Make-Ahead Recipes to Prepare for the Arrival of Baby

It’s almost a right of passage to fill a freezer with food in preparation of baby’s arrival. We’re sharing our best freezer-friendly and make-ahead meals and snacks to nourish you and your family postpartum, along with all of our best tips and tricks for making it as easy and simple as possible.

Make Ahead Recipes for Baby

Make Ahead Meals to Prepare for Baby

Whether you are about to be a new mom, cooking for others, or are welcoming your 2nd, 3rd or 4th baby, it’s always a good idea to prepare food for the freezer before the arrival of a baby. Not only is homemade food prepared for the freezer much healthier for you to nourish you during a somewhat chaotic time, preparing food is a lot more economical than store-bought or take-out. And it obviously tastes so much better! We’re sharing all of our favorite freezer meals, snacks, and some ideas for some purchased staples to keep on hand for after baby arrives. But first, some stuff to keep in mind:

  1. Moms are HUNGRY after they give birth. Just like during pregnancy moms typically eat more than usual, and often in more frequent intervals throughout the day. So make sure to plan to have both meals and snacks prepared ahead of time.
  2. Sometimes if you are breastfeeding, a baby might not react well to certain foods, or they could be allergic, so try to plan some meals without some of the common food allergies for babies, especially dairy, as that is the most common. See below for more info about this.
  3. Your tastes might change postpartum, so definitely make a variety of meals, some with meat if you eat it, and some without.
  4. If you are lucky, you also might be the recipient of some gifted meals once you give birth. So do leave a little bit of room in your freezer in case a friend stops by with some frozen meals.

We published a comprehensive resource on making meals for the freezer for any occasion a few weeks back but wanted to put together one specifically designed for filling the freezer before the arrival of a new baby. If you are interested in learning more about freezer meals, check out this Comprehensive Freezer Meal Guide.

Best Post Partum Freezer Foods?

So what makes a good meal to freeze for after baby arrives? Well, the answer to this is partly personal. You want to make sure you are making foods that you really are going to want to eat. Just like your tastes can change when you are pregnant, you may find that your tastes change a bit after giving birth. The best piece of advice is to make foods you like towards the end of your pregnancy. You want the foods to be nourishing and healthy, but you also want to make sure you are actually going to want to eat them.

The second piece of advice is to try to make foods that require minimal preparation during the reheat and serving process. It’s best to have foods that just need to be reheated, and that’s it. That way you are not spending too much time preparing anything beyond just defrosting and reheating, because you never can tell what kind of time you will have on your hands once the baby is here.

What is Safe to Eat While Breastfeeding?

Remember all those rules about what you can and cannot eat during pregnancy? The good news is that all of that is now back on the menu (minus alcohol)! You can safely eat anything while you are breastfeeding! However, there are a few things to keep in mind. According to La Leche League (LLL), the food particles you eat do get passed on to your baby via breastmilk. What that means is that it is possible for something you eat to then bother your baby. Some babies can get gassy or even have a mild allergic reaction to something you’ve eaten. This might look like diarrhea, bloody stool, diaper rash, other skin rashes, irritability, or other reactions. Many mothers feel it is helpful to keep track of what they are eating and then try to eliminate the common irritants to see if that improves the symptoms from the baby.

Some of the most common food irritants are:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Tree Nuts or Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Sesame / Tahini
  • Fish / Shellfish
  • Onions / Garlic
  • Caffeine

Dairy is an especially common irritant as many babies under the age of 4 months have a milk protein sensitivity, according to LLL. So when you are preparing meals for the freezer, make sure to have a wide variety of meals and make sure to include some that do not have any dairy in them, just in case!

