Friday, May 13, 2016

Freezer meals for after baby

In a recent blog post on the topic of preparing for a new baby, I mentioned how important it is for me to have our freezers stashed with lots of meals for the first month after the birth. This typically ends up lasting us closer to 6 weeks with meals thrown in here and there by visitors, my husband, and the kids, which seems to be the ideal time frame for me. 

Today's blog post is about sharing the meals I have made in case you need ideas for food that freezes well, does not take up too much space, is easy to reheat and serve, and that is both nourishing to a new mom as well as appealing to a variety of ages and taste buds. 

In our family, I cook enough food every night to serve the leftovers for lunch the next day. So every dinner below is sufficient to also feed us lunch the next day. All meals are designed to feed 12 people. That means that "1 serving" of breakfast is equal to 12 individual serving sizes, whereas "1 serving" of dinner is equal to 24 individual serving sizes.

 Please click on the images to enlarge and see the list of actual foods.

Seeing as I have managed to precook a total of 30 breakfasts and 27 dinners, that comes out to over 1,000 individual servings! Large family math is always a little nauseating and overwhelming, especially when crunching the $ amounts of said food! I would have loved to freeze a few more dinners, but the space is simply not there. :) Not only will I not have to cook for a while, but I also won't have to go to the grocery store. This in turn will free up room in the budget for unexpected expenses such as the tongue tie correction we dealt with last time around (and all that came with it - lactation consultation, breast pump and scale rental, etc.).

In addition to breakfasts and dinners/lunches, I also like to have some other convenience items on hand, as well as make a list of easy meals that can be thrown together in a pinch.
Last but not least, it is important to have the right foods on hand for labor, for mom as well as for the birth team and the rest of the family. Because - shocking but true - kids still expect to eat even when mom is in the middle of pushing! Ha! 

The above sheets were made using Google Drive. The nice thing about it is that I can access the file from anywhere, including my phone, in case I have ideas or need to make updates while not near the computer. I like to include as much detail and directions as possible, so my husband or the kids can take care of the final prep if necessary.

In order to fit this much food, I have been converting many of the bulk items we keep in the freezers into ready meals. We have a total of 4 freezers: one side-by-side fridge/freezer and one freezer on top/fridge on the bottom combo in the kitchen, as well as one chest deep freezer and one stand-up deep freezer in the school room. This is not only great when preparing for baby, but it also allows us to stock up when certain items go on sale seasonally. I typically will buy an entire year's worth of sale items, allowing us to keep grocery costs as low as possible year-round. If you do not currently have enough freezer space to allow you to shop or cook in bulk, but have room in your house to fit another fridge/freezer, I would encourage you to start looking on Craigslist and Freecycle. Two of our fridges/freezers were given to us for free, and two of them were bought for about $100 each on Craigslist.  People are always moving, and giving away their appliances for free, or for pennies on the dollar.

Now imagine this x4!

While I do not usually use plastic or aluminum anything in my kitchen, I do find these conveniences invaluable when preparing for a baby. For most frozen foods, I use disposable steam pans bought in bulk at Sam's Club or Costco. Once the food is frozen, they can be tightly covered with aluminum foil without leaving any room for air, which is best for preventing freezer burn (air is the enemy!). They also stack wonderfully with virtually no wasted dead space. Since most meals will be reheated in the oven, the foil on top is necessary anyway to get the food hot without drying it, so it saves that step. 

For soups, I have found that disposable plastic deli-style quart containers work best. Even though they don't stack perfectly, they can be stored really nicely in the freezer doors, and unlike glass mason jars, they never burst.

Any other odds and ends can be frozen in quart and gallon size freezer bags, which can be stacked flat, or rolled up and stuffed into empty spaces here and there.

Of course, any food in the freezer should be labeled clearly. This is best done before freezing, because once it's frozen, the condensation on the packaging makes it much harder to write on. 

That about sums it up. If you have any other tips or ideas, please share them below.


  1. You are unbelievable. Do you ever sleep??! Seriously, reading your blog makes me feel like a loser of a wife and mom sometimes, haha! I homeschool 5 right now, and it's all I can do to get through a school day without the house looking like an atomic bomb hit it! I can't imagine doing all of this on top of it all! If I ever have another, however, I am stealing some of these ideas for meals! You are amazing.

  2. If you find the time, I would love to see a blog with some of your favorite, healthy recipes.

  3. I have always been in awe of your amazing abilities, and this one floors me! You're awesome! I have wanted to do this for two pregnancies, but with the fatigue and nausea that follow me to the very end, I haven't been able to make it work. But it remains a goal!!

    Thanks for the links for the steam pans and disposable plastic containers - those look great. I've always bought my aluminum pans from the dollar store, but this is a much better deal.

    Hoping to hear baby news in the next few days! Happy birth-day!! :)

    1. P.S. I see that you're cooking with einkorn! Whenever you have time, I would love to hear how that's going with you. I've been considering that for a while.

    2. Diana - One idea is to borrow several large crock pots and just have several meals going in them at once. Chili, soup, etc. Use the cooking time to take a nap. Then when the food is done, transfer to bags/jars and freeze. You can do that part while sitting down and save your energy. :)
      Oh, a good food processor is a must for making freezer meals!


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