post-baby freezer fest! (part 1)

How-To: Baby Prep Freezer Meal Plan via thepigandquill.com

Too long ago (weeks, it may have been…) I made reference to doing all the freezer cooking ever in anticipation of all the cooking I’ll never want to do when a tiny pretty baby is pooping in my lap. I’m pretty sure it went exactly like that. Or maybe I colored things up a bit in today’s version. I’m sure I at least referenced the pooping part before. Or maybe the freezer part. Definitely the pretty baby. (Lord, I hope I think she’s pretty. I’m still not to that ‘all babies are the cutest thing’ part of pregnancy, and I’m kinda running out of time. In fact, I still think most babies are sort of fugmonkey for the first few days. And then, honestly, some babies just stay fugmonkey. Is that normal? When does the switch flip that ensures I find my own fugmonkey to be adorable?)

Point is, I cooked a lot of shit for the freezer, guys. And I intended to tell you about it earlier this week, but then the interwebs made my feet do the happy dance (and my eyes cry. and my pregnant bladder pee a little…) when it threw me the sweetest virtual surprise shower, so I had to take a moment to collect myself. Honestly, my heart is STILL so warmed by the thoughtfulness of the blogging community. It’s a high I hope to carry with me right into the delivery room. ♥

Ok, so my freezer game plan (if you can call it that), as promised…

How-To: Baby Prep Freezer Meal Plan (Vegan Mole Chili) via thepigandquill.com

Here’s what’s in the freezer to-date:

Breakfast Sandwiches (6 servings). I followed these guidelines and had to try really, really hard not to shovel the pound or so of cherrywood-smoked, nitrate-free bacon I baked off straight down my preggy pie hole as I was assembling things. Don’t see how these can possibly go wrong, but I you never know. IT’S ME.

Spinach-Feta Breakfast Wraps (6 servings). Over the past four(ish) years, I’ve probably eaten a hundred of those spinach-feta-egg-white wraps from Starbucks — enough that I went from loving them to kind of loathing them to full on fiending for them when too many weeks went by without sending one down the chute. (A side effect of epic road-tripping for work…) These are a blatant ripoff of those beasts — minus, I’m hoping, the occasional cold spot you get in the middle where the egg white didn’t totally thaw in the toastermajigger, because gag. Just whole scrambled eggs, spinach sauteed with salt, pepper + sundried tomatoes, and a scattering of feta. I let all of the elements cool before layering them onto seedy, whole grain torts and swaddling them in foil. (←see what happened there? swaddling? i’m so ready, guys…)

Beans, Greens + Bacon Soup (4 servings). Just a basic veggie soup started off with a little of that leftover cherrywood bacon and finished with two cans of white beans and half a heaping sack of triple-washed collard greens.

Soyrizo + Spinach Frittata (6 servings). Again, took a cue from The Kitchn on the method for these guys. I kinda kitchen sink’d the ingredients and did a little hash with onions, sweet potatoes and soyrizo before wilting in lots of spinach and pouring loads of beaten eggs (fluffed up with a bit of milk) down over the top of the cooled veggie mixture. A scattering of cheddar and feta over the top because fancy.

Lasagna Pasta Bake (6 servings). Confession, this is The Pioneer Woman’s Sour Cream Noodle Bake made with marinara sauce subbed in for the plain tomato sauce. But things involving the words Sour Cream Noodle do not fly in a house where half the members are vehemently anti-creamy things, so I gotsta get Sneaky McGee. (But seriously, OMG, there’s cottage cheese in it, too…if he only knew!!!)

Stroganoff Pasta Bake (3 servings). Two pasta bakes, I know. This one was a product of leftover egg noodles and sour cream (shhh…) from the former — plus we always have good, grassfed ground beef and at least half an onion lying around. (Is it not normal to accumulate half-onions?) (Apparently I never recall using the first half and always start a new one.) (In case you’re wondering, my fridge smells flipping awesome.) We ate about half of the recipe fresh and I threw the rest in a freezer tin for later.

Moroccan Braised Bison Meatballs (4 servings). I gave these guys a quick pan-fry before freezing them in a single layer and then dropping them into a big ol’ freezer bag. Cooked the sauce up separately while the balls chilled out (heh) and then froze that more or less flat in a zip-top bag, too. I’m planning to thaw the sauce in the fridge the night before and then dump the frozen balls and the thawed sauce in a slow-cooker the day-of. Maybe boil off a pot of egg noodles or throw some quinoa in the rice cooker alongside. Easy — right? But let’s not count our chickens. Bison. Buffalos? Balls.