Best Foods to Freeze

Nearly anything can be frozen, but some foods freeze better than others. Here are some of our favorite things to freeze:

  • Casseroles
  • Soups and stews
  • Muffins and breads
  • Smoothie packs
  • Marinated meat
  • “Freezer Dump” meals
  • Breakfast or dinner burritos
  • Baked egg cups or frittatas
  • Meatballs
  • Breaded chicken
  • Braised or slow-cooked meats

Foods That Don’t Freeze Well

And then there are the foods that don’t take to the freezer so well! While there are exceptions to every rule, we’ve found that these items are not-so-freezer-friendly…

  • Fried foods
  • Anything with mayo
  • Foods with cream (these tend to separate when frozen, so if you do choose to freeze them, they might not defrost the way you expect)
  • Fresh veggies with high water content (such as raw tomatoes or fresh lettuce, which will wilt when defrosted)
  • Raw potatoes (these tend to turn brown in the freezer)

How to Store Freezer Meals for Post Partum

Before you finalize that meal plan, you may want to keep in mind some of the important moving parts when it comes to freezing meals.

Making Space for Freezer Meals

The first thing to think about when planning for freezer meals is, of course, how much space you actually have in your freezer! If you are working with just one freezer, go ahead and clean it out to the best of your ability and assess how many meals you can fit in there. And keep in mind whether or not you think you will need to keep some space open for breastmilk once the baby comes. To be honest, most women find buying a second storage freezer super useful in the early phase of motherhood, so if possible, that would be our recommendation.

Portion Sizes

The next thing to consider is portion sizes. Who are the meals for? If the meals are for your whole family, it likely makes sense to freeze food in large enough portions to feed everyone. If you are making meals for a family of one or two, plan to freeze smaller portions.

Storage Containers

Most of the time, we love using glass storage containers and silicone storage bags, but those aren’t always the best choice for planning freezer meals. Meals can be frozen for a few weeks or months, so it makes more sense to use containers you don’t mind losing for a longer period of time. Plus, eco-friendly glass and silicone containers are often bulkier and may take up an unreasonable amount of space in your freezer.

For freezer meals, specifically, we lean toward other storage options.

Disposable aluminum baking pans are great to use for anything that needs to be baked after being defrosted, such as Baked Zitis, Lasagnas, or Enchiladas. If you want to avoid buying or using these disposable dishes, you can line a glass baking dish with greased foil and then assemble the casserole there. Freeze the casserole until frozen solid, then remove the casserole from the baking dish. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and some additional foil. When you are ready to bake it, place it back in the original casserole dish without the foil and plastic wrap. Defrost as instructed.

You can also look for plastic bags that are marketed specifically for freezer storage, which are made of thicker plastic and are less likely to break. These are great for storing everything from baked goods to soups. When storing soup, stews, or chili, fill the plastic bags and flatten them out and stack them on top of one another and freeze. Once fully frozen, you can store them horizontally, if needed, in the freezer.

Labeling Your Food

Make sure to label all the food that goes in the freezer. You might think you’ll remember what everything is, but take it from us — it’s easy to forget or lose track! When labeling, include the name of the food, as well as the date it was made or the use-by date (three months after it was prepped). Include heating instructions to make life even easier for future you!

Keeping a freezer inventory on a piece of paper outside of your freezer is super helpful for keeping track of everything you have inside. We’ve created a free inventory that will give you a clear picture of what food is in your freezer. This can be found in our comprehensive Ultimate Freezer Meals Guide.

How to Reheat Freezer Meals

So you’ve done all this work to pack your freezer full of lovingly-made, healthy meals and snacks. Now what? Reheating and/or finishing is half the battle when it comes to freezer cooking! And when thinking about choosing meals you want to think for postpartum, try to pick meals that are super simple to reheat.

Defrosting Freezer Meals

The most important step when it comes to reheating! If at all possible, it is always the best choice to slowly defrost freezer meals in the refrigerator overnight or for up to two days.

Defrosting Soups / Chilis / Braises

If you don’t have time to fully defrost soups or other foods that you can reheat on the stovetop, you can place the container in a bowl of warm water until the food can easily pop out of the container. Once you are able to get it out, place the freezer meal contents in a pot with about 1/2 cup water. Cover the pot and cook over medium to medium-low while stirring semi-frequently. Once the entire meal has defrosted, bring the contents up to a boil to make sure it’s fully reheated.

Defrosting Baked Goods

Baked goods without a lot of moisture (such as muffins and bread) can be defrosted at room temperature on the counter. Muffins defrost quickly — usually in about 30 minutes or so — so you can take them out of the freezer in the morning of the day you plan to eat them.

