Freezable Casseroles/meals for new mom
My sister is pregnant with twins and has a 2 year old. When I go to visit her this week I am planning on having a cooking day and packing her freezer. I did this before my niece was born and my sister was very appreciative. Last time I cooked at home and transported when I went down for the birth, but that was difficult as she lives over 3 hours away! Anyway, I seem to have lost the casseroles I made before so I was looking for some suggestions that are not terribly difficult or require too many ingredients to prepare, and that only need reheating.
Last time I made a chicken and rice casserole, a chicken enchilada casserole, chicken spaghetti, and a few others. Thought I might include a taco soup or chili, but as it will be late June, I figured that would be too warm.
Any ideas or links to previous topics are much appreciated.
What I do in order to get ideas is go to the freezer section of the grocery store and see the plate meals that they have put together. Stouffer's swedish meatballs is one of my favorites and so much better when I make them at home.
I then cook up a variety of items and put them into freezer plates which I get from the Party store. This way they are like TV dinners instead of casseroles. I also have a food saver and use that for many vegetable dishes like grilled zucchini and squash, or meat dishes like beef burgundy with cubed potatoes and lots of sauce! These can easily be warmed up by putting the bag in a pot of boiling water.
I am sure with twins, there will be many times that she will be too tired to even boil a pot of water, but still needs something to eat. Getting some family members together with small donations works great to buy some pizza or sandwich shop gift certificates!
Some freezer bag ideas are chicken and gravy which I make in the crockpot using a whole chicken and a can of cream of mushroom soup and a can of cream of celery soup.. maybe two cans if it's a big chicken! Then I de-bone it and store it in the freezer bags. Great over rice, potatoes or rolls!
I make a goulash type of sauce using beef, peppers, onions, tomatoes, celery, carrots and a jar or two of pasta sauce. I freeze this in dinner portions so all I have to do is boil the macaroni in one pot while warming up the goulash in another and then mix the two together!
Meatloaf, freezing slices for either a meal or hot open meatloaf sandwich.
Roasted red pepper soup and asparagus soup as even in the summer, a nice warm drinkable creamy cup of soup is always good!
Beef stroganoff, turkey tetrazzini, scalloped potatoes and ham are just a few more that come to mind.
Now I'm hungry and need to depart for the grocery store!!
Vegetables!! And single-portion sizes! With my first, a lot of the food people made for us went bad because we would defrost an entire casserole, and then only get a chance to pick at it here and there...or we would end up eating lasagna for breakfast just so it didn't go to waste. My 2nd is due in August (first is almost 2), and we're planning to make everything in muffin pans - if we get the chance to all eat together, it at least saves us a few knives and spatulas from serving, and if we end up eating shifts as we anticipate, we can heat as we go.
As for veggies, everyone was very generous to bring us food, but I was CRAVING some fresh veggies after about 2 days. I think I ended up microwaving a lone freezer-burned bag of spinach in desperation one evening. So anything you can shove veggies into would be appreciated, at least in my house - with a 2 year old already at home, even more so, as I worry about his nutrition more than my own. =)
Small frittatas - eggs mixed with cheese and veggies
Veggie breads/muffins - carrot, sweet potato, zucchini
Shells stuffed with ricotta and spinach
Sweet or savory turnovers - take premade puff pastry, cut into squares, fill with fresh fruit and a tsp of sugar and spices (add nuts for protein), or fill with finely chopped veggies, meat and cheese (goat cheese works really well), fold into triangles and freeze. They can go in a toaster oven for 15 mins for a quick meal or snack.
Mini hamburgers - made with beef or ground turkey, can mix with 1/3 white or black beans to cut fat/add fiber, and add in some chopped green veggies like spinach or kale - freeze raw for quick broiling
Snacks would be nice too if you'll be down around when she gives birth - homemade cheese crackers/straws, kale chips, even just storebought fruit leather or other mildly healthy things for her or the toddler to snack on in a pinch
If you can find out what the toddler likes to eat, it would be very helpful, IMO, to have a few toddler meals premade to give her a bit of a break on that front as well - just things like oatmeal premeasured or precooked and in the freezer, or purees of her favorite fruits - easy foods to hand over when you're a walking zombie. I always make breakfast cookies for my neighbors when they have a baby - swap out half (or more) of the "bad" ingredients in a standard oatmeal cookie recipe for good for you stuff - yogurt and pureed fruit for the butter and some of the sugar, whole grain flour and flax meal for white flour, nuts and dried fruit for the chips...It's LOVELY to tell a toddler that they can have cookies for breakfast or a snack, and then give them something that's basically a higher-sugar form of a bowl of oatmeal. =)
One thing I swore I would do this time, because I only had about three meals worth in the freezer last time and it was great, was prepackage meal fixings - precooked and separately frozen brown rice, beans, chicken, vegetables, etc. in 2-3 size servings, along with a couple of mason jars of frozen sauce or storebought. We could take out a bag of carb, a bag of protein, and a bag of veggies, throw it in a pan to heat and pour sauce on top - it felt like I was cooking and having something a little different than the same old same old casseroles people had brought, but took no thought and left no leftovers. My only problem here was I wasn't sure how cream sauces would freeze, so we were limited to tomato sauce and jarred teriyaki - since we didn't have many meals worth it became a moot point last time, but any suggestions for other freezable sauces for this birth welcome!
You are a fantastic sibling! I'm pregnant with my second (the first will be 2 in July) and I'm already thinking of things I can make in big batches for when baby comes... One of my favorites is bolognese. I make a big batch then freeze containers that will feed 3 of us (my 22 month old loves it!)
I also do chili - you don't have to stick with regular old chili either. Try turkey/chicken and white bean chili for a change.
Another favorite are turkey and artichoke stuffed shells. It's a recipe from one of Giada's cookbooks so probably on food network...
I'll be watching this thread for other ideas...
a quick search of "new parents baby" turns up a lot of threads:
some quick input..
Polenta Lasagna -- polenta layered with sauce and veggies and cheese
Mini Burritos -- single handed food and good for the toddler -- make a couple of variations, perhaps bean/cheese and a breakfast egg based one
Waffles -- good to freeze and easy to reheat for 2 year old meal and one hander for mom if she dips in syrup
Stuffed Potato Skins
Pre-portioned cooked Oatmeal
Chicken Teriyaki or Satay Skewers
Cornbread -- if you make chili