How I Tackled Pre-Baby Freezer Meals and How You Can, Too!

About a month before our baby boy arrived, we decided it would be a good idea to stock our freezer with meals and snacks! I’ve heard this is a smart move because the last thing you want to worry about is cooking while you’re adjusting to life with a newborn. My husband and I sat down together to discuss our plan of attack! First, we came up with criteria that these freezer foods would need to meet:

  • Variety of Options – We wanted to be sure we had food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks!
  • Use ingredients we have on hand – In order to save money, we kept our pantry and contents of our fridge/freezer in mind when picking out the recipes. Honestly, a lot of the recipes we chose include ingredients that most families will have on hand! They can also be easily adjusted and customized.
  • Easy to Heat – We wanted them all to be microwave or oven ready straight from the freezer with no thawing required.
  • Portable/Convenient – Sometimes my husband and I will just need an easy grab and go snack or meal!
  • Versatile/Flexible – We wanted a couple of items that we could use for different purposes, so we weren’t stuck eating a ton of the same meal.
  • Space Saving – We don’t have a chest freezer and the freezer that is above our fridge isn’t very big. We needed to be sure the items we were freezing would all fit!
  • Tasty – Of course everything had to be delicious!
  • Healthy – Not all of the items we ended up making were 100% healthy, but thanks to me, we did make healthy options for a couple of items! Any way you look at it, the meals and snacks we made are better than takeout or chips.

From that foundation, we decided on the following items:

Our next step was to build a grocery list! We already had some of what we needed, but it was lengthy. Still, our bills for the food ended up totaling less than $100. Not too bad! We also had to stock up on enough supplies to store all of the prepared food! Here’s what we ended up needing:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Parchment paper
  • 6 disposable casserole dishes (9 inches x 6.5 inches)
    • These come in three packs at the dollar store.
  • Plastic wrap
    • TIP: Invest in a giant roll of plastic wrap from Gordons if you have the space! It seriously lasts forever and is so much easier to use than the smaller rolls. I’ve had mine for two years now, and it still has so much left!
  • 6 small plastic containers
    • Kroger sells affordable 9.5 oz plastic containers that work great!
  • 3 medium sized plastic containers
  • 1 package gallon sized zipper bags
    • I love Ikea’s plastic zipper bags!
  • 1 package sandwich sized zipper bags
    • Dollar store ones are perfect or use what you have already.

We then put aside a whole day where we could be dedicated to making everything! For each item we made, I documented the ingredients needed, directions for prep, and directions for cooking so that you can fill your freezer, too! I also made notes of ingredients that you can change or substitute. Fair warning: I tried to give exact measurements, but I usually end up just throwing ingredients together. Don’t be afraid to add your own twist to any of these.

Pepperoni Pizza Rolls

These make a great, portable snack by themselves or dipped in some pizza sauce! Add a salad and make them component to you lunch or dinner!

What you’ll need:

1 package of pepperoni

1 – 8 oz bag of shredded mozzarella

1 batch homemade or pre-made pizza dough

Large zipper bags

Variations:

Use regular, turkey, or vegetarian pepperoni. You can even omit the pepperoni altogether and just add extra cheese!

What You'll Need for Pizza Breadsticks

Directions for Prep:

Pre-heat oven to 450°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. To make the rolls, pull off a small piece of dough and flatten into a rectangular shape in the size of your choice. These ones are about 4 inches long, which is perfect for snacking! Add 4-5 pepperonis and a large pinch of cheese.

Pepperoni Pizza Rolls Prep

Seal the roll closed and pinch the ends to keep cheese from oozing out! Place each roll seal side down onto the parchment paper about one inch apart.

Pre-Baked Pizza Rolls

Bake at 450°F for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown! Keep an eye on the bottom to make sure that they don’t burn.

Baked Pizza Rolls

Let cool and pack into large zipper bags. Label and date the baggies! Of course, my husband did not want turkey pepperoni, so I had to make separate pork pepperoni ones for him! After we tested a few we froze a total of 21 pizza rolls.

Bagged PIzza Rolls

Directions to Re-Heat:

These pizza rolls can be put into the microwave straight from the freezer! Heat for about one minute or until warm.

