Have you ever had this big grand plan that sounds simply amazing, but just doesn’t turn out to be quite as doable as you initially projected? “I will have 30 freezer meals stocked in my freezer before baby arrives!” (And this in addition to everything else going on, nutty pregnancy emotions from lovely pregnancy hormones, and rounded out with a little pregnancy exhuastion). Then it will be so wonderful and I won’t have to cook for eternity. The first problem is that I just haven’t felt like standing in my kitchen and making 30 freezer meals in a days time ?. However, thankfully there is a less intimidating way to stocking the freezer before baby.
I tried to use a “slowly but surely” strategy for stocking the freezer before baby, and it worked great until I broke my foot last week. (At 39 weeks pregnant, true story.?) However, even considering the broken foot this method is/was perfect. Imagine if I had planned that huge stocking day today? I would have no meals and a fridge full of unprepared ingredients! I’m so glad I started stocking the freezer before baby arrives!
The great thing is, you don’t have to be pregnant or have a baby to stock your freezer. You could start doing this over time and eventually have a reservoir of healthier foods in your freezer to pull from.
Tips to Stocking the Freezer Before Baby Arrives
1. Start preparing extra when you cook your usual dinner.
This is probably the one thing that’s working best for me. Several weeks ago I started trying to set aside some of our dinner leftovers to freeze. Some things certainly freeze easier than others, and when I cooked something I knew would freeze well, I either made extra or divided some out that we would normally eat later in the week. It takes little to no extra effort, but makes a huge impact over the course of a few weeks. Some things that this works especially great for:
- Homemade soups: butternut squash soup, vegetable soup, bean soups
- Meatballs or meatloaf
- Shredded meats
- Lasagna or lasagna rolls
2. Make a plan and give yourself plenty of time to complete it.
Note: Give yourself at least a couple days. Don’t try to do it all in a day. Yes, I may have initially thought I could go Christmas shopping, grocery shopping, and come home and fix freezer meals the rest of the day at 38 weeks pregnant. No, this didn’t work out. I had to lay down and rest by the time I got home.
Instead, what worked was to have my plan ready; do the grocery shopping; and then a couple days later spend a few extra hours in the kitchen prepping some meals. And repeat. So basically, breaking it up into a few days.
3. Enlist the help of your spouse or another helper on cooking day.
Last Saturday I asked Casey to help me out with some of the extra cooking. He was absolutely more than happy to help. I gave him a recipe and he went to work while I worked on the rest of the recipes. It’s always so much more fun to spend time in the kitchen together! Then, he volunteered to clean up the kitchen afterwards while I rested. Just knowing he was going clean up for me afterwards helped me to keep going with my recipes.
Chances are your spouse would love to help you with this project, he doesn’t know how! Give him a specific job or ask how he would like to help. This will encourage him to be more involved.
A note on involving the husband who “doesn’t cook”:
If your husband is ready to help anytime you ask, but claims he “doesn’t cook,” you can certainly still involve him the process! Here are some things that may work:
- Easy simple tasks that will help alleviate time for you here and there: browning or cooking meat, labeling freezer bags, shredding meat, chopping vegetables, etc.
- Kitchen clean up duty is perfect and a HUGE help after lots of time spent in the kitchen.
- ASK them what they would like to do.
- Have him fix crock pot to freezer meals. Casey fixed this slow cooker thai pork (we used chicken and a few other modifications), and since it’s literally just throwing ingredients in a bag anyone who can measure can do it!
4. Freeze some things for breakfast, too.
I want to make sure I’m stocking the freezer with plenty of protein and healthy calories for the entire day when baby arrives. Breastfeeding burns more calories, and so many of my friends told me their appetite was raging while breastfeeding. I know when I’m lifting weights and my appetite is really strong, I find I do much better when I have lots of breakfasts and snacks prepared ahead of time. So, I prepared some foods for my breakfasts for the first few weeks as well.
Breakfast options that offer a balance of macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat) will help keep you satisfied longer and give both you and baby what you need.
- Breakfast sandwiches – Mine are Whole Wheat English Muffins, Egg Cups (with broccoli), nitrate free turkey bacon, cheddar cheese. I packaged individually in plastic and then in large freezer bags.
- Breakfast wraps – Stuff tortillas with eggs, cheese, veggies, etc.
- Homemade Pancakes – This Whole Wheat Banana Pancake recipe freezes really well. Make pancakes toaster size for easy heating.
- Egg Muffins or Egg Bake – Check out my favorite Egg Bake Recipe that you can whip up in 5 minutes!
- Homemade Muffins – Your favorite recipe would probably work perfectly! Or these Ultimate Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins by my friend Jennifer Hunt, RD at Healthy Inspiration look amazing!
- Smoothie Packs – Freeze the fruits and veggies to make a smoothie in a pack so that you can easily dump it into blender, add liquid, and blend.
5. Don’t stress if you don’t get it all done.
If you aren’t stocking the freezer with 30 perfectly complete meals, don’t stress! If you only end up with a few odds and ends frozen, be thankful for what you do have. Whatever you prepare ahead of time will lighten the burden. What’s more, you will likely get more done if your goals are doable to begin with.
Even before I broke my foot, I’ve been more tired than usual, and it has made it more of a challenge to stock my freezer. However, I’m really grateful for what I’ve done, and grateful for a husband who can pick up where I left off. Quite honestly, if you don’t get anything stocked in your freezer at all, that’s fine too. As I was reminded last week, life doesn’t alway go as planned, and it’s still okay. ?
Stocking The Freezer Before Baby Doesn’t Need to Be Complicated
The important thing to remember is that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Even having a few soups and homemade frozen leftovers will help you out when in a pinch. Anytime life is busy, whether it’s the arrival of a new baby, a busy work schedule, or your kids’ after school activities, having a plan is key to staying on track and eating whole foods that nourish your body. Stocking the freezer is key for me in maintaining my balance through this busy time.
If you are looking for other ways to get healthy meals on the table, check out my article on Making Weeknight Dinners Happen.