Meals to Freeze!

by jenna on April 2, 2014

TK Blog Slow Cooker Chicken TIkka Masala 00

I’ve discovered that making and freezing post-baby meals is absolutely my way of nesting. A big thank you to my sweet hubby who got me a deep freezer for our garage since our actual freezer is so tiny it barely holds a few pint of ice cream. Here’s the one we got, in case you’re wondering. It’s marvelous in every way.

A bunch of you have asked for recommendations on freezer friendly meals, and I’m happy to tell you that I actually have a whole post from a few years ago dedicated to just that.

I thought I’d share what I’m making though! I’m hoping that these will last us through the first few weeks because it would be really nice not to think about cooking dinner for a little while. My mom will be out for the birth, then Adam’s mom is coming out, and then after all the moms leave with their delicious cooking, we will bust out these yummy meals! That’s my plan, anyway.

Southwestern Pulled Brisket

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Red Kidney Bean Curry

Hearty Beef and Bean Chili

Chicken Spaghetti

Annette’s Chicken Enchiladas {from Bread & Wine}

Stewed Lentils & Tomatoes

Baked Ziti

Cowboy Quiche

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread – not really a meal but I know I’ll be happy to have it!

Maybe all that seems a bit ambitious, but I’ve already made three meals from the list and have about five more weeks to go {well, I’ll probably only have enough energy for four more weeks…} I figure if I can average making one freezer meal a week, I’ll be in good shape. Like I said, this is my form of nesting. I’m totally the crazy pregnant lady in the kitchen all day. The hardest part is putting the meals away and not getting to eat them right then and there! I feel like a squirrel, saving acorns for the winter.

What are your favorite freezer friendly meals?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

Maryea {happy healthy mama} April 2, 2014 at 3:52 am

You will be so happy you took the time to do this after baby is born! Getting back into the swing of cooking dinners was one of the most difficult transitions for me.

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Rebekah {aCricketSang} April 2, 2014 at 3:55 am

Great idea, and good looking recipes!

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Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork April 2, 2014 at 4:08 am

You’re smart to do this and I’m sure will be so grateful you did! I would love to think I would also do this. I love having food we’ve cooked available from the freezer. It’s quick and I know it’s healthy because I made it. We often do big batches of soup and meatballs with sauce.

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Sarah April 2, 2014 at 4:23 am

If I can offer some advice, if you have the energy to make a few meals a week do so. We had plans to do a whole list of things including make more freezer meals and woke up at 230am when my water broke haha. Get as much done as you can just in case and to relax the last couple weeks! And sleep.

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jenna April 2, 2014 at 6:42 am

Good call!

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Alison April 3, 2014 at 9:33 am

I completely agree with you, Sarah. The more you can do now, the better. I also buy frozen stir fry vegetable meals to have on hand after having a baby. It’s another meal you don’t have to make and really easy to make for dinner. (And if you add a can of coconut milk and some peanut butter to the sauce in the packets, it’s really delicious.) Not entirely homemade, but the best frozen meal at the supermarket. I also put a lot of soup in the freezer for after the baby arrives. I had my fourth in February, however, so you may not be in the mood for soup during the spring months. Another thing I always do is have muffins, scones, granola bars, or whatever floats my baking boat, in the freezer for breakfast and snacks, which you won’t want to skip if you are nursing. But, baking has always been my form of nesting, so it wasn’t a difficult task for me to find the energy for. I hope this is helpful, and I hope you are still feeling somewhat energetic. The little guy is definitely easier to take care of now than he will be in a few weeks!:)

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Jenn from Much to My Delight April 2, 2014 at 4:31 am

This is a perfectly timed post, as my sister-in-law is due to deliver twins next month and I want to make her as many freezer meals as possible. I find enchiladas freeze beautifully, and I also love making a big batch of turkey chili and serving it over a roasted sweet potato or butternut squash (then topped with cheddar and greek yogurt). Hope you are able to make a lot of great meals and make your life easier later!

