If there is one thing I have learned over the past 6 years and 4 babies, it is the importance of planning ahead for a new baby.
When a new baby enters your family, it is a wonderful time like no other, but all your routines and schedules are thrown out the window as you adjust to your new life. It doesn’t matter if it is your first baby or your fourth, everything is upside down for awhile as you adjust to life with a new baby.
The best thing you can do? Plan ahead and prepare for life to be a little sleep deprived and wonderfully chaotic for awhile.
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I am a planner by nature and once third trimester nesting hits, I start making lists upon lists in my bullet journal.
Here are 17 of the practical ways I get ready for each new baby – from stockpiling diapers to shopping for household supplies to preparing freezer meals.
I have already started buying all the necessary household items for when baby is born. A few items are on my shopping list every time I go to the store between now and baby.
With baby number 4, I am more focused on freezer cooking than usual, which is the reason for this February Freezer Challenge (all freezing cooking links here).
When you are home with a new baby, you want to have a freezer filled with meals that you or your husband can quickly prepare with little extra fuss.
Here’s a look into my freezer as it is right now. You can see that while there is food in it, there aren’t many meals.
I do try to organize my freezer so I can easily find what I need.
The top shelf is generally for desserts and baked goods, which currently has one apple pie kit, one small container of buckeyes, some Oreos (for my chocolate chip cheesecake crust) and a store bought pecan pie (my husband’s favorite).
The second shelf is for frozen vegetables that don’t fit into my regular freezer (over the fridge) as well as any premade meals. As you can see, there is a container of sloppy joes and a loaf of the Pioneer Woman’s olive cheese bread. Both delicious, but there is plenty of room for more meals!
The third shelf is for meat – both raw and cooked. When I see a good deal on meat, I stock up! Buying meat on sale is one of the best ways to save on your grocery budget – especially if you have extra freezer space! I currently have a package of pork chops as well as 2 pork tenderloins frozen. There is some diced chicken and about 8 pounds of cooked hamburger. I would like to cook some more hamburger and chicken, and add other meat when I see a good sale.
The bottom basket is for the quick convenience foods of frozen pizza and french fries. This where I store all the Ore Ida potatoes I got for $1.49 not that long ago!
I try to organize and utilize all the space on my freezer door as well. The top shelf is for frozen juice concentrate (that I buy when it goes on sale for $1 or less). The top shelf and next shelf are reserved for butter. When butter goes on sale for $1.99/lb at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, I stock my freezer!
The third door shelf is for quick meats like brats, hotdogs and sausage. I also have one jar of homemade broth and I need to make some more.
The fourth shelf is for frozen fruit and I currently have 4 cups left of blueberries. I also double bag and store clearance holiday candy in my freezer – like hot chocolate hershey kisses and candy corn. Sometimes, chocolate chips are on this shelf as well.
The bottom shelf is for anything else – like more frozen vegetables or extra potatoes. That is how I organize my freezer.
Now that you have seen what my freezer currently looks like, it is time to share my plans to fill the freezer.
Here is my before baby freezer plan.
Breakfast Freezer Meals:
My kids and I are big breakfast eaters. While we do eat cereal, we eat a lot of other things for breakfast as well. I am planning on cooking quite a few different breakfast things to make breakfast time easy – especially for my husband who doesn’t normally fix breakfast. The more breakfast options I have in the freezer, the happier we will all be! (Most of these breakfast items I will keep in our freezer above the fridge instead of our extra upright freezer for easy access.)
- Mini pumpkin chocolate chip muffins
- Sausage cheese puffs
- Blueberry bran muffins
- Oatmeal craisin breakfast bars
- Featherlight scones
- Baked oatmeal (Made into individual muffin tin portions)
- Pancakes (Double batch)
I don’t always prep complete freezer meals but when a new baby is coming? This is the perfect time to have some disposable pans made of complete meals that can be thawed and cooked in the freezer. I am still planning to prep some meatballs that can be used in various ways, since my kids love meatballs, as well as hamburger patties for quick grilling. The rest of my freezer meals, I am planning to prepare completely. I love using disposable foil pans with lids like these when I am cooking freezer meals.
- Hamburger patties (4 stacks of 6 patties each)
- Runzas (Double batch – individually wrapped)
- Sausage manicotti
- Meatloaf (Double batch made into giant meatball form)
- Sloppy joes
- Poppy seed chicken
- Sausage crepes (Double batch)
This is an important baking area because what new mom doesn’t need a chocolate treat when she is not sleeping with a newborn? I like to have a couple cookies in the freezer that can be thawed for a quick dessert, as well as dessert or two for the whole family. The pretzel toffee is a treat for mom that can be eaten directly from the freezer when you need a quick chocolate pick me up. So delicious – baby or not!
- Chocolate chip cookies (Kid’s request)
- Tollhouse chocolate chip pie
- No bake chocolate oatmeal cookies
- Pretzel toffee
Miscellaneous Freezer Items:
I have learned to always keep my freezer stocked with ingredients to assemble some of our other favorite meals, like enchilada casserole. Keeping cooked hamburger and cooked chicken are two items always in my freezer but I am needing to restock those.
- Cooked hamburger (10 plus 1 pound bags)
- Diced chicken
- Diced onion bundles
- Chicken broth
- Homemade bread (4 loaves)
- Frozen pizza (Store bought and handy for Dad to cook!)
It looks like a lot but I work better with a list. Don’t you? I also don’t attempt to cook it all at once. I’ll cook an item or two a day until everything is crossed off my list. For example, later this week, I’ll make two pans of sausage manicotti – one for us to eat that night and one to freeze for later. When I brown a bunch of hamburger, I’ll freeze most of it in one pound bags but use some of it to make sloppy joes for dinner and to freeze.
When I tackle freezer cooking, I’m all about doing it in the most efficient way possible. Cook once and eat twice is what works for me. I encourage you to try some different ideas and techniques until you figure what is your most efficient way of freezer cooking.
How to Make Your Freezer Cooking Plan:
Start by making a list of your favorite meals. Choose any that you know freeze well. Most meals will freeze well, although some take a bit of tweaking. All of the meals I am cooking do freeze well, if you need some good freezer recipes. Here are some other good ones.
- 8 Easy Freezer Meals with Chicken
- 13 Easy Ground Beef Freezer Meals
- All My Freezer Cooking Recipes and Articles
From there, divide up your list and start cooking! I find it much easier to do a little bit every day (one or two meals or a meal and a dessert). Some people prefer to devote an entire day to cooking and get everything done at once. Decide what works for you and start working at it.
As you finish cooking, be sure to label your meals and seal them tightly before freezing. I have more details on my Freezer 101 post here.
Whether you are expecting or not, having a freezer cooking plan is always a good idea!
What is on your freezer plan right now? Do you have a go-to freezer meal that you love to make?