I had it all planned.
The books I was going to read during nap time…
The long leisurely walks I was going to take with my little one in his beautiful stroller or his baby carrier…
All the knitting I was going to do on maternity leave…
The blogs (Making of Mom for starters) I was going to start…
Ahem. Experienced moms, I can hear you laughing at me :p
You can probably guess that it didn’t turn out how I planned it.
No. Turns out, my blood pressure was super high at my last appointment, and I ended up being induced.
No freezer meals. Half packed hospital bag (ok, I only forgot the shampoo). Doing anything but sleeping during nap time? Crazy talk!
I was so lucky that my mom came to look after me for the first two weeks. In the last couple of days before she went home, we planned out a month’s worth of freezer meals, bought all the supplies and chopped, diced, and froze everything I needed for the next whole month.
(We also made some lactation cookies, some freezer lactation smoothie packets, and some pizzas – what more could a pizza-loving, sweet-toothed new mom want?)
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Best thing? It actually lasted more than 31 days. Some nights, my husband cooked. Some nights, we ate out or had leftovers.
My favorite freezer meals were the slow cooker ones. They aren’t cooked before freezing so you don’t get that reheated taste, it’s fresh cooked! All you need to do is defrost the meal in the fridge overnight, grab a crockpot liner (no mess!), a stash of plastic plates and cutlery and you’re golden. No mess, no cleanup, too easy!
How to Attack Your Prep Sessions
There are a couple of ways to attack this process, but here’s what we found worked best:
- Print out your grocery list.
- Check off everything you already have in sufficient quantity.
- Get groceries. You might want to try ordering online or, alternatively, you could get to your local farmer’s market. Personally, I’d say if you can you should split your efforts into 3 sessions over 1-3 weeks. It’s a lot of work! Don’t forget to get ziplock freezer bags.
- Create action stations and work in bulk. Wash all the vegetables in the sink at the same time. Peel them all. Dice, slice, or julienne them all to the recipes specifications and then divide them into the plastic bags. Speaking of plastic bags, these holders are awesome at keeping things from spilling (especially good when pouring tomato sauce into a bag). You’ll also want to make sure you’ve written the name of the recipe plus any instructions on the outside in sharpie before you fill them.
- Seal the zip bags, removing as much air as possible.
- Lay flat and stack in freezer.
- Bask in the glory of knowing you’re on top of the food situation.
Alternatively, if you start early you could double each meal and eat one on that day and put the other in the freezer. Remember that freezer meals should be eaten within 3 months though.
How to Use Your Frozen Meals
Most of the slow cooker recipes, especially the ones with chicken, need to be defrosted prior to adding them to your slow cooker.
For those, defrost overnight in the fridge. Pour the contents into the slow cooker and heat on low for the required number of hours.
Ready For Your Recipes? Here Goes…
Here are the recipes complete with original links:
1. Crockpot Chicken Fajitas
This recipe is deceptively simple, yet delicious. There’s not too many ingredients to go in the bag, but you’ll need to plan ahead to have some fresh ingredients to go with it (like tortillas, cheese, tomato, lettuce, guacamole, and sour cream).
2. Easy Crockpot Creamy Lemon Pepper Chicken
When you’re looking after a newborn you just want tasty, low fuss food. This creamy lemon pepper chicken fits the bill nicely. Serve with green beans and rice for a complete and filling meal.
Note: mushrooms can get a little mushy in the freezer, if you’d rather, you can add fresh diced mushrooms to your shopping list the week you plan to cook this meal.
I also tend to prefer to freeze as few ingredients in the bag as possible (to save freezer space) – so for this recipe, I’d buy the can of cream of chicken soup and make a note on the freezer bag to add it prior to cooking.
3 & 4. Freezer Chicken Pot Pie
This one takes a little work, but makes up for it in flavor and sheer comfort food factor. Why not make 2?
5. Buffalo Chicken Chili
Calling all buffalo chicken lovers – you can’t miss this recipe. It’s quite spicy… so may not be the best if you’re breastfeeding (spices can transfer through breastmilk and upset the little one’s digestion). Or simply substitute the hot sauce for a mild one (or passata.)
6 – 15. Marinated Chicken Packs
If you can get chicken breast on sale, BOGO, I am eternally jealous and recommend you immediately stock up and make these 10 chicken packs for the grill. Serve with rice on busy days, or with a salad.
16. Mexican Chili with Cornbread Topping
This is one of my favorite recipes of all time. Maybe it’s because cornbread isn’t very common over here in Australia? Anyway, I was impressed by the way the cornbread cooks on top of the chili, and it absorbs the flavors in a most delicious way!
Note: because we don’t have cornbread in Australia I can’t just buy a box at the store so I make up ziploc bags of this recipe (dry ingredients only) and write what additional ingredients I need to add on the bag.
17. Beef Roast with Carrots
It took me a while to make this one. I’m not a big fan of roasts and the cost of buying a large chunk of meat usually turns me off. (It’s a mental thing). But, this roast is soo worth it. The flavor is incredible! Love the chipotle seasoning packet.