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Jill April 2, 2014 at 4:34 am

I did the same thing with both of my pregnancies and am glad I did! I did eggplant parmesan,hot chicken salad from the book “Don’t worry,Dinner is in the freezer,”a fancy tuna noodle casserole,veggie lasagna with roasted cauliflower instead of white sauce,quiches and chicken pot pie.mini quiche in muffin cups are great for something easy and handy when you are nursing too! Have anyone who offers to bring food do it – even if it is a big fruit salad or muffins – anything you have handy will help. Enjoy these last few weeks too – it is a magical time to feel your body just do what it naturally is meant to do!

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Jojo @ RunFastEatLots April 2, 2014 at 4:40 am

My family and I like to make a huge batch of wontons and freeze them in gallon zip lock bags. They’re a convenient meal whenever we don’t feel like cooking

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat April 2, 2014 at 5:02 am

These sound great! I am super into that chicken tikka masala – that’s on my to-make list for sure! I love making soups and chilli to freeze, but now that it’s warming up, I think I’ll be making more big-batch meals to keep in the fridge for the week. Not quite as convenient as a freezer meal, but they still save time!

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Belinda April 2, 2014 at 5:28 am

When I was pregnant with my second baby, my shower gifts were frozen meals! It made me so happy!

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Leigh Anne April 2, 2014 at 5:45 am

These are wonderful! You will so glad you did this! Getting back into the kitchen was so hard :). I have 4 littles (6, 5,3, and 4 mos) and it is so nice to have these meals…..I always wish I would have done more with each baby! Don’t know if you read The Small Things Blog http://www.thesmallthingsblog.com but she did a post today about the “5 things I wish I knew before baby arrived” and it’s a must read for new moms or moms to be, IMHO. I could have written the same post after having #1. Now, after having all 4 kids it does get easier but hers is great advice for the first 2 mos. congrats on your baby to be!

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Camille @ Challenge Mantra April 2, 2014 at 5:52 am

I was just talking to my husband last night about what would make a good freezer meal. Very timely post for us to read, and what a great list!

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Emily @ The Swallow Flies April 2, 2014 at 6:13 am

White Chili is a great freezer meal and SUPER easy: in a dutch oven, saute chopped onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil, add one can of great northern beans, one can of cannellini beans, two cans of diced green chilies, and some cooked and diced chicken (I sometimes just buy rotisserie chicken and shred it). I also add in cayenne and cumin and salt and pepper. Top with shredded cheese and crunched up tortilla chips and whatever else you want. It is SO tasty.

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erin @hooleywithaz April 2, 2014 at 6:26 am

i’m praying i have the mental clarity and ambition to do this in about 4.5 months. although we are going to need a deep freeze for the basement as well.

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Christy April 2, 2014 at 6:49 am

I made some oatmeal-based stuff (muffins, granola, bread, etc) to boost my milk supply! It was the smartest thing I did bc I struggled little bit with low supply in the beginning.

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colleen April 2, 2014 at 6:51 am

Nice work! You are so lucky to have a mama and mama-in-law that are interested in participating for this very special part of your life! My mom was deceased and MIL was three hours away. Take lots of pictures and hang onto the memories!

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Alisa April 2, 2014 at 7:15 am

I’ve made your spinach and cheese quinoa casserole several times, and freeze about half in individual portions. It probably wouldn’t be good after more than a month, but it’s a go-to dinner or lunch when I haven’t had time to cook.

Otherwise lots of soups and chilis!

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Sabrina April 2, 2014 at 7:26 am

Also freeze some meats that you’ve already prepped and marinated. Put them in a big ziplock with the marinade and straight into the freezer. You won’t regret it. I really wanted fresh, tasty foods but couldn’t figure out how to get to the market at first. It was SO helpful to be able to pull out one of the meats from the freezer, throw it on the grill or in the oven, make a salad and call dinner done.

I’m getting so excited for you! You’re so close!

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jenna April 2, 2014 at 7:43 am

That’s a great idea!! thanks, sabrina!

