So I’m in full-fledged nesting mode over here, and by that I mean I’m stocking my house with food like the end of the world is coming. Some people nest by cleaning, others nest by organizing the nursery, some people nest by clearing their e-mail inboxes. I do basically none of these super useful and sensible things to prepare for the birth of my next child. HOWEVER, I have enough spaghetti sauce in my freezer to feed several dozen people. Need a chicken casserole? I have 3, just waiting to be popped in the oven.
In reality, I can see that this isn’t even really that necessary. I usually have several meals in the freezer at all times, just for the sake of convenience, so adding like 20 more is probably overkill. Especially since last time I had a baby, my mom and some friends pretty much fed us for a month. Especially since after a week or two, I was feeling pretty good and normal and actually wanting to cook. Especially since we are lucky enough to live in an area where I can get pretty much anything as takeout if the mood strikes.
But it’s my thing. I love knowing that if it came down to it, I could feed my family homemade dinners, without putting in too much effort or having to go to the store, for a few weeks. And while after I had Grace, I definitely had the thought, “Maybe I overdid it on the freezer meals…” after I was feeling back to normal and my freezer was still stocked, who knows? That was when I only had 2 kids, maybe upping the ante to 3 will put me over the cooking-dinner threshold. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter. It makes me feel better to be doing something to prepare for postpartum life while I’m waiting.
Like I said, I usually have a few meals in the freezer all the time anyway, so over the years, I’ve figured out what freezes well and we love. These are almost all really great things to make for a friend who just had a baby or is sick or needs a hot meal for any reason, because they reheat well. Without further ado, here are 7 of our favorites.
- Creamy Chicken EnchiladasThese are my husband’s absolute favorite. They are the epitome of cheesy, gooey, comfort food goodness. They are really rich, so for my family of 4, one recipe is easily split into 2 dishes for 2 separate meals.
- Macaroni and Beef with Cheese– Apparently this is like an old-school cafeteria staple, but I had never had it before. It’s exactly what it’s sounds like, pretty straight forward. But it’s yummy, filling, and everyone in your family will most like love it.
- Artichoke, Spinach, and Ricotta PieFreezer meals can get a bit heavy on the carbs and comfort foods (no complaints here), but if you’re looking for something a bit lighter, this egg-based pie is really tasty and makes a nice meal with a salad or some bread. And egg dishes reheat really well- your favorite quiche or frittata recipe is probably a good choice, too.
- Baked Eggplant ParmesanI’m a huge fan of eggplant parmesan, but I’m not a fan of frying. And ever tried to reheat something that’s been deep-fried? Not usually a great idea. But this baked version freezes really well and makes a great vegetarian comfort food option.
- Southfork ChiliI know chili is kind of “duh” when it comes to freezer meals, as are most soups, really, but this is my favorite recipe, the one my mom always made. It’s feel of veggies and beans, so it’s healthy and filling and a totally satisfying meal in itself. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could make a pan of cornbread to put in the freezer alongside it, so you’ll really have a perfectly complete meal. One big batch can easily get you several meals.
- No-Knead Pizza Dough– If any of you follow my Instagram account, you know we really like pizza over here. Like… a lot. This is the pizza dough recipe I keep coming back to year after year because it’s just so darn good. The fact that’s it’s insanely easy is just a bonus. The recipe makes enough for 6 smallish pizzas, which is perfect, because they freeze perfectly and can be taken out one or two at a time whenever you want to throw together a quick pizza, or push it into a pan with a drizzle of olive oil for focaccia, or wrap up some sausage and cheese into a calzone. It’s the best.
- Brown Butter Blondies You might be all, “Really, Christina? Do blondies really fall under the freezer meal category?” No, not really, but you can make these and hide them in the back of your freezer and cut off chunks as necessary while your kids are napping (because they’re just as good frozen as they are re-warmed), so do you really want to argue semantics with me right now. Go make the blondies, eat one, and then come back and tell me it’s wrong. If brown butter blondies are wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Other random freezer meal tips:
-For soups, stews, sauces, and other liquid-type things, I love using old yogurt containers. They hold the perfect amount for about 4 servings, they are a nice shape for stacking, they’re free, and when I’m done, I can recycle them so there aren’t any dishes. So many wins.
-When you’re wrapping up something to go into the freezer, always label it AND write down the cooking instructions on the label, in case someone else wants to prepare it for you.
-If the idea of making a ton of meals seems daunting, just make double batches of things you’re already making for dinner. Or, if you have a small family, just split the meal into two separate dishes and freeze one. Less waste if your family isn’t into leftovers, and you have a whole other meal waiting for you in the freezer without any extra work!
-Freezer meals are great, but it’s also nice to make a short list of quick, easy meals that require little thought. For instance, I discovered not too long ago that if I dump some chicken breasts or thighs into the crockpot with some of our favorite salsa from Costco and let it simmer all day, it makes a pretty amazing taco filling. Add tortillas or spoon it over some rice and dinner is done. We’ve all got a few of these things up our sleeves, so just stock up on the stuff you need to make it happen and you’ll be glad that you thought ahead just a bit.
I’d love to hear about ways that you plan ahead for meals before the arrival of a new family member. Any great recipes I NEED to have?
*Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum. Head over and see what everyone else is up to this week!*