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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Have you started freezing any meals to warm up and eat after you give birth?

So far I've frozen:
Pakistani Kima
2 chicken pot pies (homemade)
banana blueberry bread
at least 2 containers of chicken soup with homemade bone broth
Veggie Meatball Soup
Ground Beef Spiral Bake
and more in a freezer downstairs, which I'm not supposed to open very often because it's frosting up and I've already defrosted it this year...

I'll share the recipes to any of these if you ask for them, when I have time :)

Just in case we don't have any family or friends who will give us a meal (meals) after our daughter is born, I like to be prepared. How about you?
 

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That is genius, @catholicmama! I should definitely start doing this...never have before, but it's such a great idea. Our freezer is tiny, and gets filled up with so many regular-use items...but my mom lives 5 min away and has a large freezer in her basement that she hardly uses, plenty of space in there!

One of my favorite make-ahead dishes is Hashbrown Casserole. For those of you who know Cracker Barrel, yes, it's just like that, except better...I've figured out how to make it gluten-free, and even do a small dairy-free batch for DD1. ;) Would be happy to share the recipe as well.

Love the idea of chicken soup & banana blueberry bread - those would be soooo nice and comforting! Maybe pumpkin bread, too...since we're all looking at fall babies. :) What is your ground beef spiral bake? That sounds really interesting!

Dinners sound relatively easy to freeze & reheat. Any idea how a French toast casserole might freeze? Oh, and would you use those disposable aluminum pans for sake of convenience (not scrubbing casserole dishes, and not using up all the dishes we've got in the meantime)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you! I don't remember having done it before, either, but we have more fridges and freezers now and our home life is more stable than with previous pregnancies, so now I have the chance to do this, thanks be to God. I hope you and your mom can work something out and she lets you use some of her freezer space.

We don't use the microwave. (not that you mentioned it, but just wanted to establish that) What I've done is invested in some glass leftover dishes and baking dishes with lids. Both are freezer safe and oven safe, just not from one right to the other - take some time to thaw first. When I fill a 9 x 13 glass baking dish for freezing, that's on a night when I double the dish we're having for dinner. When I fill a glass leftover dish (usually round, but sometimes rectangular or square) that's when I have a crock pot full, or another dish full, and we don't eat all of it and there's enough left to fill the leftover dish. When I want to eat one of these frozen meals, I take it out of the freezer the night before and thaw it in the fridge overnight, and set it out the afternoon before so it's thawed enough to bake that night without the lid - or if I don't take that step, I take it out the day it'll be dinner and then it usually has to be thawed in the oven without the plastic lid for a few minutes first before it's thawed enough that I can take it out of the container and reheat it on the stove.

I haven't tried Hashbrown Casserole at Cracker Barrel yet. Please do share the recipe, as yours sounds healthier than if I were to pay to eat it at the restaurant. (as much as I enjoy eating there, it can get pricey and it's a lot of food)

Here's the bone broth recipe I use; I use my 7 quart crock pot to make chicken bone broth with chicken bones after baking a chicken for dinner - it's in the crock pot for 24 hours (don't feel safe doing that on the stove overnight):
http://wellnessmama.com/5888/how-to-make-bone-broth/
At the end of the 24 hours, after it's cooled down enough, I discard the vegetables (they cooked too long to use them in the soup I make with the broth) remove the bones and add back the meat, and add my favorite soup vegetables like sweet potato, organic carrot, onion, canned organic green beans, and canned corn. So for example, I bake a whole chicken on Sunday night, then put the bones in the crock pot and use that recipe until Monday night, refrigerate it, then do the final steps Tuesday morning and make it into a soup for Tuesday dinner. That also allows me to throw away the bones for Tuesday trash day :)

Pumpkin bread sounds so yummy - thanks for the great idea! We ran out of pumpkin puree from last year, but still have a can of pumpkin and a can of sweet potato puree. My daughter doesn't like this part, but if I have an old banana I usually put that in the mix, too.

