In preparation for the arrival of my first baby in early June, I am getting organized and making a plan to stock my freezer with healthy, homemade meals to get my husband and me through the first crazed months of parenthood.
Last week I did the dull but necessary work of clearing out and reorganizing my freezer, so this week I'm rewarding myself with a fun task: picking out the recipes I want to make and freeze.
What I'm Looking For
There are a lot of freezer-friendly recipes out there, but not all of them are my style, or appropriate for a small family who may have to eat at different times. My husband and I tend to eat mostly vegetarian meals at home and I am not a fan of overly cheesy casseroles, so some of the freezer classics like traditional lasagna just won't work for us. Instead, I want lighter, healthier recipes that include a big helping of vegetables.
I'm looking for the kind of recipes that I find comforting and nourishing and, being half-Thai, a big one is rice bowls. Curries, stir-fries, stews — put it over rice and I am a happy eater. I'll be freezing the rice separately in single-serve portions and making a variety of options for topping it.
Also high on my comfort food list are soups and stews, which are easy to make in bulk and freeze for a quick lunch or dinner. They also make it easy to get lots of vegetables, proteins and whole grains into one filling (but not heavy) dish.
Lighter, veggie-packed casseroles assembled and frozen in smaller freezer-to-oven containers will be useful on the days where I have a little more time to heat up dinner. And everyone is reminding me that one-handed meals are essential for new parents.
Finally, I want to have a few filling, easy to grab snacks in the freezer for when I need to eat something NOW. (I plan on breastfeeding and have been told my hunger will be bottomless.)
Rice Bowl Recipes
I'm saying "rice bowl," but what I really mean are recipes which can be eaten over rice, in a bowl or on a plate, and combine both protein and vegetables, so I don't need an additional side dish.
- How To Freeze Cooked Brown Rice
- Mixed Bean Masala with Fragrant Yellow Rice
- Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon
- Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew
- Chinese No Clay-Pot Chicken with Soy & Ginger (I'll probably add some extra cooked greens, like spinach or kale)
- Stir-Fry Freezer Meal Kits
Soup & Stew Recipes
We will be eating our way through these meals during the summer, so I imagine we won't be craving many bowls of steaming-hot soup, but it will be good to have some on hand for quick lunches and dinners on more temperate days.
- Easy Turkey Chili with Kale
- Easy Green Minestrone
- Miso Pumpkin Soup (I may puree white beans into the mixture for some protein)
I'm not a fan of anything too heavy or cheesy. Pack in the vegetables, please!
- Lentil, Mushroom & Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
- Grown-Up Tuna Noodle Casserole
- Cauliflower & Chicken Sausage Casserole
- Vegetable Lasagna with Butternut Béchamel
- Slow-Cooker Black Bean Enchiladas (I like to add cooked chicken thighs and roasted sweet potatoes to the filling)
...because the other hand will be holding a baby. I will probably make various versions of the recipes below, stuffed with other types of beans, meat or vegetables.
- Freezer-Friendly Roasted Vegetable Burritos with Black Beans and Rice
- Spiced Lentil, Sweet Potato & Kale Whole Wheat Pockets
I want a stash of healthy, filling snacks for extra energy when I need it.
- 4-Ingredient Banana Oat Bars (I make a version of this recipe with extra nuts and seeds in place of some of the oats)
- Muesli Snacking Cookies
- Curry Coconut Savory Granola
- Savory Muffins with Prosciutto & Chives
Next Week: Buy the Equipment I Need & Make a Cooking Plan
Next week, I'll be assembling the freezer containers, bags, masking tape, pens and other equipment I will need to store and label all the food I make. And I'll put together a rough cooking plan for the coming weeks, so I can integrate these extra recipes into my usual meal plan. I don't know that I'll make every single recipe I've listed here, but it's helpful to have some good options to choose from.
Are there any healthy freezer-friendly recipes that you recommend? Please share them — and any advice — in the comments!