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Freezer-friendly Meals for Busy/New Parents

My friend recently had her second baby and I'd like to bring over a couple of meals that they can store in their freezer and pop in the oven or microwave for easy lunch or suppers. I'm definitely going to include a loaf of banana bread and soup, but would like some other main ideas. The mom is breastfeeding and has a 2 year old toddler as well. I did read through the "gourmet casseroles" and "meals for new moms" but was hoping for some more ideas! Thanks so much!

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  1. Hmmm! Something protein heavy if she's breastfeeding is my suggestion. In the early days I struggled to get enough protein. Perhaps some chili? Maybe a white chili or not overly spiced bean and meat chili. My first was bothered by spicy and tomatoes, my second apparently has an iron stomach and can handle anything.

    Homemade meatballs and sauce? This way they can either make pasta, meatball subs, etc.

    Enchiladas
    Turkey/Chicken tetrazzini

    What about making a homemade marinade or two and buying some fresh chicken breast and freezing the chicken in the marinade so she can thaw and toss in the oven or on the stove? I personally would have loved that.

    Trying to think of stuff I would have appreciated as a mom to a 2-year-old and 5-month-old! Aside from actual food, my favorite gift was from my husband's company - we received a $100 worth of gift cards to restaurants around town that offered takeout. Brilliant as well! No mess, just sent the husband out ;)

    1 Reply
    1. re: tiffeecanoe

      Gift cards and menus were great gifts. I appreciated that when the meals in the freezer were finished and I was frazzled.

      Someone brought me a container of homemade granola, several single serve containers of yogurt, and a bag of frozen berries. Loved that.

      If you know what type of meals the toddler likes, make some of those in muffin tins. Quiche (no crust) Mac n cheese, baked ziti all work well. Good for a toddler meal or a snack/light meal for mom

    2. First of all, I would ask. Very specifically. It doesn't accomplish much if you fix something that then sits in the freezer :)

      When our daughter had her baby two years ago, I asked and she answered with "Hazan's Bolognese sauce." I made a 4x or 5x batch, and froze 2cups each in zipping bags. I froze them flat and that way they didn't take up a lot of freezer space. While not a whole meal, almost anyone can handle cooking some pasta or serving it over something else.

      1 Reply
      1. re: c oliver

        Your daughter was well brought up.

      2. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2803...

        also has ideas for freezer meals.

        I would add things that would also be toddler friendly when cut up: Homemade fish sticks, homemade chicken tenders, salisbury steak

        1. following for ideas - I'm a single mom & work form home so pretty busy.

          I know when my dd was little I did a lot of soups & crock pot things - put it on & walk away type stuff that didn't have to be closely watched.

          1 Reply
          1. re: frugalmama

            Just so's ya know :) if you want to follow a discussion without posting, all you have to do is click on the yellow star at the top right. And when/if you no longer are interested, you can "unfollow" by clicking again. This is a new feature and I love it.

          2. I did stuffed shells for a friend of mine.

            However my tips is to get the smaller square pans at the grocery store rather than the 13x9. They won't have to eat the same thing over and over again an they fit better.

            2 Replies
            1. re: melpy

              I'd use disposables so they don't have to return anything.

              1. re: c oliver

                Yes of course but I mean get the smaller aluminum pans not the large.

            2. I would definitely ask your friend what she would like! Probably high on the priority list are things that her toddler will actually eat! But what those things are ... only she can say.

              Something else you could consider doing is batch cooking a bunch of veggies -- roasted roots and sauteed greens for example. They can keep them in the fridge and have veg to eat with lunch and dinner all week long. Not a freezer option but just as good IMHO. When I had a new baby I always craved more vegetables and it was so hard to find the time to prepare and cook them.

              And maybe a batch of oatmeal cookies for mom? Oats are good for milk production.

              1. Did you see these previous posts? Lots of great ideas!
                One simple suggestion that came up often was to also bring a big fresh salad- or the components all chopped ready to assemble with homemade salad dressing.

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2841...

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8490...

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5337...

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8740...

