Our little bundle of joy, Mila Sofia, officially arrived on June 22nd, and we are so incredibly in love. We knew that parenting life would be a big transition, but man, those first two weeks can be brutal. Trying to navigate breastfeeding, still recovering from delivery, and not getting more than 3 hours of sleep in one sitting – it is rough. Huge shout out to all the moms and dads out there! Let’s talk about one thing that saved us during those early postpartum days: Freezer Friendly Recipes!
Having a well stocked freezer full of easy meals allowed us to have healthier home cooked meals without much effort, saving us both time and money. Luckily, thanks to Covid – Marcelo had some extra time to help prep some freezer friendly recipes in the weeks leading up to her due date. We wanted to share a roundup of the specific recipes we stocked up on! These are definitely helpful for anyone else that’s currently expecting, but are also great for any busy families, or single folks too, that want to have some quick meals on hand that don’t require any prep.
HOW TO APPROACH FREEZER MEAL PREP
So many of the freezer prep lists we saw online featured mostly Instapot or crockpot meals, which can be tasty, but wasn’t really what we were looking for. Don’t get us wrong, we love our Instapot, but we use it more for soups/stews and prepping rice/grains/beans. Considering Mila’s due date being mid-July in the Texas heat, we didn’t what to stock our freezer full of heavy soups and stews. Had her due date been in January, we probably would have done this differently. A lot of these freezer friendly recipes require more effort/work up front, so don’t plan to try to make ALL of these meals in one afternoon. The best way we found to approach freezer meals is to make these dishes for a meal NOW but double or triple the recipe and freeze the extras.
TIPS ON FREEZING MEALS:
- We don’t love using plastics, BUT we have to admit these containers, which you can get at Sam’s Club, are super convenient for freezer meals. For some of the casserole type dishes, foil containers work great too.
- For things like the meatballs or empanadas, we freeze them on a baking sheet overnight and then transfer to large zip lock bags. Freezing them on the baking sheet first prevents them from all sticking together in the bag.
- Label, Label, Label! There is nothing worse than finding a random container in your freezer and having NO idea how old it is or what’s in it. We use a sharpie and write directly on the zip locks or containers the date and contents. You can also write on scotch tape if you are using glass containers.
- Finally, we do have a deep freezer in our garage, which I highly recommend if you are expecting. It’s much easier to organize your food items, PLUS you’ll have extra space to store breast milk, if you plan on going that route. Breast milk also lasts longer in a deep freezer, so another plus there. We have this one which we purchased a couple years ago at Nebraska Furniture Mart.
WHAT WE PREPPED:
We almost always have a freezer stash of these bad boys, but we made sure to overstock on them prior to baby. They definitely require a lot of prep work, but they are delicious! We place them frozen onto a baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes until they get a nice golden brown color. We usually pair them with a big salad for a quick lunch or dinner. You can also get creative with different fillings – they are great with chicken too!
These breaded and pan fried chicken cutlets are very common in Argentina. They are frequently used in sandwiches. We pound the chicken breasts thinly and pat with the breadcrumbs, herbs, and garlic and then freeze on a sheet pan or tray until frozen. Then they can be stored in a ziplock or other container of your choice. To prepare, simply heat up some canola or other oil with a high smoke point and pan fry until nicely golden brown. We frequently serve ours with a Caesar salad and some roasted potatoes.
These meatballs might be the most versatile items in our freezer! If you have a jar of your favorite pasta sauce and some dried pasta, you’ve got a delicious, comforting meal. But beyond the basic spaghetti and meatballs, the meatballs are great to add into soups (like Italian Wedding Soup). We often just bake a few at a time for a quick appetizer or snack. Freeze on a sheet pan and then add into a ziplock.
This is a hearty meat sauce that takes several hours to cook, but makes a large batch. It’s perfect to freeze in small portions and defrost when you want a quick pasta dinner. Top over your favorite pasta with some fresh herbs and parmesan cheese for a super simple dinner.
Taking a break from the Italian meals with this turkey chili. It’s a more low carb option to all the pasta dishes. Soups and stews are always great freezer options. Just defrost and top with your favorite chili toppings like green onions, sour cream, cheese, or tortilla chips.
Pizza might be our favorite meal, especially with our Ooni pizza oven which makes pizza making a snap. With many stores stocking fresh pizza dough now, having some pizza sauce in the freezer makes a quick weeknight pizza an option. We always love a basic margherita with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. Both Trader Joes and Central Market have ready made fresh pizza dough on hand.
Another non-Italian freezer option, this casserole is an alternative to a lasagna. It’s made with a mix of ground lamb and beef patties called kaftas and topped with tomatoes and potatoes baked in a spiced tomato sauce. Bake in a disposable foil casserole pan. Once cooled, cover with foil and freeze. Bake at 375F for about 1 hour to re-heat, or until bubbling, similar to a lasagna.
We love pulled pork for a great protein that can be used in multiple ways. This green chile pulled pork is an alternative to traditional BBQ pulled pork. It’s great to just throw on some Hawaiian rolls to make sliders, but also great for salads or bowls.
The gnocchi are perfect to pair with that bolognese sauce! They also are equally delicious with simple sauces like pesto or a brown butter sauce. They freeze very well and are quick to boil, making for an easy dinner option.
Similar to the empanadas, these pies are a great healthy snack to simply pop into the oven to enjoy just one. We’ve also baked several at a time to enjoy with a couscous salad for a vegetarian meal!
These are just a quick list of freezer friendly options! If you are expecting, I highly recommend picking a few recipes and making them ahead of your due date. Having a few handy meals set aside is SO incredibly helpful those first few weeks postpartum when you are still recovering and sleep deprived.
Article originally published at the migoni kitchen on July 13, 2020.
Blog Author: Summer Migoni-PA