IT’S BABY WEEK!!!
So wild to finally be able to say that! On one hand I feel like I’ve been pregnant for-ev-er, on the other hand I keep asking myself – how are we already here? Either way, this family of four is ready to become a party of five. Baby sis’ room is ready, my hospital bags are packed, and we officially traded in our cool card for a minivan – a swap I’ve never been so excited to make.
Three words: STOW AND GO. Ok three more: POWDER SLIDING DOORS! I’m never going back. Ben is horrified.
In contrast to our large, empty van trunk, my freezer is filled to the brim with meals to thaw and eat post-baby. I didn’t prepare freezer meals prior to having Lincoln and really regretted it. Ben and I survived on so much Chipotle those chaotic weeks post-birth that it wasn’t even funny. Do you know how many Chipotle burrito bowls it takes to be considered unfunny? A lot, because that ish is good.
That said, I learned my lesson with Cameron and stocked our freezer with soups, snacks, and crock pot “freezer kits” prior to having him. Knowing I didn’t have to drag my butt to the store with a toddler + newborn more often then I had to, and more importantly make the decision as to what to whip up for dinner for quite some time, was life saving. I highly recommend that any expecting parent or heck, anyone preparing to be down and out for awhile after having surgery, etc., prep/cook/freeze as many meals as possible in advance.
That said, today I’m sharing 15+ of my favorite freezer meals to make before having a baby, surgery, etc. Not only are these recipes comforting, nourishing, and EASY, but they’re simple to multiply if you choose. For instance, you can make one Crock Pot White Chicken Chili freezer kit just as easily as you can make 10.
A couple years ago I wrote a big, comprehensive post on 50+ Gluten-Free Freezer-Friendly Recipes that you may want to check out as well. Not only does this post contain, yep, 50+ GF/FF recipes, but also freezing tips and what does/doesn’t typically freeze well. My two most important takeaways from that post are:
- Do not freeze warm/hot meals – cool them completely in the fridge before freezing.
- Thaw meals or freezer kits in the refrigerator 24 hours prior to re-warming/cooking vs cooking frozen or thawing on the counter.
With that, I’m officially signing off until baby girl arrives! One thing I also didn’t do after having Lincoln was take any sort of maternity leave (literally I blogged from the hospital – WHYYYYYYYY??) Taking time off to rest and recuperate after having Cameron was what I needed both mentally and physically at that time, and I plan to do the same with baby girl. Ben, the boys and I appreciate and cherish all of your well wishes, prayers, and excitement, and can’t wait to introduce our DAUGHTER to you! Until then…
15+ Freezer Meals:
Crock Pot White Chicken Chili
Crock Pot White Chicken Chili is my favorite freezer recipe not only because it’s one of my favorite recipes in general, but also because you can freeze the chili after it’s been fully cooked then cooled, or as a “freezer kit” which is what I usually do.
Add everything but the broth, lime, milk and flour into a freezer bag then seal and freeze flat. Thaw overnight in the fridge then dump everything into the crock pot with the broth and lime juice and cook per usual. (Psst: I almost always skip the milk/flour step in this recipe and it’s totally fine.) Serve with tortilla chips and you’re set!
Crock Pot Black Bean and Rice Soup
Crock Pot Black Bean and Rice Soup is hearty and healthy – an excellent, nourishing meal to eat post-baby. Again, you can freeze this soup after it’s been cooked/cooled (wait to add the rice until the day you eat,) or make into a freezer kit minus the broth and cook fresh the day of.
Frozen Breakfast Burritos
An oldie but goodie recipe here on IGE! Frozen Breakfast Burritos are the bomb.com. Use your favorite fillings and tortillas then roll and wrap a bunch of these to stash in the freezer and pull out anytime you need a hot and hearty breakfast that only requires 1 hand to eat. I LOVE this recipe.
Signature Spicy Smoky Sweet Chili
The one, the only Signature Spicy Smoky Sweet Chili! This recipe freezes extremely well and it’s not only great for cool nights, but for game day too – just good to have in the freezer! Plus you can serve it in a variety of ways – in a bowl with cheese and tortilla chips of course, or over hot dogs, cooked pasta, cooked spaghetti squash, etc. Such a delicious, comforting treat to have when you’re super, super tired.
Mini Corn Dog Muffins
File Mini Corn Dog Muffins under: “totally fine for Mom to devour”, but also: “my kids are starving and I need something nearly instant, fun, and filling to serve them”! Bake/cool then freeze these adorable bites on a sheet pan then transfer to a freezer bag. Place as many as you need directly from the freezer onto a plate then cover with a paper towel and microwave on 50% power until warmed through. SO EASY.