Cookie dough doesn’t always need to be defrosted before being baked. The cookies will likely just need to be baked for longer than the recipe instructs to fully cook through.

Defrosting and Heating Frozen Burritos

No need to defrost these! Unwrap the burritos and place on a plate with the seam side down. Reheat in a microwave for 2-4 minutes until heated through, or place in a toaster oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through.

Baking Freezer Meals

The best way to reheat a freezer meal that is originally intended to be baked in the oven (such as a casserole or enchiladas) is, of course, to reheat the food in the oven. Makes sense, right?

Once the food is defrosted, loosely cover it with foil and bake according to the recipe’s reheating instructions, or at 350ºF until the center of the food reaches at least 165ºF. Don’t forget: It should take no more than two hours to reach 165ºF.

Microwave

Ideally, food should be fully defrosted before it’s reheated in a microwave. Keep in mind that food reheated in the microwave will not have any crispy edges and can tend to reheat unevenly. Stirring the food (especially soups) throughout cooking ensures even cooking. Make sure the food reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF.

Items to Stock up on For Post Partum Foods

While this post is specifically a guide to stocking your freezer with homemade food, we also know that it is equally as important to make sure your house is stocked up with the ingredients needed for easy quick meals and snacks. Below we’ve made a list of foods that will keep for a while and that are great to have on hand postpartum. If you are looking for a more comprehensive guide on pantry items, check out this Pantry Guide. This list focuses on nutrient-dense pre-made snacks and ingredients to make a very quick meal.

  • Jarred pasta sauces and dried pasta
  • Frozen cauliflower gnocchi
  • Good quality frozen meatballs
  • Nut butter (either grab a spoonful from a jar, or buy the packets)
  • Granola bars/energy bars
  • Frozen pizzas or cauliflower pizza crusts (having 1 or 2 good quality frozen pizzas on hand can be a lifesaver!)
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruits
  • Coconut manna (similar to nut-butters, this is a nutritious healthy fat that will keep your energy level up, and can be eaten by the tablespoon)
  • Canned tuna, salmon or sardines (makes a quick meal / snack)
  • Gluten-free crackers
  • Coconut water
  • Kombucha
  • Oats (for overnight oats)
  • Apples and oranges (they keep well in the refrigerator for a long time)
  • Frozen fruit (for quick smoothies)
  • Seeds (chia, hemp and flax) to add to smoothies
  • Dates
  • Chicken sausages
  • Gluten-free bread and good quality-deli meats for sandwiches
  • Hummus and crackers
  • Good-quality dark chocolate

Postpartum Freezer Meal Favorites

Below is a curated list of some of our favorite meals specifically for postpartum. These are meals that are simple to reheat and do not require much hands-on prep after the food has been reheated. For a full list of all the freezer-friendly recipes on this website, check out our Guide to Freezer Meals.

Freezer-Friendly Breakfast Ideas


Potato, Leek, and Chard Frittata: Use within 2-3 months. Can be frozen whole, or in individual portions. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in a 350ºF until warmed through, 20-30 minutes, and reaches a temperature ab0ve 165º.

Gluten Free Banana Bread: Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost at room temperature. Can be frozen whole, or in individual slices/portions.

Maple Blueberry Baked Oatmeal: Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost at room temperature, or microwave for a few minutes to warm up. Can be frozen whole, or in individual portions.

Peanut Butter, Banana Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal: Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost at room temperature, or microwave for a few minutes to warm up. Can be frozen whole, or in individual portions.

PB&J Baked Oatmeal: Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost at room temperature, or microwave for a few minutes to warm up. Can be frozen whole, or in individual portions.

Raspberry Oat Breakfast Bars: Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost at room temperature.

Gluten Free Apple Muffins: Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost at room temperature.

Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins: Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost at room temperature.

Paleo Lemon Blueberry Muffins: Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost at room temperature.

Turkey Tex Mex Egg Muffin Cups: Use within 2-3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in a 350ºF until warmed through, 20-30 minutes, and reaches a temperature ab0ve 165º, or in the microwave.

Spring Vegetable Quiche: Use within 2-3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in a 350ºF until warmed through, 20-30 minutes, and reaches a temperature ab0ve 165º. Can be frozen whole, or in individual portions.

