Wanting to make life as easy as possible for when the new baby arrives? Not wanting to survive on takeaway meals in the postpartum period (see my postpartum update at the end) or just feel pressure to cook? Then freezer meals can be a great way to simplify life. Here’s how to get started.
There are two ways to prepare freezer meals. The easiest way especially if you are short on time is to simply double the quantities of what you are cooking for dinner and freeze the leftovers.
Another way to fill your freeze quickly is to plan a day of batch cooking. Choose a number of meals you want to prep ingredients for and do it all at one time.
Do I need a bigger freezer for make ahead meals?
I chose to buy a chest freezer to use. Mainly because our current freezer is small and almost always full. We are a family of five, including two teenagers and hubby who does body building. He consumes a lot of meat! I thought the investment was worth it!
I got a 200L chest freezer and I think it will be more than enough for what I want it for. See how I organised my chest freezer.
I am also making up some soups to freeze that I love but the rest of the family is not so keen on. I reckon soup will make for easy and nutritious lunches for Mom after baby is born.
When should I start making freezer meals for postpartum?
When you have the time and energy, the earlier the better! Energy levels tend to wane as you head towards the end. Though keep in mind that freezer meals are best used within 3 to 6 months.
My original plan was to prep and cook a whole heap of meals at one time. I have found though that the further along I get the more tired I am. So I have scaled back the batch cooking and switched to prepping one or two freezer meals a week. Much more do-able!
What are the best meals to cook and freeze?
There really are heaps of different meals that you can cook and freeze. Pasta dishes, stuffed breads, curries, stir-fries, roasts, marinades etc. I think it makes sense to choose meals that aren’t too time consuming or difficult to make. And most importantly, the best meals to cook and freeze are ones you know, you and your family enjoy eating!
Tips to Make Your Freezer Meals Taste Really Good
- Avoid freezer burn by freezing meals quickly and removing as much air as you can from your storage containers.
- Use your freezer meals within 3 to 6 months.
- Slightly undercook your pasta. It will cook when you reheat the dish in the oven.
- Use the freshest ingredients possible.
Here’s my list of freezer meals for new Moms below. Like I said previously there are so many options for what you can make ahead and freeze. These freezer meal suggestions below include a few new recipes as well as meals that we enjoy eating regularly.
More Helpful Tips For Freezing Food
- Free Printable Freezer Inventory
- Freezer Cooking 101
- How To Freeze Food Properly
- How I Organised My New Chest Freezer
Freezer Meals For New Moms
NOTE:A lot of these freezer meal ideas you could serve as a complete meal if you like. However, I plan for hubby or kids (I am hoping!!) to make a simple salad or steamed vegies to go with it, and wraps or rice.
1. Chicken Alfredo Pasta
This is a new recipe for us but it is super simple to make. I brought jars of alfredo sauce to use as an alternative to cream. Some recipes suggest frozen broccoli, but I left out the broccoli.
2. Chicken Enchiladas
Another easy one! Especially because I put it together with several El Paso Enchilada kits that were half price and shredded chicken I cooked in bulk for a few of these freezer meals.
3. Macaroni Cheese
I chose a couple of freezer meals that require a white sauce. This is one of them!
4. Minestrone Soup
I love this minestrone recipe! It’s the smoky bacon that makes it! This is going in the freezer for my lunches.
5. Cream of Chicken Soup
One of the kids’ favorite meals. Especially because I have some picky eaters who don’t like “pieces” in soup. Everything gets cooked up, blended and then shredded cooked chicken is added at the end. What is your preference a smooth or chunky soup?
This is a staple in our house for the kids and I, and is very easy to make. Lentils, a spice mix and a couple of carrots chopped up. I finish it with a tarka (garlic, mustard seeds and fresh curry leaves cooked in oil) but you could leave that step out.
7. Satay Chicken
Another new recipe for us! Oh my gosh, the sauce tasted so good I can’t wait to try it. Mine had a tin of coconut milk, peanut butter, minced garlic and ginger, fresh chopped cilantro (coriander), apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, powdered coriander, cumin and turmeric. I left out chilli but you could easily add it in if you like the heat.
8. Beef and Barley Stew
I prepped this two ways, first by cooking up a big batch in the slow cooker to freeze. I like the idea of having a number of meals that just need reheating and eating! I also put together the raw ingredients in a freezer bag for a dump and go slow cooker meal later on.
Really easy! Mix spices (coriander, cumin), fresh herbs and minced garlic into a batch of mince. Freeze as is and hubby will cook up like mini hamburgers to eat with wraps and salad.
10. Pulled Pork
I used this slow cooker recipe because pork is not something I cook very often. Another one to serve with wraps or bread rolls, and salad.
Mince makes for such a quick and easy meal! Here’s my go to mince meal ideas. Serve with rice, pasta, tacos, corn chips or mashed potato.
- Savory mince – onion, carrot, celery, pepper, tomato paste.
- Keema – bay leaf, whole cinnamon, onion, garlic, ginger, tomato paste, spices, peas.
- Mexican mince – herbs and spices.
12. Shepherds Pie
Another easy mince dish that we don’t tend to have too often. The plan is to cook double the quantity and freeze one meal.
13. Twice Baked Potatoes
Not really a main on its own! But so yummy! Simply scoop out the middle of your halved cooked potato and mix with salt pepper, cheese and ham. Add the filling, freeze and bake when thawed.
14. Fried Rice
Fried rice is such a quick and easy meal to use up leftover rice and vegies. I usually make it with diced carrot, frozen peas and corn, and soy sauce. Apparently, it’s really easy to freeze and re-heat!
15. Butter Chicken
Another family favorite! Despite the extra effort, I make butter chicken a lot more often than my regular chicken curry now. The secret is to marinade the chicken pieces first in yoghurt and spices. Then cook the chicken in the oven separately. Once the sauce is made, add the cooked chicken and cream. So yum!
I hope this list helps you get started with your own freezer meals!
Update 6 Months Later
Baby is now 3 months old and while she is super cute and engaging, I can’t believe how exhausted I am. Sleep, what’s that? Thankfully, I am now hooked on freezer meals!
It made such a big difference having 30 meals prepped and ready to go in the freezer for the first few months. As we came to the end of them, I realised I NEED more meals in my freezer!
Having a newborn and 3 older kids means I am short on chunks of time. Instead I have been filling up the freezer again slowly by cooking 3 to 4 freezer meals a week.
Often I will double or triple a recipe I am cooking for dinner. At least once a week I will cook a double freezer meal in the evening after baby has gone to bed. It gives me enough meals to have 3 to 4 nights a week off cooking.