Freezer Meals & Snacks to Prep Before Baby

Whether you’re expecting a new baby or looking for guidance on freezer food prep, look no further. Here are 8 useful tips for preparing freezer meals, plus recipes, freezing instructions, and thawing directions.

freezer with containers of freezer meals inside

Feeling ambitious toward the end of pregnancy, I cooked a couple of times each week and ended up stocking our freezer with 8 large-batch meals, plus cookies, healthy snacks, and breakfasts. I felt so accomplished and prepared. More importantly, my mind was at ease knowing we’d have homemade food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacking.

I’m so thankful I did it too. And from time to time, I still prepare meals in advance, which is so useful for busy days or for serving to guests.

chicken chili in glass container for freezer meal

Overview: 8 Tips for Preparing Freezer Meals

It’s so handy and convenient to have prepared meals stocked in your freezer. Here’s what you’ll want to do first.

  1. Clear out your freezer. Unless you have a spare freezer in the garage or basement, clear out as much room as you can in your kitchen freezer. 
  2. Containers + labeling. I like to freeze flat foods in zipped-top freezer bags. Things like cookies, bars, and muffins are perfect for stacking because they are relatively flat. I layer them on paper plates then put the whole plate into the zipped-top freezer bag. Freeze foods like chili, soup, pulled meat, and meatballs in freezer-friendly containers. (Update: I recently began using these glass freezer containers and they’re fantastic for larger batch items.) Label everything with the recipe name and the date.
  3. Freeze in smaller portions. Sometimes it makes sense to prepare food in large batches, but I would lose my mind if I had to eat chicken noodle soup or pulled BBQ chicken for lunch and dinner 5 days in a row. In these instances, I freeze the meals in smaller portions. Smaller portions also reheat quicker. This variety pack of glass freezer containers is very useful for varying portions.
  4. The slow cooker is your BFF. Take full advantage of your crockpot when preparing freezer meals. I often choose “set it and forget it” meals, like my slow cooker chicken chili pictured above, because they don’t require a ton of standing, stirring, chopping, and prep work. Utilizing the slow cooker makes cooking in bulk much easier since it requires little “hands-on” time.
  5. Concentrate on easy and filling meals. Stick with easy, satisfying meals and any recipe that can simply be reheated on the stove for a quick meal.
  6. Bonus if they’re healthy and nutritious. If you have a new baby, a large family, or a super busy schedule, I bet your energy is zapped. Healthy meals sustain you.
  7. Don’t forget about breakfast and snacks. Most people who meal plan only focus on dinners, but breakfast and snacks are just as important. I’m usually running around a lot in the mornings and something as simple as brewing coffee feels like a victory. I link to a bunch of freezer-friendly healthy breakfasts and snacks below.
  8. Don’t stress. You CAN do it all, but you can’t do it all at once. Don’t beat yourself up if you plan to make a dozen meals and only end up preparing 4. At least it’s something!

veggie lasagna freezer meal

8 Freezer Meals

The recipes here are ideal for freezing. They don’t require too much time to prepare and they freeze well. You’ll find that most soups, stews, pasta bakes, and pie dough are great for freezing.

  1. Slow Cooker Chicken Chili. (Picture above.) This meal keeps on giving because it’s super filling and freezes wonderfully. Freeze it in a big container or a few smaller ones. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or place the container/bag in the sink filled with warm water. Once thawed, cook in a large pot on medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until heated through. Or reheat in the microwave until warmed throughout. (Freeze up to 3-4 months.)
  2. Vegetarian Lasagna. I am so grateful I prepared this lasagna. The entire lasagna was prepared in a disposable 9 × 13 inch pan, covered tightly with aluminum foil, and froze it (unbaked). I would defrost it in the refrigerator overnight, then bake (covered) in a 375°F (191°C) oven for 45-50 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until heated through. (Freeze up to 3-4 months.)
  3. Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup. (Pictured below.) This soup is incredibly flavorful, tastes super comforting, and will keep you full for hours. Freeze in 1 big container or a few smaller containers. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or place the container/bag in the sink filled with warm water. Once thawed, cook in a large pot on medium heat for 30 minutes. Or reheat in the microwave until warmed throughout. (Freeze up to 3-4 months.)
  4. Taco Spice Turkey Chili. I LOVE this satisfying chili because it packs big flavor in each bite. Freeze in a big container or a few smaller ones. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or place the container/bag in the sink filled with warm water. Once thawed, cook in a large pot on medium heat for about 30 minutes, until heated through. Or reheat in the microwave until warmed throughout. (Freeze up to 3-4 months.)
  5. Meatballs. I made a double batch of these meatballs – plain. Meaning, I just made the meatballs and baked them in the oven without using the slow cooker or adding the tomato sauce. (You can also skip the browning step: just prepare/roll the meatballs and bake at 400°F (204°C) for 25 minutes.) I recommend making and freezing plain meatballs because when thawed out, you can enjoy them a bunch of different ways such as enjoying with pasta, as meatball subs, or plain with your favorite dipping sauce. Simply thaw overnight in the refrigerator. (Freeze up to 3-4 months.)
  6. Coconut Chicken. This chicken recipe is a family favorite. After the chicken is coated in the coconut, place on a parchment paper or a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat and freeze for 2-3 hours or until frozen solid. Transfer the chicken to a large freezer-friendly bag or container. See the recipe for how to bake/reheat the uncooked frozen chicken. (Freeze up to 3-4 months.)
  7. Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken. This teriyaki chicken is easy, relatively healthy, saucy, and super versatile – what’s not to love? Place the cooked chicken into a freezer-friendly container. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or place the container/bag in the sink filled with warm water. Once thawed, cook in a large pot on medium heat for 10 minutes, until heated through. Or reheat in the microwave until warmed throughout. It’s great over rice or quinoa, with steamed veggies, or sandwich-style in buns. (Freeze up to 3-4 months.)
  8. Pulled BBQ Chicken. Easy and versatile! Freeze in a big container or a few smaller ones. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or place the container/bag in the sink filled with warm water. Once thawed, reheat in the microwave or on the stove until warmed throughout. Great as is, for pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches/sliders, or on top of a salad. (Freeze up to 3-4 months.)

