I posted some pictures of my meal-prepping endeavors on Insta the other day, and got some questions, so I thought I’d write a post about pre-baby meal prep in our house. Disclaimer: this is not a picture-heavy post because #rawchickenfingers.
Most of my “meal prep” isn’t meal prep in the traditional sense. I’m not a big fan of crock-pot meals (I know, I know) and the way I cook isn’t usually conducive to one-pot, make-it-and-freeze-it sort of stuff. I wish it were because it’s easier, but I’m a pretty picky eater (read: I have to see all the parts of my food, so soups and casseroles are off the table) and so this is how I make it work for us. Yes, this will be pasta and rice heavy, because my favorite easy recipes usually contain one or the other, and the first few weeks after having a baby is all about ease, comfort, and good fuel.
For me, a lot of it is about the meat. Handling raw meat on the daily is not something I enjoy, and you know how it is with a newborn: anything with germs is like the anti-Christ and must be kept away at all costs! Thus, I prep all of our meat in advance. I do this monthly, although not to this extent.
First, I made batches of chicken parm and plain chicken cutlets. For the chicken parm, dredge in seasoned flour, then a water or milk and egg mixture, then a mixture of panko, Parmesan cheese, Italian herbs like oregano and basil, paprika, garlic, and a little salt and pepper. For the plain chicken cutlets, same deal with flour and egg and then panko plus basil, a little parm, and lots of garlic. Freeze flat on parchment or a silpat or waxed paper, then divvy up into freezer bags. To cook, I bake the chicken parm in the sauce, and I saute the plainer cutlets in butter and olive oil (not the healthiest, but so delicious).
I also bread and freeze these pork chops.
I know that seems like a lot of breading, but serve with a little pasta or wild rice and a lot of veggies (our faves are roasted asparagus or broccoli, or sauteed green beans) and it’s not so bad. I also try and find whole-wheat panko instead of the processed white.
For more “flexible” meat ideas, I dice chicken breast and slice beef and freeze so I can just thaw and throw into stir fry or whatever without actually touching the meat. I like stir fry because it’s heavy on the veggies, light on the junk, and requires minimal effort. I get the big bag of stir-fry veggies from Costco, and make several batches of this sauce which has become our tried-and-true favorite. We eat it with rice or with Asian ramen-y noodles! I also make ahead the sauce for the Pioneer Woman’s Beef and Snow Peas and slice up beef for it. I used to put the whole kit and caboodle in the freezer to eliminate a step, but Bert and I both agree that soy sauce tastes funny when it’s frozen and thawed. Another sauce I made ahead is for this Kung Pao Chicken. Again, it’s a great, easy recipe and you can throw a ton of veggies in!
Since the meat is sliced and the sauce is made, all you have to do is throw rice in a rice cooker or some noodles on the stove (the noodles we like cook in less than four minutes), and throw the rest in a skillet. No knives or cutting boards or effort, really, and you can do a lot of it (not the actual skilleting) with a baby attached to you!
Another sauce I make ahead is the sauce for Simple Sesame Noodles, which I serve with veggies potstickers that I’ve pre-made and frozen, or just purchased from Costco.
A “fancier” meal I sort of prep for those miraculous good days when everything is jiving is fajitas. I pre-marinated some steaks (and arm roasts, I think, this time around) with this recipe, and they can marinate more while they’re thawing and I’m cutting up peppers and onions. But still, not a ton of dealing with meat!
I also do a couple of batches of meatballs, and this time I’m trying my hand at a couple different recipes for lactation cookies and some blueberry oatmeal breakfast bars–I’m hoping Wace likes the bars because he loves blueberry muffins but they’re not the healthiest!
I make sure we have plenty of “Bert Food” too, like frozen burritos and pizzas and roast beef and such, because even though I love cooking for my boys, I can’t always manage it in the crazy postpartum days. He’s super busy this time of year, too, and so it’s nice to know that he’s set. I’ve made sure to have a huge abundance of granola bars, fruit pouches, Naked smoothies, string cheese, peanut butter, juice boxes, whole-wheat bread, protein waffle mix, and fruits and veggies for us all to eat during the day, and try to keep sugar and soda out of the house since I’ll just devour it. When I had Wacey, I kept a stash of mini York Peppermint Patties in the freezer, and I’ll probably do the same this time around–Yorks aren’t as sugary as usual candy bars but totally hit the spot for me, and the peppermint is wonderful since I haven’t eaten anything minty since, like, September. #heartburn.
Other easy dinner ideas: Pasta (we use Bucatini) with Italian Sausage and Herbs, breakfast for dinner with canned or homemade-and-frozen biscuit dough, angel hair with sauteed Canadian bacon and asparagus (Bert eats his with homemade alfredo), pasta primavera with canned or pre-made pesto sauce (Costco has a GREAT one in the refrigerated section, just saute some veggies and chicken and throw it on some pasta with the pesto and BAM), chicken nuggets with mac and cheese when you really just cannot (we get the dino shaped ones from Costco so we obviously cannot on a semi-regular basis), Italian sausage links with pasta or tortellini/ravioli, sauce, and veggies (if you live in CO get Sara’s Sausage, it’s SO good. I know we can get it from either Safeway or Walmart most of the time), and, of course, frozen pizza.
Basically, we’re ready for Armageddon over here, which is pretty unnecessary but gosh it makes me feel good. #TypeAPlanner.
…and no, we haven’t had the baby yet.