Pumpkin Waffles Freeze for 3-4 months, toast from frozen until warmed through.

Waffle Bites: Freeze for 3-4 months, toast from frozen until warmed through.

Fluffy Paleo Pancakes Freeze for 3-4 months, toast from frozen until warmed through.

Breakfast Burritos: Freeze for 3 months. To reheat, unwrap them and place on a plate with the seam side down. Reheat in a microwave for 2-4 minutes until heated through, or place in a toaster oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through.

Freezer Smoothie PacksFreeze for 1-2 months. When ready to use, blend from frozen.

Breakfast Cookies: Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost at room temperature.

Freezer-Friendly Dinners and Lunches


Classic Chicken Soup: Freeze for 3-6 months. Defrost overnight if you are able. If you want to heat from frozen, you can place the container in a bowl of warm water until the food can easily pop out of the container. Once you are able to get it out, place the freezer meal contents in a pot with about 1/2 cup water. Cover the pot and cook over medium to medium-low while stirring semi-frequently. Once the entire meal has defrosted, bring the contents up to a boil to make sure it’s fully reheated.

Turkey Chili: Freeze for 3-6 months. Defrost overnight if you are able. If you want to heat from frozen, you can place the container in a bowl of warm water until the food can easily pop out of the container. Once you are able to get it out, place the freezer meal contents in a pot with about 1/2 cup water. Cover the pot and cook over medium to medium-low while stirring semi-frequently. Once the entire meal has defrosted, bring the contents up to a boil to make sure it’s fully reheated.

Taco Rice Casserole: Use within 3-4 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat, covered with foil in a 350ºF until warmed through, 20-30 minutes, and reaches a temperature ab0ve 165º.

5 Chicken Marinades (Freezer-Friendly): A great way to meal prep chicken! Serve with a simple side salad. And check out How to Cook Them from Frozen in the Instant Pot.

Healthy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole: Use within 3-4 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat, covered with foil in a 350ºF until warmed through, 20-30 minutes, and reaches a temperature ab0ve 165º.

White Chicken Chili: Freeze for 3-6 months. Defrost overnight if you are able. If you want to heat from frozen, you can place the container in a bowl of warm water until the food can easily pop out of the container. Once you are able to get it out, place the freezer meal contents in a pot with about 1/2 cup water. Cover the pot and cook over medium to medium-low while stirring semi-frequently. Once the entire meal has defrosted, bring the contents up to a boil to make sure it’s fully reheated.

Sweet Potato Chili: Freeze for 3-6 months. Defrost overnight if you are able. If you want to heat from frozen, you can place the container in a bowl of warm water until the food can easily pop out of the container. Once you are able to get it out, place the freezer meal contents in a pot with about 1/2 cup water. Cover the pot and cook over medium to medium-low while stirring semi-frequently. Once the entire meal has defrosted, bring the contents up to a boil to make sure it’s fully reheated.

Sloppy Joes: Freeze for 3-6 months. Defrost overnight if you are able. If you want to heat from frozen, you can place the container in a bowl of warm water until the food can easily pop out of the container. Once you are able to get it out, place the freezer meal contents in a pot with about 1/4 cup water. Cover the pot and cook over medium to medium-low while stirring semi-frequently. Once the entire meal has defrosted, bring the contents up to a boil to make sure it’s fully reheated.

Gluten-Free Turkey Meatballs with Spinach: Use within 2-3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and place in a baking container covered with foil, and reheat at 350ºF until warmed through, 20-30 minutes, and it reaches a temperature ab0ve 165º. Alternatively, you can heat them up from frozen in marinara sauce over low heat.

Pizza Meatloaf Muffins (Gluten-Free): Use within 2-3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and place in a baking container covered with foil, and reheat in a 350ºF until warmed through, 20-30 minutes, and reaches a temperature ab0ve 165º.

Nut-Free Paleo Chicken Tenders: Use within 3 months. Freeze the raw, breaded chicken on a sheet tray. Once frozen, transfer to a long-term storage container. Bake from frozen for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until it reaches a temperature ab0ve 165º.

Baked Ziti: Use within 3-4 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat, covered with foil in a 350ºF until warmed through, 30-40 minutes, and reaches a temperature ab0ve 165º.

