I’m a pen and paper person which means I have a designated notebook that has our monthly and weekly budgets. If you’re an Excel guru, then create an electronic budget template. There are tons of apps and resources online but trust me when I say, keep it simple. You don’t want to dread your monthly budgeting task so if purchasing a cute notebook to keep track of your monthly spending motivates you, then do that! Do what feels reasonable and effective for your current lifestyle.

Be Realistic

When creating your monthly budget, you need to be realistic about the amounts you set for each category. If you commute an hour to work every day of the week, a $150 monthly budget for gas is not going to cut it. Likewise, you don’t want to associate guilt with things that fall outside of the “responsible” budget items. If coffee out with a friend 3 times a month is something you value, then build that into your budget. If your finances are in dire need for intervention that’s one thing, but if you’re just getting your feet wet with budgeting and still want to live your life, acknowledge and document your fun money spending and assess whether you can afford the extras or if you need to cut back.

Make the Commitment

Creating a budget is the easy part. The hard part is actually sticking to your guns when it comes to excess spending. Sale prices, discounts and “save now” benefits are not actually saving you money if you’re buying things you don’t actually need. Focus on what you budgeted for and know that if you are purchasing outside that plan, then you will need to cut spending elsewhere. This will help keep you on track.

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New Month, Fresh Start

It’s a brand new month and even though the temps are still chilly in MN, April means its officially spring and warmer temps are on the way. After a long, Minnesota winter there is nothing I crave more than opening up all the windows and tackling our spring cleaning checklist. But dusting out the cobwebs and shaking out the rugs aren’t the only things on my list.. April is a great time to clean out your pantry cupboard, your closet (your child’s closet) and even your makeup bag.

Cleaning Product Roundup

It’s probably been a hot minute since you’ve inventoried your cleaning supplies under the kitchen or bathroom sink.. Out with the old, in with the new! I will be sharing what cleaning products I use for all of my spring cleaning and where you can find them. But let’s be honest, Target. It’s always Target..

Pantry Re-stock

Time to simplify dinner time by cleaning up your pantry. I will walk you through what you should probably toss, what you should donate to your local food shelf and what you should realistically keep on hand to keep your cupboards clean and make meal time a breeze.

Makeup Bag Clear-out

It’s that time of year to start thinking about BB creams and waterproof mascara! I will be sharing some of my favorite brands and clean beauty products for summer.

De-cluttering with a toddler

Guys, this is a tough one but I promise it’s easier than you think. I’m going to walk you through how we organize our sons toys, how we get him to join in on cleanup time and what to do about the clutter.

It’s going to be an awesome month, you guys! And if you’re feeling inspired to get started early on your spring re-fresh, keep an eye on Emily’s Instagram for some fresh paint inspiration! She’s redecorating her bedroom and it’s going to be a springtime DREAM! @emilygomezwellness

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Simplifying Your Skin Care

As a mom of a very active infant who is currently refusing to sleep in her own bed, I need simple routines in my life. Complicated regimens with too many steps, to-dos or requirements don’t work for my current lifestyle, so when I decided to really focus on cleaning up my skincare products, I knew I needed less products that gave me the most bang for my buck. Here are four items that I’ve found to be “must-haves” for anyone who needs a simple and effective skincare routine.

I’ve written about collagen peptides before in our Collagen Smoothie Bowl Recipe and they have been a total game changer. I started adding them to my morning routine a couple month ago and I will be the first to admit I was skeptical. I wondered if I was just getting sucked into a fad supplement routine but I’m here to tell you this stuff works. I originally wanted to take them as a joint support supplement but the benefits I’ve seen go FAR beyond that. Hair and nails that grow like weeds are an added bonus but skin elasticity and overall complexion improvements are the real winners here. I put one scoop of beef collagen peptides in my morning coffee and I have seen a world of difference with my overall texture of my skin. Improving your skin from the inside out will make a huge difference in how you absorb topical products as well.

When it comes to cleansing and moisturizing your girl has tried everything. Drugstore brands, Proactive, Dermalogica, natural remedies and I’ve always had some form of a breakout every few weeks. After having a baby, my skin went from oily to dry and everything I thought I had learned about my skin was useless. I knew I wanted to try Beauty Counter for a long time but the prices made me shy away, hoping I would find a cheaper option that would be my magic acne cure. I decided as a gift to myself for the holidays I would go all in and purchase the Countermatch Regimen to try out the entire line and see what products worked.  If you have the funds to purchase the whole kit, girlfriend DO IT! But if you’re looking for the essential must haves, the cleansing balm and Countermatch moisturizer are it. The cleansing balm is my all time favorite and they have a travel size for $40 that has lasted forever! It’s a mask, a cleanser, a moisturizer and heaven all in one little jar. I was super skeptical about cleansing with such a thick and “greasy” balm but it’s so soothing on your skin and leaves you dewey, not oily. I would 1000% buy it again.

