When you have a large family, or small family, and are welcoming a new little one its nice to not have to worry about dinner. Some have great family, friends and churches who do meal trains, and we have had that occasionally. However, with half our family having some type of food sensitivity or allergy we find many are less likely to offer to bring meals. I completely understand, we are a tricky family. So what do I do? Freezer meals.
I shared a post-partum freezer meal list here a couple years ago. It was a bit more varied. At the time it was easier to make a double portion, one for dinner and one to freeze. Now we have enough eaters at meal time, that I rarely have a big enough pot/skillet to make a double portion. The plan and hope this year is to do a large shopping day, and then do a cooking day to get it all done at once. This is partially, also because my husband is having serious spinal tumor removal- back surgery soon and I won’t have time to spread the cooking out before baby joins us.
I generally like to have 2 weeks of meals, and then with those that bring something, grabbing take out, and simple sandwich dinners we can feel fairly provided for nearly a month post baby. Here is my plan for this cooking prep.
- Beef Marinara (x2)
- Beef Taco Meat (x2)
- Meatloaf (x2)
- Teriyaki Meatballs
- Beef Chili
- Chicken Chile Verde
- Chicken Stir-fry in Marinade
- Chicken & Broccoli Casserole (GF/DF) & Traditional Version
- Chicken Burritos with DF option
- Chicken Soup
- Chicken Nuggets (Paleo)
To make these, basically I follow the tips from Once a Month Cooking which I did for years and already know the basics.
So first I’m going to start with roasting two whole chickens for the casseroles and soups, then I will make the prep the other chicken dishes which is essentially making a marinade, and throwing in a freezer.
Then I will start to prep the ground beef items. For this I chop up a ton of mirepoix (carrots, celery, onion) which I always add to my ground beef concoctions, sometimes I add some diced peppers, leeks, spinach or any other veggie I feel like cooking with the meat. Then I’ll cook the ground beef ro the spaghetti, tacos, & chili (about 4-5#s beef). While that is browning I’ll start to form the meatloaf and meatballs, which I will freeze uncooked.
I add baggies of any veggies with the items if need be and just tape them together.
I also try to keep a box in another room or pantry with all the extras that go along with each meal (rice, pasta, tortillas, tortilla chips, crackers), stock up on canned veg for sides or freezer veg, and we buy our fresh produce as needed.
Breakfast & Snacks
I also hope to prepare a few breakfast and snack items as well if time allows. These items will be made primarily paleo or made with oats/rice, as many of my children have wheat and dairy allergies.
- 48 Muffins (blueberry, pumpkin, zucchini, cinnamon)
- 32 Pancakes (half traditional, half pumpkin)
- 16-32 Waffles (half traditional, half pumpkin)
- 36 Mini Donuts (half blueberry, half chocolate)
- 24 Regular Donuts (half blueberry, half cinnamon)
- 1 Breakfast Casserole DF & 1 Dairy
- 18 Oatmeal Bars (half blueberry, half maple)
- 24-48 Energy/Protein Balls (almond joy, chocolate peanut butter, cinnamon, peanut butter)
Because my time is tight I will start at the top of the list and make as many as I can ahead of time. However, one of the blessings of big kids is that I am confident I can hand anyone of these baked good recipes to my oldest daughter and she can make it independently. The only problem she is not a morning person (she gets it from me) and so we would have to have her make it the day before.
What about Lunch?
You will notice I don’t have lunches mentioned here. Thats because we typically have a smaller midday meal with more fresh cut veggies, fruit, salad and a small portion of leftover or lunchmeat sandwich.
Where do you put it all?
Also, please note I have two side by side fridges/freezers and one large upright deep freezer. It is truly a blessing, but I could not do all this prep for my earlier babies because of lack of freezer space. Just do what you can and make the most of the space you have! I have found it key to inventory and organize/clean my fridges and freezers prior to each baby. If I don’t deep clean anything else in the house just having those clean and ready is a blessing and makes life easier.
Why I really meal prep?
I want to provide for my family even when I’m at my weakest, and I can do that with a little forethought and effort.
Even the simplest suppler, meal, snack or teatime can become, in some way, a feast– a lavish celebration of the living God’s life and goodness.Sally Clarkson