9-months pregnant and desperately need to stock the freezer. Ideas for nutritious meals that will freeze and reheat well?

My partner and I are planning to cook up a storm before the baby arrives. We're looking for some meal ideas that we can make ahead, freeze, and reheat once baby boy arrives. The catch: I maintain a gluten-free, largely vegetarian diet. I do eat dairy, eggs, cheese, fish and seafood, though. I'm open to using par-cooked g/f brown rice pastas. We also anticipate that we'll be able to manage making some rice and other grains to accompany our made ahead main and veggie dishes, as necessary. We just want to make sure that we are don't have to be both sleep-deprived and malnourished! Bonus points for anything that can be easily consumed one-handed while breast-feeding ;) Thanks!



renee.euler January 15, 2012
All soups and stews are great and easily frozen. Get out a crockpot and make two meals at once on the weekends. Here is one of our (GF and veg) new favorites:

Check out Stephanie O'Dea's website for GF (and some veg) things to make in the crockpot that you can then freeze. Her Sloppy Lentils in her new cookbook is easy and freezes well. http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2005/12/vegetarian.html

Enchilada casseroles are also easy and filling, using corn tortillas instead of GF noodles, which don't always reheat very well. This freezes well in single portions too.

And make sure you have a rice cooker. Turn on the rice and forget about it. Throw some tofu and frozen vegetables into a stir-fry and top with one of the San-J GF marinades/sauces. Super easy.

Quinoa also cooks well in a rice cooker. Cook, then chill and make one of these high protein salads. We can happily eat on these for days.

This taco filling is also great. Freezes well too. We eat it as taco filling but also as taco salad topping or with cheese melted on top with tortilla chips.

Hope this helps!
Renee, GF and Veg also, @ www.beyondriceandtofu.com
rapearson January 10, 2012
Before I had my baby last year I froze up some food as well. Actually I'm thinking of doing this again because I'm still busy a year later! One recipe I like to freeze is the Silver Palate's black bean soup recipe (you can omit the ham hock of course).

I also premixed muffin and cornbread dry ingredients and stored them in a stapled-shut paper bag. I wrote the remaining instructions for what to do on the outside of the bag (or just the page # of the cookbook) so that my husband could make cornbread later without my assistance. Also just saving that 5 minutes on mixing the dry ingredients really does help!

One of my friends has freezed entire cooked quiches.

I've also learned since starting to make my own baby food that I can freeze steamed butternut squash, sweet potatoes and cooked beans and grains. This is helpful for preparing dinner for the adults as well I find.

Also, I am really enjoying the cookbook Feeding the Whole Family. It has tips on what to feed a 6+ month old with every recipe plus the recipes are quite good and healthy. I recommend it to other moms and moms-to-be.
java&foam January 9, 2012
hey, i know it was 20 days ago and its possible you're lovely baby is already here BUT i saw this on the food 52 website today and while its possible merril already copied you on the link herself since she mentions this specific hotline question in the article (funny enough, i thought of this question the instant i saw the title on the home-page and looked it up myself)...i thought you should see it in case you hadn't already or need more ideas to refill your freezer with.


hope being parents is turning out awesome! happy cooking!
ChaosTheory January 10, 2012
Thanks, java&foam. I am still preggo -- 4 days until my due date. I've now got a freezer full of soups (minestrone, cauliflower, and chickpea spinach), gluten free breads, lentil bolognese, corn scallion pancakes, rice bran raisin muffins, etc. I was wondering whether Merril had the same project on her mind and am glad to have her list of recommendations. If I can find a little extra room in the freezer, I'm going to continue stocking up until the little guy decides to make his move. Mostly because I need something to do with my nervous energy! I appreciate the heads up!
Angela @. December 20, 2011
Cook up an entire bag of brown rice and freeze in 1 or 2 cup portions. I know you're willing to do this as you go but this is a cheap and convenient.

Also, I'm trying to cut down on plastic and have started freezing things in large cardboard to-go cups. Bonus #1 shop Costco or smart & final and it's cheaper then brand name zip bags, bonus #2 no worries about plastic contaminating our food, and bonus #3 were I live these cups can go in the compost.

Happy, happy baby!
SKK December 20, 2011
A constant item in my freezer is Vegetable Bouillon (homemade) . It does not freeze solid and is easy to take out whatever portion you need for soups, egg recipes, wherever you want the addition of this most amazing flavorful bouillon. http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/homemade-bouillon-recipe.html
LLStone January 15, 2012
I love the idea of homemade bouillon! Thanks for the link.
ChaosTheory December 20, 2011
Thanks for all the great suggestions. Making a grocery list now! Minestrone, bean chili, mini fritatas, oat cakes and baked pasta dishes are all on the list. If anyone has favorite casseroles recipes, let me know. We've got a tried and true method for making rice (bring to boil on the stovetop, bake at 350 for 40 minutes), but I might pick up a Zojirushi for the convenience and the steaming capacity.
Sam1148 December 20, 2011
I have mixed feeling about 'fuzzy logic' type rice cookers. They do a great job. I have a Sanyo Model fuzzy logic one now; but I really, really miss my old Panasonic/National brand which died years ago, after 20 years of service.
My Sanyo has a 'flip top' lid---so no steaming a bit of fish and veggies while making making rice, so look for ones without a 'flip top' lid if you want to steam and cook rice at the same time.
Go a bit smaller than your eyes on rice cookers---they don't scale very well for two people if you get an over-sized one. Look for ability to steam while making rice---and by all means avoid the big oval ones, you want a happy little tub model with a small counter top footprint.