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Sabrina April 2, 2014 at 7:27 am

I also froze your white bean chili (I think that’s what it was called) and it was great for lunches.

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Amanda April 2, 2014 at 7:44 am

I’ve never made freezer meals for myself, but when my sister fasted from meat a few months ago, I made her a batch of black bean burgers to freeze and wrapped them individually in saran wrap so all she’d have to do was unwrap them and throw them on her George Foreman grill. And when my mom had surgery a couple of years ago, I made her some spinach lasagna and some veggie chili.

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Ruthie Hart (@ruthiehart1) April 2, 2014 at 7:44 am

YUM!! You will be SO happy you have these freezer meals. I had a Care Calendar and between that and my mom and sister making us food, we had dinner for a month plus. So when all that was over we still had freezer meals which just takes the stress away!

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Lauren April 2, 2014 at 8:01 am

I did the same thing before my son was born. For a week or two I doubled all our dinners and put the second portion in the freezer. Shortly after he was born, however, I discovered through process of elimination that any foods with tomato or tomato products gave him reflux and all veg related to broccoli gave him painful gas. So many of my freezer meals went unused for the first 3 months. It was my first encounter with the ever important lesson: no matter how much you prepare for a baby, expect to be unprepared!

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wanda April 2, 2014 at 8:02 am

Great idea but the beans may cause the baby to have gas. Be careful. My babies were very sensitive to what I ate.

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Shawna K April 2, 2014 at 8:04 am

That freezer will be perfect for breastmilk, too, if you’re lucky enough to store some away for a few hours of sleep! My little one was so gassy, I had to stay away from red sauce for the first few weeks, but hopefully you won’t have any issues and you can enjoy your spaghetti! :)

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Ashley | Our Full Table April 2, 2014 at 8:09 am

You won’t regret this! It’s the best thing I did with my first. We ate off the freezer 3-5 times per week for almost 6 months! It was glorious!

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Corie April 2, 2014 at 8:41 am

You seem to be very intentional in how you care for yourself and family, those traits will help you be a good mom.

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jessica April 2, 2014 at 8:47 am

I did this too, all throughout my third tri, and it was AWESOME to have things ready to eat once baby came home.. people brought us a lot of food too, so it really lasted for a long time. I actually try to do this on the weekends still so that I always have a few things on hand. Another thing that worked well was to freeze individual chicken breasts in marinades in plastic bags or containers — if I was alone or only cooking for DH, I could just pull out one or two chicken breasts and bake / saute.

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Danielle April 2, 2014 at 9:03 am

Thanks for posting those recipes as a few times a year I do some batch cooking for freezing. We have the same freezer and it is perfect for a small family (it is just the two of us right now). When I have a busy time coming up I like to stock the freezer with sauces filled with vegetables that can easily be thawed and added to the crock pot with some stewing meat. I also like to have lots of homemade broth stocked up. As for whole meals, enchilada’s would be my favourite, followed closely by homemade burgers and chill.

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Angel Reyes April 2, 2014 at 9:18 am

I usually don’t freeze foods except for 2 big exceptions: bread and soup. I love bread so much that sometimes I get carried away and buy or bake too much bread. To prevent them from going bad I freeze them. They reheat perfectly by just baking for 15 minutes or so. I love soup, but if I make them during the summer, I may not be willing to eat them more than once or twice a week, so leftovers go to the freezer for a while!

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Dana @ Conscious Kitchen Blog April 2, 2014 at 9:24 am

This is the perfect post! I’m taking night classes right now so I’m all about making a meal once and being able to freeze some for later. I’m definitely going to add a few of these into rotation.

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valene April 2, 2014 at 9:24 am

The best gift my mom gave me before my first was born is came over a month before my due date and we banged out 3o meals..a full month. Then chopped onions, celery and carraots all ready to go. Best gift ever!!

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Kerry April 2, 2014 at 9:43 am

Your lentil, sweet potato and kale recipe freezes very nicely! Although both my babies had a very gassy reaction to lentils when I ate them so I had to wait until I was done nursing. I would freeze some blander meals just in case your boy has a sensitive tummy. Postpartum is a ride, be kind, be forgiving and be a little selfish.

