With my ninth month of pregnancy now in full swing, its time for Postpartum Freezer meal prep! I love meal prep in general, I do at least some every Sunday for the week ahead, and try to do a big batch freezer prep every few months, but postpartum prep is special.
First, it’s a great learning from my first pregnancy – the freezer meals I had prepared were a blessing and I wished I had prepped more! So this time around I had lofty ambitions – 13 different items. It took me basically all day, and also required my hubby keeping our toddler occupied all day – which is no easy feat. (In the end I only accomplished 12 of the meals, but more about that later!)
Second, this time around I’m loading the menu with lactation-nurturing foods – all things that are equally delicious for the rest of the family too, but I know the secret that they contain special milk-boosting ingredients. This wasn’t something I thought about that the first time around, but then started making lots of breastfeeding friendly recipes after the fact.
Below you’ll find my menu, ingredient list, and step-by-step instructions to efficiently prep 13 recipes in about 5-hours. Each full recipe is listed out separately as well later in the post.
First – Pick your recipes
Here are the 13 recipes I chose, and a little background on why.
- Low-Carb Waffles
- Apple Cinnamon Oat Bake
- Instant Pot Chicken Tikka
- Fennel Chicken with Orange
- Lemon Garlic Drumsticks (x2)
- Cheesy Taco Bake
- Turkey Lasagna Roll-ups
- Lactation Smoothie Packs
- Teriyaki Chicken Thighs
- Beef & Broccoli
- The Best Ever Lactation Cookies
I found this recipe here: https://allthenourishingthings.com/grain-free-low-carb-belgian-waffles/ and made only one minor change. She includes a DIY Sugar Alternative Blend, which you may love – but I prefer to keep it natural with old fashioned sugar (there isn’t too much called for here so I still find it relatively guilt-free as far as Belgian waffles go).
I love to include breakfast in meal prep, it is the most important meal of the day, after all! For postpartum especially though – you’ll be running on very little sleep, so anything that helps get your morning off to a great start and helps you recharge will be incredibly important.
What I like about these waffles in particular is that they are low-carb (and grain-free). While we shouldn’t restrict carbs or go on an all-out low-carb diet postpartum, especially if you’re breastfeeding, I do like the idea of slowly starting to ease back into mindful eating. I personally was craving toast and juice during this entire pregnancy so I do want to reign it in (at least a little) once baby arrives.
I am a sweet waffle person, but Lindsey includes some great options for converting these into savory waffles as well on her site – worth checking out.
I only prepped a single batch, which is 5 waffles, but this is a very quick and easy recipe so you may consider doubling it if desired.
Apple-Cinnamon Oat Bake
Here’s one for the nursing mamas. Oats are one of the top foods recommended to increase breast milk supply. I should say, there’s very little scientific evidence supporting any food in connection with increasing supply – but there’s also very limited research in this area (experiments on newborns aren’t very popular 😉 From my own personal experience, I did see a benefit, so I plan to include oats in my postpartum diet this time around too.
This recipe I found at https://traditionalcookingschool.com/food-preparation/recipes/apple-cinnamon-baked-oatmeal-soaked/ and did make a couple adjustments. First for the pre-soak, I used just 1/3cup of apple cider vinegar. A 1/2 cup just seemed like too much acid, and I didn’t get into whey or sourdough-starter to keep things simple. I also used natural sugar again, and opted out of the raisins and coconut flakes, but you could easily include them if so inclined.
Instant Pot Chicken Tikka
Not much background on this one – this is just a tasty, healthy dish and one both my husband and I can enjoy! This recipe also comes from All the Nourishing Things blog, https://allthenourishingthings.com/instant-pot-chicken-tikka-masala-paleo-whole30-thm-s/ and my only tweak was to cut the cumin in half (hubby hates cumin).
