Bringing Home Our New Baby: Make Ahead Meals
I'm 38 weeks pregnant and girlfriends have suggested making some meals to have on hand when we bring our first baby home. Most "freezer" meals are comfort food - and it will likely be the middle of July (in Brooklyn!) when baby is born. Any ideas for some warm weather make ahead meals? I'm an avid cook, but considering I'm constantly exhausted, simple recipes would be best suited for me right now.
Stews hold up well in the freezer and they could be very healthy and hearty. When you are hungry and can't leave the house, all you have to do is defrost it a bit and heat it up. You can have it with some freshly made rice or just on its own. You can also make pasta sauces - I make a great turkey marinara in large batches and then freeze it and defrost as I need to. That way the only thing you really have to do is boil the pasta and voila! Good luck and congrats!
How about baking or grilling some boneless chicken breasts now and then freezing them. That you can use on greens to make a salad a meal, or that you can use to make a chicken salad with celery, other vegies, herbs and maybe pasta, maybe some curry (if that's ok), and raisins, and other fruit. Or to make quick quesadillas with. Fast, healthy and a good component that is flexible.
Congratulations! I was where you are seven months ago. Here are some easy freezable dishes:
2 cans Chili Magic
1 small can tomato sauce
1 chopped onion
1 oz dark chocolate (trust me)
1/4 cup brown sugar
Throw everything in a crockpot and cook on low for 4-5 hours. Freeze in Ziploc bags after cooking and cooling.
Ground beef cooked and mixed with pasta sauce
Top with mozzarella or munster cheese and bake until cheese melts.
Freeze after cooking and cooling. To save space in freezer, make the dish in a disposable aluminum baking dish.
Chicken breasts or cutlets, placed in a disposable aluminum baking dish (raw)
Top with cream of chicken soup and dry Pepperidge Farm stuffing (comes in a bag)
Freeze BEFORE cooking. Thaw in refrigerator for a day or two, then bake at 350 for 40 minutes.
Well, when I had my son I didn't make a lot of whole meals but made all the ingredients. And I did take advantage of some shortcuts.
I know not very CH'dish. But hey a new baby and you are tired, stressed and who cares for a few weeks until you get settled.
I did take advantage of getting some pre sliced potatoes and even premade mashed. They are not all that bad. from the frozen foods or deli section, frozen corn, maybe rice done in 10 vs the long cooking variety, couscous, some premade stocks or broths on hand. Canned beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, etc. I kept on hand. Some tortillas, shredded packaged cheese. I even had some frozen diced onions and mushrooms on hand. Now I am not saying I love them, but in a stew and soup, they are just fine, especially when you should have your focus on your baby not dinner. They are just fine.
I made lots of tomato sauce and some pestos all frozen.
Made a few containers of ground beef and turkey up so I could just add to some sauce
Also made a turkey sliced it up and made lots of packages to make dinner
Made meatloaf and sliced to just reheat
Made a few containers of chicken stew or beef stew
Made a few containers of barle soup and I did chicken soup and chicken chicken chili too
Made a ham and sliced it up. You can make scalloped potatoes, mac and cheese
I also made a big batch of grilled onions and another of grilled peppers I froze which I
could add to anything
I also made some lasagna and froze individually and some stuffed shells as well with
spinach and ricotta, defrost some of my red sauce and simple.
I also cooked some bacon ahead so I just had to reheat and chop. Great for salads
or in soups or pastas.
Go easy on yourself, take advantage of some shortcuts and get done what you can. I took canned tomatoes, added some fresh herbs, garlic, maybe some onions or mushrooms and then bagged up so when you reheated you didn't have to cut anything.
Omlettes when pregnent, add 2 eggs, a few frozen veggies and a little cheese in a baggie and shake. Put a small bowl of water in the micro and the baggie and cook on low/ medium for a couple of minutes. Healthy, quick omlette and no clean up. Serve this with some bacon, toast and dinner.
I remember those days! This is an easy tex-mex casserole that's like a shepherd's pie. It freezes well and reheats beautifully. I remember barking the ingredients and instructions to my husband while I started labor with our first son!
Take a package of ground turkey, either all breast meat or mixed. Brown it gently with a small chopped onion in a nonstick saute pan. Once it's no longer pink, add a packet of chili mix or a blend of your own spices like cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic, according to what your tastes are. Add one can of chopped tomatoes, or tomato sauce, about 15 oz. and one can of chili beans, drained, if desired. Let come to a boil and simmer uncovered for about 15-20 mins until it's reduced a little.
Meanwhile, make a batch of mashed potatoes, instant are fine. Sometimes I use the seasoned instant, whatever your pref is. Put the turkey chili mix in a casserole dish that is pretty shallow if baking right away. I sprinkle about a cup of shredded cheese on that, usually sharp cheddar, then smooth on the mashed potatoes on top, not really reaching the edges if it starts toget too thin in the middle. Bake on a sheet pan at 375 for 15-20 mins until bubbling.
To freeze, I put in a Gladware oven to table pans (in the stores by the wraps) then top it with some press and seal wrap (glad, I love the stuff) and use the cover that goes with it. It'll last about 2 months or so in the freezer. Then thaw in the fridge the night before and bake it the same as above.
You can also vary it by topping it with a cornbread mix made how you like it and it's a tamale pie.
It's delicious and homey, might not be what you crave if Brooklyn is having a heat wave, but you'll be glad you have it in the freezer, even a few months into the autumn. I have more freezer recipes if you'd like. Best of luck with your new baby!
Agrabish's ideas are great....Stock your pantry and freezer now with non-persishables like pasta, canned items like beans, tuna, tomatos, pasta, quinoa, and flexible, fast frozen items like shrimp, chicken breasts, beef or lambs steaks to grill, etc.
Frittatas, omelettes, salads or pasta with proteins, sandwiches, yogurt smoothies all would be good. Healthy snacks will be important, especially if you are nursing. Planning a week or two of menus, with sides, and the fresh items needed to finish them off, would be handy.
Quite a while back, there was list of really fast dinner ideas, for when it's too hot to cook. Unfortunately, it's too hot now, and I can't remember who wrote it....think it was in the NY Times. It had great ideas. Maybe someone with better computer and/or memory skills can find the link to it - it was linked on this board.
if you've got a good grocery nearby - a rotisserie chicken would be a main ingredient you can build meals around - chicken sandwiches, toss it in pasta, fold into a quesadilla or fajita - or even toss with asian style noodles. chicken, summer squash, baby spinach - you can do multiple styles of cuisine, eat fresh and also make sure that you're getting enough nutrition. i just took dinner down to my friends who had their first baby last week and it was tough to figure out exactly what's easy for them to put together, is healthy but isn't heavy (like a lasagna, casserole, etc). good luck!
I suppose she could freeze the cooked meat, divided liike into breast slices, cubes, wings and legs. Then take out and use for sandiwches, soups, pasta. But I had a grocery store right down the hill when I had my son and I was not running to the store with the infant strapped on too often at all. Better if you have someone who can bring the groceries to you!