My daily moisturizer for the past few months has been the Countermatch Adaptive Moisture lotion by Beauty Counter. I love their products because I can feel good knowing there are no harsh chemicals or additives that wreak havoc on your body over time. It’s perfectly lightweight and is designed to match the moisture needs of your skin which literally can change from day to day. I put this on my wet skin and allow it to fully absorb before putting on my makeup for the day. A little goes a long way and I love how lightweight it is. Perfect for any season too which I love because that means I’m not having to switch out products for the summer. 10/10 would recommend.

The last thing I’ve implemented is DIY Dermaplaning- basically shaving my face. Ya’ll this one is key because if your skin is covered in hair, dead skin cells and remnants of your makeup, those amazing (expensive) products you’re putting on top are not getting the chance to soak in to the deeper layers of tissue. I am NOT trained to do this but I watched a few YouTube videos and feel confident doing this for me, and only me. I use an eyebrow razor that I get in the makeup section at Target, my cleansing balm and warm water to give myself a little mini facial about once a month. After cleansing, I keep my skin moist and carefully shave away the top layer of gunk going both directions. It takes 10 minutes and my skin is left feeling amazing. I then apply a good layer of my balm to soak in for the evening.

Ya’ll I am by no means a beauty guru but I have a fine appreciation for taking good care of the only skin I’ve been given. As I get older, safer yet effective products that are not a massive waste of money are super important to me so I’m happy to share these picks with you in the hopes that you find them useful!

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An easy one pan meal

If you follow my Instagram, you probably saw my favorite one pan meal last week. It’s super easy and makes for an awesome weeknight meal. My husband and I have been super busy at work and we had a sick little boy last week so I prepped this bad boy the night before and popped it in the oven when I got home from work on Thursday and it did not disappoint.

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@oakesmama

I’m pretty loosey-goosey with this “recipe” because it’s one of those meals you make when you need to use up a little bit of this-and-that. Which is pretty often in our house. So here it is!

1 package of whole grain spaghetti or fettucine noodles (doesn’t have to be a full package, I use about half a box or whatever is left)

1 can of low sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons (approx) of olive oil or avocado oil

Minced garlic & fresh herbs (if you don’t have fresh, garlic powder and some italian seasoning or a few dollops of pesto works great)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Whatever you have for fresh veggies (I typically throw in whatever I have left for tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach… feel free to experiment!)

Chicken (I usually reach for chicken breast or maybe you have some leftover chicken you can toss in from earlier in the week. I also like to keep Italian chicken sausage in the freezer which makes for a super easy addition to this meal, just chop it up and toss it in!)

Cheese (this can seriously be any kind of cheese.. I have used fresh mozzarella, provolone, havarti, parmesan and sometimes a combination if I’m trying to use something up)

The process: Put your dry pasta (I like whole grain fettuccine) in a glass 9×13 baking dish. Add your oil, minced garlic, fresh herbs and seasoning. Give it a toss with your hands so you can evenly distribute the oil on the pasta. Toss in your chopped vegetables and give it another little toss. Now you can add your chicken however you like. In my last run of this, I placed one big chicken breast right on top and seasoned it just like my pasta. Next, take your chicken broth and pour it over the whole dish, this is what will cook your pasta to perfection. I then place 4-5 slices of cheese over the dish (shredded works great if you have it but I used sliced havarti last time and sprinkled parmesan over top). Place foil over the top and pop it in the fridge to sit overnight. You don’t have to let it sit overnight but I recommend it if you plan on using fettuccine. When you get home from work, pop this in the oven with the foil on at 375 degrees for about an hour, it just depends on if you are using fully cooked meat or not. If you are, you can pull that bad boy out of the oven as soon as it’s bubbly and the pasta is tender.

 

If you are the type that likes to follow recipes word-for-word, maybe this isn’t the recipe for you.. But if you are like me and often fly by the seat of your pants when it comes to dinner time, give this a try!  Feel free to be creative and incorporate things you know your family likes! My husband loves pesto so this is an easy one to turn into a delicious pesto chicken bake and I never have to boil any pasta!

I hope you try out this fun recipe this week and if you do, please share your masterpiece!

Enjoy

Laura_Signature