If you read my post about Planning Ahead for Healthy Post-Baby Meals, you know I was getting ready to prep some freezer meals to eat after the baby is born. Well, this weekend I finally did my freezer cooking, and it was exhausting! Word to the wise: plan on having some help with the cooking. I was lucky enough to have my amazing mom here, and even with her doing more than her fair share of the cooking (and spreading the process out over four days), it was a lot of work for a big ‘ol pregnant lady.
But it’s done and I can finally breathe a big sigh of relief. The work is behind us, and now I have a freezer stocked with at least 2 or 3 weeks worth of ready-to-go meals (probably a lot more). If you’re planning on doing some freezer cooking and are looking for a few ideas, here are the meals we put together, as well as a few tips for making the process a bit easier.
The left pic shows part of our now-stocked freezer (what you don’t see is the shelf reserved for my ice cream, popsicles and other essentials). On the right, you’ll see some of the meals we prepared; in my cooking frenzy I forgot to snap pics of the other three. We made:
Meatballs & Sauce (my own recipe – will post soon!)
Mini Chicken Meatball Soup (I added beans and extra veggies)
World’s Best Lasagna (you know I had to sample this before we froze it and yes, it lives up to its name!)
Chili (my mom’s recipe – your classic red chili made with ground beef and beans)
Chicken Curry Soup (mom’s recipe)
Pulled Pork (we added a brown-sugar-and-garlic rub to the original recipe)
The meals were a good mix of healthy food and comfort food, although I tend to tweak the not-as-healthy recipes to make them more nutritious and/or less caloric by subbing in lean meat, adding extra veggies and beans, using low-fat or fat-free dairy products, etc.
If you’re short on space, put as many meals as possible in freezer bags. I know, I know: not Earth-friendly. But think of it as a trade-off for all the gasoline that’ll be saved when you don’t order delivery every night for three weeks in a row When you have the food portioned into bags, lay them flat in the freezer (obviously this works better for liquids like soup, chili, sauces, etc.). Once frozen, the now-skinny bags of food can be stood up side-by-side or stacked on top of each other to make the most of the space you have.
Finally, take stock of your freezer space before you create a recipe list and go grocery shopping. We cleaned out the freezer ahead of time and I still managed to overestimate how much room we had; that’s why we ended up skipping two additional recipes we’d planned to make.
I was half-excited/half-dreading the whole freezer cooking undertaking, and I’m so relieved to have it done – just one more thing to check off the “baby prep” list!
What are your best freezer cooking tips? Do you have a favorite freezer meal?