25 June 2010

preparing for baby
part 5
stocking the freezer and easy meals~

~for previous posts in the series, click on the banner  :)

There is no way that I had an evening to myself on Wednesday and enjoyed sitting outside at Panera working on this post for over an hour only to have the computer freeze up on me and lose the entire thing.  Stuff like that never happens to me; just in case you were wondering.


It is without question that having meals on hand after the birth of a baby are tremendously helpful.  It is equally helpful to have things on hand to make creating those meals easy.  Multiple births have taught me that the time and energy invested are most definitely worth it.

I like to stock my freezer with a lot of meals.  Around 34-36 weeks, or whenever I am mostly done with the other preparations (except cleaning) I plan what I want to make for my freezer.  I sit down and make a list of meals my family enjoys that are freezer friendly.  I plan a cooking day (usually a Saturday for me) and figure out how much I can reasonably accomplish in one day.  I make a list of what I will need from the store, (don't forget disposable ziploc bags and foil pans!) and do my shopping a couple of days in advance.  

Ideally you will be able to get a lot of prep work done before your cooking day (chicken cooked/shredded, meat browned, veggies chopped, etc.) but if you can't then just plan it into your day.  No worries.

I wish I could give you some really great tips on freezer cooking. Sadly, that is not really my area of expertise.  I just get it done.  I try and be as efficient as possible, but it's really just been trial and error.  Every time I do it it gets easier.  And this is something I actually try and do at least a couple of times of year, even when I'm not pregnant.  It's just really helpful.  Some really resourceful and impressive people do it on an ongoing basis, always doubling or tripling recipes and sticking the extras in the freezer.  Hopefully I'll be that impressive one day, but for now this works for me.  I can't really get my brain around adding anything else to my life right now.  :)

While I mainly just use my own recipes that I've gathered from all over the place, one book in particular that helped me a lot the first few times I did it was Don't Panic - Dinner's In the Freezer.  I really only used a handful of the recipes (though there were a lot that sounded promising) and tweaked them to my liking.  But reading about the process was really helpful.  

And if the idea of big cooking day  makes you panic is a bit overwhelming, just having some things in your freezer to simplify meal making is really handy.  If I were only going to do some very basic freezer preparations I would have pre-cooked, shredded chicken in ziploc bags (Dear Costco, I love you.), browned hamburger and onion pre-measured into ziploc bags of approximately 1lb each, and various chopped, frozen veggies.  I would also have some frozen fruit since we like to make a lot of smoothies.  Just having these basic things will enable you to throw together quite a few meals quickly.  Even more so if you have dry ingredient mixes already prepared for things like chicken pot pie, casseroles, etc. and broth on hand to put together soups, stews, or chili.

(To get a glimpse of what the end of my pregnancy and some of the freezer prep I did with Grace, read here.  You have to scroll down a bit to get past the pregnancy update but down a ways is a good picture of what life looks like around here toward the end of my pregnancies.)

Here is a list of what I made before I had Grace just to give you some ideas.  If you click on recipes, it will take you to some of these.

6 meatloaves (yep, with hidden zucchini again...shhh)
4 chicken casseroles
3 sesame chicken
3 chicken enchiladas
2 bags chicken in raspberry walnut vinagarette  (edit: won't use this again, it was not good as a marinade!)
2 bags chicken in some other marinade I can't remember :o)
4 bags beef brisket
15lbs browned hamburger with onions
10c. cooked, shredded chicken
some hot dogs and beef smoked sausage for easy, fast meals (i know, i know...yuck. but i have kids, people. kids)
turkey bacon & turkey sausage

several bags frozen chicken tenderloins
we still have a huge amount of beef from the cow we split with my dad
a ridiculous amount of frozen veggies
a stack of pizzas and gluten free pizza crusts
frozen waffles & french toast sticks
whole rotesserie chickens in freezer ready to be thawed and reheated; which they do beautifully

Next time I will probably make some of the same stuff and also some different things.  Some other ideas and meals I made in my first trimester (which we ate during the fall and winter months) were:

cheesy chicken vermicelli
chicken & rice soup
white chicken chili
chicken casserole
chicken tenderloins frozen in egg to make homemade chicken tenders quickly
chicken pot pie
lentil soup
tortilla soup


It is also nice to make a list of fairly easy to make meals to be able to reference when you just can't seem to think of anything to make.  Meal planning is really great, and I would love to do it more often, but truthfully, I don't do it nearly as often as I could.  Okay, okay.  I rarely do it.  I generally have an idea in my head of what I might possibly make, but I am not a meal planner on a regular basis.  So it is helpful for me to keep a list on hand (I tape it inside one of my cabinets) of  meals I can usually put together from things in my pantry and freezer.  

These are a few of the meals that are pretty easy around here.  Usually.

sloppy joes
(these are considered easy since I keep browned beef in the freezer)

anything grilled - fish, burgers, grilled chicken
baked potatos with various toppings
breakfast food 
rice with creamed chicken and veggies

and obviously anything I can pull out of the freezer, already made  :)

What foods and meals do you  like to have on hand?

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1 comment:

TexasNeals said...

love this little series! thanks for spelling it all out. if we are blessed w/ another sweet baby i will be so prepared!!! :) but my pantry must not be nearly as big as yours!! ;)

"How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about arithmetic, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness." ~GK Chesterton

2012 November

2012 November