Protein and Iron are essential for breastfeeding, and for keeping your energy up in a marathon, which is what the postpartum period really is! I also wanted to include at least one item in my prep that I could break out when extended family is around. Easter will fall only a few weeks after I deliver, so I have this one in mind for an Easter dinner depending on how things go. Pot Roast is such a satisfying meal, has a great dose of iron and veggies as well, I’m looking forward to this one! Recipe is from: https://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2017/05/classic-slow-cooker-pot-roast/
Fennel Chicken w/Orange
Fennel is another lactation boosting ingredient, long considered a galactogogue. I also picked this recipe because its nice to have variety in our chicken dishes, rather than the same old combinations we’ve had a hundred times. Recipe from: http://empoweredsustenance.com/slow-cooker-fennel-chicken-with-orange/ I choose to use chicken breast, but skinless, boneless thighs are also an option.
Lemon Garlic Drumsticks (x2)
Lemon, Garlic and EVOO is one of my all-time favorite flavor combinations for a chicken marinade. So simple yet so refreshing, delicious and healthy! This one I made as an x2 (double batch) but only froze one. I thought that after an entire day of meal-prepping I should at least have something to feed my family at the end, and this was it. It was delicious, by the way 🙂 Recipe from: https://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2009/05/delicious-and-simple-lemon-garlic-drumsticks.html
Cheesy Taco Bake
This recipe (and the next four) all come from the same place – Diary of a Fit Mommy Blog https://diaryofafitmommy.com/15-freezer-meals-before-your-baby-arrives/ This is one of my favorite blogs, Sia is inspiring and her blog has tons of helpful content – so definitely check it out. This post I linked to is also for Postpartum freezer meals, so you may find it particularly interesting. I wanted some differences in the meals I prepped, which is why I went my own direction, but she does have some good options, like the Cheesy Taco Bake. This is another recipe I chose just because it is a crowd pleaser, and I know my family will enjoy it. My son is starting to be a bit more adventurous with what he will eat, so I’m hopeful the taco bake will entice him as well.
Turkey Lasagna Roll-ups
Who doesn’t love lasagna? I substituted ground turkey for ground beef to lighten it up, but otherwise this is easy to make, easy to reheat, and easy to enjoy! https://diaryofafitmommy.com/15-freezer-meals-before-your-baby-arrives/
Lactation Smoothie Packs
This one checks all the boxes for this freezer meal session – boosts milk supply? Check. Makes your busy life easier? Check. Gets you back on the healthy wagon post pregnancy? Check! I made them exactly as written. https://diaryofafitmommy.com/15-freezer-meals-before-your-baby-arrives/
Teriyaki Chicken Thighs
Teriyaki Chicken is another one of my favorite classic chicken dishes. This is also a great one to include for Meal Prep because the prep itself is relatively simple with few steps! https://diaryofafitmommy.com/15-freezer-meals-before-your-baby-arrives/
Beef & Broccoli
Again including a lot of high-iron protein in our diets is great for breastfeeding, and this is a delicious way to do it! I went for fresh broccoli, and I love that this dish incorporates something green, which we don’t see too much of on this this list. I use low-sodium Tamari instead of the traditional soy sauce – you won’t miss the sodium in this dish, and Tamari has no wheat ingredient whereas traditional soy sauce is closer to 40% wheat. Recipe from https://diaryofafitmommy.com/15-freezer-meals-before-your-baby-arrives/
The Best Ever Lactation Cookies
I must have made these cookies about 10 times while I was nursing my son. While these won’t help much in the weight loss department, they do contain lots of milk-boosting ingredients (oats, brewers yeast, coconut oil, and flax) and they are delicious. My husband was gobbling them up too last time around. I’ll start with one batch to freeze, but I fully expect I’ll be making this regularly again. Recipe from: https://www.howsweeteats.com/2015/02/lactation-cookies/
Mac and Cheese
Last but certainly not least! I didn’t get to making this dish during my meal prep day, but did make it the day after. Instead of freezing it we decided to eat it throughout the week and it was delicious! We are kind of Mac and Cheese snobs, if such a thing exists, so I while I basically followed Rachel Ray’s recipe I got a little fancy with the cheeses, reducing the sharp cheddar to 2 cups and added 1 cup gruyere and 1 cup fontina. If you’re looking to keep it simple and cut cost, you could stick with the cheddar and it will still be delicious. https://www.rachaelrayshow.com/recipe/14747_Freezer_To_Oven_Mac_n_Cheese
Next: Check your equipment
There is actually a fair amount of kitchen equipment needed to make all the recipes as they are designed. To follow the full menu you’ll need:
- Waffle Iron
- Instant Pot
- Slow Cooker
- Immersion Blender
Next: Make your Ingredient List -> Shopping List
Here is the full list of ingredients required. You’ll then want to cross-check with your pantry/fridge so you don’t overbuy, and you’ll end up with your shopping list.