18. Beef Stew
This hearty beef stew will keep you going (and impress the meat eaters in your life!) Freeze without the stock as it probably won’t fit in your freezer bag otherwise!
19. Honey Garlic Chicken and Veges
This recipe is almost an all-in-one with lots of delicious flavors. Add green beans in the last 30 minutes of cooking (you could use frozen!) for a complete meal.
Note: freezing potatoes seems kinda weird… and they can get a bit mushy. However, if you’re prepping this in advance, try par-cooking them. Alternatively, you could add them fresh on the day.
20 & 21. Pineapple Beef Teriyaki
Sweet and savory was a combination I took a while to warm up to. Now I love it! Which makes this recipe a real winner in my house.
Note: although the instructions on this recipe require signing up for a membership, you can add all the listed ingredients to your freezer bag and defrost overnight before you want to cook it. The time says 7 hours (that almost always means on ‘low’) and according to this website, you can convert cook time to high by dividing it by 2.
22. Honey Bourbon Chicken
Lots of flavor in this one and it’s also gluten and dairy free! It’s perfect on rice or with a side of veges.
Note: the instructions on this recipe require signing up for membership… so here’s mine! Add all ingredients to your freezer bag EXCEPT for the ‘serving day’ ingredients. Freeze. Defrost overnight and add to your slow cooker on low for 8 hours. Mix the serving day ingredients into a slurry and add to slow cooker and stir. Turn to high and cook for an additional 30 minutes to thicken.
23. Chicken Soup with Mexican Seasonings
All in one meals are my favorite. Not only do you not have to worry about sides or extras, it’s a simple matter of freeze and dump into your crock pot. This recipe fits the bill to the tee and it’s delicious too!
24. Chicken Philly Cheesesteak
This is a great recipe. We forgot to get bread rolls and sweet potato, but it’s equally tasty served over rice.
25. Spring Chicken Soup
There’s something about chicken soup. This version is comforting and packed with flavors. It also hits the important food groups in one dish. Love it!
Note: this was one of my favorite recipes, however, there are a couple of elements that don’t freeze particularly well >> like the scallions. If I were doing this again I’d either substitute brown onion or make a note to add scallions to the shopping list for the week and add them fresh. Also note that the orzo needs to be added later in cooking, so don’t freeze it!
26. Southwestern Pork Chili
I really enjoyed the depth of flavor in this chili. I’m not a fan of ground pork/turkey/chicken so I substituted chicken breast and simply shredded them at the end. Worked a treat!
27. Cheesy Tortellini
This is not the healthiest recipe on the list. But sometimes you just need a few extra comfort food calories to keep you going.
On prep day, I recommend cooking the beef, onion and garlic mixture and allowing to cool before adding to the freezer bag along with the ingredients from step 2. Freeze the package of tortellini separately and the cheeses in a separate zip loc bag.
28. Chicken Parmesan
What’s not to love about cheesy chicken? This recipe is a little time consuming – all that breading – but it also is a little healthier given it’s oven baked rather than fried.
29. Peanut Lime Chicken
This Thai inspired recipe is perfect cooked in the crockpot, or on the stove (way handy for those days when you forget to take dinner out in time for the crockpot).
30. Pesto Chicken Quinoa Bowl
I’m a big fan of quinoa. It’s a really tasty and versatile grain. I love how it picks up the flavors of the chicken in this recipe.
31. Cilantro Lime Chicken
This dish is very versatile – serve it over rice like a burrito bowl, use it in tacos, or burritos, or even nachos. Play it the way you like it!
Note: cilantro doesn’t freeze the best, so if you’d prefer to you can omit it or add it fresh on cooking day.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve received a few questions about these meals over the years, here are some of my answers!
Are you sure x ingredient will freeze ok?
Honestly, sometimes I’m not… until I make it myself. What I do if I have any reservations about how something will freeze is to leave it out of the freezer pack, note on the bag that it requires x amount of x ingredient and try to remember to add it to my weekly shopping list so I can add it fresh.
If in doubt, leave it out (or add it fresh)!
Why do some of these recipes require signing up for something to get the instructions?
Things have changed since I first wrote this post! You used to be able to access the Once a Month Cooking recipes in full without membership now you can only see lists of ingredients. Sorry about that!
Luckily, crockpot freezer meals are pretty simple, dump and go affairs! I’ve provided a note with each of these recipes that you can use to prep / cook the meal and if you’ll notice the cook time is actually included on the link.
Over to You
Have you prepared any freezer meals in preparation for your new arrival? You can use my list, or combine it with your own family favorites. Pick the ones you like, ditch the ones you don’t, or double any that take your fancy.
Don’t forget to check out the next post in this series >>> 10 Make Ahead Breakfasts for New Moms! You can make 89 serves of breakfast in a few hours. That’s more than enough to last you an entire month.
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