Food Prep Before Baby Arrives
Around 32 weeks pregnant it occurred to me that I needed to figure out how to keep myself and my husband fed — and perhaps even fed with reasonably nutritious food — once baby arrived. Without either me being the one to prepare said food after baby arrived or totally breaking the bank with ordering take out every night.
This was our situation:
We are blessed to be part of a church community that sets up ‘Meal Trains’ for new parents. Essentially a simple online platform to organize friends to bring you meals. Thus, we would have some baseline assistance with food. But I recognized that even if the meal train fully filled up, that would amount to 4 dinners a week for 4 weeks — a tremendous help, but not all the food we would need. We also were anticipating visits from moms (who both love to cook), and intended to increase our “meals out” budget line item for a couple months to be able to order more take out. But I still felt we would likely need some bandwidth for more meals, and if I wanted those meals to a) be on my terms/preferences and b) not have to be made by me or my husband while trying to adjust to life as a family of 3, I would need to do something about that in advance of baby’s arrival.
So this was my solution:
A snapshot of my freezer just before 40 weeks preggo.
What you see is more than a dozen meals in 2 portion allotments, totaling 34 portions, or 17 meals for 2 adults. Cauliflower and lentil curry. Chicken taco soup. Indian vegetable curry. Algerian chicken and vegetable couscous. Beef and vegetable barley soup. All made by me.
Lest that seem on the surface far from practical or sensible, let me explain.
We tend to eat mostly at home, mostly food that we cook from scratch (see also this post on how we meal plan). For both lunches and dinners we tend to cook 2–3 meals per week, each of which we eat for several days. For about two months before my expected due date, I planned to make two extra portions of as many meals as I could. Now, not every meal lends itself to freezing (e.g., salads), and I’m not always accurate in my portions (e.g., intending to make 8 portions but it only ends up being 6). But over the course of 8 weeks, it worked out that on average I could prep a bit extra for 2 of the 4–6 items I made that week, getting me to that total of 17 meals for 2 adults. All fitting in a standard freezer.
In my mind, that relatively tiny amount of extra work over a longer period of time felt way more doable than say, at 37 weeks of pregnancy going on a cooking spree to make and freeze a whole bunch of food all at once. And I know people do it that way, and it works perfectly well for them. But this little-bit-extra method worked well for me for a few reasons. Both my husband and I planned to work until baby came, so our bandwidth to carve out an extra 4–6 hours (or however much) for a cooking spree on top of our weekly meal prep felt difficult to carve out. Second, I suspected (and was correct) that the closer I got to my due date, the less energy I would have, and therefore the less inclined I would be for marathon cooking sessions. Third, I suspected (and was correct) that we would have plenty of other last minute errands and tasks to prep for Baby #1, even if we were relatively organized and did our best to get things done in advance.
All in all, this method worked well for me, and provided us with a variety of healthy, homemade meals to eat over the first months of our baby’s life!