- 14 eggs
- 1/2cup parmesan cheese
- 2 packs of salted butter
- 1 pack unsalted butter
- 1 carton whole milk
- 1 carton reduced fat milk
- 1 carton almond milk
- 15oz ricotta
- 2 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 plain yogurt (I like Siggis brand or Fage)
- 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar
- 1 cup gruyere cheese
- 1 cup fontina cheese
- 4lbs skinless chicken breast
- 8oz ground turkey
- 8 chicken thighs
- 2lb flank steak
- 20oz ground beef
- 12 chicken drumsticks (if you are also doing x2, otherwise just 6)
- 1 chuck roast (3-4lbs)
Fruit and Veggies:
- 1 apple
- 3 yellow onion
- 3 garlic (20 cloves)
- 2.5lbs carrots
- 1.5lbs potatoes
- 1cup diced mushrooms
- 2 bunches bananas
- 2 packs frozen strawberries
- 2 cups broccoli (or frozen)
- 1 orange
- 1 jalepeno
- 3 lemons
- 1 fennel bulb
- 1 green pepper
- pack of blueberries
- 1 lime
- Cashews (3/4 cup)
- Coconut Flour
- Coconut Oil
- 2 containers rolled oats
- 1 container quick cook oats
- olive oil
- 1lb pasta – cavatappi
- Brewers Yeast (I bought mine on Amazon)
- Baking Soda
- Dark chocolate Chips
- Vegetable Oil
- Brown Sugar
- Slivered Almonds
- Brown Rice
- 15oz can tomato sauce
- 24oz pasta sauce
- 12 lasagna noodles
- 24oz can crushed tomato
- 1/2 cup bone broth
- 2 boxes beef stock
- powdered beef bouillon
- almond butter
- 1 jar peanut butter
- Reduced Sodium Tamari (or soy sauce)
- Sesame Oil
- Teriyaki Sauce
- dried thyme
- herbes de provance
- onion powder
- ground celery seed
Freezer Meal Supplies:
- Plastic Freezer Bags – Gallon size
- Aluminum foil
- Plastic Wrap
- 4 aluminum 9×13 pans with lids
I recommend cleaning out your freezer and your fridge, to make room for all the great food you’ll be buying, cooking and storing.
Its also great to start the actual prep day with a clean kitchen and empty dishwasher 🙂
Next: Go Shopping
I personally find grocery shopping to be very fun, however that may just be me. This shopping trip may be overwhelming due to the expense, but just remember that the time and money spent now will be saved later, when your time will be even more valuable. There are two steps that need to be done the night before prep so if you are shopping the day ahead of prep (which I did) you’ll want to get this Night Before Prep done, likely right after you put all your delicious groceries away.
Next: Night Before Prep
There are two quick steps to complete for the Apple-Cinnamon Oat Bake and Low-Carb Waffles the night before prep.
Oat-Bake Prep : Combine 6 cups old fashioned rolled oats, 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar, 8 cups water, and 1 cup walnuts in a big bowl. Cover and let soak overnight.