The one button models are cheaper and have a stack able steamer insert. I think some form factors of the fuzzy logic ones include those now. But pricey. The steamer insert is also great for steaming dimsum or stuffed veggies while making rice. Both of which can be frozen and steamed while cooking the rice.
Helen's A. December 20, 2011
I make all kinds of soups, stews and casseroles for my in laws. I freeze individual portions in those inexpensive rectangular supermarket containers. Once frozen, I pop them out of the container & process in my FoodSaver. The FoodSaver is an investment, but it more than pays for itself over time. Make sure you LABEL what you freeze with the date. My husband called me the other day because he heated up some "soup" for lunch which turned out to be 1.5 cups of refried beans! LOL... If you have the individual portions, you can heat some up quickly whenever you like.
susan G. December 20, 2011
When you have more than one child you will wonder why you thought life was out of control with the first -- but it is! The good thing is that things simmer down pretty soon and life with a baby becomes the new normal.

Wonderful suggestions above! I'm especially impressed with the rice cooker techniques -- rice, steamed veggies, hot protein, sauce to keep it changing and interesting sounds good to me.

No brainers: eggs, toast, salad; peanut butter on whole grain bread; and the lifesaver at my house, fried tofu sandwiches with Russian dressing and coleslaw.

Keep in mind too that you will need more fluids for lactation. That makes soup a very good option, either from your freezer or put together by winging it. For now, whatever you are cooking can be made with lots of leftovers designated for the freezer. I've even heard of baby showers where the 'gift' is food for the freezer. Hope you have a big freezer!
jelly December 20, 2011
Make your favorite red sauce for Italian dishes and freeze them in ice cube trays. Once frozen put the cubes in large ziploc freezer bags. When you need some of the sauce just take out a couple of "cubes" and reheat. I have found that 6 cubes= 1 cup of sauce so you can plan accordingly and use what you need. Good luck with baby
chez_mere December 20, 2011
Vegetarian enchiladas are awesome. Use whole corn tortillas, spinach, onions, bell peppers and black beans in the filling, and top with spiced up tomato sauce and cotija cheese. Or veggie lasagna subbing noodles for thin slices of winter squash. Tis the season :)
Cannizzo December 20, 2011
Sorry, didn't finish the recipe after the oregano you add the rind from parmigian cheese this gives it a great flavor simmer for two hours than add a couple of cans of cannellini beans drained simmer for another thirty minutes lot of chopping but this soup is worth it you could also add some rice or pasta but boil on the side and add as need
Cannizzo December 20, 2011
Make a big pot of minestrone soup potatoes , carrots, zucchini , string beans, whole canned tomatoes, salary, onion,garlic,olive oil, one whole head of cabbage shredded chicken stock or you could use vegetable,dry basil,bay leaves,dry oregano oregano. oregano
SKK December 20, 2011
Celebrate a happy, healthy Baby and Congratulations to the parents!

Macaroni and Cheese

Mini frittatas

Spinach Quiche
Can be eaten cold or if you have time heat it up. Cheese and eggs provide protein and spinach helps with iron-cravings.

Black Bean Chili http://www.food52.com/recipes/2431_black_bean_chili

Tuna noodle casserole

Eggplant Parmesan

Oatcakes Syronai says “If you fill them with flax and amaranth, they'll even promote lactation (to an extent). My basic recipe is here: http://www.food52.com/recipes/12467_scottish_oat_cakes ??You can use any type of ground nut for the nut meal. Pecans and almonds

Voted the Best Reply!

java&foam December 20, 2011
from what I've heard, chili freezes very well. lots of fiber and protein and you can make it to your liking in terms of flavor. if you make a giant batch of soup, portion it up before your freeze it so you only need to thaw as much as you want to eat at a time, and make sure to leave space at the top of the containers when freezing soups so they don't expand and break their containers.

a really cool idea i heard for freezing casseroles (lasagna and such) is that you can line your casserole dishes with foil as you assemble it. then, once it freezes, you can lift the casserole out of the foil and store it in a giant freezer bag so you don't have to have your dish held hostage in the freezer for weeks at a time in case you need to use it again. This way, you could have multiple casseroles in the freezer at once that use the same sized dish...and just drop them in to the dish as you need them.

i hope this helps....best of luck with the little one!
Sam1148 December 20, 2011
Okay...here a simple cost effective suggestion. A ziplock 'vac' system. 5 bucks. It has a little pump you can pump out air to freeze. (not the best solution, as a food saver would be far more pricey option)..however it works great for stews and rice and cheeses (cheeses in the fridge). Ziplock vac bags are pretty cheap when you cook up a stew/soup and prefreeze, then remove the air.

It would work very well with vegi lasagna cut in portions. Or for stuffed cabage leaves with rice and greek seasoning. Or Stuffed grape leaves, or vegie burritos, or vegie tamales.
You probably do need a fresh veggie element, may I suggest a cheap 'one button' rice cooker---such as the Rival model...which cuts down cooking time and has a steamer basket on top steam fresh vegies.
Don't go wild on rice cookers---a one button 20 buck one can be much better for 2 people. (Avoid the Salton brand---they really don't do well).

java&foam December 20, 2011
sam1148 is totally right with the rice cooker. i personally recommend the zojirushi one button rice cookers. The one i use has lasted for years and the rice never sticks inside the pot. don't let the cute little elephant on the side fool you...this rice cooker means business and won't let you down.

Sam1148 December 20, 2011
Thanks for that link. I've always associated Zojirushi with the 'flip top' fuzzy logic high end one.
I so miss my little one button happy pot rice cooker. The bells and whistles on the high end ones don't make up lack of simplicity and steaming.
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