There are many things you do to prepare for a new baby. For me, stocking the freezer was one of the most helpful things I did to get us through the first couple months.
We were so lucky to have family close by to bring us dinners for, don't hate me, a whole month. You read that right. My mom and sisters brought us ready-to-eat meals on plates for approximately a month. Three days after I gave birth we went over to my parents and had lobster ravioli in a saffron cream sauce that my sister made from scratch. It almost makes a girl forget about the fact that she hasn't slept in days!
Once the help died down a little and my sisters left town, we were on our own. My husband was back at work and my baby boy was nursing constantly. I was so thankful to have a freezer stocked with food to make eating possible.
And that's why I want to share some helpful tips for freezer stocking that I learned while prepping and eating through our stash.
1. Buddy System
My bestie and I were both due at the same time. So, we took on this task together. One day at my house, one day at hers and we were each others sous chef/dishwasher/DJ/entertainment during our respective days. This meant she could make me grate cheese for an hour (she hates that job) and I could make her wash my dishes. I can't describe how helpful it was to do it this way. We got SO much done in such a short amount of time and it was actually fun. You could also team up with your mom, and aunt or anyone willing to help you out. Trust me, people know what you are about to experience and they want to help you out.
Make a list of your recipes, and what you need for them and how much. Do a giant bulk shop using flyers to make sure you get the best deals. If you run out of something, send your buddy to pick it up!
3. Storage and Labels
Forgive me, I am normally a very environmentally aware person but desperate times called for desperate measures and I went out and purchased a bunch of disposable baking pans. This meant we had meals with virtually no clean up. It saved me. I found the smaller sizes worked best for us but if you like leftovers for lunch, grab the larger size. A bonus of buying the small size is they can also be vacuum-sealed. Write the full cooking instructions on top so you don't have to look it up (or for in case someone else is preparing it for you). If you don’t have a food saver/vacuum sealer, borrow one! You will save lots of space putting soups, sauces and whatever meals you can directly into the bags.
4. Iron Rich Foods and Dairy
My ferritin levels have been very low in both of my pregnancies near the end. While I work very hard to bring them back up prior to delivery, I know that loss of blood during childbirth and exhaustion from having a new baby are all working against me. Iron pills are great but make me nauseous so I try my best to get my iron from food. That is why I try to include some iron rich dishes in my freezer stash. Think about spinach and fruit smoothie prep bags, minestrone soup, and beef dishes. Remember that calcium affects your iron intake so try to get some dishes that don't include both.
Speaking of calcium, one thing I learned after baby arrived is that certain foods may affect a breastfed babies GI system. I know this is a controversial topic and I am certainly no doctor. But, it is something I did end up trying to cut out and I quickly learned that a large portion of my stash did indeed contain dairy. If this is something you are concerned about, it is worth going through your list to make sure that you have a variety of dairy-free items to choose from.
Lasagna. Everyone who has a baby knows that the "go-to" drop-off dish is lasagna. It freezes well and everyone likes it. Well, you will never see me turn away food but it does bring up the point to make sure your freezer stash includes variety. Mix up your usual comfort foods with recipes from different areas of the world.
Those are my tips. I have started a list of food items I intend on prepping before baby number two arrives and I will include the list with links to a couple of my absolute favourite recipes as well.
- Soups: minestrone, butternut squash, broccoli cheese and turkey.
I have to link to both the minestrone and the butternut squash soup here because you need to try both. Don’t forget the cheese rind or the pesto in the minestrone. Use the rind from your mac and cheese recipe for the soup. You’re welcome.
- Beef and lamb: burger patties, sweet and sour meatballs, Swiss steak, lasagna, Bolognese sauce, stew, cannelloni, chili, Moroccan lamb stew and shepherds pie.
This Moroccan lamb stew is amazing. I didn’t even think I liked lamb until I tried it.
- Chicken: curry chicken, butter chicken, enchiladas, pesto tomato chicken, chicken pot pie, turkey casserole, and black bean chicken.
I love love love this curry chicken recipe.
- Veggie: veggie burgers, mac and cheese, breakfast burritos, smoothie packs, spinach and mushroom ravioli, spinach and ricotta cannelloni.
This mac and cheese recipe is so good. My sister brought me a half bottle of champagne from France as my baby present (she gets me) and we paired it with this dish a couple months postpartum. I felt drunk from two sips but it was one hell of a dinner!
- Baking: toddler-friendly muffins and cheese scones.
I don’t use any specific recipe for my muffins but they include lots of veggies, whole grains and fruit and make a healthy and easy snack idea when I need something quick for my son.
If you have any recipes I NEED to add to my list, comment with a link. Preference goes to links that tag a friend or family member of mine to make them for me.