19 October 2015
31 Days - Freezing Dinners
Baby prep just wouldn't be baby prep without some serious meal planning! I did no meal planning with Abigail and very little meal planning with Eleanor, but thankfully family and friends filled in the gaps by bringing us ample dinners. While I do anticipate a few people bringing us some meals (I'm hoping for a week's worth!), since this is my third baby and I'm all cozily settled into my apartment for the winter, I figure I should probably dedicate some effort to filling up my freezer with pre-cooked meals.
Right now I am 34 weeks pregnant. With both girls, I gave birth at 38 weeks and my doctor doesn't think I'll make my due date this time either. So that puts birth in the second week of November. Since spending lots of time on my feet the week before I deliver a baby is low on the list of things I enjoy, I want to have my freezer filled by the end of October.
Over the past two weeks, I've been doing lots of cooking with stuff in our freezer to empty it out and lots of brainstorming about what kinds of dishes I want to fill in the empty space. I then planned to eat those same meals over the course of the next two weeks. Each time I make dinner, I'll just double the recipe and freeze half.
Since I have this rather small apartment fridge and no space for even a small chest freezer, I have to be judicious about what I put in it.
Here is my list of pre-cooked meals I'll be making in the coming weeks. Each of these dishes will provide two day's worth of dinners:
-Chicken pot pie
-Shepherd's pie (I'd say my chicken pot pie and shepherd's pie are restaurant quality. I asked Matt this morning for verification and he responded, "Oh yeah - without a doubt.")
-Cheesy beef and rice casserole
In addition, I'll prep three slow cooker meals. I'll put all the ingredients I need in gallon-sized Ziplock bags so I just dump a bag in and turn on the slow cooker. Each of these should provide two day's worth of dinners too:
-Chili (my chili is one of my favorite dishes!)
That's a total of seven meals times two dinners, giving me 14 nights worth of food. If I can get a week's worth from family and friends, with a few just-in-case frozen pizzas, I'll have three weeks worth of dinners!
In order to make things easier for the budget, I'll be halving all the meat and supplementing with beans. For example, the cheesy beef and rice casserole calls for one pound of beef. If I'm doubling the recipe, that'd be two pounds. Instead, I'll sub in one pound of black beans. So each dish will have a half pound of beef and a half pound of beans. I do this all the time and my family doesn't mind. When I'm feeling super frugal, I'll start with dry beans, which are so cheap, the budget barely even notices I bought them. When I'm feeling super pregnant - which I happen to be feeling now - I use canned beans. Even at $.85/1lb can, it's still significantly cheaper than meat.
I also bought a few disposable tins to store and cook the meals. The less postpartum dishes, the better.
Once I finish all my dinner prep, I envision making burritos and quesadillas, wrapping them up in individual servings, and stashing them in the freezer for microwavable lunches. I think somewhere in my over-ambitious brain, I'd also love to make and freeze some waffles and pancakes. But energy levels plus freezer space are ensuring that I take things one meal at a time. First up? Dinner. I'll post updates as my freezer begins to fill.