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Freezable meals for a new mother

  • a

My friend just had a baby, and I wanted to give her a bunch of freezeable no fuss meals that she could just reheat in the oven or microwave. Any suggestions?

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  1. r

    frozen chicken pot pie (not swanson), stews and soups. citerella sells some lobster bisque and a lobster corn chowder...yum. also frozen raviolli w/ frozen tomato sauce.

    1 Reply
    1. re: redwinegulper

      At the verrrry beginning we were too addled even to unfreeze food. For an incredibly appreciated week, a set of angelic neighbors brought over hot, complete meals (and took away the dishes). For the donor, it's not such a terribly big deal to produce if the recipients live close, and boy, is it a treat to get.

    2. j
      Josh Mittleman

      Any kind of stew or soup is easy. Package one or two servings at a time in small freezer-zip-lock bags; these can be re-heated in boiling water.

      When my wife gave birth, I had prepared bags of jambalaya, milanese sauce for pasta, and chicken soup.

      1. Interesting that you should ask this question now -- a friend of mine is about to "drop one" and I've been thinking about meals for her and her husband.

        I did the Freeze-a-meal thing for my stepmother as she was caring (at home) for my dying father, and it was greatly appreciated. I froze everything in individual portions, which may sound like a pain, but it allows for great flexibility in terms of number of mouths to feed. Zip-Loc and Glad both make cheap but reusable plastic containers that are perfect for this task, although quart-sized Zip-Loc bags seem to have been custom made for freezing soup (fill them, then lay them flat and stack them).

        Soups and stews are ideal for freezing/reheating. Also, lasagne -- standard tomato (with-or-without-meat) or veggie with bechamel sauce -- is easy and freezes well. Any variation on chicken-in-a-pot-with-wine. Mac-and-cheese (dressed up or down). Pasta dishes that will be frozen/reheated benefit from a slight undercooking of the pasta.

        I'll be watching this thread closely for other ideas!

        1. simple stuff that's fun to eat. I really greatly appreciated cheese and bean enchiladas that a friend made and froze. agree on lasagne.

          as a mama alone w/ a new kid who really liked to be held a LOT, I found that soup wasn't workable. too drippy, and I nearly always ate while holding the baby, so I preferred things like the enchiladas that I could eat warm but not hot and would stand a greater chance of making it to my mouth intact. though a few crumbs on a baby's head, as long as they're not hot, are just fine, I quickly and gratefully learned.

          hmm, what were other things that we appreciated? risotto! didn't freeze this but it was great to have around. a friend made spanikopita that was fantastic but I know it's a big deal to produce.

          1. Curry!!! Curry freezes and reheats quite well. Use chicken, beef, or pork, no seafood.

            Just make some new rice while heating up the curry.

            I think the thicker kind like Indian or Japanese reheat better than the Thai (more watery) type.

            7 Replies
            1. re: tissue

              All great suggestions, thank you!!!

              Another question: she's still nursing the baby. If I were to make a curry for example...would I have to make it unspicy? Another other rules I'd have to follow for a nursing mother?

              1. re: Abbylovi

                The rule I always followed was no gas producing foods, like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, legumes, etc. Don't know about spicy though.

                1. re: Pat Hammond

                  When making meals for nursing mothers, I make the meals without the spices and then include the spices in a small packet and let them choose how much or how little to use. It all really depends on the mother and the baby. If I know the mother well enough, I ask her which way she prefers.

                  It's been my experience that first-time nursing mothers will be a bit pickier. I know I was! With the first one, I was horribly picky; with the second one, things changed entirely. And my first child is a very picky eater, and my second likes just about everything...hmmmm... could there be a link?

                  1. re: Melissa
                    Kathryn Callaghan

                    A friend of mine is nursing, and I was astounded to learn that she will not eat spicy foods, onions or garlic. Are there really substances in these foods that can be passed through milk and would be harmful to an infant? What do mothers in, say, India do? I would be very surprised to learn that they eliminate spices from the diet as long as they're nursing. I wondered when I heard this if the child would turn out to be a picky eater.

                    I don't have enough infomation to have an informed opinion, but my instinct would be to say that it makes sense to try a bland diet if the baby isn't eating properly or has colic, but otherwise a mother might as well eat normally. Am I wrong? Or are baby books making new mothers unnecessarily fearful?

                    1. re: Kathryn Callaghan

                      Harmful may be too strong a word. Upsetting may be more accurate. Foods that cause gas can be hard on an immature digestive system, and cause a tummy ache. I've heard that garlic and onions may make the milk taste of garlic and onion. A new nursing mom can certainly eat whatever she wants and if the baby is upset by something she'll know soon enough! I was asked the question about Indian mothers by email. I can only guess that any upset that may occur for those babies will be balanced out by helping them eventually to tolerate what will be a major part of their diets. That's an interesting question. Maybe some of our Indian parents will have an answer. I don't have a medical background, by the way. But I did nurse two kids, now grown, and both really good eaters!

