Freezer meals and meal planning is a big thing on Pinterest and shared on social media these days. However, most people take a month at a time or perhaps a week at a time when it comes to things like make ahead meals or freezer meals. Typically that’s folks that are only doing dinners, and likely are going the crock pot route with their plans. Unfortunately for that to work, you have to REMEMBER to put stuff in the crock pot in the morning. As a new mom, I never actually remember to do anything about dinner until, well, dinner. Living with a newborn is from feeding to feeding, bathroom break to bathroom break, and passed out cold to passed out cold in between baby crying. Who can remember dinner? With my first child I was completely unprepared due to unusual circumstances. I feel so sad reading that for the younger me, but there is something to be said for experience! I vowed if we ever had children again, that I would be more prepared. That’s where my post-partum meals posts came in to play. My goal was to make breakfast, lunch and snacks for at least a few days so that if we did NOT have help and were too tired to cook that something tasty and hot was available to us in pretty short order. That meant planning ahead several MONTHS to have items cooked, stored properly and frozen. A deep freeze is invaluable in this endeavor. Check out my top 5 reasons to have a deep freezer post here.
I suppose now you’re wondering how far ahead you can plan, right? Food Safety.gov suggests 2-3 months for soups and 2-6 months for cooked meat. Casseroles with eggs, baked, last 2-3 months in the freezer. The USDA says that nearly every food frozen will keep indefinitely but for quality suggests 2-3 months for anything you’d consider a ‘freezer meal’ see chart at very bottom of page. There’s a lot of great information throughout that page, so take some time to read up on things like bacteria, freezer burn, etc. Here’s a much prettier PDF version if you want a print out! For things like breads, muffins, fresh fruits and veggies, plus packaged foods, get all the info on pantry, fridge and freezing those here: North Dakota State Univ. Food Storage Guide. As always use your best judgement, but all of these are reputable sources that line up with common sense. Use yours, if it doesn’t look or smell good, don’t eat it!
Stay tuned for more recipes, ideas and things to think about while planning for those sweet newborn days!