Ground beef spiral bake is a Taste of Home recipe my M-I-L gave me two or three years ago. It's not very popular so I don't make it very often. It's okay in moderation; your family might like it more:
Ground Beef Spiral Bake
1 package (16 oz) spiral pasta (like rotini)
2 pounds ground beef
2/3 cup chopped onion (I use a whole chopped onion)
1 tsp minced garlic
2 jars (26 oz each) spaghetti sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
4 cups (16 oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Cook pasta according to pasta directions; drain. Meanwhile, brown beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain fat. Stir in the spaghetti sauce, tomato paste, basil and oregano. (my skillet isn't big enough for this step, only big enough for the meat and onion, so I switch to my big glass pot) Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes.
Stir pasta into meat mixture. Transfer to two greased 9 x 13 inch baking dishes. Sprinkle each with 2 cups of cheese.
Cover and freeze one casserole (when it's cool) for up to 3 months. (oops, mine has been frozen longer) Bake the remaining casserole, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.

To use frozen casserole: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until heated through.

A French toast casserole sounds good and I imagine it would freeze well, but don't my word for it because I haven't made that or frozen it yet. Aluminum disposable pans could be a good idea. The glass pans I have with lids are extras and I still have a pan or two for baking besides the ones I freeze with; if you're not able to do that, and the glass pans aren't in your budget, the disposable pans could be a good idea - just not ideal because aluminum is to be avoided because of the risk of eventually getting Alzheimer's from use of the aluminum.
 

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We're planning to make double batches of soup whenever we have it for dinner this fall and put the extra into the freezer. I'm also planning to do the same with my veggie lasagna, beef stroganoff, maybe some of the stampot that DH makes, too. :)

There's a bakery here that makes really good pot pies so we'll prob stock up on those, too. ;)

Def making notes from the recipes you all share, too. And banana and pumpkin bread are also a great idea!
 
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I haven't tried Hashbrown Casserole at Cracker Barrel yet. Please do share the recipe, as yours sounds healthier than if I were to pay to eat it at the restaurant. (as much as I enjoy eating there, it can get pricey and it's a lot of food).
Thanks so much for the great tips and recipes! The ground beef spiral bake sounds super yummy to me! But as my kids are picky little twerps (I say in the most affectionate way - lol), they love spaghetti & meatballs, but turn their noses up at ground beef in spaghetti sauce. :shrug So maybe I'll just take a few extra minutes to smoosh together meatballs, and make your recipe as otherwise stated! heheh Your chicken soup recipe sounds very similar to mine, but I've never taken the time to make bone broth...thanks, now I have no excuse not to try it! ;)

I will look into those glass dishes, my biggest problem would be storage, as our kitchen is dinky for the size of our family. Might be worth it though!

As for Cracker Barrel, honestly I haven't eaten there in probably a decade...but eating there during my travels & short time living in the Midwest, I remember loving the hashbrown casserole, so after some trial & error, I nailed the recipe! Here is my version:

Hashbrown Casserole

1 (32 oz) package frozen shredded hashbrowns, thawed (or equivalent amount fresh peeled, shredded Russet potatoes)
¼ cup butter
½ cup chopped onion
1 can cream of chicken soup (Pacific makes an organic one)
2 cups shredded Colby cheese
1 pt. sour cream
⅓ cup milk
Salt & pepper to taste

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat; sauté onion until tender. Add soup and mix well; add cheese and milk, stirring until melted. Remove from heat, stir in sour cream, salt & pepper, and thawed hashbrowns. Turn mixture into casserole dish, cover, and bake about 45-50 min, or until bubbly in center. Remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

You can double the batch, and freeze half. Thaw as you would any other casserole, and bake as directed.
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I do a small portion dairy-free for my DD - I sub vegan cheese (such as Daiya cheddar slices), Earth Balance margarine, dairy-free milk (such as unsweetened flax or almond), omit sour cream, and use my homemade dairy-free cream of chicken soup.