Vegetarian with Whole Wheat Tortillas and Chorizo with Flour Tortillas

Breakfast burritos are an easy, portable breakfast that can be made with your favorite ingredients!

What you’ll need:

1 dozen eggs

1 – 8oz bag shredded colby jack cheese

1 package flour tortillas

1 package whole wheat tortillas

3 potatoes

Olive oil

3 vegetarian sausage patties

1 pound chorizo

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Salt and pepper

Plastic wrap

Large zipper bags

Variations:

Build off the base of egg, cheese, and potato and choose any meat (bacon or ham would be good option)! Hubby and I both like different fillings and tortillas, so we ended up making two different varieties: vegetarian sausage with whole wheat tortillas and chorizo with flour tortillas.  Note: If you do decide to make just one kind, you’ll need a total of 12 tortillas, which will probably still be two packages.

What You'll Need for Breakfast Burritos

Directions for Prep:

Peel and chop potatoes into cubes. Toss in about 3 tablespoons olive oil and salt/pepper to taste. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and arrange potatoes on it. Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes or until crispy.

Cook chorizo over medium heat until done. Drain grease. Microwave vegetarian sausage according to package directions and chop into small pieces.

Scramble a dozen eggs to your preference!

Microwave tortillas for about 30 seconds to make more pliable.

Add spoonfuls of each ingredient onto the tortillas! Be sure to leave some room so that they can be easily rolled.

Vegetarian Burrito Prep

Chorizo Burrito Prep

Wrap each burrito tightly in plastic wrap!

Wrapped Burritos

Store in a large zipper bag. Label and date!

Prepped Burritos

Directions to Re-Heat:

Unwrap frozen burrito from plastic and wrap loosely in a paper towel. Place in microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until hot and thawed!

Baked Ziti with Meatballs

Baked Ziti is one of the best meals to freeze!

What you’ll need:

1 – 8 oz bag mozzarella cheese

1 can Italian style diced tomatoes

1 jar pasta sauce

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Half a bag of frozen meatballs

1 – 15 oz container of ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons chopped curly leaf parsley

1 egg

Salt and pepper

Non-stick cooking spray

3 small disposable casserole dishes

Parchment paper

Aluminum foil

Variations:

We had a half of a bag of meatballs in our freezer, so we decided to use them up in this dish, but you could also use cooked ground sausage or beef. Another option is to omit the meat altogether to make it a yummy vegetarian dish!

What You'll Need for Baked Ziti

Directions for Prep:

Heat meatballs according to package directions and chop in quarters.

Boil noodles until al dente! Rise, drain, and place in a large bowl. Mix with the jar of pasta sauce, can of Italian tomatoes, meatballs, and about a 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese.

In a separate bowl combine ricotta cheese, egg, parsley, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.

Noodles and Cheese

Coat three casserole pans with non-stick cooking spray. Fill casserole pans halfway with noodle mixture, followed by a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese. Then, divide the ricotta mixture into thirds and spread over the cheese. Top each with remaining noodle mixture and finish with a layer of mozzarella cheese!

Ziti Prep

Ziti Topped with Cheese

Place a piece of parchment paper over the cheese and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Label and date the dish!

Packaged Ziti

Directions for Cooking:

Place covered casserole straight from freezer into a 375°F degree oven. Bake for an hour, remove foil, and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until hot. You can also broil the top to get a nice crust on the cheese!

Broccoli, Cheddar, Chicken and Rice Casserole

This casserole is a great light dish with protein, dairy, and veggies!

What You'll Need for Broccoli Chicken Casserole

What You’ll Need:

1 cup rice

1 tablespoon butter

2 cups water

1/2 – 12 oz bag frozen chopped broccoli

1 pound chicken breasts or tenderloins

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can cream of chicken soup

Milk (enough to fill a soup can)

Salt and pepper

Non-stick cooking spray

3 small casserole dishes

Parchment paper

Aluminum foil

Variations:

Add in some different frozen veggies of your choice, like peas or carrots. You can even sautée some onions with fresh veggies! To make it vegetarian, omit chicken and add extra veggies or use soy chicken! Also, use 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup instead of cream of chicken.

