With the arrival of Baby #4 looming on the horizon (that Halloween due date is approaching more quickly than I’d like… thankfully I have a history of sailing right past that due date and having baby hang on for as long as possible), I’ve started to think about getting my freezer ready. While my husband is wonderful and more than willing to cook when he’s called upon to do so, that’s not normally part of his household contribution. I mean, he basically does everything else so it’s the least I can do. Witt that in mind, I’d like to have a few meals, or beginnings of meals, in the freezer for after the baby is born, lessening both his burden and mine. I haven’t gotten very far (as you can see below, my freezer is just begging to be filled… and defrosted) but I do have a plan!
A quick search on Pinterest will reveal about a million ideas for freezer meals. Here’s a sample of what I’m planning to have around:
Meatloaf freezes beautifully- just wrap it up and put it in the freezer before cooking. Let it defrost the day you want to cook it and then put it into the oven (unwrapped!) to bake as usual. Put a few baking potatoes in the oven with it and add a bag of steam-in-bag frozen veggies and you have a ridiculously easy meal.
I love making refried beans myself, because I can control the quality of the ingredients and make sure that they have almost no fat. They freeze well too! I like to freeze in smaller portions so you can take out only what you need. Refried beans can be turned into burritos, quesadillas, nachos, or even added to a baked potato (along with some cheese and salsa) for a quick lunch. They have lots of fiber and protein and that makes meals made with them FILLING. Which, as a nursing mother, is always a bonus for me (am I the only one that’s constantly starving in the weeks after giving birth?)
Pizza dough can be frozen before its second rise and what’s easier or more kid-friendly than a homemade pizza? My husband and boys love to make their own pizzas, adding whatever toppings make them happy (this usually includes lots of vegetables, which I love too). Making your own dough is easy- I like the recipe from Smitten Kitchen as a jumping off point, though I modify it somewhat- and you can easily substitute whole grain flours. Start with subbing half the white flour with a whole grain flour and experiment from there. I like to use barley flour in our pizza doughs. I also usually add garlic powder and sometimes dried herbs. Just take the dough out in the late morning and let it defrost on the counter, or put it in the fridge the night before you need it and it should be ready by dinner time.
I like to make meat sauce because I’m a lady that likes meaty sauces. This is the only thing that is actually in my freezer right now. Don’t think that tomato sauce is just for pasta- there are lots of ways you can use this! On pizza, in calzones, adding a little to a grilled cheese sandwich… lots of possibilities!
I know that lasagne is a popular freezer meal, but in my mind baked ziti tastes pretty much the same and is so much easier to make. Cook some ziti until it’s barely cooked- it should still have quite a bit of bite to it or it will get mushy later. While that’s cooking, brown up some ground beef or ground turkey (or barely brown and cook a mixture of diced vegetables- or both meat and veggies together- the possibilities are endless). In a baking dish, combine the cooked and drained pasta, the browned meat/veggies, a bunch of mozzarella cheese, and some pasta sauce. Use a little more sauce than you think it needs because it will soak up some of that sauce later. When I’m freezing it I like to use a disposable aluminum pan, but that’s just me. Make sure everything is mixed, put some plastic wrap and aluminum foil on it, and freeze the whole pan. When you’re ready to eat it, just pop the whole thing (minus plastic wrap) into the oven and cook it for an hour to an hour and a half around 375 degrees. Yum!
I usually forego a crust on quiche, because I’m lazy that way, but crusts freeze nicely so that’s up to you. Make quiche as you normally would, baking and all, then once it’s cool you can cover it and freeze it. Some people don’t like the texture of reheated eggs but I always find frozen and reheated quiche to taste fine. And the eggs/veggie/cheese combo is good for any time of day, which is good in those first few days after baby is born and you’re not quite sure what time it is anyway. You can make a full quiche or do individual ones in muffin trays, whatever you think will work better for your family. If it’s just you, your husband and baby… individual muffin tray quiches might work best.
Black Bean Burritos
Tortilla of your choice + black beans + cheese + salsa = easy peasy. I fill the tortillas, roll/fold them up, wrap in aluminum foil, and toss into the freezer individually. When it’s time to eat, you can take the bundle straight from the freezer into the oven, letting it warm up inside it’s happy little aluminum foil jacket. For a quicker fix, take the foil off and put it on a plate in the microwave. Quick and can be eaten with one hand (at least the ones I make) while holding the baby in the other. Hooray!
A Selection of Pre-Made Breakfasts
French toast, pancakes, muffins. If you make these types of breakfast foods anyway, just make extra each time. Put extras on cookie sheets, spread out, and put in the freezer. Once they’re frozen they can be tossed into ziploc bags without having to worry about pancakes sticking together or the like. Then you can pull out one or ten, depending on what your current needs are. The oven or microwave reheats it quickly and voila! Hot breakfast that isn’t full of preservatives!
Most bread doughs can be frozen in between their first and second rises, and what is better than fresh baked bread? Nothing, nothing I tell you. I love this challah recipe from Wild and Crazy Pearl and I’m already looking forward to fresh chocolate chip challah on a chilly November day as I snuggle with my new baby. I have frozen the dough from this recipe a million times and I’ve yet to have a problem with the baking. Just let it defrost and rise, then bake as normal. I also really love this recipe for Italian Bread from Brown Eyed Baker. I haven’t tried freezing it yet, but I’m sure it will turn out. This plus some simple soup will make a good and hearty meal. Or toasted with some sunflower seed butter for protein as a snack. Or with a big bowl of pasta and cheese. I can’t wait.
What do you like to have in the freezer before baby arrives? Is there a great recipe you can share with the rest of us? Let us know in the comments!