I’m less than a week away from the birth of our new baby….coupled with the overwhelming excitement and anxiousnesses, there is the slightly compulsive nesting. And by nesting I mean organizing, cleaning, list making (lots of list making), and cooking. I joked to a friend the other day it’s as if I’m preparing for the world to end, all grocery stores to close and a shortage of food to ensue. The pantry is stocked, the fridge is stuffed, and the freezer is jam-packed with meals. I remember how little I wanted to cook after Audrey was born and I can’t imagine things will be different this time around. In fact, the thought of it sounds downright unappealing – at least during the adjustment/haze period. So what’s a chef who prides herself on feeding her family well to do? My best answer: make huge quantities of my favorite freezer-friendly foods. And though I know there will be many a day/night where my husband cooks or we order in (god bless NYC), there is a comfort in knowing we can easily pull something out of the freezer and enjoy a delicious & homemade meal within minutes and with pure ease.
Whether you’re just looking for a recipe list of freezer-friendly foods, want ideas on how to plan ahead, or are preparing for baby #1 or #20, this lineup of what I’ve prepped (and plan to prep over the next few days) will no doubt leave you in a good place to always have a meal on hand – be it breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack…
For the best defrosting, place food item in fridge the night before. Otherwise pop in the microwave.
- Oatmeal: See here for my tips on freezing into portion sizes.
- Pancakes: I freeze pancakes laid out on a plate or sheet pan not touching – once frozen add all pancakes to a large ziploc bag and pull one or two out as needed.
- Muffins: I’ve yet to eat a muffin that didn’t freeze well.
- Smoothies: In small freezer-safe ziploc bags, add portioned out and pre-cut fruits and vegetables – when ready, just add to a blender with liquid and go.
- Oat cookies: These 4 ingredient breakfast “cookies” are made in a flash and defrost just as quick.
- Bolognese sauce with pasta: Make a big batch using ground turkey, chicken or beef. I made a triple batch and froze some with the pasta mixed in and some sauce on its own – just add fresh cooked pasta the day of.
- Butternut squash mac n’ cheese: Make in muffin cups for individual kid-sized servings or make a large dish to feed an entire family. I made 2 lbs., cooked it in a huge pan and then divided it into 4 freezer-safe tupperware containers.
- Vegetable lasagna: This one is a no-brainer.
- Soup: This lentil soup is hearty and filling. Plus, it freezes well. Just pull out of the freezer the night before, add to a pot on the stove and you have a complete meal in no time at all.
- Meatloaf: Make mini-versions in individual muffin cups, make in mini-loaf pans (as I did) or just make one big loaf. Either way, just add a quick veg and you have a complete meal.
- Meatballs in sauce: Use this recipe for turkey and kale meatballs (I used ground chicken this time around) and add to a big batch of homemade tomato sauce.
- Vegetable Mashes: Whether cauliflower, squash or sweet potato, vegetable mashes freeze beautifully. I even took recently made roasted sweet potatoes and apples, pureed them and froze in these individual containers. Just pull a few out and you have an easy side dish for a toddler – add more and you have an easy side dish for you as well.