One of the best blessings after G was born was having a group of friends who took turns bringing us dinner. For about 5 weeks we didn’t have to worry about at least one dinner and I had things to eat and snack on the rest of the week. This wasn’t just helpful because I was exhausted most of the time, but because I was struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety and just didn’t want to make decisions about what to eat.
When I found out we were expecting L, I knew that friends bringing meals was not going to happen. I didn’t even think my friends would visit since we moved at least 1.5 hours away from them. I knew I needed to be prepared for the beginning when Mr Boots returned to work and I found myself not wanting or not having time to make dinner. So during my second trimester, I started looking into freeze-ahead meals and experimenting with freezing leftovers for another day.
A couple of weeks before L was born I bought what I needed to start stockpiling food. I think this was my form of nesting because I became slightly obsessed. Knowing I couldn’t be dependent on anyone to feed us made food a higher priority than cleaning and organizing. I was pinning recipes from Pinterest every night. We also had to buy a separate freezer as there was no room in our fridge. (Little did we know our fridge would break a couple of months later so the extra freezer was a lifesaver.) At one of our birthing classes, Mr Boots hinted that if he was in charge of dinners for a while, Chipotle was going to be eaten a lot. After doing the math I realized we could buy a freezer for at least as much as eating there (or anywhere, for that matter) for two weeks. Plus, I wanted more room for frozen breast milk.
Mr Boots thought I was going overboard with my prep work. The Sunday before L was born I asked him to brown 2lbs of meat for chili (the smell of browning meat makes me gag, and it’s worse when I’m pregnant). I didn’t need to be doubling recipes he said. We had plenty of time before the baby arrived he said. I told him if I didn’t start now we wouldn’t have extra food when the baby arrived.
My water broke two days later.
If I’d had those three extra weeks I would have prepped more meals. I wanted enough for at least a month of dinners. I managed to prep enough for about two weeks worth since L was early. We did have a couple of people bring food for us, so I was able to stretch what I had for about a month.
Lemme tell you, it made all the difference! Some of these meals simply involved putting ingredients into a freezer bag, freezing it, thawing overnight and dumping everything into the slow cooker. Some of them I cooked ahead of time, doubling the recipe so I could freeze the leftovers and reheat them on the stove later on. So easy! I loved not having to think too hard about what we’d eat for dinner every night or how I was going to accomplish making it with a toddler and a newborn demanding my attention.
Most of these freeze-ahead meals have actually become part of my monthly dinner rotation:
- Chicken Taco Chili
- Black Bean Chicken (FYI, this one seemed bland to me so I added a small can of green chilies)
- Chili (from a mix)
- White Chili (from a mix)
- Honey Rosemary Chicken
- Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Chicken Pot Pie Turnovers (I froze the chicken and vegetables then assembled the turnovers when I was ready to eat them)
- Quinoa Chili
I also browned up a pound of ground chicken (plain) to have on hand and cooked a pork tenderloin with taco seasoning and froze both we’d have meat for tacos.
I began stock-piling sides to go with these meals (tortilla chips, taco kits, frozen vegetables). I was lucky enough to feel up to go grocery shopping the week after L was born so I was able to get the fresh produce (like avocados and lettuce for salads) that I like eating with some of these meals myself, though I know Mr Boots would have done it if I wasn’t up for it.
Did you meal prep while you were pregnant? What is the best meal you prepped — or received?