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. I did this before heading to the hospital to have my little one, only to return home to find my freezer had broken!!!
    Kari
    http://sweetteasweetie.com/easy-apple-pocket-pies/

    1. Nooooo!! I would’ve bawled. That’s an emotional enough time without losing all that hard work and guaranteed easy meals!

  2. Anne-Marie Bolton says:

    This couldn’t have arrived in my inbox at a more perfect time. I’m having an operation next week and will be out of action for six week(!) so will be batch cooking using my slow cooker this week and next weekend to make sure there are lots of healthy dinners for us! We just returned from holiday yesterday so jet lag and returning to work for a week (catching up and making sure everything is in place for next few weeks) might make it challenging.

    I hope you’re recovering well and enjoying lots of cuddles with your beautiful daughter, Noelle

    1. Thank you so much, Anne-Marie!
      And good luck with your surgery. Here’s to a speedy recovery and I know you’ll be thankful to have some home-cooked meals during those quiet weeks resting.

  3. Kristen Douglas says:

    I just had my little guy 2 weeks ago today and bought things to go ahead and make and store! I’m going to make the chicken chili tomorrow and have these meals ready for when I have to go back to work and need something quick and hearty on a weeknight! This post is perfect!

    1. Congrats on your little guy, Kristen!! You will love having things prepared when you go back to work – good luck!

  4. This is seriously one of the absolute best posts I’ve seen on freezer meals! Totally snagging some of these recipes and tips! Kudos to you for being so organized at the end of your pregnancy! 🙂

    1. Thanks Michelle!!

  5. Thank you for such great insight! I’m not at the age where babies will be coming, (that was 30 yrs ago!) – But I’ll certainly use these ideas for sending out good meals for those that are having babies or surgery. The knowledge of what freezes well is very helpful!

    1. Freezer meals are a wonderful gift for any expectant/busy parents or just busy people in general! 🙂

  6. We have baby #2 on the way this coming spring, and this is probably the most thorough and helpful freezer meal/treat round up I’ve come across! Thanks SO much. Will definitely be referencing this again! And congrats to you on beautiful baby Noelle. 🙂

    1. Thanks Meg! I’m so glad you found this freezer meal post helpful. Congrats on your upcoming arrival! 🙂

  7. I started my own pre-baby freezer cooking about two weeks ago. I think I’m up to two large pans for whole meals plus a ton of individually wrapped items (burritos, etc), two types of soup, and a bunch of muffins. Plus some pie crusts and pot pie filling to assemble tomorrow. I’m excited to add a few of your ideas to my cooking schedule. I’d been contemplating a breakfast casserole, though I’ll probably freeze in single serving portions just for mornings when I can’t manage anything else – I’ve really missed eggs over easy and will probably gorge on them when I stop being quite as paranoid!

    Congratulations again on your new bundle of joy!

  8. Thank you so much for this post as the timing is incredible! My parents just returned sick from a 3 week vacation. My mother has Pneumonia and my dad has Bronchitis. They are both in their 70’s and I have been worried about how they are going to stay fed and eat healthy. This is the answer, and you have made it so simple for me to prepare and for them to defrost and heat up! I am currently in the hospital myself after having surgery so when I get home, I can focus on making them some meals as I recover and not have to worry about my parents not eating properly.

  9. This brought back fond memories of 13 years (!) ago … my sister made us many freezer meals and surprised us just before our daughter arrived. I was … and still am … so appreciative! We were so grateful at times when our zombie-like states could not have prepared anything. Cherish this time as I’m sure you are. Congratulations. Best.Thing.Ever.

    Love that name, Noelle 🙂

  10. My daughter who is 31 weeks pregnant with her 2nd child asked me to help her with some freezer meals to have after (and probably before) the baby is born. This post is just what I needed to start! Great idea to freeze in smaller portions. I hadn’t really thought of freezer breakfast foods, yet will definitely do this!

  11. Saw this when I first found out I was pregnant and have been waiting to try. In my last month right now, so getting started making some of these. Thanks for posting!

  12. Mindy Kingsbury says:

    I’m looking for what lasagna recipe you used. I’m not seeing it here. I’m probably missing it. Can you tell me a good lasagna? Thanks!

    1. Mindy Kingsbury says:

      I found it! Right under my nose. Sorry!