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Lisa April 2, 2014 at 9:51 am

Theses are great recipes. I will defo be trying these.
L x
http://workingmumy.blogspot.com

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Anna @ Running Smiles April 2, 2014 at 10:09 am

I think you just made my life 5 million times easier! Thank you!

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Rena April 2, 2014 at 10:19 am

soups freeze very well. also lasagna, orzo, quinoa, prepped/marinated chicken, burgers, meatballs. anything that’s already DONE will be a huge help!!

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glamhealthblog April 2, 2014 at 10:26 am

You are going to be so glad you did the Choc Chip Banana bread! Who wouldn’t be? :) Sounds like you are going to be stocked up nicely. Enjoy!

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Michelle April 2, 2014 at 10:27 am

I’ve been making “stir fry kits” and freezing them – really handy. I chop up the veggies (parboil broccoli/don’t use mushrooms) and put them in one bag. Chop up chicken breasts, put in another bag. Make up a stir fry sauce and put in a third bag. Put all 3 bags into one gallon ziploc and freeze. Easy to cut up and make a few of these at a time. Then if you pull one out the night before when you know you won’t have a ton of time for dinner you can throw this together and add to rice or noodles.

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Monica April 2, 2014 at 10:29 am

I did a lot of freezer planning but then I had to avoid specific foods – beans, tomatoes, onions, peppers, dairy, etc, because they made for an unhappy, gassy babe:( Most of my meals included one, or all, of the ingredients I had to avoid. I hope you have better luck than I did!

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joelle @ on a pink typewriter April 2, 2014 at 11:24 am

That’s a great idea! I should do that just for busy work weeks even!

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Kristin April 2, 2014 at 11:33 am

I think it’s so cute that the previous post that you linked us to is like “I’m not a mom, and I’m not expecting a baby anytime soon butttttt…..” haha looky there! Now you are! So excite for yall! Thanks for these yummy recipes, I want to make just about all of them!

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Katie D. April 2, 2014 at 12:32 pm

I love stuffed shells! You can stuff them Italian Style, Mexican Style (black beans, onions, peppers, rotel, cheese, etc), seafood style, chicken style, etc. I flash freeze them on a baking sheet and then put in a freezer bag. I love that I can pull out as many or as few shells as I need that night. Just keep the sauce of choice on hand in the pantry (or freezer) to top them with (enchilada sauce, marinara, alfredo, etc)

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Holly April 2, 2014 at 1:07 pm

I froze a bunch of meals while I was nesting, then discovered my son was having awful gas/abdominal issues from some of the foods I had pre-prepped since i was breast feeding. Anything with onions caused us issues. Just a small piece of advice – try to prep a few bland-er meals, just in case!

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Cathy April 2, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Silly request, but do you think you could share with us how you freeze all of these things…..or a few examples. I love the idea of freezing but then when it comes down to it, I never know what to put everything in from an efficiency perspective, etc. I am sure most people know this, but maybe some like me do not! ;) I am a freezing newbie! Thanks Jenna…..I love all of your ideas. Thanks for always sharing!

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jenna April 2, 2014 at 1:52 pm

I like to freeze in basic foil casserole dishes (you can get these anywhere) that I top with tin foil. I usually freeze unbaked and then bake at 325 for 90 minutes. Hope that helps!

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Anne April 5, 2014 at 9:45 am

But it is unfortunately not very ecological, even if you recycle the foil after. Better have glass containers that go in the oven also.

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Melissa April 2, 2014 at 2:18 pm

That’s exactly how I nested with my second one, and I was really happy I did. Between freezer meals and a few slow cooker meals here and there, I don’t think I cooked for the first three months of my son’s life! I just did double and triple batches of whatever meals I made over the last trimester. I found putting casseroles in gallon freezer bags laid flat was the most efficient for freezer space, and it defrosted really quickly. Then you could put it in a casserole dish when ready to bake. I also made meatloaf, where you lined the loaf pan with saran wrap, didn’t cook it, but froze it raw in the loaf pan, but once it was frozen, I would pull it out of the pan, and wrap it in foil. Once you were ready to defrost it, I would unwrap it, and put it back in the pan. That way I didn’t waste any dishes in the freezer.

