Don't panic if you've volunteered to bring a freezer meal to a new mom and have no idea what to cook. Freezer meals for new moms don't need to be elaborate or complicated. Most new mothers will welcome any meal that gives them a break from cooking and allows them to concentrate on their babies. Because most foods freeze well, you can convert many of your favorite recipes into no-fuss frozen meals that the new parents can pop in the oven and enjoy along with a salad or vegetable side dish.
What Not to Freeze
Knowing what not to freeze is the key to preparing frozen meals that maintain their taste and quality. You can freeze most meats and vegetables with the exception of cucumbers and fresh greens, which will emerge from the freezer limp, water-logged and tasteless. Don't freeze whole eggs in the shell, cooked egg whites, mayonnaise, custards made with cream, sour cream, or soups and stews thickened with cornstarch or flour. Meals made with these ingredients are safe to eat, but they will lack the right taste and texture. Avoid using potatoes in soups and stews because they can turn brown and mushy. Excessive oil and fat can change the taste of the dish while it is in the freezer, so use minimal amounts when preparing the meals.
Caring for a baby 24/7 takes a lot of energy. Carbohydrate and protein-rich classic comfort foods, such as lasagna, macaroni and cheese, enchiladas, chili, chicken noodle or minestrone soup, homemade pasta sauce, beef stew and pot pies, can give new moms the fuel they need to withstand late-night feedings and early morning wake-ups. Hearty casseroles can feed a crowd quickly if visitors drop by. Don't limit yourself to full meals. Freeze a selection of portable, single-serving meals, such as calzones, muffins, waffles and quesadillas, so new moms can grab a quick meal that they can eat one-handed while caring for the baby.
The right equipment can make the entire food-prep process much easier. Instead of using one of your casserole dishes that the new parents will need to wash and return, purchase inexpensive disposable aluminum containers that they can toss after the meal. Wrap the meal securely with heavy duty aluminum foil. Label it with the name of the dish and the date. If you cook soups or stews for new parents, package them in large plastic freezer bags. Double bag the ingredients to protect them from freezer burn. Provide basic reheating instructions for all of the meals.
Before cooking any meals, ask about any dietary restrictions in the family.You don't want to stock a vegetarian family's fridge with beef stew and sausage lasagna. Keep the ages of other family members in mind when preparing meals. If children will be eating the meal, avoid spicy or highly seasoned dishes. Bring along fresh salad greens, prechopped vegetables and salad dressings so the new families can throw together a salad or vegetable tray. If you want to include a dessert, pack up some frozen cookie dough -- homemade or store bought -- to provide them with an almost-instant sweet treat.
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