Freezer meals? Oh, yeah, that makes sense. They’re meals you – well – put in the freezer.
Ok, now go ahead and make one…
Stuck? So was I the first time I was preparing for postpartum with dinners to stock in my freezer. I thought I would just make a meal and then freeze it. This works for some meals, like soups, chilis, and stews.
But other meals involve a little more finesse. There is an art to preparing a meal up to the point of cooking but freezing it instead. This way, when you (1) pull it from the freezer, (2) thaw in the fridge, and then (3) bake or cook it, it’s like you just prepared it. With a dash of fresh herbs or cubed avocado, it tastes that fresh.
My personal freezer meal favorite has become a pan of enchiladas, which I deliver to nearly every postpartum mother within my sphere of influence. But It can be a freezer baggie of chopped veggies for a slow cooker recipe that you dump in your crockpot and then add a can of diced tomatoes and vegetable stock to. The idea is: having prepared foods in your freezer that you can access whenever you are in the trenches of postpartum or life’s general busy-ness. Oh, how simple life can be when there are meals in your freezer that aren’t overly processed but instead are made with fresh ingredients and a little TLC.
The beauty of freezer meals is that you can make them yourself in the last few weeks of pregnancy in preparation for postpartum, you can make them for a friend for her nesting party (see here), or you can bring one over when you visit a mother after birth. I LOVE doing this because Meal Trains – as amazing as they are – can overwhelm a family with too much food! What a wonderful problem.
But with a freezer meal, things can be more flexible and according to the family’s needs. Meals can be left in a cooler placed outside their home (if they are not receiving visitors at that time) or thrown straight into their freezer in the case that their kitchen is overloaded. They can pull it out at their convenience. You won’t be stepping on any meal-planning or scheduling toes, and they get to decide when to enjoy the meal you’ve prepared.
Don’t waste your time inventing something new; Pinterest has all the freezer meal gurus already working hard to take the guesswork out of good freezer meal recipes!
Here are some of the ones I used when learning the territory:
23 Make Ahead Meals via Buzzfeed
Molly Yeh’s Baby Meal Prep Guide
12 Healthy Freezer Meals from Pinch of Yum
The Gift of Freezer Meals from Take Them A Meal
Marabou’s Bean & Cheese Enchiladas
Marabou’s Parmesan Corn Chowder
A few tips when bringing freezer meals to a growing family:
- Use disposable! This takes the burden away from the recipients, who would otherwise have to wash and coordinate the return of your dish. I use disposable cake pans and aluminum foil for enchiladas, washed out deli containers from the grocery store for soups, and put muffins in gallon-sized baggies (they hold 16 perfectly!).
- Always always always bring a copy of the recipe or instructions! Getting your freezer meal to the table should not be a riddle. When I bring my enchiladas, I tape an index card to the top with instructions. It’s simple but still necessary for the uninitiated [(1) thaw overnight (2) bake at 400°F for 15 minutes]. Some are a little more involved and should definitely have the full recipe included. Your prerogative.
- If you have extra ingredients to bring that don’t go in the freezer (e.g., a can of tomatoes and chicken stock to add to the crockpot along with your chopped veggies), bring them along and put them somewhere safe in the family’s pantry where they can easily find it. If you’re on the receiving end of freezer meals (you lucky duck!), you might put a small bin in your pantry for these extra items so they don’t accidentally get used and are reserved for your freezer meals.
- Bring a meal AND baked goods, if you can! Meals are great, but postpartum moms also snack all day, especially if they’re breastfeeding. Baked goods are the perfect way to enjoy a healthy, grab-and-go, one-handed snack. Try our mom muffins!
How does Marabou support women?
We live in culture where “bouncing back” is more valued than proper rest. As admirable as it may be for a sports star to get back on the field, the same rules don’t apply to postpartum recovery. The traditional resting period has been stolen from women through pressure to get back to their job or simply through lack of presence.
Grandmas, sisters and best friends who otherwise would have been there to help a woman transition into motherhood often live too far away to be of any help. Household chores and caring for older children inevitably fall on the mom. But she just delivered a new life! She needs rest.
Marabou Services is a unique gift registry which provides services instead of stuff. Most mom’s get too many onesies, too many baby blankets and not enough helping hands. Break out of a destructive cultural norm and start a Marabou registry today.
With a Marabou registry you can sing up for any service which will benefit you or someone you know during the postpartum recovery period.
Postpartum doulas for a first time mom
House cleanings for moms of multiples
Childcare for moms with older children!
Once your registry is created, add it to any other registry or post it to your Facebook and ask friends and family contribute to your postpartum service, rather than buying you more stuff.