Freezing Meals: Healthy and Hassle Free Dining
When you come home from the hospital with your newborn, the last thing you or your partner will do is take time away from your little one to cook dinner. Fortunately, there are many yummy foods that freeze well, and if you plan ahead, can provide weeks of hassle free dining.
Planning ahead and freezing meals is also a great way to save money. Ordering take-out is easy, but the costs can add up quickly. Also, keep in mind that from a nutritional standpoint, even if you try your best to order the healthiest thing on the take-out menu, the foods you prepare and freeze will probably be better for you. And if you are breastfeeding, they will be better for your baby as well.
If you do decide to freeze some meals before your baby arrives, be sure you have a variety of meals available. It is great to have a freezer full of meals, but if you have only prepared massive quantities of, let's say, your favorite casserole, chances are it won't be your favorite casserole for long!
Below you will find a list of foods that freeze well and are fairly simple to prepare.
Quick and Delicious Frozen Meals
- Pasta & Sauce
- Homemade soups & stews (you can control the amount of salt in homemade soup,
unlike canned soup, which is high in sodium)
- Breaded chicken cutlets
- Breads like banana and zucchini bread (work great for breakfast or dessert!)
- Meatloaf & Gravy
- Macaroni and Cheese
- Fruits (strawberries, bananas, and blueberries)
Foods That Do Not Freeze Well
- Vegetables that retain a lot of moisture (lettuce, celery, cucumbers)
- Dairy products (cream cheese, cottage cheese, milk, custards)
- Fried foods
Avoiding Freezer Burn
Freezer burn can ruin all of your hard work! When moisture accumulates on food stored in the freezer, it can change the taste and texture of your pre-made meals. When preparing foods to be frozen, be sure they are wrapped or sealed tightly. Also, try to get as much air out as you can. Aluminum foil and plastic freezer bags are great for preventing freezer burn.
The safest way to thaw food is slowly. This can be achieved by removing some of the meals from the freezer and placing them into your refrigerator for a couple of hours. Generally, you should allow meat 8 hours to thaw, vegetables 6 hours, and poultry about 4 hours. You can cut this time down by using the defrost button on your microwave or submerging the meals in the cold (note: not hot) water. Also, keep in mind that when meat defrosts, there is a chance that bacteria that causes food poisoning can grow, so it's best not to let meat defrost on your counter.