If you’ve been following me for a while, it’s no secret that my family really values a good, home-cooked meal. So as you’re preparing for those chaotic days and weeks with a newborn, I highly, highly recommend building up your freezer stash so dinner doesn’t become a stressful topic. Freezer meals prepped before the baby is born can be an easy way to stock up on ready-made meals with the comfort and nutrition of home cooking. I’ve rounded up some of my favorite easy meals for you as inspiration. These meals are breastfeeding friendly, packed with nutrition, and easy to prep, making them a perfect choice for new parents looking for a healthy meal option.
- The Importance of Freezer Meals for New Moms
The Importance of Freezer Meals for New Moms
The Convenience of Pre-Prepared Meals
With a newborn at home, time is going to turn into a precious commodity. Those treasured moments you once had for elaborate cooking will be replaced with feeding, diaper changes, and most importantly, cuddles with your new baby. You’ll be overwhelmed, which is why it’s important to have a delicious, home-cooked meal waiting for you, ready to be heated. No additional prep, no dirty dishes! These meals are not just about convenience, they’re about reclaiming your time so you can focus on your new bundle of joy. Insider tip! Double any cookbook recipe and make a meal for your immediate need, and then freeze the other half for later.
Nutritional Benefits of Homemade Freezer Meals
When it comes to freezer meals, it’s not just about the time-saving aspect. You should select options that also offer a nutritional punch. I’m talking about dishes that are filled with nourishing ingredients to fuel your body, especially important for those who are breastfeeding. The nutrition content of take-out can be hit-or-miss, and we all know how easy it is to opt for less healthy options when we’re exhausted. That’s why it’s helpful to prepare freezer meals. You can add or take out ingredients as you please, adjust your spice level, or modify them based on your dietary preferences, and we’ve intentionally provided a variety of recipes that will help satisfy all kinds of cravings – healthy breakfasts, filling lunches, and dinner! We’re confident you will discover new mealtime favorites in our list below.
Planning and Prepping Freezer
When to Start Preparing
The sweet spot for beginning your freezer meal prep is around your 34th week of pregnancy. You’ll still be feeling sprightly enough to spend some time in the kitchen, and it’s a great, productive way to channel that nesting instinct that might be kicking in about now. Plus, starting early gives you plenty of time to build up a variety of dishes before your little one arrives. The only day-of prep needed, is to make a side salad and add your favorite toppings.
How Many Should I Prepare
Deciding on the number meals to prepare and freeze is mostly dependent on your actual freezer space. But if space isn’t an issue, here’s a simple rule of thumb: aim for two weeks’ worth of dinners. That’s around 14 meals give or take, depending on how many leftovers you’re counting on. These recipes are not just for dinner – they’re great for lunch, too! Bonus points if you’ve got family or friends nearby that can store some of these for you if space is tight. Or better yet, make them for you and bring over once the baby arrives. No baking required.
Storage Tips Freezer meals are the unsung heroes of the postpartum period. But to ensure they come to your rescue when you need them most, proper storage is crucial.
Best Containers for Pre-made Dishes
Glass containers with airtight lids are a great option. They’re not only durable and freezer-safe but also allow you to see exactly what’s inside – a huge plus when you’re rummaging through the freezer in a post-baby fog. Plastic containers also work well, especially those designed specifically for freezer use.
Labeling and Organizing
I can’t stress this enough: Label everything! This is a game-changer. Trust me, it will save you the guesswork later on. Use a permanent marker to note down the dish name and the date it was prepared. That way you’ll know what you’re defrosting and how long it’s been frozen. This process will likely really appeal to your obsessively organized nesting self in the third trimester.
And if you want to go the extra mile: arrange by type – casseroles, chili, slow cooker dishes, stews. – to make it easy to grab what you’re in the mood for.
What Are the Best Freezer Meals for New Moms?
Some of the best freezer meals for new parents include stewed meats, lasagna, meatballs, soups, casseroles, and stir-fry. These can be prepared in advance, frozen, and easily reheated whenever needed, providing convenient and nutritious options during the hectic early days of parenthood.
16 Easy Make-Ahead Freezer Meal Recipes
Below are some fantastic, easy-to-make, and nourishing recipes that make great meals perfect for new moms. They are all courtesy of some of my favorite food bloggers, so get ready to bookmark these!
Bonus: Make-Ahead Snack
How Long Can You Store These in the Freezer?
After you’ve put in the hard work of prepping, you’re probably wondering just how long they’ll stay good in your freezer. Well, here’s the scoop: most meals can be frozen for up to three months. But, the key is proper packaging. Making sure your items are wrapped tightly and stored in air-tight containers will protect them from freezer burn and keep them tasting fresh. The faster they freeze, the better they’ll taste when reheated.
Safety Guidelines for Freezing and Reheating
While postpartum freezer meals are an absolute lifesaver for new moms, it’s important to ensure that they’re stored and reheated correctly.
- Proper Storage: After your meals have completely cooled, transfer them to freezer-safe containers or ziploc bags. Make sure to squeeze out any excess air before sealing. Label each container with the date to help you keep track.
- Reheating: When you’re ready to enjoy your meal, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Then, reheat on the stove, in the oven, or in the microwave, making sure it reaches a safe internal temperature.
- Don’t Refreeze: Once thawed, it’s best to consume your freezer meal within 24 hours. Refreezing thawed food can lead to a loss of quality and potentially harmful bacterial growth. And that’s the last thing you want to worry about as a new parent.
Enjoying Your Freezer Meals Postpartum
Following the simple “thaw and heat” method will ensure that you’re enjoying your meals just as they were intended. Here’s how it works:
- Thawing: Transfer your freezer meal to the fridge, allowing it to defrost overnight.
- Baking: 350 degrees is a good average temperature to reheat most meals. When in doubt, follow the recipe
- Reheating: Once thawed, heat your meal on the stove, in the oven, or microwave. Make sure it reaches a safe, piping hot temperature before digging in!
Aside from freezer meals, I highly recommend stocking your kitchen up with healthy essentials (here’s my weekly grocery list for inspo). Clearly freezer meals are more than just convenience; they are a great way to ensure they’re nourished during this beautiful, yet demanding journey.
Featured Image by Amina Filkins