Directions for Prep:

Add 1 cup of rice, 2 cups of water, half of a bag of chopped frozen broccoli, and 1 tablespoon of butter to your rice cooker. If you don’t have a rice cooker, make rice and broccoli on the stove in a medium sized pot! Cook chicken and chop into bite sized pieced.

In a large bowl, combine cooked rice and broccoli, cooked chicken, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, one soup can of milk, and about 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Mix well and add salt and pepper to taste.

Spray 3 casserole pans with non-stick cooking spray and divide rice mixture between them. Top with shredded cheese.

Prepped Casserole

Add a layer of parchment paper to the top of the casserole and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Label and date the casseroles!

Packaged Casserole

Directions for Cooking:

Place covered casserole straight from freezer into a 375°F degree oven. Bake for an hour, remove foil, and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until hot! You can also broil the top to get a nice crust on the cheese!

Smoothie Packs

Smoothies are one of my favorite healthy snacks, especially in spring and summer! They are great to have pre-packaged so that they can be easily added to the blender with some juice for an instant boost.

What you’ll need:

6 banannas

1 bunch or bag of spinach

3 bags frozen fruit of your choice (TIP: The Dollar Tree sells frozen fruit!)

11 sandwich size zipper bags

1 large zipper bag

Variations:

Chop up some fresh fruit to add if it is in season! Pineapple and mango are both delicious in smoothies.

What You'll Need for Smoothie Packs

Directions for Prep:

Start by organizing and prepping your ingredients to make the process go as smoothly (pun intended) as possible! Empty your bags of frozen fruit into a large bowl. Peel and slice the bananas in half and rinse the spinach. Place them both in separate bowls.

Smoothie Pack Assembly

Next, grab your zipper baggies and make this an assembly line process! Stat by adding a small handful of spinach to 11 bags. Then, add a large spoonful of frozen fruit to each bag, followed by half of a banana. In the end, if you have leftover ingredients, you can always put together more! I ended up with 11 bags exactly, with the frozen fruit being my limiting ingredient.

Smoothie Packs

Seal all of the bags tightly with as little air as possible in each one. Stuff them into a large zipper bag. Date and label it! This bag of smoothie packs fit perfectly into the door of my freezer!

Completed Smoothie Packs

Directions to Make:

Empty contents of one sandwich zipper bag into a blender with about one cup of juice (any flavor). A can of Peach Mango V8 Fusion Energy is my favorite juice to add! Add chia seeds, protein powder, or yogurt, if you want! Blend until smooth. Splash in some extra juice if it is too thick.

Bean and Cheese, Pork, and Chicken Tamales

Tamales are delicious and freeze so well! Trust me, don’t be scared to make them! I just follow the directions on the masa package and they always turn out delicious. Plus, they are fun to put together! I promise that you will not be sorry!

What you’ll need:

2 packages of corn husks

2 pounds pork shoulder

Seasoning

1 rotisserie chicken

1 can verde enchilada sauce

1 cup cooked black beans

1 -8 oz. bag shredded cheddar cheese

Masa

Shortening

Water or chicken broth

Baking powder

Salt

Large zipper bags

Variations:

Play with ideas for fillings! Try beef, if that’s more your style. Add different seasonings to the meat of your choice like chili powder, taco seasoning, soul food seasoning, cilantro, hot sauce, or garlic powder. Adding only cheese is a great option, too. I bet cheese and chopped bell pepper would also make a yummy vegetarian option!

Corn Husks and Masa

Directions for Prep:

Soak the corn husks in a large bowl for about an hour. Put something heavy over the top of them so they are fully submerged. This will make them soft and easy to work with!

Prepare fillings! For ours, we did three kinds: pork, chicken, and black bean with cheese. We had about 2 pounds of pork shoulder in the freezer from a sale, so we stuck that in the slow cooker on high for about 5 hours with some soul food seasoning. When it was done, we shredded it and added some additional spices! We purchased a rotisserie chicken, de-boned it, shredded it, and tossed it with a can of verde enchilada sauce. I love using rotisserie chicken because it is easy and they are super juicy, but you can cook your own if you want! I also had some leftover black beans that I cooked up for the bean and rice packs (next freezer item), so I used those and some shredded cheddar.