Homemade creamy chicken noodle soup in a pot

How to Freeze Breakfast + Healthy Snacks + Cookies

I love whipping out “fresh baked” cookies if we have company over. And when the moment calls for something sweet, these delicious and nutritious treats will win over most crowds.

  1. Breakfast Cookies. Of course I prepped a bunch of my favorite healthy, gluten-free, and dairy-free cookies. Pile the cookies onto a paper plate, place the cookies + plate in a freezer-friendly bag or container (no need to layer them between parchment), and thaw a few at a time in the refrigerator when you crave a quick and nutritious snack. (Freeze up to 3-4 months.) See note in that blog post about turning these into Lactation Cookies.
  2. Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. Pile the cookies onto a paper plate, then place the cookies + plate in a freezer-friendly bag or container (no need to layer them between parchment), and thaw in the refrigerator. They’re delicious! (Freeze up to 3-4 months.)
  3. Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Granola Bars. Like both cookie recipes listed above, pile the bars onto a paper plate, then place them into a freezer-friendly bag or container (no need to layer them between parchment), and thaw in the refrigerator. (Freeze up to 3 months.)
  4. Breakfast Casserole. Packed with healthy veggies, this quick and simple breakfast will keep you fueled all morning. When I want to freeze it, I bake it in a disposable aluminum pan, then set it aside to cool completely. Cover it tightly with aluminum foil, then freeze. When ready to eat, thaw it for about 24 hours (covered) in the refrigerator, then bake it in a 350°F (177°C) oven for 25-30 minutes. (Freeze for up to 3-4 months.)
  5. Zucchini Bread. This unfussy batter is a cinch to whip up; there’s no mixer required! After the bread bakes and cools, transfer it to a freezer-friendly container. Thaw at room temperature for a few hours before serving. (Freeze up to 3-4 months.)
  6. Apple Crumb Cake. I knew we’d have a lot of visitors when the baby was born, so I made this to serve to family members who’d spend the night. You can bake and freeze it in a disposable 9 × 13 pan or cut the cooled cake into slices and freeze it in a freezer-friendly bag or container. (Freeze up to 3-4 months.)
  7. Cookies! I baked a few batches of cake batter chocolate chip cookies so we could enjoy some treats when we had visitors. To freeze cookies, you can pile them on a plate and place in a zipped-top bag OR cover tightly with foil. Or you can layer between sheets of parchment paper in a freezer container or bag. Thaw at room temperature for a few hours before serving. (Most cookies can be frozen up to 3-4 months.)

Cake batter chocolate chip cookies

Other Helpful Tutorials

79 Comments

  1. Nurfatma Perveen says:

    Kudos to you Sally for meal prepping when you were so heavily pregnant! Can’t wait to give meal prep a go for my work lunches. Hope you are recovering well post pregnancy 🙂

  2. The labeling thing is key! I forgot to label my freezer meals when I was pregnant- hello pregnancy brain- and we ate mystery dinners for a month a lot of the things I cooked looked very similar when frozen so it was always a surprise!

    1. Hahaha I almost forgot to label meals too!

  3. We just went through this with baby #2, and I found it helpful to also have a stockpile of paper plates, foil pans, crockpot liners, and plastic cups/utensils around. When you’re feeding a baby and hubby is chasing a toddler, no one has time to stand at the sink doing a bunch of dishes! Between the crazy-intense nesting urge and remembering what it had been like the first time around, I managed to stick our deep freeze with six weeks’ worth of food! Once we ran out, we turned to our Instant Pot, which has also been a total lifesaver. Congrats, Sally!