Shortcut Vegetable Ragu
Shortcut Vegetable Ragu is my staple spaghetti night sauce and it’s super easy to double or triple the batch then freeze flat for future spaghetti nights. ‘Nuf said. :)
Mini Pizza Quinoa Bites
Because having a newborn can be stressful, and pizza is not. ;) Bake/cool and then freeze Mini Pizza Quinoa Bites on a sheet pan, and then transfer to a Ziplock freezer bag. Place onto a plate from the freezer, cover with a paper towel, then microwave on 50% power until heated through. Also check out my Mini Ham & Cheese Quinoa Cups, Mini BLT Quinoa Cups, and Mini Mushroom & Swiss Quinoa Cups.
Crock Pot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Another freezer kit staple of mine! Crock Pot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup is a wildly popular recipe here on IGE year-round as it’s healthy and comforting – just what you need after having a baby. This recipe is actually best made as a freezer kit vs cooking then freezing, so the rice keeps its texture. Add everything but the chicken broth into a freezer bag then freeze flat. Thaw overnight in the fridge then dump into a crock pot with the broth and cook according to instructions.
Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves
Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves are SO yummy! Assemble then freeze on a baking sheet before transferring to a freezer bag. Thaw overnight in the fridge on a foil-lined baking sheet then bake per usual.
Crock Pot Loose Meat
If you’re not from the Midwest, the concept of a “loose meat” sandwich might sound nuts, but I promise you they’re so, so delicious. Slow cook/cool then freeze the loose meat with a little bit of extra cooking liquid then thaw and scoop onto buns with ketchup or BBQ sauce, sprinkle over baked fries with shredded cheese, or turn into Sloppy Joes. Such a versatile staple to have on hand in the freezer.
Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Pork
Shredded pork freezes extremely well and stays nice and juicy on account of its higher fat content. That said, keep a couple bags of cooked/cooled/frozen Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Pork on hand for thawing then turning into sandwiches, quesadillas or adding to salads.
Taco Chili is a family favorite. Each spoonful tastes like you’re eating a giant taco except you don’t have to go through all the fuss of toasting shells, chopping up toppings, etc. Add crushed tortilla chips and cheese on top then you’re done. Very low fuss for when you’ve got a fussy baby on your shoulder.
Crock Pot Carnitas
Crock Pot Carnitas is SUCH a winner. Thaw a bag of it in the fridge then crisp up portions in a skillet and top with eggs + avocados for a hearty breakfast, use in tacos, salads, etc. So versatile, and SO delicious!! Heck, I usually just sneak cold bites of it straight out of the fridge when I need a little protein boost.
Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
Not only do Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Bars keep for 4-5 days in the fridge (if they last that long – I promise they won’t,) but you can also slice them into squares and wrap in plastic wrap to keep in the freezer. Thaw as many as you like in the fridge overnight to thaw, or discard the saran wrap then microwave wrapped in a paper towel at 50% power straight from the freezer to warm back up. Total win for healthy breakfasts or snacks.
Maple Cinnamon Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
Maple Cinnamon Oatmeal Breakfast Bars fall under the same concept as the blueberry bars above but have a slightly different, totally delicious flavor profile. I am obsessed. Also, I don’t know if there’s a specific “formula” or combination of ingredients that qualify a cookie or bar as a lactation-friendly, but I’ve had many women tell me they’ve used my oatmeal bar recipes for that purpose.
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bars
Last but not least – Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bars! These bars are made without bananas so they’re perfect for those who detest the taste and/or are allergic to bananas.
No-Bake Cranberry Chocolate Almond Energy Bites
No-Bake Cranberry Chocolate Almond Energy Bites: because newborns = tired Mama. Seriously, the jolt of dark chocolate and dried cranberries, mixed with peanut butter, oats, and nuts, make for one DELICIOUS and energy-sustaining snack. Tip: instead of taking the time to roll into balls a lot of times I’ll press the mixture into an 8×8″ baking pan then slice into squares. Again, these keep really well for quite awhile in the fridge but are awesome to have on hand in the freezer for an extended time, too.
Healthier Zucchini Banana Bread Muffins
Like I said, having a newborn can be stressful but warm and squishy carbs can help. Freeze a batch of Healthier Zucchini Banana Bread Muffins then microwave wrapped in a paper towel on 50% power until soft before stuffing your face whenever ya’ need it. We understand.