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Lisa April 2, 2014 at 2:23 pm

I tend to always cook extra portions when i do cook then freeze leftovers. Like your minestrone soup, beef stew, bolonese sauce, etc.

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elle April 2, 2014 at 2:40 pm

I love freezing meals. I’m single and had signed up for CookSmarts and was ending up with a ton of left overs. So now I freeze the leftovers and have amazing lunches or super fast dinners on nights I don’t want to cook.

I found it very helpful to freeze soups, butter chicken and even mac n’cheese in 2 cup serving containers. Then once they were frozen I pop them out of the container and put a few of them in a ziploc bag. That way, I can just thaw out one serving at a time in a few minutes. With casseroles, I baked them and then cut them into servings and froze those. (in a plastic take out container with a little foil wall between servings.) Again, you can just grab what you need and be eating in 5 minutes if necessary.

If you are starving and baby is crying 90 minutes is going to seem like an eternity.

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Ella April 2, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Sure I guess your hubby is sweet if he picked out and picked up the freezer, but HE will be the one calling YOU sweet when your newborn has you both exhausted and all these amazing dinners are just sitting there waiting for you to eat them! Lucky guy!

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megan April 2, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Great way to take advantage of that nesting phase! I breastfed both my babies and early on they were SO sensitive to what I ate. Dairy was a big trigger for a gassy baby as was anything spicy or heavy on the beans or tomatoes (anything acidic really). So unfortunate for me when most of the foods that were brought over to us had one or all of the triggering foods BUT my husband ate very well =). Hopefully, your sweet babe will get along just fine no matter what you eat. By 6 months or so both of my babies were able to tolerate just about anything in my diet. I know so many sources will tell you that there is no proof that a mother’s diet affects a nursing baby — but tell that to a sleep deprived mom with a screaming farting baby =) I’ll eat a bland diet every day of the week to avoid that!

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Amber April 3, 2014 at 3:43 am

A couple of suggestions. Having a newborn makes everything harder. Stock up on all the staples that won’t spoil then your grocery trips after the baby arrives can be quick and for produce and dairy. Shopping with a baby is like gambling. You just never know how long they will last before they are done.

Nursing made me starving. I was hungry all the time and couldn’t get enough and never had two available hands since my kids hated carriers. Consider making and freezing things like oatmeal cookies and one handed meals ahead of time so you can pull them out of the freezer.

And because I was a one handed cook for months after my kids were born, I discovered eggs and toast were a great one handed meal.

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Lisa April 3, 2014 at 7:56 am

Make sure to keep breakfast foods on hand. Smoothie packs for the freezer and healthy muffins for breakfast or late night snacks! You are going to be so hungry if you are nursing. I found that I would need a little protein boost in the middle of the night and the calories will help you keep your supply up.

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Laura@SneakersandSpatulas April 3, 2014 at 9:18 am

I like to make a double batch of your cuban style black beans and then freeze half for later. It defrosts so well and then you just need rice (we use 90 second microwave brown rice) and any other toppings. So easy and healthy!

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Laura@SneakersandSpatulas April 3, 2014 at 9:24 am

Also, a deep freezer for a garage was one of the first things we purchased for our house and we are so glad we did! I store so much stuff in there and I never worry about running out of something. And they are fairly inexpensive as well.