Waffle Prep: Cover 3/4 cup raw cashews in water and soak overnight (or 8 hrs)
Then get some sleep mama
Well I assume you’re starting prep day bright and early – get some coffee! (maybe decaffeinated) and here we go!
First I made the waffles and the Apple Oat Bake, its great to get a couple dishes crossed off the list right off the bat.
For the waffles:
- Drain and rinse the soaked cashews, then add them to a high-powered blender
- Add the remaining ingredients, in the order listed, to the blender:
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 eggs
- 3 tablespoons coconut flour
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons Sugar (or leave out for savory waffles)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (or leave out for savory waffles)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch salt
- Start by blending on low speed, then increase the speed to medium-high, then back down to low.
- Blend until completely smooth.
- Pour into your waffle maker, and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Everyone told me I’d never use my waffle maker when I registered for it before getting married, but I use it all the time – waffle junkie!)
- Add cooled waffles to freezer bag – to reheat, just pop in toaster oven (or actual oven) until warm and crispy!
For the Apple-Cinnamon Oat Bake:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Drain oats through a fine sieve. Rinse and allow to drain again.
- Dice one apple
- In a big mixing bowl, whisk together butter, milk, eggs, sweetener, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Add oats and mix well. Add the apples (you can also add raisins and coconut now if desired, I omitted.) Mix in gently.
- Transfer to a greased 9” x 13” baking dish (or two 8” square cake pans). Smooth the top.
- Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Remove from oven to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars. Add bars to freezer bag!
Next: Chop and Cook!
I like to get all the vegetables chopped and ready so that when I actually do the cooking (or assembling) its easy and everything is ready to go. So put some good music on and get going…
- Cut all carrots into 1″ sticks – separate into 2.5 piles
- Core, halve and thinly slice fennel
- Dice mushrooms
- Chop 2 onions, keep separated
- Halve & thinly slice 3rd onion (I love when the onion is done – I always cry!)
- Chop green pepper and jalepeno
- Mince 20 medium garlic cloves (no need to keep separated, each clove is ~1 tsp)
- Peel ginger and cut 5 slices, take a 2″ piece and dice (keep separate from slices)
- If using fresh broccoli for the Beef and Broccoli dish (as I did) cut into florets and wash
- Slice oranges into 1/4″ thick rounds
I held off on the potatoes, because I didn’t want them to get browned, and we’re not quite ready for them yet. First we move on to some cooking!
- Cook 1 cup brown rice (I used wild rice, 1 cup uncooked)
- Make the dry onion Soup mix, measure out the 4 Tbsp needed for the Pot Roast and store the rest
- Make the homemade cream of mushroom soup
- Peel at least 1½ lbs potatoes and cut into about 1″ thick rounds, I used more – ~3lbs of potatoes
- Next I chose to blanch the potatoes, which should help them hold up in the freezer. Essentially simmer them in water for 5 minutes, drain and set them aside so they can cool completely – the outside edges should be cooked, but the centers should still be hard
- Now my least favorite step – trim all the boneless chicken breast. This is optional, but I always trim my chicken to remove any big chunks of fat, hard tendons, etc – separate into 2 piles
- Cube one of the chicken piles (~2lbs) keep the other as full breasts
- Then wash your hands!
At this point, you’re all prepped and can move on to….
Next: Make the meals!
I started with the Lemon Garlic Drumsticks.
- Write cooking instructions on the bags – Thaw overnight, cook at 375 degrees in casserole dish for about 45 to 55 minutes.
- Rinse and dry 12 drumsticks (for a double batch) and separate 6 and 6 into 2 bags
- Put the following in each bag: 3 tsp garlic, 2 tsp dry mustard, 1 tsp sea salt, zest on 1 lemon, juice of 1/2 lemon, 3 Tbl olive oil, lots of ground pepper
- Seal and shake the bags to mix
Cross it off the list!
Next I made Slow-Cooker Pot Roast (assuming your potatoes are cooled).
