I get ready for almost any activity or event by making food or thinking about food. I'm a huge fan of food, nutrition and meals done together! Food heals, nourishes and comforts and I've seen a huge difference between a well-fed mama and a mama struggling to feed herself in a lot of my own postpartum clients and myself. With my background in food and nutrition, I know that food after birth is IMPORTANT and it's something we can control and prepare ahead of time when that crazy nesting-urge kicks into high gear!
So, what do I do when I'm coming into the final stretch of my own pregnancy...MAKE A TON OF FOOD! I organized some favorite, simple recipes, collected all of the food and then called my mom over for the day to cook!
First, I made a list of recipes that I wanted to have on hand when babe comes. As a nursing mama, the most important food for me to have ready is a hearty snack/breakfast that I can eat easily with one hand...MUFFINS. Muffins are magic because they freeze well, you can squeeze whatever you want into them to give them extra protein or other goodness and you can eat them in small quantities as you need them. Here are the 3 muffin recipes I chose!
Morning Glory Muffins (I added 2Tbsp ground flaxseed to the mixture and sprinkled hemp-hearts on top for some extra goodness)
Easy Blueberry Muffins (because sometimes you just need something yummy!!)
Healthy Pumpkin Muffins (the oatmeal in this is great for breastfeeding, plus I added some extra walnuts for protein)
Next, I decided which meals I'd want postpartum taking into account what would be nourishing and yummy plus things that my family would actually want to eat! I like having hearty, filling meals on hand that I can squeeze extra veggies into. Most freezer meals will provide two dinners for my family but I also like having smaller dinners that are a little quicker to cook (calzones). With that criteria, I came up with these meals to prepare:
Instant Pot Chicken Wild Rice Soup - I made two batches of this because the prep is super easy. I made sure to print out two copies of the directions so I'd know what to add on dinner-day (there is some milk and cornstarch to put in once everything is cooked)
Spinach Lasagna - I also made two batches of this because it was super easy to prepare and is packed with iron-rich spinach! The NO-cook noodles make this so simple!
White Chicken Chili - I love making chili ahead of time because you can add so many goodies on dinner-day to switch it up if you need to. With it, I also froze cheese and tortillas so it'd be all together when we want it!
Meat Calzones - I used the dough from this recipe to make these calzones as well as the sweet potato calzones listed below. Once cooked and cooled, I froze them in batches of 5 to make it easier to pull out for dinners or lunches. This recipe made my family 3 dinners.
Lentil, Sweet Potato + Kale Calzones - This one might not be a kid-favorite but I'm sure excited about them. I picture eating them for a yummy, warm and hearty lunch filled with protein, iron and fiber! Again, I used the dough from the meat calzones above.
Cheesy Enchilada Casserole - Can you even have a baby and not have enchilada casserole on hand?? This is one of my favorite dinners to make families when they bring home a new baby. It's cheesy and so delicious!
A couple tips when embarking on "project-fill-freezer" that my mom and I discovered:
1) Make 2 grocery lists. One for Costco or a bulk-store and one for your normal grocery store. I'll post it in this link, but we saved a lot of money by going through our recipes and finding what we could buy in bulk for all of these meals (onions, chicken stock, chicken, beef, tin pans...).
Here is my grocery list that I planned out...
2) Print out all of your recipes and know what you can double up on preparing. For example, we cooked all of the onion and ground beef at the same time and then split up the mixture between the calzones and enchilada casseroles.
3) Once you have all of your food and prep items (aluminum pans, ziplock bags and tinfoil), lay it all out in a separate spot in your kitchen. My mom and I kind of dumped everything on my kitchen table and then used my counter spaces for prep. It was so much easier and quicker to just go to the table and get what you needed instead of searching through cupboards 100 times for Cumin!
4) Split up recipes to prep so you aren't trying to use the oven for all your meals at once. We baked all the muffins and then calzones while we were preparing everything else. It's good to have a variety of meals to cook ahead of time as well as dump-and-freeze meals.
5) Invite someone fun to help you with all of your cooking and prep. This whole process (minus the shopping) took my mom and I about 4 1/2 hours. We had all the coffee and chatted about just about everything!! We had so much fun together and felt so accomplished when everything was piled up and tidy in the freezer! We even let ourselves indulge in some of the calzones for lunch...DELICIOUS!
Have so much fun cooking mamas!!! You seriously will never regret having extra meals stocked away for when baby comes. Let me know if you have any questions or any other recipes that might be good to add to our menu!