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When you're preparing for your baby, the focus is usually all about the little one, right? The best piece of advice I got when I was first pregnant with my twins 9 years ago was to make freezer meals. Starting two months before I had them, I started slowly stocking our freezer with simple meals: chili, soups, lasagna, etc. When we were starving zombies after they were born, we at least had a simple meal ahead! It turned out to be such a great idea that I'm stocking up our freezer yet again for our fourth baby.
Aside from freezer meals, there are some items you should make sure you have in the pantry. I like to keep a basket in our room filled with granola bars and dried fruit for quick snacks during nighttime nursing sessions. Here are a few other items to have on hand:
- Pasta and pasta sauce. You're just 15 minutes away from a quick pasta dish. Not bad!
- Cereal, granola bars and breakfast biscuits. I love the Belvita line!
- Lunch meat and bread/tortillas. Quick sandwiches or wraps are great to eat on-the-go.
- Quick snacks: cheese sticks, hard-boiled eggs or meat sticks/jerky
- Salad mix. Top with some cheese, lunch meat slices and dressing and, voila -- healthy meal!
- Produce: apples, bananas, cucumber slices, carrots, etc. All easy to snack on!
Things to think about:
- Your little one might have aversions to dairy or certain foods if you're nursing. If you keep track of what you're eating, it might be easy to pinpoint what is hurting their belly. One of my twins couldn't handle when I ate broccoli, so that was cut out of my diet for a while.
- Keeping yourself fed and hydrated will make you feel so much better, especially if you're sleep-deprived. Even if you're just eating snacks throughout the day instead of 3 large meals, it's better than nothing.
- Keep it simple! Don't try to be Giada in the kitchen during the first few months, just make a meal to eat. You never know when your little one will need you.
Here are some easy, budget-friendly recipes we love to stock up our freezer with!
- Smoothie Packs. Grab some protein powder and your favorite veggies to create these make-ahead freezer kits. To make, all you need is milk and a blender.
- Lactation Muffins. We make a double batch of these and keep them in the freezer. Delish for the whole family, but extra helpful for nursing mamas.
- Banana Bread. Freeze as a whole loaf, mini loaf, or even muffins.
- Blueberry Yogurt Muffins. Perfect for those blurry-eyed mornings.
- Breakfast Burritos. Add whatever fillers you like -- we add green peppers.
- Freezer Pancakes. Top with peanut butter, fruit, or syrup.
- Breakfast sandwiches. These are my husband's favorite to take to work, too. When English muffins go on sale, we grab at least 5 packages for our freezer and these sandwiches.
- Milky monster cookies. Because we all want chocolate sometimes. These are also helpful for lactation.
- Skillet granola. When we make a batch, we freeze most of it in 1/2 cup portions. Grab a yogurt and top with granola for a quick snack.
- Banana bread overnight oats. Not a freezer meal, but quick to prep for the next day.
Easy Dinner Ideas
- Hamburger patties. Grill them up frozen, no need to defrost and serve with a bun or lettuce.
- Slow-Cooker pulled pork. Eat on a Hawaiian roll, or just plain. Also great added to burritos, for tacos and more. We freeze in 1/2 pound baggies.
- Baked ziti. Don't forget to grab some frozen garlic bread or breadsticks.
- Meat & Veggie Lasagna. We put this recipe into two pans for the freezer to stretch it even further.
- Simple shredded chicken. You can do SO much with shredded chicken. I highly recommend making about 10 pounds to freeze.
- One-pot chicken noodle casserole. After defrosting the chicken, make this delish casserole -- the leftovers are even better!
- Chicken tacos. Top with lettuce, cheese on a tortilla. Done.
- Smoked sausage skillet. Keep turkey or regular smoked sausage in the freezer for this easy meal.
- Frozen ground beef. Frozen ground beef or turkey has endless options. By eliminating the pre-cooking step, dinner can be ready in minutes.
- Lasagna roll ups. Comfort food at its best.
- Frozen brown rice. Great to have on hand for when you make stir-fry, to add to soups and more.
- Beef and mushroom skillet. Use the frozen ground beef and brown rice from above. Dinner will be ready so quickly.
- Shepherd's Pie. For some reason, I always crave potatoes.
- Tuscan Pasta. A delish creamy chicken pasta freezer meal.
- Frozen chicken enchiladas. I make this recipe to freeze.
I hope this gives you plenty of ideas. Happy freezer cooking!
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.