When you’ve just had a baby, the last thing you want to do is…well, anything besides snuggle your new baby! Household chores like cooking and cleaning are certainly low on your list. In fact, for the first few weeks, you shouldn’t do these things if you can possibly avoid it, so you don’t set back your healing!
In a perfect world, you’d have someone around to cook and clean for you. Maybe you do — your husband, your mother, or a postpartum doula. But a lot of people just don’t have that kind of help. Luckily, there’s a way to make things easier for yourself: stock your freezer before baby comes.
Why would you want to do this? And is it really feasible for a few weeks of meals?
1. Easy meal prep — not much to do besides pull stuff out of the freezer and throw it in the oven or a Crock pot. There’s nothing to chop or prepare. Even moms who are supposed to be on bedrest can get up for two minutes to pull something out of the freezer and heat it up.
2. Not just casseroles — you’re not stuck with lasagna or tuna noodle casserole for your options anymore. You can prepare plain pasta sauces (and boil pasta fresh at the time), frozen pizzas, soups, stews, or even “meal components,” like chopped veggies or pre-cooked ground beef. Meals don’t have to be boring!
3. Easy clean up — you won’t be dirtying a bunch of pots, pans, knives, etc. at the time because you’re not doing much cooking. That means you might have just one dish, plus everyone’s plates/forks to wash instead of several dishes. And, if you make your meals in disposable dishes, or line your dishes with parchment paper, you might have nearly no clean up! (While generally I’d discourage the use of disposables…this might be one situation where it makes your life easier, temporarily.)
4. Older kids can help — Can your 4-year-old pull some frozen food out of the freezer to thaw? Sure! Can your 10-year-old actually “cook” the freezer meal? Easily. And “kitchen inept” husbands (like mine, haha…he’s wonderful at many things, but cooking is not among them) can make dinner too.
Generally, it’s a pretty awesome system.
So how do you do it?
The best way is to make a list of meals that your family enjoys. Some top meals in our home are meatloaf, tacos, baked chicken, pizza (when we eat grains), pasta (same), grilled fish, and various soups (especially chili). All of these freeze quite well.
I can make up spice mixes (for fish or chicken) in advance and cook them quickly. Meatloaves can be prepared and frozen (uncooked). For pizzas, we prebake the dough for a few minutes, then put sauce and toppings on them and freeze (sometimes a dozen or two personal-sized pizzas at once). Meat can be pre-cooked and seasoned for tacos — same with refried beans (if you like them). These are pretty simple meals to make, too, and even simpler if you triple or quadruple them all at once.
In the past, we’ve also made granola bars or waffles and frozen them for breakfasts or snacks. Frozen fruit is easily served by itself, or made into a quick smoothie. I sometimes mix yogurt with fruit and freeze in our ice cream maker (love that thing) so I have frozen yogurt for snacks too.
I haven’t actually made my list for what I’ll be making this time, yet. I’m only about 22 weeks! I guess, though, in the next month I’d better get on that…. The best idea is to choose 4 – 5 “main” meals and make 3 – 4 of each of them, so that you’re not spending all day cooking when you do prepare the meals. Your crockpot is your friend….
We are looking forward to having homemade, nourishing, delicious meals after our baby comes — with little work! Is anyone interested in following my adventures as I do actually get my lists together and prepare this? (Or knowing about my cookbooks that I’ll be pulling from? Real Food Basics and Healthy Pregnancy Super Foods, with a new one coming April 18th.)
Did or will you make freezer meals for post-baby? If so, how did it go?
Top image by GoodNCrazy