Lasagna: Use within 3-4 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat, covered with foil in a 350ºF until warmed through, 30-40 minutes, and reaches a temperature ab0ve 165º.

Immune-Boosting Feel Good Soup: Freeze for 3-6 months. Defrost overnight if you are able. If you want to heat from frozen, you can place the container in a bowl of warm water until the food can easily pop out of the container. Once you are able to get it out, place the freezer meal contents in a pot with about 1/4 cup water. Cover the pot and cook over medium to medium-low while stirring semi-frequently. Once the entire meal has defrosted, bring the contents up to a boil to make sure it’s fully reheated.

Healthy Broccoli Soup: Freeze for 3-6 months. Defrost overnight if you are able. If you want to heat from frozen, you can place the container in a bowl of warm water until the food can easily pop out of the container. Once you are able to get it out, place the freezer meal contents in a pot with about 1/4 cup water. Cover the pot and cook over medium to medium-low while stirring semi-frequently. Once the entire meal has defrosted, bring the contents up to a boil to make sure it’s fully reheated.

Instant Pot Southwest Chicken Soup: Freeze for 3-6 months. Either freeze raw, in a freezer bag or freeze fully cooked. Defrost overnight if you are able. If you want to heat from frozen, you can place the container in a bowl of warm water until the food can easily pop out of the container. Once you are able to get it out, place the freezer meal contents in a pot with about 1/4 cup water. Cover the pot and cook over medium to medium-low while stirring semi-frequently. Once the entire meal has defrosted, bring the contents up to a boil to make sure it’s fully reheated.

Easy Black Bean Soup: Freeze for 3-6 months. Defrost overnight if you are able. If you want to heat from frozen, you can place the container in a bowl of warm water until the food can easily pop out of the container. Once you are able to get it out, place the freezer meal contents in a pot with about 1/4 cup water. Cover the pot and cook over medium to medium-low while stirring semi-frequently. Once the entire meal has defrosted, bring the contents up to a boil to make sure it’s fully reheated.

BurritosFreeze for 3 months. To reheat, unwrap them and place on a plate with the seam side down. Reheat in a microwave for 2-4 minutes until heated through, or place in a toaster oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through.

Freezer Friendly energy bites

Freezer-Friendly Snacks and Desserts


Gluten-Free Lactation Cookies: Freeze for up to 3 months. Freeze fully cooked. Defrost at room temperature.

Chocolate No-Bake Lactation Bites: Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost at room temperature.

3-Ingredient Almond Butter Cookies: Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost at room temperature.

Banana Bread: Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost at room temperature.

Zucchini Bread Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost at room temperature.

Sea Salt Pumpkin Butter Cups:  Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost in the refrigerator, or for a short period of time at room temperature.

Almond Butter Cups: Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost in the refrigerator, or for a short period of time at room temperature.

Creamy Peppermint Coconut Cups: Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost in the refrigerator, or for a short period of time at room temperature.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies:  Freeze raw dough in cookie form, for up to 3 months. Bake from frozen for a few extra minutes.

Mint Chip Energy Bites: Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost at room temperature.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Energy Bites: Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost at room temperature.

Avocado Brownies: Freeze for up to 1 month, defrost overnight in the refrigerator, where it can be stored for about 3 days. Or quickly defrost at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies: Freeze raw dough in cookie form, for up to 3 months. Bake from frozen for a few extra minutes.

Paleo Fudge: Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost overnight in the refrigerator, where it can be stored for about 10 days. Or quickly defrost at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Nut Free Energy Bites: Freeze for up to 3 months, defrost at room temperature.


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Make Ahead Recipes for Baby

3 comments
June 29, 2020

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3 responses to “Make-Ahead Recipes to Prepare for the Arrival of Baby”

  1. Hana Grimm says:

    Thank you for this guide! My daughter is due next week so trying to get some food ready before she comes : )

  2. Keara G. says:

    Love these cookies! Nice texture and flavour. Very filling for a breast feeding Mama! I’ve started using a scale for Lexi’s baking recipes and that makes a big difference too for how gluten free baking turns out. ❤️

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