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September 10, 2016 10:07 AM   Subscribe

Freezer food before baby arrives - What did you guys make ahead of time that you really enjoyed? What did you wish you'd prepped? What food did people bring you for new-baby time that was much appreciated?

BabyBunny will be arriving any time now. I've been off work on mat-leave for a few days now, and I've kept myself busy with a series of one-day baby-prep projects. One of those has been cooking food/meals to freeze for later.

Going to make borscht today because I have an abundance of the appropriate vegetables. Over the last few weeks we've also made and frozen:
- Quiche
- Beef Burritos, Breakfast Burritos
- Cabbage Rolls
- Lasagna
- Oatmeal Cookie Dough (pre-scooped)
- Scones
- Banana Bread (in mini loaves)
- Chilli
- Stew

But I'm somehow lacking inspiration for more appealing postpartum food ideas, despite browsing on food blogs and the old forums here.

So tell me, looking for what foods YOU really appreciated/enjoyed/wish you'd made in advance of baby's arrival. Thanks!
posted by lizbunny to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
I asked everyone who offered to bring food for fresh vegetables/salad, and the ones who had had babies chuckled knowingly.
posted by teremala at 10:09 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Single-serving, homemade chicken pot pies!
posted by TheCavorter at 10:25 AM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Pulled pork freezes well. Throw a pork shoulder in the crock pot, sauce it up, shred it, and freeze it in good serving sizes. You can do the same with chicken in the crock pot too. Shred it up and sauce it with either bbq sauce or taco seasonings.
posted by hydra77 at 10:33 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

We made and froze thirty-two pounds of lasagne. Then my baby turned out to have colic, and I was advised to try avoiding dairy products in my diet—including the cheeses in the lasagne—to see if he might cry less. It was very inconvenient.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 10:34 AM on September 10, 2016

Postpartum food I've made for others that got good reviews:
-Palak paneer (mild, extra turmeric)
-Gumbo (however you freeze it, keep it thin like in a baggie, because for whatever reason it takes forever to get truly hot all the way through - this is also generally true of chili and stew and curry too) [I use Alton Brown's recipe but I just roast and shred 8 chicken thighs into it instead of shrimp - the oven roux means you can get that done while you do other things, and then it's just assembly and simmering]

(for the above, I laid out half-cup scoops of still-slightly-warm rice on parchment-covered baking sheets, let it cool in the fridge and then move to freezer, then bag two pucks to a sandwich baggie, nested inside gallon ziplocs)

-Breakfast casserol-tatta, with lots of veggies but fine-minced or grated in so it can be picked up and eaten with one hand if necessary without stringy vegetables pulling out if it.
-Oatmeal'n'stuff (same procedure as rice - make it very thick, portion out with a scooper or cup or small bowl, cool and then freeze; add a shot of water or milk when reheating)

Seconding just making and freezing meat in single serving portions - pulled pork or chicken, salsa chicken, plain diced chicken - because you can grab two and turn that into an actual plate meal for adults with a can or box of something on hand, OR if you just need to get some protein in your face it's there and ready.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:41 AM on September 10, 2016

Most-appreciated things other people brought: Chicken pot pie, lasagna, fruits and vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces, cheeses, soups, these granola bars, good beef jerky (which sounds kind of gross, but I cannot believe how much protein I needed while pregnant/nursing, and I didn't have time to prepare meats).

Stuff I thought I would eat but didn't: Anything that required two hands to prepare or eat, because I couldn't set my kid down without her screaming for the first ten weeks. Foods that took a long time to eat but didn't have many calories (e.g., salad), because I was breastfeeding and starved for both calories and time. Any cruciferous vegetables or beans, which made her a gassy monster.

You're awesome for making/storing this stuff ahead of time. We didn't do a lot of it, but I was so glad about the stuff we did have in the freezer. Even the bean- and broccoli-filled stuff I couldn't eat was useful, since we had a ton of visitors and no time to make food for them.
posted by xylothek at 10:53 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Most appreciated food gifts: pasta salad and sandwiches, because they could be eaten cold and contained fresh vegetables. Some days there was no time to even heat something up.

I also had to go dairy-free and wasted my lasagna!
posted by xo at 11:11 AM on September 10, 2016

We froze a bunch of pasta-based dishes which were nice, but not amazing. Good for a quick meal. I went kind of gung-ho on it in the last few weeks of my pregnancy but then honestly ended up not eating them all because I felt so lethargic/sleep deprived that I would just stare at the freezer and not quite be able to get up the energy to microwave anything...

I most appreciated people coming over and bringing whatever I didn't have to think about or choose. Like our friends who just brought a bunch of dishes from the local Thai place to share. I just woke up and there was Thai food. Great.