Quick Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Cream of Chicken Soup Base:
1 1/2 cups unsweetened flax milk or almond milk
1/3 cup potato starch (or other mild-flavored GF flour)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
Dash of onion powder, garlic powder, & paprika (may use fresh onion & garlic if you're not in a hurry, and add veggies like carrots & celery :) )
Salt & pepper to taste

Whisk starch or flour into milk; add other ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened.
Yields about 3 cups (equivalent to 2 cans). For use in place of a can of condensed soup, halve recipe and reduce liquid by about half.
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I love making the hashbrown casserole ahead, and serving it with scrambled eggs & bacon for breakfast...one of our favorite Thanksgiving or Christmas breakfasts, as you can just pop it in while you're prepping turkey, opening presents, etc. It also goes great with a pre-cooked ham, roasted chicken, or store-bought rotisserie (I only buy the natural ones without all the junk). If you want, you can even stir in peas before baking for an all-in-one side dish.

Plenty more recipes I'd be happy to share as well! My stuff is all gluten-free, but you'd never know it. :) Some that would freeze well are: Zucchini-Carrot Power Bread, Blueberry-Sour Cream Coffee Cake, Cran-apple Yam Casserole, Crustless Mini-Quiches, etc.
 

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I want to have a freezer full as well, but was thinking it was too early to start? I don't want food to get freezer burnt or anything or I am just crazy and if it's stored properly this won't be a concern?
 

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My job ends on August 29th and I'm planning to work on freezing dishes in September and October once I have more time. I've already been looking for more baking dishes --- found a 9x13 glass pyrex at a garage sale this weekend. A couple things that I know I'll freeze are salmon chowder and baked ziti. Once I get started I'll definitely come back to this thread for ideas and post some of my own recipes.

One thing that will be challenging is my husband and his damn paleo diet…I can't think of anything paleo that would really be conducive to freezing (or that sounds like good "comfort-food" for me). Might be freezing a lot of smaller portions of stuff just for me and DS!
 

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Salmon chowder sounds interesting! Got a recipe?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I want to have a freezer full as well, but was thinking it was too early to start? I don't want food to get freezer burnt or anything or I am just crazy and if it's stored properly this won't be a concern?
I'm not an expert on this, so take what I say with a grain of salt. But I've only had freezer burned food when the freezer needs to be defrosted, i.e. when I open the freezer, there's icicles hanging down and some of the room in there is being taken up by ice. Our only freezer that does that was given to us free by a neighbor about two years ago. I defrosted it last year (the most stressful part was finding room in other freezers for all the food in there, because I tend to fill up our freezers). I did it again earlier this year, and my F-I-L said it should only need to be done once a year but maybe this freezer is old or something because it's pretty frosted up in there already.

Anyway, I've had a preemie (a month early) so I'm not waiting. If you have no history of preterm labor, and your freezer(s) is newer and working well enough that it doesn't have an ice problem in it, you might be fine starting to freeze this summer instead of waiting for the fall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yes, salmon chowder sounds good - please share the recipe, AlaskAnne, when you have time.

I'm interested in the paleo diet, but not to the extent that I would give up grains completely. I've been making sausage or bacon for breakfast for my children and I for a few weeks now instead of just cereal or oatmeal (they can have cereal or oatmeal with the meat if they want and sometimes I still fill up a bowl with cereal, too). I get emails from PaleoHacks and think much of what they say makes sense. I can see how a lot of it would be hard to freeze, though, like the salad dishes with mostly raw vegetables. Maybe you could freeze a breakfast, like something with eggs and vegetables and maybe meat.
 

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The hashbrown casserole sounds yummy @my3beasties ! I would love to try adding broccoli or peas or some other veggies to it.
I probably won't start filling the freezer till oct or so, but I will definitely be watching this thread for all the yummy ideas! I tend to make a lot of soups in the fall so making extras of that is easy. Last time, we had a teeny little freezer with no room to stock extras, but I remember freezing chopped leeks & carrots so I could add a potato & water or broth to make a quick puréed potato leek soup.
 