- The Pot Roast can be stored in an aluminum baking dish or a 2-gallon freezer bag, it will be too big for a 1 gallon bag (especially if you went for 3lbs of potatoes as I did). Write cooking instructions on bag or lid of freezer dish – Thaw overnight, add to slow cooker and cover, cook on low for at least 8 hours, preferably 10.
- Layer the ingredients as follows: Homemade dry onion soup mix and Homemade cream of mushroom soup at the bottom, half the potatoes and carrots (1 pile of carrots for this recipe), next place the chuck roast on top of the vegetables, place the remaining vegetables on top and around the chuck roast.
Third I made the Fennel Chicken w/Orange.
- Write cooking instructions on the bag – Thaw overnight, cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours, until chicken is cooked through and carrots are very tender. Discard the orange slices after cooking.
- Layer everything in this order: 3 Tbl olive oil, 1 tsp herbes de provance, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 3/4 tsp sea salt, 2 tsp garlic, orange slices, 1 pile carrots, chicken breast (not the cubed chicken), 1 Tbl Apple cider vinegar, fennel, 1 sliced onion – done!
Next Cheesy Taco Bake which was hard to resist eating on the spot – ok, ok I did eat a small bowl, we need to have some lunch amidst all this prep!
- Write cooking instructions on cover of aluminum baking dish – cook while frozen, cover with foil & bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil & bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted & edges are bubbling.
- Spray dish with EVOO, set aside.
- Measure out spices – 1-2 tsp fresh lime juice, 2 T Chili Powder, 1 tsp Oregano, ½ tsp Thyme, 2 tsp cumin (I cut cumin in half to 1 tsp), 1/3 cup chopped Cilantro
- In a 12” skillet, heat EVOO over medium-high heat, add 1 onion, 3 tsp garlic, jalapeno & sauté for 1 minute.
- Add 20oz ground beef, breaking it up as it browns. Cook for about 5 minutes & add green peppers. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink.
- Add lime juice and spices. Stir to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Remove from heat – add rice, 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce, & 1/4 cup of cheese to the skillet and stir to mix well. Pour mixture into baking dish. Top with remaining Cheddar
- Allow to cool, cover, and freeze
Dish #7 – Teriyaki Chicken Thighs
- Write cooking instructions on the freezer bag – thaw and dump contents in crockpot and cook for 4-6 hours on low.
- Add ingredients to freezer bag (Make sure to get rid of any extra air in the bag) – 8 chicken thighs, 1 c. teriyaki sauce, 1 c. filtered water, 2/3 c. light brown sugar, 3 tsp garlic, ginger slices
Now take a moment and be glad that you are more than halfway done!
Next I made the Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala. This is one is actually a little high maintenance but I expect it will be worth it. You need to get your IP out to do some cooking.
- Write cooking instructions on the freezer bag – thaw overnight and heat in oven to desired temperature
- Measure out spices – 1 tablespoon butter or ghee, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 Tbl garam masala, 2 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp tumeric, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp chili powder 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- Press the Saute button on your Instant Pot and add the butter/ghee and coconut oil to melt.
- Add the diced onion and saute 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the spices and stir, cooking about 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Then add 7 tsp garlic, ginger, 24 oz can crushed tomatoes, and 1/2 cup bone broth.
- Place the cubed chicken breast into the Instant Pot, submerging it under the tomato-spice mixture.
- Lock the lid, make sure the vent is sealed, and press the Manual button. Adjust the time to 10 minutes. When the Instant Pot beeps, release the pressure immediately.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken pieces from the sauce, place into the freezer bag
- Stir in the almond butter and yogurt.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the tomato sauce until smooth and thick.
- Add sauce to the freezer bag and stir – keep bag open and allow dish to fully cool before sealing
Next an easy one, Dish #9 – Beef & Broccoli
- Write cooking instructions on freezer bag – Thaw and cook on low for 3-4 hours (recommended pairing – 2 cups brown rice not included here)
- Mix beef and sauce ingredients – 2lb. flank steak, 1 box beef broth, 1/2 c. soy sauce, 1/3 c. light brown sugar, 2 tsp garlic, 1 Tbl sesame oil, 2 Tbl cornstarch
- If you bought fresh broccoli, place in its own gallon freezer bag – if frozen, put 2 c. into bag with beef and sauce.
