Prepping for Baby: what's in our freezer?Monday, September 10, 2012
Thanks to all your lovely suggestions on easy/freezer meals, I got promptly to work stocking our freezer and pantry for meals to have on hand when Baby #3 arrives. I figured it would be nice to share, in case anyone else could use some inspiration.
To be honest, it feels awesome to have our freezer full of meals, and I think that I will try to keep meals on hand, even when we are not expecting a baby - the thought of being able to pull something out for an easy meal is SO nice!
I got a lot of ideas online, from friends, and from my mom. I found it easiest to make big batches of dinners and then freeze half right away. For example, last week, I made Pasta e Fagioli soup, and of course, it made a huge batch, especially for Max, the kids and I. So, I immediately put half in a container and put it in the freezer. Done. Easy.
Doubling dinners/meals was so convenient, because then I wasn't in the kitchen all day long making meals to have on hand. I just spent a week or two, putting containers and bags in the freezer, here and there...and then before I realized, I had over 10 meals stocked up! Perfect!
Here is a list of the meals I froze, and links to the recipes I used, with any modifications I may have used. If there is no recipe listed, it is because I used a family recipe/something that I have made numerous time, and will work on sharing those over the next few days, time permitting.
*Breakfast Sausages: I used ground turkey in place of the pork sausage. And rather than frying the patties, I baked them, approx 15 minutes until cooked through.
*Red Beans & Rice: I followed the suggestion for "quick red beans", using canned beans in place of dried, and reducing the liquid amount. We really enjoyed this meal, but had a lot leftover, so I froze the red bean mixture. It will be easy to pull out, thaw, and make rice to go with it.
*Baked Potato Soup: Oh man, this soup was SO good, just putting that out there! I used 2% milk, in place of the half&half, and cut the cheese just a bit. It was still delicious! We topped ours with bacon and extra cheese.
*Pasta e Fagioli Soup: This soup was also SO good! I used ground turkey in place of the beef. I did not add the noodles to the portion of soup that I froze. I figured I would thaw it out, cook the noodles and add them for 5-10 before serving. I was a bit worried about the possibility of them getting overly mushy, if freezing/thawing.
*Meatballs: Recipe from my Grandma Marilyn. I made them "mini" sized and used half in the pasta casserole bake. The other half, I simply froze in a bag. This way, we can add them to a red sauce or a sour cream sauce (for "Swedish Meatballs"), once thawed.
*Pasta Casserole Bake: I used ground turkey instead of the beef (do you see a theme here, haha!), and chose rotini pasta. I used half of the mini meatballs, instead of making a meat sauce. I increased the amount of spaghetti sauce I used (I probably used an entire jar for the 9x13 pan), and did not add the diced tomatoes. For the cheese mixture, I used 3 cups ricotta, 1/2c mozzarella, 1/4c parmesan, salt, pepper and parsley. I layered sauce, pasta, cheese mixture, meatballs, pasta, sauce - and once I take it out to thaw, I will sprinkle additional mozzarella cheese on top before baking.
*Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole: I change the amounts a bit, but otherwise stuck close to the recipe.
*Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken: Simple and easy.
*Chicken Enchiladas: Recipe from my Mama. SO good.
*Bean Burritos: One night we were having bean burritos for dinner, so I made extra and froze them. I made homemade stovetop refried beans, spread the beans on tortillas, sprinkled with cheese, wrapped them up, and froze them. Will be easy to pull them out, heat and eat!
*Pizza & Edamame: Obviously, I did not make these, but got them to have on hand. We LOVE edamame (L goes NUTS for them!), so figured it was an easy side to pull out. And the pizza? More for when we need something super easy, or when it's just Max putting dinner together :)
Although I know that I will most likely be the one to assemble most of the meals, I put instructions on each bag/container. This way, if it's Max or friends/family, they can pull out a bag, know what to heat the food at, and if it usually is served with something that also needs to be made. I figured that would help take the guessing out of what was going on.
The main websites that I used to get ideas for freezer meals:
Mama and Baby Love - had some great freezer crockpot meal ideas
Ring Around the Rosies - another one with great freezer meal ideas
Now that our freezer is stocked, baby can come SOON, right?! This mama can hope...