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I don't have a go to recipe, sorry guys! We usually have a freezer stocked with salmon and I've tried a lot of recipes over the years but none that really stand out.

I'll share the recipes if I try this fall if they are worth sharing.

@bright-midnight thanks for sharing that link! I was hoping to find a link to a list like that.
@Catholic Mama I think the paleo diet has been really good for my husband (he's lost 30 lbs, still needs to lose another 20 though) although he is getting burned out after 6 months of it. It is hard diet to sustain long term, and expensive with all the meat you have to buy (especially if you want to buy good, hormone-free stuff). There are very few grab-and-go foods which means almost every meal has to be cooked from scratch. Hence, the trouble with freezing…. I think by the fall actually he will have added more back in: beans, and some (non-wheat) carbs like rice. That will make it easier and make our diets more compatible. We frequently eat paleo dinners with no carbs (or I'll make rice for DS and me) and then I get my carb on for breakfast and lunch. :)
 

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The hashbrown casserole sounds yummy @my3beasties ! I would love to try adding broccoli or peas or some other veggies to it.
I probably won't start filling the freezer till oct or so, but I will definitely be watching this thread for all the yummy ideas! I tend to make a lot of soups in the fall so making extras of that is easy. Last time, we had a teeny little freezer with no room to stock extras, but I remember freezing chopped leeks & carrots so I could add a potato & water or broth to make a quick puréed potato leek soup.
Thanks! :) Yeah, it's pretty delicious...I always say I need at least one serving for each thigh. LOL It's great with peas or broccoli mixed in, you could even add diced ham or chicken for a one-dish dinner! Ooh...I'm so gonna do that with one batch. :yum

Your idea of freezing chopped leeks & carrots sounds great too - I was planning on doing something similar with the chopped veggies, herbs, sausage & bread cubes I use for my infamous Thanksgiving stuffing, since this little guy is due right around then, and all I (or my DH - haha) would need to do is sauté the veggies, boil some broth, and mix it up. (happy to share recipe if anyone's interested) Will definitely do as you suggest with soup veggies!
 

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Oh, @AlaskAnne & @catholicmama - I got a great Paleo cookbook for Christmas from my brother in law: it's called Against All Grain, by Danielle something-or-other. Might be some recipes in there that would freeze well? She does really interesting stuff, and cute kid-friendly ones too, like spaghetti squash with meatballs & marinara, served in the squash shells like little boats. I bet you could freeze some grated cauliflower "rice", beef skewers and things like that, to make meal prep easy? I think I remember my grandmother freezing quiches - a crustless quiche would be awesome. You could take raw zucchini ribbons and use them as lasagna noodles, make it ahead and freeze it! I would do cheese, but I know that's not a Paleo thing. ;)

Personally, my body seems to need those carbs - I'm cool with the concept of Paleo, but I get too shaky and hypoglycemic if I don't balance things out with complex carbs. I could eat half a cow and a garden row of veggies and never actually feel full, and my blood sugar would still crash in minutes. :lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Oh, @AlaskAnne & @catholicmama - I got a great Paleo cookbook for Christmas from my brother in law: it's called Against All Grain, by Danielle something-or-other. Might be some recipes in there that would freeze well? She does really interesting stuff, and cute kid-friendly ones too, like spaghetti squash with meatballs & marinara, served in the squash shells like little boats. I bet you could freeze some grated cauliflower "rice", beef skewers and things like that, to make meal prep easy? I think I remember my grandmother freezing quiches - a crustless quiche would be awesome. You could take raw zucchini ribbons and use them as lasagna noodles, make it ahead and freeze it! I would do cheese, but I know that's not a Paleo thing. ;)

