After the birth of my son 3 and a half years ago, I felt very unprepared for postpartum. You learn a lot after your first, and things that you would do differently for the next time! This time around the focus has been less on the baby things, and more on how to make things easier those first few weeks once baby arrives.
Over the past long weekend I spent the Sunday with my family, who so generously helped me prepare freezer meals for postpartum. It was about 4 or 5 hours of work and we ended up with 8 different meals, for a total of about 65 servings! For me food is such an important area to be prepare for this time. I am not one who loves to cook and I really struggled with finding the energy and motivation to cook when I first became a mom.
I have never done a meal prep this large, so I wanted to share some tips and tricks I learned from this for those interested in doing this for themselves, or for someone else you know that is expecting.
1. Plan your recipes
Think of your favourite meals or foods that freeze well. I gathered some recipes that I thought would give us a good variety. My husband, our son, and myself all have different tastes so it wasn’t easy to find something for all of us, but I think we did pretty well. Most of the recipes were from Pinterest and some were just my go-tos that I know we like. Once you have chosen your recipes, print them off so you aren’t flipping around on your phone trying to find them. That way everyone else knows what to do too. I picked 8 meals which I thought might be too much, but it worked out with the amount of help we had.
2. Make a shopping list
I made a list of everything we needed and went shopping the night before and grabbed a few things morning of. The bulk items were from Costco. Mostly meat, veggies that we needed larger quantities of, as well as the storage containers. The rest of the items I got at the grocery store. Overall it probably costed around $200 (CAD). One thing we didn’t think of was food to eat for us as we were preparing. Plan ahead some appetizers or something easy that won’t take up too much prep time.
Figure out how you want to store it. Some people use Ziploc bags because they take up less space and can be laid flat, but it depends on what you are making. I’ve heard the Ziploc bags works well with crock-pot meals since you just dump them in the pot anyways. We used plastic take out containers from Costco and got two sizes 32 oz and 38 oz. There were 50 containers altogether and I was a bit short, but we just put the chili in Ziploc bags.
This was a last-minute idea, but they suggested we label everything so it’s easy to see what’s what once it’s stored. I am glad we did that! You can get fancy and print them on the computer, or just use labels or paper and write on the lids.
5. Freezer space
We have a small deep freezer in our basement, so I have the space but that may not be an option for everyone. If you don’t have a lot of freezer space, you can look at the Ziploc storage option or maybe a close family member can store some and bring more over as you need them.
6. Game plan
So I didn’t really have a plan as to how everything would be prepared in an efficient way, but we just started looking at the recipes and had some people on chopping veggies, preparing meat and put it together as we went. We tried to do the beef items altogether and then the chicken just to make it easier from flipping back and forth. Everything was fully cooked so it can just be heated and served.
7. Cleaning up
This is where having the help makes a difference too. We took turns and cleaned as we went. So someone was always staying on top of the dishes keeping the work spaces clean.
8. It takes a village!
I could have attempted this myself, but it would have taken a lot longer and I wouldn’t have been able to do it all in one day. I am so grateful for the help I received from my family! I couldn’t have done it without them, and it was a great chance to spend time with them before baby arrives. I have a hard time asking for help and I thought when I first mentioned this to my step-mom and sisters that I would be burdening them, but they all said that it was fun, and they loved doing it.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your family, friends, or whoever you think would be able to participate in this. I’ve even heard of some doing this at baby showers instead of the games, (though I haven’t seen it myself so not sure how that would work). If the storage is an issue there is also an option of a meal train where you have family and friends sign up to bring you prepared meals for the first few weeks.