Veteran moms will tell you – if it weren’t for the kindness of family and friends, for the first few months of their precious newborn’s life their family subsisted on TV dinners and take out. Between nursing every few hours to napping and changing diapers, who has time to pull together a fresh and hearty meal that’s also healthy?
Some of the best advice we can offer to moms-to-be (other than to stay hydrated) is to spend your last month and a half preparing freezer meals that are simple and require little more prep than popping in a preheated oven and serving.
Here are a few of our favourite freezer meals for new moms:
Nothing says homemade like the flaky crust, rich sauce, and tender veggies in a pot pie. As far as freezer meals go, this is a good one.
If using chicken, pork, beef, or any other meat, cook until heated through and set aside.
Next, heat a tsp of olive oil in a pot over medium heat and combine your vegetables (onion, carrots, peas, celery, etc). Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until tender.
In the meantime, shred or chop the cooked meat into bite-sized pieces. Once the vegetables are cooked, transfer them to the bowl with the meat and set aside.
Over medium heat, melt 4 tbsp butter, and stir in 1/2 cup all purpose flour. Cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Slowly whisk in 2 cups of broth (your preference) and 1 cup of milk, bring to a simmer and stir occasionally until sauce thickens, making sure the bottom does not burn. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and stir the cooked meat and vegetables into the sauce. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate until chilled.
Storing: Once this mixture is ready, you can either freeze as-is in an air-tight container or assemble your pie and store by wrapping in two layers of plastic wrap and one layer of foil before freezing. These will last up to two months.
Baking: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400. Unwrap your pie and arrange on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush crust with beaten egg, cover with foil, and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until crusts turn golden brown, about another 35 minutes.
Super time savers: Substitute pre-cooked, packaged meats for fresh and use store-bought pie crusts to shave a few minutes off prep.
Italians know a thing or two about comfort food, and the layers of rich sauce, buttery noodles, and ooey, gooey cheese that characterize lasagna are no exception. It’s one of those freezer meals that are better pre-made as opposed to prepared fresh.
Whether you go all veggie or include meat, this is as simple as dusting off your favourite lasagna recipe and preparing as normal.
Storing: Once complete, cover with two layers of plastic wrap and a layer of foil before freezing.
Baking: Preheat oven to 350. Let lasagna thaw and cook for an hour, or cook from frozen for an hour and a half to two hours.
Super savers: Don’t bother cooking your noodles in advance, either used pre-cooked noodles or add extra water to the sauce so the noodles cook while baking. Mangia, mangia!
Another hearty homemade dish that can be packed with healthy flavour, whatever your pleasure, soup is fast, fresh, and ready within minutes. Serve with crusty bread smeared with butter and this is one of those freezer meals that provides pure comfort.
Have a favourite soup recipe or one you’ve been dying to try out? Now’s the time! Prep depends on time of year and produce available, but you can never go wrong with simple chicken noodle soup, although we’re also big fans of upping your veggie intake with creamy butternut squash and broccoli cheese.
Easy Storage Tip: Freeze your soups flat in Ziploc bags for easy stacking and storage.