If you’re any sort of fan of chick flicks, you know the scene.
In Steel Magnolias (the 1989 production) Annelle DuPuy was scrambling to make a batch of red beans and rice to give to M’Lynn’s family so they’d have a little something to eat while she recovered from surgery. As she was hurrying into the kitchen her fiancee, Sammy deSoto, pointed out that the beans needed to be soaked overnight…derailing the timing of her dish delivery. Making something else was not an option, according to Annelle, because “it’s in the ‘Freezes Beautifully’ section of my cookbook, and I want to make something that freezes beautifully!”
I don’t know how aesthetically pleasing they may look when we get around to defrosting and heating them up, but I want to use the renewed energy of my second trimester to stock our chest freezer with food that we not only like, but will want to eat on those days when cooking just isn’t a priority.
This sense of food-stocking urgency is new to this pregnancy. The last time we were expecting, I’d just freeze the leftovers of something we’d made, figuring it would come in handy, but didn’t really pay attention to what was or was not piling up in the freezer. Clearly we survived, but this time around I’m acutely aware of the fact that there’s three of us to feed postpartum instead of just two, in addition to keeping a newborn healthy and happy.
I don’t want to feel like I’m making a last-minute dinner decision out of desperation because of a new feeding schedule.
I’m also not expecting to stay out of the kitchen for a very long time after giving birth – something would have to be seriously wrong for such a thing to occur.
What I do want is the security of knowing there’s a variety of meals -or meal starters- to choose from that will make life a little easier on those days that didn’t go as anyone expected, or those evenings when worlds suddenly collide. Something that will be a resource for a few months or so as we get into our new family life groove.
The brainstorm: Paged through our favorite cookbooks to find recipes that are family favorites from about early Fall through mid Winter. Comfort foods, in some cases, go-to weeknight staples in others. Figure out how much of the meal I can make ahead of time, and how many meals I can get out of a single recipe. Like I said earlier, I don’t expect to eat them all right away, and the early Fall is still warm enough to do some grilling. So we’ll be making hamburger patties and stocking packs of chicken drumsticks for some grill-out nights in addition to this cooking.
Timing: Make one dish a week, usually on a weekend, then divvy up and freeze.
The goal: Stock approximately 30 meals in the chest freezer by the end of the second trimester.
The roster: Here’s what will be made, one week at a time. In no particular order:
- Chicken Enchiladas
- Shepherd’s Pie
- Chicken Pot Pie Filling (the idea being that we make the crust the day-of to top the pies)
- Chicken & Dumplings – or at least the stew (the dumplings don’t take much effort to make the night-of, and taste better that way)
- Pulled Pork, for quick sandwiches
- Beef Stew
- Beef Stroganoff Casserole
- Kielbasa Potato Casserole
- Tater Tot Hotdish
- Lettuce wraps – the filling, that is.
Once a week. Seems doable, right?