                      1. re: Pat Hammond

                        I ate everything, full of spice and onions and garlic, when I was nursing and my son was just pleased as punch every time he had a seat at the milk bar. I think it really varies from kid to kid.

                        1. re: Jill D

                          You said the magic phrase when it comes to all areas of childrearing: "...it really varies from kid to kid." And of course you're right! My advice derives from wanting to avoid ANY additional screaming baby syndrome in those early sleep-deprived months that we've all staggered through. Whatever works for the parents and baby is the way to go.

            2. Don't forget some frozen dough for freshly baked bread to go with the soups and stews. Most bread doughs are best frozen after the shaping process but before allowing to rise for the second time. Small individual-size rolls would be great since they fit easily into freezer bags and your friend could pull out however many she wants for any given meal. Just allow to defrost and rise on the counter (a few hours or more depending on the shape and size) before baking. Challah in coiled rolls comes to mind as a fun and easy choice, but may not keep as well in the freezer because of the richness of the dough so probably should be baked within a few weeks.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Dennison

                While you're at it with baked goods, make some drop scones, freeze individually on a sheet and bag them. Include instructions for oven temp and time (w/o defrosting), adding a few minutes to allow for having frozen them.

                Empanadas/empanaditas that have been partially baked, then frozen also work really well. You could also make a pissaladiere and freeze it before baking, much like a pizza.

                Many cakes freeze well. Choose some that dont require any more than a sprinkle of powdered sugar over a single layer (gingerbread, carrot, even chocolate).

                Your friend will need a big freezer for all these suggestions you're getting. :)

              2. Spaghetti sauce (with or without meat), bbq boneless chicken breasts or bbq beef sandwich filling. Or a stir fry kit. Cut chicken breast into cubes, season, add stir fry/teriyaki sauce & freeze. Send along a bag of frozen stir fry veggies, and a box of Uncle Bens boil-in-bag rice. Or homemade Jaimaican Beef Patties. Chili freezes well too.

                1. I asked the same thing a while ago, check the thread below for some great suggestions.

                  I ended up making them mac & cheese and meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. It all went over really well (cnsidering the parents had been eating nothing but PowerBars since the baby had come home) but the real winner was the cookies from the cookie bouquet we sent. They said that a few people made them meals, but they really loved having some sweets around. So whatever you make, top it off with some brownies or cookies!

                  Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Chris VR

                    Thanks for the link. I vaguely remembered the thread but could not find it.

                    I like all those comfort food type ideas. Does mac and cheese freeze?

                    1. re: Abbylovi

                      Oh yes, mac & cheese freezes very well. If you think the new mom and dad will just want to heat and eat, make the recipe all the way through (baking in the oven to brown the top) and then they can just microwave it. Package it in smaller dishes for individual meals.

                      If you think they'd be more interested in oven baked mac & cheese, make it up to the final step, top it with the crumb topping and then freeze, giving them directions to either increase the cooking time or let it thaw before baking.

                      The recipe I made is below. It's a bit labor intensive and I am sure you can find an easier recipe, but mmmmmm, mmmmm, this one was good.

                      Link: http://www.foodandwine.com/invoke.cfm...

                  2. a

                    For a friend of mine, I made a chicken stew, a beef stew and a chicken pie (filling cooked, crust uncooked, you can bake it from frozen in the oven, a nice treat).

                    1. Red beans and rice. Actually, it's almost as easy to cook, if you've got a crock pot and a day. Freezes beautifully. There's a great recipe in The New Orleans Cookbook, by Rima and Richard Collin (Knopf).

                      1. I have a 10 and a half month old son. Now I'm asbout 1 1/2 months away from my due date. We didn't plan them that way. In fact, we were going to wait about 2 years in between each of our children. While it is nice to have people around that will bring you meals when you have your baby, it doesn't always happen. Like with me, I didn't have many friends yet where we live. Now I do, but having a husband in the military, everybody is always coming and going. With our first child, it was trial and error. I tried doing the jambalaya and spaghetti, but they just didn't seem to freeze that well for me. This time, I talked to my grandmothers and mom and they gave me some other ideas. If you want the recipes for ANY of the following recipes, please feel free to contact me. This time I'm doing Banana Bread, Apple Cake (you can do that in a loaf pan), Chicken Fajita Mix, Baked Ziti (Very simple, cheap, and feeds a lot), Lasagna, Meatballs, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies, and Wheat and Raisin Rolls. The rolls are a little bit of work, but very worth it. They freeze very well forever and all you have to do is reheat them in the oven whenever you're ready for them. My mom makes them every Christmas and almost every Thanksgiving! Yummy!

                        1. I read boards with plenty of mothers and they all say that one thing they really appreciated while they were nursing were finger foods. Cut fruit and vegetables, cheese, things of that sort that could be eaten with one hand. So maybe include those and some tasty dip? :)

                          1. I have a 10 month old and another due in 7 months. Our neighbors were great. One brought a shephards pie one night, manicotti another, pork chops with veggies another. It was great to have a hot meal and not have to cook it. We were starving and devoured the food.