    2. I used this one: https://barefootcontessa.com/recipes/roasted-vegetable-lasagna

  13. I’m so excited I found this post! I’m pregnant with baby #3 and often I don’t feel well. I was just thinking that I should make some freezer meals on a good day. I’m so excited to try this!

    1. Congratulations! So glad this is helpful.

  14. great ideas here! But…. what about vacuum sealing your food? It’s great for freezer food. We’ve been doing it ourselves for several years and really prefer to use this method although we still use zip loc bags for chili, soups, and stews. Freeze them flat on a cookie sheet and then I put them in a basket in the freezer standing up so I can see what we have available an they don’t slide this way.

    1. Love that suggestion, Colleen! Would you believe I’ve never tried it for some of the items I freeze? Appreciate the reminder!

  15. Kim Hollenbeck says:

    Sally;
    Hi,and good morning.My mom and I also freeze our homemade soups for when we are running low on groceries and we can eat soup.But I never thought of freezing breakfast meals,muffins,cookies in the freezer.When my aunt was alive I used to watch her bake and cook her cookie dough and freeze them in logs in ziplock bags and then thaw them out then slice them into cookies and bake them in the oven.I have also watched my aunt make breakfast and dinner burritos and after they were cooked and cooled down she would freeze them the same way you do at your house,that way she had frozen freezer meals for her husband and three kids.
    I am going to buy ingredients to make your breakfast,lunch and dinner recipes as well as your cookies and snack recipes and freeze them and put them in our freezer so that when we are low on food we can still est healthy meals and snacks at home,and to share them when company comes over.
    Kim

  16. Sally;
    Hi,can all of your recipes be frozen after baking and cooking your recipes.
    Kim
    My aunt charlotte passed away from cancer just over a year ago and for a while it has been hard on her three adult kids and on us and we miss her but we all have fond memories of my aunt and her husband.Her husband and her kids dad passed away several years ago and they are both together in heaven.

    1. Hi Kim, I’m incredibly sorry for your loss. All of my recipes include freezing instructions. I hope it helps.

  17. Madison Mabbott says:

    The Taco Turkey Chili was so easy to make! I made it in the crockpot and froze it for future meals! Perfect for fall- love the sweet potato addition!

  18. Oh Sally, as always you are my saving grace. Just like you, I have a 2 year old daughter and I’m expecting baby #2 in July 🙂 you had actually posted this while I was still pregnant with Lily and I made quite a few things to stock in my freezer – I was especially grateful to have the breakfast cookies and I made and froze your whole wheat chocolate banana muffins. My husband was in school after Lily was born finishing his red seal so I would pull a couple cookies and muffins out of the freezer the night before to snack on while he was away during the day. It helped! We didn’t have a deep freezer at the time so I just crammed as many things as I could in our fridge freezer, but with baby #2 now we have a deep freeze and I’m so glad I’ll be able to stock it since there’s 3 of us to feed now. The breakfast casserole was my favourite thing to have in the freezer last time so I’ll definitely make a few of those this time around! The only thing that sucks for me, is Lily actually has an oat intolerance and can’t eat them so there’s a few things I made last time that I won’t be able to make this time! But seriously, this guide is SO helpful and your slow cooker chicken teriyaki is AMAZING – I will definitely freeze a couple batches of that. So as one pregnant mom to another – THANK YOU SO MUCH for this incredible guide and for having so many yummy options on your blog to make meal prepping and freezing for baby a breeze! (Also if I can make a suggestion – make a couple batches of your pretzel buns and freeze them as soon as they’re cooled to eat with your chicken teriyaki and bbq pulled chicken!! So yum)

  19. This post is so helpful! I’m due at the beginning of June and am starting to plan for freezer meals now that we’re stuck inside do who knows how long. Many of the recipes say they freeze well for up to three months, so I’m hoping I’m not starting too early!

  20. I have a bachelor brother in his 70’s and rather than buying him a Christmas gift that he didn’t need, I made him several freezer meals/desserts. It was good to know he was eating healthy, but I also get a call each time he eats one!

  21. Lisa Alford says:

    Have you ever made Italian wedding soup? A great recipe for some of your meatballs. It’s simply chicken soup with meatballs. Add a little freshly grated parmesan cheese, and it’s heavenly.

    1. Sounds delicious, Lisa!

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