Here are our tips for making the most of your freezer space, and creating meals and snacks to keep you going while you’re getting used to being a parent.
Don’t just concentrate on dinners
When it comes to preparing meals, you’re probably likely to start by thinking about dinners. While a frozen lasagne or two will never go astray, there are a few good reasons not to focus on your evening meal. For starters, if you’re having a baby with a partner, chances are you’ll have another pair of hands when it comes to getting dinner sorted. If friends and family come to your aid, the food they’re most likely to pop in with are dinners. And, when things just aren’t going to plan, dinner is a meal that can be ordered.
Instead, freeze food for breakfasts, lunches and snacks and don’t forget about snacks that will keep you going at 3am! You might find that while you’re breastfeeding and getting into a daily routine with your baby, that having several smaller meals works for you. Plus, the logistics of eating a meal change once you have a baby. Sitting down to say, a nice bowl of soup, can feel borderline impossible. It’s important that the food you freeze is simple to eat one-handed, especially if you’re preparing food to eat solo during the day.
RECIPE IDEAS: Gogi and coconut bliss balls
Look for easy options
Frozen fruit and veg is an excellent option to have on hand. Consider edamame, corn and oven chips for easy to prepare snacks. Frozen spinach is a great thing to add to a smoothie. And green beans, peas, carrots, corn and brussel sprouts are great to have in the freezer for when you want to complement a meal.
Pay attention to portions
How you freeze is as important as what you freeze. For example, if you’re a fan of smoothies (and something that can be consumed one-handed, through a straw is definitely a good choice) freeze the ingredients for each smoothie in individual resealable bags. Then you just have to transfer them to the blender, add your choice of milk, water or juice, blend and enjoy! Similarly, if you have a crockpot or slow cooker, you can pop the raw ingredients from your favourite recipes into a resealable bag and freeze, ready to add to the pot in the morning.
RECIPE IDEA: Banana breakfast smoothie, three ways
If you have a friend who is also pregnant, or just enjoys meal prep, why not swap some meals? Eating the same thing over and over again isn’t especially appetising. But if you make ten of one thing, and they make ten of another, swap five over! It’s a simple way to get some variety into your freezer.
RECIPE IDEAS: Freezer friendly pumpkin and red lentil soup
Unless you’ve lucky enough to have a chest freezer to stash your goodies in, you’re probably dealing with limited freezer space. Rather than relying solely on containers, consider using resealable bags to freeze some of your meals and snacks. These are great because you can lie them flat to freeze them, taking up less room. The smaller bag sizes also make it simple to freeze food in single portions. When you’re ready to defrost them, you can float the bags in water to speed up the thawing process if you’re not using a microwave.
RECIPE IDEA: Red beef and vegetable curry
Buy a small whiteboard
Grab an A4 sized whiteboard and stick it onto your freezer. This will let you keep a record of what’s in there, and see your options at-a-glance. This will make daily meal planning easier when you’re suffering the effects of sleep deprivation.
Get some advice
While you’re pregnant, have a chat to your GP about what you’ll need in your diet when you’re recovering from the birth and feeding a newborn, and make sure that your food prep takes their recommendations into account.
Breastfeeding new mothers may hear advice around avoiding foods including garlic, onions and broccoli, which are reputed to create gas in a newborn. While it’s a good idea to observe how your baby reacts after you’ve eaten certain foods and adjust accordingly, there are no hard and fast rules about what to avoid. It’s a matter of understanding what works for you and your baby. As always, a balanced nutritious diet is the best approach.
Once you’ve given birth, if you’re at all confused about what you should be eating or whether it could be affecting your baby, talk to your GP or maternal health provider.
RECIPE IDEA: Mushroom ragu with fettucine
Looking for more freezer recipe inspiration? Head over to be.magazine’s food section for the best tasty treats, nutritious ideas and easy recipes.