    1. I think it’s about time I pick up an instant pot!

  4. Yes yes yes to this! And let me say it’s helpful even when your not having a brand new baby! I work in a tax and accounting firm so January to April is soooooo crazy for me. I do freezer meals so I know my family is getting a good home cooked meal even when I can’t be home to make it. I always do lots of meatballs, chili, and chicken pot pies. And whenever I make a quick bread, I do the little mini loaves and freeze a couple of those too!

    1. Prepping freezer meals is brilliant for busy season!

  5. Sally,
    So very proud of you planning ahead and being able to take care of yourself. Remember-put your oxygen mask on yourself before helping someone else! I had to chuckle at the picture of your freezer-it’s bigger than my fridge!

    1. Thanks Amy!!

  6. With my second pregnancy I was in a ton of pain and freezer meals just weren’t happening.  I went from feeling so miserable to giving birth and feeling like a new woman that I was cooking every night lol.  But this is definitely a good idea and I want to make those breakfast cookies this weekend!!

    1. Thats incredible, Sara! Anything to help make you feel like “you” again.

  7. Patricia @Sweet and Strong says:

    Def a great plan to prepare all these meals before Noelle arrived.  I’m always freezing things, but really need to work on the labeling part.  Sometimes I have to sniff things to figure out what they are, lol.

    1. Being the pregnant scatterbrain I was, I totally forgot to label things until my husband reminded me! So happy I went back and did it because some things look exactly the same and we’d have a fun guessing game to play as we thawed meals out lol

  8. This is perfect timing for me! I am due in 2.5 months with baby #2. Last time I made zero meals and it was a major struggle when the baby came. This time I am determined to prepare as many meals and snacks as I can. Thank you so much for sharing this!!!

    1. Good luck and congrats, Stacey!

  9. Great ideas! My niece is due in 8 days and I think I will do this for her! Glad you are all doing well! Thank you for sharing beautiful Noelle with us!

    1. What a kind gesture for your niece!

  10. Just when I didn’t think that I could be in any more awe of you. Seriously girl, you are my hero! It is nice to hear that you are taking care of yourself as well as precious Noelle. I hope that you are recovering well and feeling okay. Myself and both siblings were born via C Section. My mom always says that C Section babies are ten times more beautiful 🙂 Thinking of you! I will light a candle at church this week for you and your family.

    1. Thank you so much Angela 🙂 
      I’m doing well! Taking it super easy these past few weeks. And I’m definitely thankful I don’t have to worry about cooking!!

  11. There’s nothing better than freezer meals. They’re a staple in my house. Hope you’re feeling better. After I make the apple crumb cake a second time, I’m going to make the cake batter chocolate chip cookies. Hope you’re feeling better. Have a nice weekend.

    1. So glad you’re loving the apple crumb cake!

  12. These are great ideas! Even though I’m not pregnant (or planning to be ever ever again lol), I have a very active 11YO, and it’s always a challenge to plan healthy meals for weeknights. So I’ve been looking for ways to “stock the freezer” on weekends. These recipes look great! I can’t wait to try the chicken noodle soup and the teriyaki chicken. And trust me, things never truly calm down after having a kid, you just learn to adapt around it. Then, as soon as you figure out how to manage one stage, your child moves on to the next with no warning! 😉 But I love your attitude; I think all us moms should give ourselves a break for not being perfect. We have the most important job in the world, but just by loving and caring for our kids, we’re already doing a great job.

  13. I love this post! Very inspiring. I seriously want to get on the freezer meal train. With a mostly vegetarian household, I find it harder to plan freezer meals though. You included a couple here that can work. One thing I am good, though, at is freezing cookie dough. Whenever I make cookies, I make a double batch, so that I can freeze the balls of dough. It allows me to have freshly baked cookies at any time. My favorites are your chewy chocolate chunk cookies and your pumpkin snickerdoodles 🙂

  14. Ok, i’m a busy nurse and student. Finishing my last prerequisite for my RN.
    When I start the program, RN, this will be a godsend to me and hubby. Classes will be 6 days a week- lecture and clinical. So make ahead and freeze, thaw and enjoy. HOORAY.
    This goes into the file for school, so I can grab and go.

  15. I applaud you for doing this. My oldest will be 17 this month and I’ve been saying for 17 years I’m going to start cooking on Sunday for the whole week and still haven’t done it…sign…ha…having 3 c sections, I understand your pain. .just maybe I will get motivated to do these. :)…
    Blessings, Sara Lee

  16. I love this. I don’t have any babies on the way, but still wish I could meal prep like this. Maybe I’ll add to my list of goals. Along with clearing out my freezer. 🙂 I am glad to hear you had the energy to prep all these meals in advance. And your right I don’t think most people think of breakfasts and snacks. I am sure Kevin appreciates it as much as you do. I know I would. And I will gladly take any extra freezer cookies you might have on hand 🙂 LOL

  17. Laura @ The Bluenose Baker says:

    Freezer meals are a life saver – and not just for the postpartum recovery! Babies are unpredictable, mine would start her “witching hour” at supper time for ages and it’s still her crankiest time of day at almost 8 months. I’ll be using some of these ideas to stock the freezer for when I go back to work.

