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Freezer Meals for Postpartum

post #1 of 66
Thread Starter 
Now that I'm safely in the second trimester, my mind has started to drift to plans for after baby comes.

With #2, I cooked a TON of food and filled our fridge freezer, 2 chest freezers, and a commercial-sized upright freezer with meals. Unfortunately, as a newbie to freezer cooking, I made several fatal mistakes, the foremost of which was freezing new recipes without trying them out on my family first. duh.gif Another mistake as a newbie to baking as well was not making sure my yeast (which I bought in bulk and did not realize should be stored in the freezer once opened) was still good, so all of the bread and pastry items I made (a chest freezer's worth) were inedible.

So, this time I have resolved to make about 3 months worth of food, but work smarter instead of harder and make sure it is stuff we already know we love (and I'm skipping the yeast breads this time around!). I am just in the beginning planning stages right now, but thought I would start a thread to see if anyone else plans to cook for the freezer or has done it for previous pregnancies.

In case you're curious, here's the list of stuff I made last time: http://www.mothering.com/community/t/1282611/feeding-the-freezer/0_100#post_16096738
post #2 of 66

I find that the food I want to cook now, isn't the food we'll want to eat in opposite seasons! However, I did still fill the freezer with about 15 dinners or so, knowing that'd we'd likely get 5 dinners from friends/family in the week or two after baby was born, and with leftovers & take out, we'd get through the first month. It worked more or less. A list on the fridge of important groceries, and quick meal ideas was helpful -- not only for DH to prepare, but for me to prepare quickly w/o having to think!

 

I'm going to make enchiladas, chili, lasagna rolls (all the fillings of lasagna, but you roll up the noodles -- easier to serve/portion, plus they fit in smaller pans), mock-shepherds pie, some veggie pot-pies, curried chickpeas & cauliflower. As you can see, most of my 'feed the freezer food' is fall/winter comfort food! In summer, I really want to eat salads. Lots of salads, and simple wraps/sandwiches, which just don't freeze well -- fake-tuna-salad (made with chickpeas, and tasting nothing like tuna salad!), egg salad, several varieties of quinoa salads, greek salad, strawberry/spinach salads ... sadly, not easy to make in advance, store or freeze. Fortunately, quick and easy to make.

 

I do tend to just double cook things a couple times a week, and freeze the extra. I buy the disposable tin w/ cardboard lid containers for stocking the freezer -- I don't have enough lidded glass to leave them in my freezer for months, and I want things to be able to go straight to the oven -- so no plastic/baggies. I can write on the lids time/temp/content/notes. Before DS was born I made a list on the front of the freezer and added to it every time I put a meal in, I forgo to do this before DD was born, so I was always rummaging through the pans to see what was left!

We also eat pizza once a week, which DH does most of the work to prepare, and fajitas once a week or so, which he can do quickly on his own. I may fry, season & freeze onions/peppers, so that part will be ready - aside from that it's just grabbing things from the fridge & heating up beans & rice (which are always on hand).

 

Breakfast food is what I always forget about actually stocking up on. I will do better this time! Muffins, banana bread, quick yummy things, maybe frozen in 'variety packs' where I can thaw a bag once a week or something.

post #3 of 66
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SynEpona View Post

lasagna rolls (all the fillings of lasagna, but you roll up the noodles -- easier to serve/portion, plus they fit in smaller pans)
This was one of the new recipes I tried last time. I LOVED them, but DH cannot stand them (he has a texture issue with cheeses like ricotta, cottage, and cream cheese) so I won't be making them this time. He does like my mom's awesome stuffed shell recipe which froze fine last time, so I'll make a bunch of those instead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SynEpona View Post

In summer, I really want to eat salads.
Lots of salads, and simple wraps/sandwiches, which just don't freeze well -- fake-tuna-salad (made with chickpeas, and tasting nothing like tuna salad!), egg salad, several varieties of quinoa salads, greek salad, strawberry/spinach salads ... sadly, not easy to make in advance, store or freeze. Fortunately, quick and easy to make.
Have you seen the mason jar salads? If you're on Pinterest, there are a million ideas there and they supposedly keep for a week or two so you can make a big batch all at once even if you can't make any in advance before baby arrives.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SynEpona View Post

Breakfast food is what I always forget about actually stocking up on. I will do better this time! Muffins, banana bread, quick yummy things, maybe frozen in 'variety packs' where I can thaw a bag once a week or something.
Ooh, freezing breakfast food in a variety pack is a great idea!
post #4 of 66

I will probably be freezing soups.  I love to eat them all year round, but cooking them heats up the kitchen in summer.  My crock pot and I have become good friends, too, so freezing prepared ingredients for crock pot recipes would work out great for us.  :)

post #5 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sihaya View Post

Have you seen the mason jar salads? If you're on Pinterest, there are a million ideas there and they supposedly keep for a week or two so you can make a big batch all at once even if you can't make any in advance before baby arrives.
 