I would have loved anything fresh, because that's hard to prep ahead of time, and I got so sick of takeout. Some fresh fruit, vegetables already cut up, etc. My husband made a salad the first week and I was so happy eating it. I've never loved him more.
posted by cpatterson at 11:26 AM on September 10, 2016

My parents came by with deli sandwiches a few times. This was awesome.

A small piece of advice - if you're trying to eat things one handed with your non-dominant hand, a spoon is far easier than a fork.

I tested out and then froze freezer-crockpot recipes.
Something I learned: the volume of things going into your crockpot needs to be at least 1/2 of the volume of your crockpot or everything comes out dry and burnt-tasting. Below are three that we liked.

Chicken stew
Sausage and white bean soup

We always added extra veggies, extra garlic, extra onions. Use "baby carrots" because it makes everything insanely easy.

Trader Joe's pre-cooked meatballs with their frozen mashed potatoes and some frozen peas is as close to meatloaf and mashed potatoes as you're going to get with things that go into a microwave.

Having cookies available in all situations where you're sleep-deprived makes life easier.

Good luck over the next weeks and months. Babies are hard and don't be afraid to ask for help. They're also pretty wonderful.
posted by sciencegeek at 11:44 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you're planning to nurse, lactation cookies.
posted by anderjen at 12:09 PM on September 10, 2016

Someone got me a ridiculously huge box of squeezable applesauce pouches that were supposed to be for the baby, but it was the best thing ever for me to eat when nursing. I probably went through 50 in the first month.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 12:10 PM on September 10, 2016

My mum made tea bread which I loved.

Make sure you have a bottle of prune juice on hand.
posted by Ftsqg at 12:24 PM on September 10, 2016

My SIL froze sandwiches for her second child. She could just pull them out to sit on the counter & defrost & then next time she wandered by in a sleep deprivation haze there was a sandwich. Added advantage of being one handed & not needing a real plate or cutlery, if you don't mind a paper plates. Perfect for 1 handed eating. She also froze ready made grilled cheese she just threw them in the "jaffle iron" or in the usa just fry them in a pan, easy to do one handed. & they where ready to eat if she wanted something hot. Here is a good selection
posted by wwax at 12:28 PM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

I still bless the person who brought me a bag of good bagels, cream cheese, smoked salmon and fresh fruit salad.
posted by Cuke at 2:10 PM on September 10, 2016

You might want to have a few vegan/dairy free/gluten free things on hand in case baby has issues.

A friend really liked these sweet potato and kale pockets. Other options: these chickpea and spinach pita pockets, this curried asparagus soup, and these lactation cookies (contain eggs, but you might be able to modify the recipe.) You can freeze smoothies, but green ones get gross and grey. Berry ones are awesome and can be made with protein powder and yogurt for added nutrition.
posted by Tamanna at 3:18 PM on September 10, 2016

I don't remember much about what I ate during the newborn stage. I remember my mom making me a soup I liked and portioning it into individual bowls which I was grateful for but that's about it.) There are lots of great ideas here.

I do remember being desperately thirsty while nursing and wanting to have varied drinks on hand because I'm not a huge fan of plain water. Huge quantities of non-sweetened cranberry juice, iced tea, V-8 and caffeine free carbonated drinks were helpful in those first months.
posted by melissa at 6:29 PM on September 10, 2016

I am envious of all you have done already! Before my little one arrived 9 weeks ago, I made the following:

-Spiced Lentil, Sweet Potato, and Whole Wheat Pockets (which I still haven't eaten since she was born because I keep forgetting I have them)
-Southeast Asian Canned Salmon & Rice Cakes with Sriracha Mayo (which I finally busted out a few nights ago and they were delicious)
-Creamy Spinach and Cheese Green Chile Enchiladas (and my brother brought these frozen Red Quinoa Enchiladas both of which were really good and much appreciated)
-lastly, and most importantly, breakfast burritos! I know you said you've already made some, but I made these and started eating them before the baby arrived, and became addicted. In the weeks since her birth they are a staple for both my husband and me. (I also intended to make some of these egg muffins for variety, but I liked the burritos so much that I just stuck with those.)