Braised Meatballs with Bacon + Chard (4 servings). OHEMGEE you guys, my first recipe ever — and with the shitty iPhone photo to prove it! (Wow, I rambled a lot less back then.) But it’s still such a clutch recipe. Balls. Bacon. Chard. (Ok, I used the other half of those collards from the soup, but same diff…) And yes, jar sauce. We’ve all done it. Method for cooking and reheating is more or less the same as the bison balls above.

Spinach-Artichoke Spanikopita Casserole/Bake/Somethingorother… (4 servings). This is a recipe I was hoping to have on the blog by now, but I’ve yet to snap the piccies. Basically a super veg’d out version of that fave dip layered between sheets of puff pastry in kind of a casserole form. A total gamble in the freezer game.

Spinach-Artichoke Spanikopita Turnovers (3 servings). Leftovers of the above in turnover form for handheld snacking.

Shepherd’s Pie (6 servings). Super basic non-recipe: ground lamb + carrots + peas and sauciness slathered in real mashed potatoes. Like, the kind fulla butter and whole milk and arterial woe. I’m excited.

Slow Cooker Vegan Mole Chili (6 servings). I made this one all the way through and just divided the whole shebang between a couple of big quart containers once it cooled. I’ll probably thaw it in the fridge the night before and reheat it on the stove, but I bet a second round in the slow cooker would be fine, too.

Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes (3 servings). Another one inspired by these freezer gurus. These will get their second bake post-freezer. I’m assuming a serving is two halves per person since they’re pretty fully loaded with broccoli, cheddar and bacon — but if we need to bulk things up even more, I could see topping them with a handful of shredded rotisserie chicken, a few slices of avo or summa that leftover chili.

Glazed Pineapple-Banana Loaf Cake with Walnuts + Cherries (2 loaves). I froze one loaf glazed (I par-froze it on a baking sheet before wrapping it up in parchment, cling wrap and foil to ensure the glaze didn’t get too mushed) and one loaf nekkid to be glazed upon serving, so we’ll see which one takes…um, takes…the cake. Sorry.

Foolproof Steel Cut Oats (countless servings). Not a freezer meal, but I’ve stocked the pantry with lots of quick-cooking steel-cut oats, good maple syrup, nuts, seeds, nut butters, tetra-pak’d nut milks (I know, homemade is better, I lose all the points…) and low-sugar preserves so we can have a filling bowl of oats pretty much any time of day. While the quick-cooking variety takes less than 10 mins on the stove, my foolproof prep includes chucking two servings of oats (about 1/2 cup total) into a plain ol’ rice cooker with 1.5 cups of water and a pinch of salt. They cook up in about 18 minutes unattended, and risk of boil-over is nil. (It happens as soon as I turn my back on the stove, I swear…) The nonstick insert for our rice cooker — a janky little $10 gadget I’ve had since college that does exactly what it’s designed to do and extremely well, at that — is also infinitely easier to wash than our oatmeal pot. I’m counting on this to be the breakfast game changer. Also: oatmeal is, like, stellar for lactation or something. Happy boobies, happy babies. Yay!

How-To: Baby Prep Freezer Meal Plan (Pineapple Banana Loaf Cake) via thepigandquill.com

Here’s what I spent to put it together:

When all was said and done, my shopping bill for all of the above totaled $210 in groceries and freezerware, which included a variety of mid-sized aluminum trays (at Dollar Tree they run 3/$1!!) plus a roll of heavy-duty foil and a couple of straightish-sided glass quart containers. (Note that glass containers with rounded “shoulders” can supposedly crack when they freeze, so opt for straight containers or fill them well below the shoulders to avoid a mess when things expand.)

For 60+ servings, that breaks down to about $3.50 a serving — but we’re also not accounting for the grocery remnants (leftover pastas, grains, milk, eggs, herbs, spices, etc.) that have made their way into countless other recipes not created specifically for the freezer. Where possible, the majority of the ingredients purchased were also organic, local and/or humanely raised (in the case of meats) — so I absolutely concede to splurging where I could have saved.

How-To: Baby Prep Freezer Meal Plan (Moroccan Braised Bison Meatballs) via thepigandquill.com

A note on reheating:

We’re a sans-microwave household, so as I noted in some of the descriptions above, most of these items will be thawed before heating. Technically, everything can be heated from frozen, and I included instructions for both methods on the containers before popping them in the icebox, but spending, like, 45 mins to reheat a breakfast wrap or a potato just seems silly. Or maybe assuming I’ll have the forethought to defrost a meal in my post-baby haze is silly? Guess we’ll see…

Stay tuned for Part 2 (disclaimer: it may be, like, really really far from now…) when I recount which meals were worth the effort and which ones resulted in a total hormonal breakdown!!! Can’t wait!

xoxo,
Em

How-To: Baby Prep Freezer Meal Plan via thepigandquill.com

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