I have seen them, I just can't decide before lunch what sort of salad I want! I think I'm going to copy my sister, and at the very least do all the chopping of veggies the same day I buy them. At least that way, assembling a salad is really quick. I did this on the 23rd to be ready to make veggie trays etc for Christmas time, and it's been really nice, we still have some peppers, carrots, brocolli & onions already cut up, so it's be simple and fast this past week to toss them into plain pasta sauce or into the steamer or into a salad. It's easy enough to chop veggies with a baby napping or nursing in a carrier ... I'll have to re-visit this thread in mid-May to remember that's my intention! Or, get in the habit of pre-chopping now!

post #6 of 66
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BennyPai View Post

I will probably be freezing soups.  I love to eat them all year round, but cooking them heats up the kitchen in summer.
Soups are one of my faves year round, too. They also seem easier to double or triple than other types of dishes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SynEpona View Post

I have seen them, I just can't decide before lunch what sort of salad I want!
Ha! I eat the same salad every single time, with the only difference being the dressing, so that didn't even occur to me.
post #7 of 66

I'm in the process of collecting recipes. Since we're dairy and egg free, it's going to be more challenging than last time to prepare.

post #8 of 66
I love the list you posted sihaya- so many good ideas! I'm vegetarian but DH and DS are not, so it makes things a little trickier when it comes to casseroles and one pot meals, but your list gave me lots of ideas for meals I could adapt to be veg. I agree synepona that winter food never appeals to me much in the summer, but luckily DH and DS will eat soup and lasagna anytime, so I can at least have freezer meals ready for them and then throw together a salad or gazpacho for myself. I need to start buying ingredients for freezer meals and stocking the pantry- I'm a pretty frugal grocery shopper do I always have a mild panic attack when I do a huge stock-up purchase and see an insanely high total at the end. I just have to remind myself that I'm pre-shopping for that first nesting month when I won't be going out much.
post #9 of 66
I love this! I told hubs that I want to start doing this when I stop working. I think it will work out well also- because June is winter here- not really like winter in the states bu warm food will be nice.

I think enchilada sound so yummy! And I like the rolled lasagna one also. I guess I'm a bit fortunate because hubs does most of the cooking and I think my mom will be flying over from the states and staying with us for 5 weeks or so after bub is born.

How many meals do you usually make?
post #10 of 66
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gratefulgoddess View Post

How many meals do you usually make?
I can't believe I actually found the list from 3 years ago, but my records say that by the end last time, I had 100 dinners, 27 breakfasts in addition to 6 dozen muffins and 4 dozen bagels, about 20 side dishes, and SO MANY desserts (600 cookies alone!). I cooked 3-5 days a week for 4 months. It was just way too much and, like I mentioned before, a lot of it was wasted in the end.

This time, I have planned 96 dinners, 36 lunches, and 48 breakfasts plus 9 dozen muffins. The difference is there is less of a variety of foods but more of our favorites, no bread or side dishes, and I will only make desserts if we have left over time/money after everything else is made.

Honestly, I don't know anyone else who makes anywhere near this much and I don't expect anyone else to. I so do not enjoy cooking and I prefer my husband (who usually does 75% of the cooking around here) to be freed up to change diapers, pick up around the house, and help with the older kids for the first 3-4 months.

Here is my list of meals for this time:

Breakfasts
Smoothie Kits
Raspberry Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Morning Glory Muffins
Sausage Patties
Egg Muffin Sandwiches

Lunches
Brown Bag Burritos
Homemade Hot Pockets
Chicken Nuggets/Chicken Jalapeno Poppers
Corn Dog Muffins (If you are not gluten/dairy free, Pioneer woman has a recipe, too.)

Dinners
Chicken Pot Pie
Shepherd's Pie
Sauces – Marinara, Spaghetti with meat, Beef Stroganoff, and Goulash
Patties/Sandwich Fillings – Sloppy Joes, Salmon Patties, Hamburgers, Taco-Seasoned Ground Beef
Soups – Garlic Tomato, Chili, French Onion, Chicken Noodle
Meat and Cheese Stuffed Shells
Baked Mac & Cheese
Meatballs – Cherry/Blueberry, Italian, Swedish
post #11 of 66

:yum  So hungry reading through these.  Two weeks' worth will probably cover it for us.  The local community came together and I don't think we cooked a single meal for at least 3 weeks PP.

 

I wonder how well/long my favorite cookie recipe would freeze.  A friend of mine froze a big batch and took them out periodically to ship to her friend hiking the A.T.  What do you think, @Sihaya ?  (Major Milk Makin' Cookies)

(Follow the link to see the cooking directions) (Click to show)
Major Milk Makin' Cookies
recipe by Kathleen Major

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 3/4 c. oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 c. almond butter or peanut butter
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. milled flax
3 T brewer's yeast
1/3 c. water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2 c. (12oz) chocolate chips
1 c. chopped nuts of your choice

Source:  http://www.drmomma.org/2010/08/major-milk-makin-lactation-cookies.html
post #12 of 66
Thread Starter 
We got about a month of meals brought to us on top of what I cooked last time, and my shower for baby #2 was a Dream Dinners shower, so yeah, we didn't have to cook or shop normally for a very long time!