  18. Thanks for sharing!! I didn’t do when either of my bundles were on the way – but plan on freezer meal prepping before I return to work from maternity leave!! Congratulations on your bundle of joy! 

    1. It will be so helpful to have things already made once you return to work! Good luck!

  19. Victoria Starkey says:

    I have been so excited for this post and it didn’t disappoint! Thanks for this, Sally. I’m stocking up my freezer for my boy’s arrival next month and the idea of having a freezer full of meals brings my anxious mind some peace, haha. Hope (though I know) you’re enjoying motherhood and your sweet Noelle!

    1. Victoria Starkey says:

      Here I am almost two years later prepping for my second boy’s arrival in a couple months! I made several of these back in 2017 and they were such a lifesaver after coming home from the hospital. Hope you and your darling family are doing well, Sally.

  20. Great idea, Sally!!! Btw, we just got your newest cookbook and I might find some time to flip through it!!! It will be fun to try some new cookies, especially the holiday ones!!  

  21. Freezing meals is a wonderful idea for everyone! You are so smart Sally! Thank you for sharing this on your blog. 🙂

  22. Having meals on hand is so helpful with a new baby. My advice is to save some of it though for when the baby gets a little older and you get back to work – that’s when you really don’t have time. In the beginning babies sleep a lot so you will still find time to do things but once she’s more awake (or mobile) is when it gets tricky and then add work on top of it. These meals all sound so good and makes me want to restock my freezer.

  23. Kirsty Vittetoe says:

    I like the idea of freezing up food, but I constantly do not have enough room to store them! : (
    Thanks for sharing your tips!

  24. Katie @The Semisweet Sisters says:

    What a great list of recipes! Freezer friendly recipes are a life saver! Hope your recovering well & congrats on the new baby girl!

  25. I did this before our little one was born and am trying to start doing it again to make weeknights easier. One trick that I find helpful for freezing soups is to put the soup in a ziplock then lay it flat on a cookie sheet until frozen. The frozen bags of soup stack nicely and take up much less room in the freezer. Congrats on sweet baby Noelle! 🙂

  26. No baby on the way here, but life can get incredibly busy so it’s great to have food on hand. Plus sometimes I just get in the mood to cook/bake for hours, so this is brilliant. And I never would’ve thought to stack cookies etc on a paper plate. What a great idea!

  27. Question: once it’s thawed, does it need to be eaten within 24hours? Or a few hours? Im not sure what the safe practices are! 

    1. Which recipe? Because once you thaw one of these meals, just store the meal/leftovers in the fridge until it’s all eaten up. After thawing out, it’s best to enjoy sooner rather than later.

      1. I wasn’t focusing on a specific recipe, I just meant in general! Thanks for your input!! Can’t wait to start stocking up my freezer!

  28. Love your beautifully organized freezer, as well as your beautiful baby girl.  Such a lovely name!   The first time I EVER prepared freezer meals was when I was pregnant, 27 (omg!) years ago. It has become a habit ever since.  Having just 2 or 3 freezer meals at the ready has come in handy more times than I can count.  It can be both a time- AND a money-saver.  And congrats again on welcoming baby Noelle into the world!  Everyone says to treasure these early years, because they go by so fast, and it’s true.  But I’m here to tell you that ALL the years with your child are special, with each year/age/stage bringing its own unique joys.  ❤️  Wishing you and your husband all the best as you enter this wonderful new phase of your lives  – hope Jude and Franklin are happy about their new sibling, too.

    1. Thank you so much for this sweet advice about treasuring all the moments, Debbie. Very much appreciated! And I agree with you– it’s SO nice to have even just a couple meals prepped in the freezer. My goal is to always have some back-ups in there once we are finished eating all of the baby prep freezer meals!

  29. I wasn’t this organised whilst pregnant, but on the occasion when I have to go away for work, you’ll find me shoving meals in the freezer so that my husband doesn’t have to cook – particular favourites for this are goulash and what is known round here as soupy chicken.  I also try to make sure that the cake tins are full of goodies before I go, so I know that there’s an instant something to eat somewhere!  Big respect for your meal planning skills!

    1. Sounds like you prep well too!
      Goulash is a wonderful meal to make ahead of time. It freezes wonderfully!

  30. This is such a good list of freezer meals! We’ll have to stock up on some of these before the cold weather gets here!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

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