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Erin April 3, 2014 at 9:40 am

I would reccommend thinking about food/snacks you can eat with one hand while you nurse. The baby may not give you time to have free hands. I found I was holding mine 24/7 because she had trouble sleeping without being held. You may want to have some pre-made smoothies and protein drinks in your refrigerator/freezer. I would also reccommend having all the take out menues and delivery menues on hand and ready to go with instructions for the mom’s and your husband on what you both prefer to eat. You would be amazed but sometimes even just defrosting a meal in the microwave can be too much to handle. As far as my favorite freezer meals I love enchiladas and although they won’t look pretty they will taste amazing. Chili, any curry, and any casserole work well. Buy a few or your favorite frozen pizzas if you do that kind of thing because they are very, very easy. Salad in a bag on hand is good too. Your cravings will continue although different while nursing.

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Bron April 3, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I also recommend thinking of meals you can eat with one hand! my little girl cluster fed sometimes from around 5pm-11pm at night when she was young (?!?!) so I really struggled to eat dinner’s that weren’t things like homemade pizza – easy to eat while you have a little one on you! make sure you have lots of easy to eat snacks on hand for those first few weeks – I just set up a station on the couch with water, snacks and my kindle within easy reach! good luck – its such an exciting time!

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Jessica April 3, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Im 32 weeks pregnant and working on my freezer meals too. A little earlier tuna I intended, but I have a 20 month old so I want to get them done while I still have energy. :) And I’m paranoid I’ll go into labor early and not have anything prepared! I have about 4 meals done plus a few different cuts of chicken in marinade. One thing I froze was your creamy white chicken chili. My husband loves it and it freezes and reheats beautifully. :D

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Jessica April 3, 2014 at 2:37 pm

than I intended* Sorry for auto correct!

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Erica Chavez April 3, 2014 at 2:40 pm

These are great recipes! Thanks for making my life a little bit easier!! Thank you!
Great content.

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Rachel W. Miller April 3, 2014 at 4:31 pm

So many good ideas here! I saw these smoothie freezer packs on Pinterest the other day and thought they might be helpful for you too! http://www.pinterest.com/pin/97812623131634971/

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Luv What You Do April 3, 2014 at 7:17 pm

I always freeze bread and cookies!
My other favorite thing to freeze is chili!

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Simone April 4, 2014 at 8:32 am

I love that you are doing this. So smart – I love planning ahead. DON’T FORGET some people may want to bring you meals! We use “meal train” at our church for others to sign up and bring meals. You can put allergies and specifications on there. People LOVE to bless others in this exciting time.

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Emily @ Life on Food April 4, 2014 at 9:48 am

I hope to be this proactive when I have a baby.

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Amanda April 4, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Jenna look up “milk cookies” lots of receives out there & they freeze really well. Help with you supply & are a yummy snack…because I was always way more hungry nursing than pregnant.

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Patty April 5, 2014 at 6:58 am

When I had babies which was a million years ago ( actually 20 & 18 years ago), I had been working two jobs right up until two weeks before the baby was born. I found being home with a newborn gave me so much free time as compared to the work schedule that I was used to! I cooked up a storm with my little one!

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Jen April 6, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Stock up on Super charge me cookies and packets of instant oatmeal! Nursing will make you starving :)

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monica April 12, 2014 at 6:43 pm

I’m a student & work full time, but I have got to eat breakfast every day.

One thing I love to do is make a big batch of steel cut oatmeal and freeze it in individual servings. Pull one out, drop it in a bowl in the microwave for a couple of minutes with a little milk or water and, voila! quick steel cut oatmeal. (or this genius mix of regular oats & steel cut http://food52.com/blog/6318-april-bloomfield-s-english-porridge)

Sometimes, I’ll freeze chunks of bananas (in an ice cube tray if they’re about to get too ripe) and drop those in as well (or homemade slow cooker applesauce frozen in an ice cube tray). Mix and match your flavors — so much tastier than those little bags.

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Jess May 10, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Hey, Jenna! I am hoping to make a lasagna (seems similar enough to the baked ziti recipe above) for a couple of friends who just had their baby last week! What instructions should I give them as far as re-heating the lasagna? Did you cook the baked ziti before freezing, or did you just assemble it and then place it in the freezer? I want to make sure I drop this off with them with little-to-no problems – I don’t want them to have another thing to worry about on top of their little one!

Thanks in advance for your help!

Jess

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