That's the recipe I used last time, @BennyPai! I had to tweak the recipe a ton to make it edible, but once that was figured out, I couldn't keep my husband out of them! I froze the dough in flat circles (other kinds of cookies I just froze in balls, but these worked best flat) and then baked up a few at a time as we wanted them.
post #13 of 66

Thanks for the tip!  Going on my freezer list.  :)

 

I subbed nutritional yeast for brewer's yeast. The flavor is more mild, and while nutritional yeast doesn't have chromium, it does have Vitamin B12 so I thought it was a fine trade.  My kids, my neighbor's kids, DP, etc. ate these right up with just that change.  I feel like they might actually be a little high in sugar, especially with the chocolate chips

post #14 of 66

If you love cream soups made with the cream added at the end (not the ones that start with a roux), then you can freeze them after pureeing, before adding the cream. The texture is better that way once thawed. Just add cream during the reheating, and you can't tell they were frozen. I do this for a carrot ginger soup somewhat frequently, and it always turns out better when I remember to remove the freezer portion before adding cream to the pot.

 

Quiche freezes nicely, and if you make little tart size ones, they are quick to thaw & heat for breakfast or lunch.

post #15 of 66
I am hoping to do some freezer meal prep for the fall. As I will probably be home with my family for most of the summer. I just need to get a freezer!
post #16 of 66

notes.gif

 

Great ideas, ladies. I especially love the idea of the breakfast variety packs - I'm thinking I could do a couple different kinds of muffins, some baked oatmeal cookies, some walnut pancakes, all in a freezer bag to pull out at once. Lovely idea!!

 

For dinners, we really don't have that much space in our freezer, so I'm bit limited. I'm thinking ~15-20 meals would be a tight squeeze. I'll likely be making:

 

- Enchiladas

- Mac & Cheese with broccoli, cauliflower, and meat

- Lasagna or stuffed shells

- Quiches

- Shepperds Pie

- Chili

- Stuffed Peppers

- Some kind of soup, maybe potato broccoli cheddar?

 

All tried and true recipes that will be easy enough to make this spring and freeze the double / triple batch portion. Luckily we live in NYC and take out is ridiculously easy and varied, and sometimes even cheaper than homemade. I'll also be stocking up on pantry / shelf-stable items, and have a list of easy meals for Nick to make us; things like pasta, stir fry, grilled cheese, sandwiches, burgers, etc. 

 

I'm excited for this part :)  I love cooking!

post #17 of 66

@Sihaya, you are an angel! With links even!! :love Our family is pretty close to no gluten and no sugar (though not truly strict ...), and we tend to do CSA in the summer, so I'm cautious about freezing a lot. On the other hand, we've done freezer cooking before (prior to switching to this way of eating) and found it incredibly convenient and that we could fit a surprising amount in our little fridge-top freezer. I'm hoping to go through the recipes you posted, as well as see how we can modify some of our favorites. I'm also going to go nuts on Pinterest! When are you folks planning on starting to "feed the freezer"? 

post #18 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohannaInDairyland View Post
 

 When are you folks planning on starting to "feed the freezer"? 

I'm due at the beginning of the month, and DD was 10 days early .... so I'm planning to start doing at least one or two meals into the freezer each week starting next week or the week after. That should give me 17-35 meals. If I feel like we need more, I'll increase to 3 or 4 meals a week. I mostly intend to just double up as I'm making dinner, not do dedicated cooking batches for the freezer. Now that we attend a bigger church, that has a pattern of providing about a week's worth of post partum meals, we should make it to about 10 days old before we even have to open the freezer, with family, leftovers, church meals etc.

post #19 of 66
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohannaInDairyland View Post

@Sihaya, you are an angel! With links even!! love.gif
If you want a recipe that doesn't have a link, let me know. Those are ones that I got from ebooks or menu plans I bought so I couldn't easily link to them. I'm very by-the-book when it comes to cooking (as in, I need a recipe to make toast), so I have a recipe for everything, even hamburgers and taco meat! I also have a grain-free freezer book with a ton of great ideas for batch cooking if you need more resources.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohannaInDairyland View Post

When are you folks planning on starting to "feed the freezer"? 
It will be very dependent on funds for us, but I was hoping late February or early March. I have never perfected the "cook double and freeze half" method, so I plan to be cooking about 2 days a week.
post #20 of 66

I'll probably start in April just so it's not that stressful. I think any earlier and you run the risk of food not tasting as good. Right now I'm collecting recipes and trying them out though. I didn't find out about my youngest's allergies until a month before I got pregnant, so that has definitely changed things a lot. And there's no way I would accept food from anyone else because of the allergies either.

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