In my case, I was lucky in that people brought a ton of stuff in the first two or so weeks after she was born, but when the hubbub died down, all of the casseroles that were in the freezer went pretty quickly. Really, though, I have also ended up cooking quite a bit more than I thought I would in these early weeks, so don't beat yourself up if you don't make every single thing you plan to; you might be able to cook more than you think you will, you just never know.
posted by pitrified at 8:06 PM on September 10, 2016

My baby having friends have all reported being incredibly thirsty regardless of whether they were/are breastfeeding or not. You could make some highly concentrated containers of iced tea (and herbal tisanes, mint is great, there are various fruit ones out there on which opinions vary), lemonade/limeade, cucumber or melon water (just blend it up with some sugar and maybe mint), and any other drink type thing you like. Freeze into ice cubes or in baggies and then plunk it into a pitcher with plain water (or coconut water, which is awesome and easy to find now!) to thaw in the fridge. A big difference from just plain water but you're not drinking soda or powdered drink mixes with weird sugar substitutes.

I once brought over a bunch of this chicken stew which was a huge hit with a new mom:

Chicken thighs, boneless but skin-on cut into bite sized chunks (it's easy to debone chicken thighs if you have a big package of them, especially since you'll be cutting them into chunks anyway.)
Little red potatoes cut into quarters
Green beans trimmed and cut in half
Regular onion diced
A few cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
Two handfuls of large olives, pitted and halved, no overly strong ones but a mix of green and black is nice, or whatever you have
Dried thyme
A little less than half a bottle white wine

Get out your big pot and melt some butter and heat up some olive oil in it. Put your chicken pieces skin-side down and season with salt. If you only have skinless chicken thighs, put some extra butter in there. Brown the pieces until the fat has rendered, but don't worry about cooking through. Scoop them out and set aside.

Toss in your onions, garlic, and some dried thyme (it's strong stuff, just use a little) and let the onions start to cook down. Add the olives, green beans, and potatoes. Season everything with salt and pepper. When the potatoes have begun to brown a bit, deglaze the pan with a couple glugs of wine. Let that simmer off. Put your chicken back in and any juices that accumulated underneath. Add some more wine, and then just enough water (or chicken or veggie broth) to come up to about halfway up all the stuff in the pot. Bring it to a low simmer and let it slow cook.

In about an hour or so (poke things to check!) the chicken should be tender and falling apart, the green beans should be soft but still intact, the potatoes should be very tender. The olives will sort have plumped up but also broken down a bit. The broth won't be overly thick but it should be very flavorful. Season to taste, serve with bread and cheese. Freezes really well.
posted by Mizu at 9:02 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

my sister sent us a deli plate; that was nice and lasted us a few days. A friend (also a MeFite) brought an array of Russian food: borscht, pelmeni, etc. We had made and froze calzones, pierogi, chili, and golubki.
posted by medeine at 10:52 PM on September 10, 2016

The best thing I did for myself was make and freeze LOTS of crêpes. (Julia Child's recipe is foolproof.) They are good plain. They are good with fruit. They are good with savoury stews. (Put a circle of waxed paper between each and freeze in large zip-lock bags.)

("Lactation cookies" are probably delicious but also pretty much BS -- every culture on earth has beliefs about milk-making powers of certain foods, but these are different from culture to culture. I would totally make and freeze cookies just because, well -- cookies, though... Nursing also made me crazy-thirsty so find a low-cal beverage you like and stock up)

When somebody brought something I just wanted those big trays of pre-cut veg with dip or fruit that supermarkets like to overprice; it was very much worth it to buy pre-cut. If I made it out to the store, I went to one with a fantastic salad bar, filled up a container, and bought a bag of pita bread -- scoop stuff from the salad bar container, add mayo or whatever, excellent instant sandwich.

I had intense food cravings during pregnancy and these didn't abate for a while, and unfortunately they were often at odds with some stuff I'd frozen -- don't make too much of any one food; it might not be what you're looking for then no matter how much you've historically enjoyed it.

Also: good beer or a nice liqueur or whatever you like, to have a glass of when it is 4am and the baby has gone back to sleep but you are wide awake. It might not always put you back to sleep, but it can certainly help make you less grumpy about being awake when you do not want to be awake. A thing in the freezer of treats from a good bakery + good beer + good book all ready to go = wayyyy less resentment over being up.
posted by kmennie at 8:30 AM on September 11, 2016

I've never had a baby but I do love stocking things in the freezer, and one of my favorite ways is in muffin form -- sweet muffins, fruitcake-like muffins, flax and bran fiber-y muffins, sorta-weird-mini-frittata egg muffins, etc. Especially good for if you're not sitting down for a full meal, but want to grab something to eat every hour or so. Once they're cool I wrap each one in foil and throw them by the batch in freezer bags, and then pop them individually into the microwave to warm up as needed (after tossing the foil, obviously).

Another thing I really like to freeze is dals and curries. I freeze them in individual-serving containers with a layer of rice on the bottom and the dal or curry on top. Pop in the microwave, and instant hearty meal!
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 11:02 AM on September 11, 2016

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