Personally, my body seems to need those carbs - I'm cool with the concept of Paleo, but I get too shaky and hypoglycemic if I don't balance things out with complex carbs. I could eat half a cow and a garden row of veggies and never actually feel full, and my blood sugar would still crash in minutes. :lol
Thanks for mentioning it, my3beasties! If paleo was a pool, I'd still just be sticking my feet in. I still have cravings for a big bowl of cereal or a bowl of oatmeal (sometimes I still eat them, but not nearly as often as before; it helps that last year my therapist suggested switching from cereal to eggs for breakfast and since then I've been baking eggs, vegetables, and meat in an 8 x 8 pan and warming up a piece each morning; it lasts me at least a week usually) but the most paleo I've been doing lately is having (sausage or) bacon for breakfast instead of (or in addition to) automatically grains. It's going to take me longer to warm up to the idea of substituting vegetables for pasta as you suggest, though those are good ideas.

I know what you mean about your body seeming to need carbs (more than are in vegetables). Maybe I'm just not eating enough meat and vegetables, which is very likely true, but I seem to have trouble gaining weight without having a few grains almost every day. Not nearly as much as the food pyramid wants - I believe in having more meat, vegetables, and fruit than grains - but still a little. Also I remember my first son's premature birth as a warning: for some reason I thought I was gluten intolerant during his pregnancy, though I wasn't diagnosed, and maybe not eating grains was part of why I didn't gain enough weight. At a month early he was less than 6 pounds when he was born. Maybe that's kind of normal, but he could have been bigger, and maybe would have stayed in longer, if I had used moderation and included grains in my diet.
 

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I know what you mean about your body seeming to need carbs (more than are in vegetables). Maybe I'm just not eating enough meat and vegetables, which is very likely true, but I seem to have trouble gaining weight without having a few grains almost every day. Not nearly as much as the food pyramid wants - I believe in having more meat, vegetables, and fruit than grains - but still a little. Also I remember my first son's premature birth as a warning: for some reason I thought I was gluten intolerant during his pregnancy, though I wasn't diagnosed, and maybe not eating grains was part of why I didn't gain enough weight. At a month early he was less than 6 pounds when he was born. Maybe that's kind of normal, but he could have been bigger, and maybe would have stayed in longer, if I had used moderation and included grains in my diet.
Yeah, I don't think the paleo diet is for everyone - we all process foods differently, and while some people may thrive on paleo, some get sick. I love Dr. Mercola's nutritional typing test: http://nutritionaltyping.mercola.com/Login.aspx He says there are 4 different types, with totally different needs for protein & carbs. Makes total sense why some people (like me) can eat like a truck driver and stay thin, while others gain weight when they so much as look at sugar. You just have to go with what works for your body, and of course stick to real foods as much as possible. :)

But ((hugs)) - I wouldn't blame your diet or yourself too much for your preemie son's birth weight! There are SO many reasons babies come early or don't gain as much weight as others. I'm celiac, and eat tons of carbs even if they're gluten-free...and my DD1 was 5lb 11oz at full term! Still can't figure that one out...I craved chocolate bars every day, ice cream and Nutella sandwiches before bed...you'd think she would have been a butterball. ;)
 

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@AlaskaAnne- I have a great chili recipe that would freeze well and my favorite butternut soup recipe too. I have been playing with the paleo diet for the last year or so and have really enjoyed it, though its not easy, its been great for my blood sugar. I think its important to still get a good balance of carbs via starchy fruits and veggies (for me at least). I will post those recipes later and see if there is anything else I can find. I too want to have my freezer stocked but haven't started planning or making yet. I just know the chili and soup are for sures for us. Danielle Walkers Against All Grain is fantastic.
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
my3beasties thank you for reminding me about Dr. Mercola's nutritional typing. I subscribed to his emails years ago and unsubscribed a few years ago when they got to be too many emails too often; I don't remember if I ever took the nutritional typing test so I might do that this weekend.

Thanks also for what you said about my son's prematurity and weight.

jaimezee I'm looking forward to those recipes :) My husband doesn't eat chili (or beans besides his dad's B&M or Bush's baked beans) so I don't make it very often, but he doesn't eat dinner with us very often anyway, being picky, so I could make it and he could have something else as he often does.
 
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