Today I am officially 37 weeks and 5 days pregnant with my fifth baby. I found out at my last appointment that baby boy is breech, so I will most likely have to deliver him at 39 weeks. Thus, I have just 11 days left until I have my baby! To say that my nesting is in full swing would be a severe understatement. I find myself compulsively cleaning or doing laundry whenever I have the energy to do it. But the main compulsion lately is freezer meals.
Since this is my fifth baby, I don’t expect to have the luxury of being off-duty for as long as I was with my first few. There just isn’t going to be time for that with our busy life. Our family looks so different now. The last time I had a baby (2014), my oldest child had just turned 6 and started kindergarten. Her only extra-curricular activity was piano lessons for which her Grandmother came to our house to teach weekly. Things are much different now. My oldest will be 10, my next is 8, and my third is 5 and my fourth is turning 4 next month. For extra-curriculars, we have the girls in dance, the boys in soccer, and piano and school choir for the oldest. Not to mention the fact that my husband is super busy with work, school (MBA), and serving the youth in our church. Sure, I will have help managing my family for a few weeks, but I admit I am a bit nervous for when the help leaves.
The point of telling you all of this is in no way to complain about my situation. We are all completely ECSTATIC to have a new baby join our family again. There’s always a special feeling that comes into our home with a new baby, and we can’t wait to hold him! The point I am driving home here is that if I can at least have a freezer full of starter meals and a fully-stocked pantry, at least the dinner hour won’t be so intimidating come mid-September when I am required to get back to work on my own. And maybe I will get some extra snuggle time in with my newborn instead of worrying about dinner details.
How to stock the freezer and pantry:
1. Take inventory.
What do you already have on hand for meat? pasta? canned goods? garden produce? Form your meals out of what needs used up first. Make a list of things that need replenishing.
2. Sift through favorite recipes and choose ones that can be frozen.
See below for the recipes I used.
3. Shop for ingredients. Online groceries are the way to go.
Clicklist for Kroger stores or Wal-Mart all have online options for ordering groceries for a minimal or no fee. It is SO WONDERFUL to shop for your groceries on your phone or laptop and have them ready for pickup within as little as 4 hours. No need to haul yourself or your kids through the store.
4. Incorporate freezer meals in weekly meal plan for the last month of pregnancy and make double.
When I make a meal that can be doubled and frozen throughout the week, I do it! Two birds with one stone.
5. Do something each day.
Look through your freezer again. Is there meat that needs used? Do yourself a favor and cook up your ground beef with an onion and freeze it in 1 1/2 Cup portions in Ziploc bags. You can reheat it later for taco meat or throw it into whatever sauce, casserole or skillet dish you need.
Use your Instant Pot (Affliate link) to pressure cook a batch of beans. Put them in the freezer for easy access and a cheaper alternative to canned beans.
Purchase a couple rotisserie chickens and freeze the meat it in Ziploc bags. More details here.
If you have produce coming from the garden, get it harvested! Shred zucchini, freeze fruit, cook and puree your squash, blanch your green beans, and throw them into airtight containers for the freezer.
Take advantage of sales. Pineapple was on sale the other day, so I bought three of them, chopped them up and froze them for smoothies.
Make your kids’ day with a batch of cookies. Freeze half of them (or the dough) for later.
Stock up on pantry items like canned beans, vinegars, oils, pastas, baking ingredients, nut butters, canned sauces, cereals, rice, etc.
Stock paper goods—paper towels, napkins, plastic utensils, garbage bags, freezer bags, etc. It’s nice to have paper plates on hand for the nights when dishes are just too much to do.
I made 2 dozen frozen burritos with one recipe of beans. You will also need 24 tortillas and 6 cups of shredded cheese. If you are using raw tortillas, be sure to cook them first. Spread about 1/2 cup beans on your tortilla. Top with 1/4 Cup cheese. Roll it up and let it cool for a bit in the freezer before putting them in airtight freezer bags.