Moving right along I chose to tackle the Turkey Lasagna next – I have a feeling this will be one of the first dishes we eat post-baby.
- First cook 1 package of lasagna noodles.
- While cooking, write the cooking instructions on the cover of a 9×13″ aluminum baking dish – cook frozen, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
- Brown 8 oz turkey in a skillet and mix in the 24oz. jar of pasta sauce. Season with salt, pepper, 2 Tbl onion powder, and 2 Tbl garlic powder.
- In a bowl, combine 2 eggs with 15 oz. container ricotta, 1/2 c. parmsean, and half of mozarella and mix well. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, and basil.
Cook noodles as directed and lay flat out on wax paper sheets. Place 1 tbsp of meat mix on the noodle and spread evenly.
Place 1 tbsp of the cheese mixture and spread evenly.
Gently roll up the noodle carefully, top with remaining mozzarella, and freeze
Now for the Lactation goodies – Smoothie Packs and Cookies. I completed these in tandem, while waiting for a batch of cookies to bake I would throw together a smoothie bag or two.
- First pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Now make the cookie batter!
- In a large bowl, whisk together 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, 1 1/2 cups unbleached organic all-purpose flour, 5 Tbl brewers yeast, 3 Tbl ground flaxseed, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp salt.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the 12 Tbl organic unsalted butter and 4 Tbl coconut oil on medium speed until creamy. Add in 1 1/2 c. sugar and beat on medium to high speed until fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed. Add in 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, beating until combined, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add in 2 tsp vanilla extract and beat until combined again.
- Gradually add in the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined and mixed. Stir in 1 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips with a spatula until they are evenly dispersed.
- Scoop the dough into rounds and place on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, or until the bottoms are just golden.
- Let cool completely before storing in a sealed container.
- For me, this made about 40 cookies 🙂
- To make each pack place 1 banana, 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, 1/4 cup old fashioned oats, 1 tbsp peanut butter, and 1 cup almond milk in a ziplock bag.
- Sprinkle in flax seeds.
Now, at this point, I decided to call it a day. My 2 year-old was running around wondering why mommy hadn’t played with him all day, I was tired, and truthfully I was satisfied with all the meals I had completed. However, if you are a super trooper and want to finish off the full 13 meals – the last one is Mac & Cheese.
- The first thing to do is grate all the cheese. For me, that was 2 c. sharp cheddar chesse, 1 c. gruyere and 1 c. fontina
- Next be sure to write the cooking instructions on the cover of the aluminum foil dish – go straight from the freezer into in a 400F oven. Cook for 1 hour, covered with foil, then take the foil off and bake for another 15-20 minutes to brown the top.
- Cook 1 lb cavatappi pasta (or other type) until just shy of al dente
- While the pasta is cooking, heat a medium-size skillet over medium heat and add the 3 Tbl butter.
- When the butter melts, add the 3 Tbl flour and cook about a minute.
- Whisk in the 3 c. milk, season with salt and ground black pepper, and bring up to a bubble.
- Turn the burner off and stir in the cheeses in a figure-eight motion until it’s all melted.
- When the pasta is done, drain it well and combine with sauce. Pour into baking dish and allow to cool be fore covering/freezing.
That’s it! You’re done and should feel great about setting yourself (and your family) up for some delicious, nutritious meals for after your bundle of joy arrives.
Now, you likely have some cleaning up to do – but hopefully not too bad. Then, make sure to sit down and relax and feel accomplished! In a normal meal prep, I might celebrate with a glass a wine, but given the whole pregnancy thing in this case, I chose a decaf cappuccino and couple of lactation cookies instead. Ahhhhh…….