                1. Thanks for all of the great ideas Chowhounds! The parents' freezer is not overflowing and they eat everything! So far I've made:

                  - Loaf of Banana Bread
                  - 2 Meals' worth of Hazan's Bolognese Sauce
                  - Mini Waffles for the 2 year old
                  - Chicken Salad

                  I'm also going to make Smitten Kitchen's homemade granola bars with oats, peanut butter, coconut & almonds. And the day I bring it over, I'll include an easy salad with a vinaigrette, garlic bread, hunk of good parm & a bottle of wine. And come crackers & grapes for the chicken salad.

                  I have time to make one more dish so keep the ideas coming if you have anymore!

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: IOPfoodie

                    What about stuffed shells or lasagna? Portion into trays that'll feed 3 people.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Sure don't, that will be going in their fridge to eat for lunch over the next couple of days...dropping food off tomorrow.

                      2. re: IOPfoodie

                        What about a Mexican stacked enchilada casserole? I make mine with corn tortillas layered with a filling made with black beans, frozen spinach, diced onion and either shredded chicken/ground turkey/pulled slow cooked pork, etc. (whatever protein i have on hand). each layer is drizzled with enchilada sauce and a sprinkle of shredded cheddar. Top tortilla layer has more sauce, onion and cheese. Like the lasagna suggestion, freeze in small portions or assemble in smaller pans. My toddler wouldn't eat this kind of "mixed food" casserole, but she loves quesadillas. Maybe some pre made quesadillas for the little one. They freeze just fine too.

                        The frittata muffin idea is great. an easy way to get some protein and veggies and easy to eat. all great for a nursing mom.

                        1. re: IOPfoodie

                          Meatloaf is always great. Before I had my son, I made and froze a whole slew of hand held pocket pies - spinach and cheese, chicken, and empanadas. They were great to pop in the toaster oven and eat with one hand. One hand is particularly fantastic when there's a baby involved.

                          This is the recipe I used: http://www.shutterbean.com/2009/savor...

                          1. re: Savour

                            My sister always makes meatloaf " muffins", she freezes them and then they're an easy size to defrost per portion.

                        2. Stews work really well. Bean and sausage, chili (as mentioned before), braised chicken dishes - that sort of thing.

                          1. fritatta muffins -- these can include all sorts of veggies, meats and cheese; freeze well and can be eaten with one hand.

                            cookies.

                            brownies, blondies -- cut, wrap and freeze.

                            homey dishes like coq au vin or chicken cacciatore. portion, freeze.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              Frittata muffins are a great idea, thanks!

                            2. The last time that I made food to freeze for parents, I did stuffed peppers and a spinach alfredo lasagna. I wrapped the peppers individually in aluminum foil and put in a freezer bag from there, so they could take out as many or as few as they wanted and cook at one time. For the lasagna, rather than doing on big 9x13 pan, I made a few in disposable aluminum loaf pans. Just enough for a couple servings and maybe a snack for one to reheat later. Went over very well.

                              I made up a bunch of freezer meals for our use before I had surgery as well. One of my favorites was a bag with all of the ingredients, except broth, for chicken tortilla soup. All my husband had to do was dump the frozen contents from the bag into our slow cooker, add a carton of chicken broth, and leave it to cook all day.

                              1. Years ago I made my not-very-famous 30lb lasagna. We brought it over and cooked it in their oven while saying "what a beautiful baby" to their newborn over and over. They had a nice hot lasagna meal with close friends and then I individually wrapped each leftover piece in heavy aluminum foil. I've eaten a few 6-8mo old strays out of my freezer and they still tasted great.

                                1. You have some wonderful ideas here already. I would caution you on any food items heavy in beans, cruciferous vegetables, and spicy stuff. That can really wreck havoc on a breasted baby's tummy? (Spoken from the Mom who had to toss out a bunch of breast milk after eating a bowl of my husbands gumbo).

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Coribdx

                                    Ooh, good point. But again always ask. Our older daughter's baby COULD NOT tolerate her eating kale, one of favorites.

                                  2. I am a new mom and am grateful on a weekly basis for the frozen goulash and beef Bourguignon I have in my freezer. It is neatly sectioned into portion sizes, and it makes me happy at least once a week.