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My favorite thing to talk about on this blog is the absolute necessity of planning for postpartum. And let's be honest, there's no plan more important than a food plan, amiright?! Momma needs to EAT. And also feed her people without doing anything to make that happen. So, if you've got a live-in chef, feel free to skip this one (husbands don't count, sorry. New babies oddly enough require at least two full-time staff.) Otherwise, read on for cheap, quick, and often FREE ways to fill up your freezer with delicious, ready-made meals.
Diapers and Dates
Great As: Baby Shower Theme
A diapers and dates shower: Shower guests bring diapers, restaurant giftcards, and childcare vouchers. The restaurant giftcards can be used for dates if you're up for it, OR to order takeout through the weary weeks of brand new baby. All the wins.
Great As: Baby Shower addition
Shower guests are asked to bring a frozen dish (make sure the people know that it does NOT need to be homemade, the freezer section at Costco works just as well) along with or in place of a gift. And DONE- freezer filled.
Great for: Sometime before birth
Gather a group of mommas (pregnant or not) and each of you decide on one no-fuss freezer meal that you'll make for the crowd and wrap individually for each family. Also decide on a set number of portions each meal will offer.
On the date you set, everyone get together for a girls night out, meals in hand. When the night is over, everyone leaves with a ton of meals ready to go.
Don’t want to make meals? You could trade breakfasts, baked goods, whatever you want. As long as your family will eat it, it counts toward life-sustenance. Win.
Pro Tip 1: Create a Facebook event to make organizing a breeze.
Another great place to plan such a thing is on a meal train website. Obviously this isn't the specific intention for a meal train site, but it's a great use of such a system since everyone can access it, input their meal, add allergen info and all the business.
Pro Tip 2: Avoid food sensitivities or dislikes by having each participant offer a few meal ideas and the group votes on the one they like best.
FREE: Meal Train
Great for: After baby comes
If you do nothing else, do this. Log on to takethemameal.com or mealtrain.com and take five minutes to set up a meal train after your birth. Or better yet, have a close friend do it (feel no shame about asking a friend/mother/sister to set this up for you. Because all needed info is stored in the website, there is almost zero commitment from the organizer.) It’ll ask for specifics about dietary restrictions and desires, and these websites allow you to decide when and how meals are delivered.
Once it’s all set up, put the word out on Facebook and/or group text, and ask a few friends to do the same.
Pro Tip: In order to encourage participation, let everyone know that there’s no need for a home-cooked meal, and any food they choose is appreciated. If they want to bring take-out or a frozen dish, lovely.
Once-A-Month freezer cooking: Postpartum Edition
Great for: Before baby
There are about a million posts on Pinterest regarding Once A Month freezer cooking, so let me point you there rather than reinventing the wheel. The fact is, there are a TON of recipes that are super quick, simple, and cheap, and can be thrown in the freezer. Don't be afraid that all you'll find is casseroles and meat dishes; freezer meals have come a long way, friend. (And if you have an Instant Pot, whoa. Get ready.) If baby has is still on deck, set aside two days: One for Pinterest browsing and shopping, and a second for cooking. Two Days= months worth of food. #momninja
Pro Tip: Don't forget to search Pinterest for freezer-friendly breakfasts, snacks, and soups too!
Great for: During postpartum, anytime
Write down a few meals that your family loves that are also freezer-friendly. Since your family has to eat anyway, make these specific meals in double, triple, or quadruple batches (or more!) for dinner (or breakfast, or lunch) one week, and freeze the extra portions.
BFF with your crockpot
Great for: Before baby
Check out 40 Crock Pot Meals in Four Hours to get your freezer full in- not kidding- four hours flat (plus shopping, but the grocery list and recipes are all ready for you). When you need a meal, throw the contents of one of your forty bags into the crockpot and bam- dinner is done.
Pro Tip: If you, like me, balk at sauces with chemical ingredients, canned foods, and the like: do everything you can to give yourself a time-out when prepping for postpartum. Obviously, healthy eating is the goal. But sacrificing the other areas of your health for that is counter-intuitive. Do what you can, and be ok with the rest. Right now, meals in the freezer and sanity saved might be more important than all the food being ethically and organically sourced. A season for everything.
Delivery Service Trials
Great for: women who love to cook
There are SO many delivery options popping up- Sunbasket (organic), Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, and Plated, just to name a few- and often they’ll make free trial memberships available. Try them all and you’re covered for a few weeks. Just don’t forget to cancel!
Actually preparing the meals takes some time, so this is a good option if you’re one who loves to cook- you get to skip the meal planning, shopping and measuring and keep the actual fun part of cooking.
Pro Tip: Check Groupon for deals on some of these services.
Great for: Creative meal planners, veggie lovers
A CSA is a farmer (or group of farmers) who get together and offer their produce straight to you. Pro’s: Cutting out the middle man means cheaper produce. Plus, CSA’s offer local, fresh, often organic ingredients. it’s an incredible way to connect to the people who grow the food you eat, and a way to eat locally, sustainably, etc. And the best thing is- some CSA’s deliver. If yours doesn’t, call them and see if you can make an arrangement for someone to drop off your share at your door. Cons: If you’re doing a produce share, you don’t get to choose what you get, so this is an especially good option for creative cooks.
Check out localharvest.com to find a CSA in your area.
Hit the Wholesale Club: Freezer Section
Great for: Everyone, anytime
If you’re not a member of a wholesale club (Costco, Sam's Club, BJ's), now might be the time to jump on that train. If not, stocking up this way is still a possibility. Most warehouse clubs will offer a trial membership for a day or longer. If you’re going this route, be sure you’re ready to buy what you need during your trial period. Whatever the case may be, the selection of pre-made and frozen foods is actually pretty spectacular- you can easily fill your freezer with high quality, ready-to-go ala carte items at a solid discount compared to your average grocer. This option will cost you some cash, so be prepared for the investment.
However you do it, there's never a better time to get that freezer stocked! The "What should I make for dinner" question is even less fun with a brand new babe in the carrier. Be sure to have a load of ready-made food so that your people can eat with zero effort on the meal-making front.
Feeling ready for postpartum?
How will you fill your freezer?
Let us know in the comments below!