Prepare the masa according to the package directions. The brand I purchased called for 1 1/3 cups chicken broth or water, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2/3 cup of shortening. You’ll probably want to double the recipe to make sure you have enough! It goes quick!

What You'll Need for Tamales

Assemble your tamales! Start with a large corn husk and pat dry. Spread a layer of masa onto the husk, leaving some room on the top, bottom, and sides. Add the filling of your choice to the center of the masa, again leaving room on the top, bottom, and sides. There are a lot of different folding methods for tamales. I like to roll them and tie both ends with a strip of corn husk.

One all of you tamales are assembled, they will need to be steamed! Use a large pot with a tight fitting lid and a colander that fits inside of it. Add enough water to the bottom of the pot so that it doesn’t reach the colander. Stack the tamales in the colander and cover with the lid! Place on stove and turn burner on medium. Once the water begins to boil, they will need to steam for an hour. Check the water every 15 minutes and re-fill as needed.

Tamales

Directions to Re-Heat:

Microwave straight from the freezer for 1-2 minutes or until hot!

Spanish Rice and Beans

This is something I almost always have in my freezer! Kroger sells small, affordable 9.5 oz plastic containers that hold the perfect amount of rice and beans for a burrito, nachos, or a taco salad. They heat up easily and can be used for a lot of different meals! You can even serve with some tamales for a complete simple meal from straight the freezer.

What You’ll Need:

1 batch of homemade Spanish rice

2 cups or cans cooked black beans

6 small plastic containers

Spanish Rice

Variations:

Use your favorite beans! Pinto or kidney would work just as well! Also, if you don’t want Spanish rice, try white rice tossed with lime juice and cilantro.

Directions for Prep:

Place a large spoonful of rice in each container and top with a couple of small spoonfuls of beans. Below is a picture of what they look like already frozen!

Frozen Beans and Rice Covered

Directions to Re-Heat:

Place container partially covered into the microwave straight from the freezer for about 2 minutes or until hot! Use for the meal of your choice.

BONUS: Split Pea Soup

The day after all of our freezer meal prep, my husband made up a huge pot of split pea soup and we were able to fit 3 containers of it in the freezer! Each one will be a meal for the two of us, so it turned out perfectly. I didn’t document his process, but the recipe is below. Its warm, smokey, and super comforting! You can try it if you have a little room left in your freezer or make a double batch of your favorite soup for dinner. Add whatever is left to your freezer stash for a fast and cozy post-baby meal. Soup freezes really well!

What you’ll need:

1 box long grain and wild rice (ex: Uncle Ben’s)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

4 carrots, chopped

4 stalks celery, chopped

1 pound dried split peas

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon sage

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 ham hocks or pork neck bones

10 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Dash of Tabasco

3 medium sized plastic containers

Variations:

Feel free to mix up the seasonings on this recipe! Also, you can use water and bullion cubes if you don’t have broth.

Directions for prep:

Prepare box of long grain and wild rice according to package directions.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and add the onions, carrots, and celery. Cook over medium heat until onion is translucent.

Add peas, seasonings, and broth to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to low heat, and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, giving it an occasional stir.

Mix in rice, lemon juice, and Tabasco. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until it reaches a thickness that you like!

Divide into medium sized containers and freeze!

Directions to re-heat:

Place container partially covered into the microwave straight from the freezer for 2-3 minutes, or until thawed.

 

Our Final Stash:

At the end of the day, this is what we ended up having prepped for our freezer (minus a few tamales…well, maybe more than a few)!

Final Freezer Stash

It all fit comfortably in our small freezer with room for other items, as well! I was still able to stock up on butter since there was a good sale!

Freezer

Freezer Door

I hope this gave you some inspiration and direction for your pre-baby freezer foods! Let me know what you made!

2 comments on “How I Tackled Pre-Baby Freezer Meals (and How You Can, too!)”

  1. We did some meal prep like this as well before our kiddo came and it was sooooo worth it! I love some of the ideas you have listed here. 🙂

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