Whether you’re getting prepared for your own new arrival or wanting to help out a new couple about to enter the baby daze, making healthy & home cooked meals that can be frozen and heated up in between nappy changes, feeds and baby jiggling with little brain function is a sure way to make life with a newborn that little bit easier. When I started maternity leave, I did a huge online TESCO shop in which I stocked up on a months worth of groceries to make up as many home-cooked, nutrient packed meals as possible as well as making sure there were plenty of snacks on hand to see us through the day. Normally, I try to make everything from scratch to keep the costs down, but for time and convenience you’ll spot some store bought sauces & packets in some of the following meals which I’ve split into six categories according to their main ingredient.
Top Tip: Make sure your larder is full of basic ingredients to see you through the prep stage as well as further on. Stock cubes, sauces, pasta, rice, flour & herbs are all essentials!
Beef Stew & Dumplings – Make up the dumplings & freeze separately ready to be added to the stew when you reheat. Add potatoes (if you didn’t include them in the stew initially) or some crusty bread to accompany.
Beef in Black Bean Sauce – Super easy to cook! Just fry up the beef (diced or shredded) and add your frozen stir fry vegetables to the pan with a jar of store bought black bean sauce ready to be cooled & popped in the freezer. When you’re ready, defrost, heat it up and add some microwave rice for a filling meal.
Steak & Onion Pie – I use this super simple John Barrowman recipe I found on the BBC website. The use of ready made pastry is a god send and you can easily make up individual pies rather than one big one by dividing the ingredients into four. Add some vegetables & a serving of mashed potato when you’re ready to serve and you’ve got yourself a tasty & hearty meal.
Chilli Con Carne – We use the Colmans packet mix for Chilli Con Carne – just follow the instructions on the back of the packet. Serve with your choice of rice, jacket potato or garlic bread.
Cottage Pie – Brown your minced beef off in a frying pan and then add to a casserole dish along with sliced carrots, diced onion & peas. Cook on 200 degrees for an hour, cool and freeze. Add mashed potato topping when you’re ready to eat.
Bolognese – Just the sauce! I use the Slimming World recipe to make my bolognese sauce which you can find here. I always cook spaghetti from fresh as to me it just has a nicer texture that way so I cook that on the hob while the sauce is being reheated. You can always add garlic bread on the side too!
Chicken Fajita Mix – We use Old El Paso Fajita kits. Just follow the cooking instructions on the box and freeze. Make sure you freeze the tortillas too!
Chicken Tikka Massala – A definite jar jobby! Dice your chicken breasts, an onion, some cauliflower & brocolli and add to a casserole dish / slow cooker with a jar of Tikka Massala sauce. Leave to cook, cool & freeze. Serve with microwave rice and poppadoms.
Chicken & Mushroom Pie – This recipe from Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals is so so easy. Just accompany it with boiled new potatoes, brocolli & carrots.
Top Tip: Stock up on frozen vegetables – they’re easy to cook up as a side dish for most meals while you’re heating everything else up. It might be an idea to separate larger packs into portions for minimum faff.
Sausage Casserole – Sean’s favourite and again, another Colman’s packet mix. They’re just so easy!
Sweet & Sour Vegetables – Using the other half of the stirfry vegetable back you used for the Beef in Black Bean Sauce simply fry off the vegetables, add your jar of store bought sauce and cool and freeze. Serve with rice and prawn crackers.
Fish & Seafood
Fish Pie – You can buy fish pie mix from pretty much any supermarket and they generally come with instructions on the back of the packet too. However, if you’re more into using fresh ingredients from your local fishmongers, give this recipe from Delicious magazine a go.
Salmon Fish Cakes – Taken straight from the BBC Good Food website, fishcakes are super easy to make and can be served with all manner of things. This is the quickest recipe I’ve found and they’re perfect for freezing and reheating.
Homemade Potato Wedges – Simply cut a large baking potato into eight wedges, top them with some dried herbs or seasoning and pop them in the oven for around 20 minutes. Freeze & reheat as needed.
Homemade Chips – Sean & I both have different recipes for our homemade chips, but my preferred choice is the Slimming World Syn Free one. They’re really easy to make and also really tasty. Again, freeze and reheat as needed. It might be a good idea to do these in bulk & then split into portions!
I’ve made four portions of each of the above meals ready to rotate throughout the first month of life with a newborn. We also bought some pizzas, burgers, sausages & breaded chicken ready to pop in the oven for quick 20 minute meals that don’t require much planning.
Top Tip: It’s a good idea to stock up on things like baked beans, tinned soups, packet /pot noodles and eggs for those times when you’re not really hungry / don’t have time for a big meal but need to have something quick. Beans or egg on toast are super quick to make, full of iron and tasty solutions which can be ready in minutes and soups and noodles make the perfect lunch when you need a little more than a sandwich.