Freezer Friendly: Meal Planning Ahead of Delivery

Article & Photo Courtesy of Well Rounded NY.

Petit Organics founder Michelle Marinis shows us that with a little planning, meal time can be a breeze…even with a newborn.

You’ll hear close to a million pieces of advice throughout your pregnancy — you’ve probably heard more than enough already. One of the best bits of advice I received was to meal plan in advance of your delivery. When your little bundle of joy arrives, chaos will quickly follow. Your schedule no longer belongs to you, but rather revolves around a teeny tiny hungry, sleepy, poopy munchkin. Leisurely preparing your meals whenever you feel like it will be a thing of the past.

Freezing is a great make-ahead strategy and some recipes freeze better than others. Try to prepare your freezer-friendly meals at least two weeks in advance of your due date in case you have an early arrival. I recommend you double or triple the recipes and separate them out so you’ll instantly have three meals covered. One less thing on your “to do” list when you are sleep deprived can be incredibly helpful. Be sure to label and date each before you put them in the freezer.

Read on for my top three recipes for freezing. All recipes below will safely keep in your freezer for up to three months. Enjoy!

VEGETABLE CHILI

Ingredients:
· 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
· 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
· 1 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
· 1 medium red onion, diced
· 3 cloves garlic, minced
· 2 cups fresh or frozen corn
· 2 cups kidney beans (or one can, drained and rinsed)
· 2 cups black beans (or one can, drained and rinsed)
· 2 cups pinto beans (or one can, drained and rinsed)
· 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
· 1 large (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
· 1 tablespoon cumin
· 1 teaspoon coriander
· 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
· 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional if you prefer less spice)
· ½ teaspoon sea salt
· Black pepper and paprika to taste

Preparation: In a large pot over low to medium heat, add the first five ingredients and sauté for 4 minutes. Next, add the remaining ingredients, stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove pot from heat and allow to cool, stirring occasionally to release more heat. Once the soup is room temperature, it is ready to be packaged for the freezer. You can use freezer-safe Ziploc bags that take up less freezer space when frozen flat. I personally prefer sturdy food storage containers with tight-fitting lids to minimize the chance for leaks and prevent the transfer of smell to other foods in your freezer. Label with the date and contents, and place in your freezer.

To reheat: The night before you plan to serve the soup, move it from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight. Thirty minutes prior to serving, place in a large pot over low to medium heat. Heat through stirring occasionally until the desired temperature is reached.

SWEET POTATO, BLACK BEAN & KALE ENCHILADAS

Ingredients:
· 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
· 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
· 1 clove garlic, minced
· 1 medium sweet onion, diced
· 3 kale leaves, stems removed and chopped in 1” sections
· 1 tablespoon water
· 1 large sweet potato, baked and mashed or pureed
· 2 cups black beans (or one can, drained and rinsed)
· 1 teaspoon cumin
· ½ teaspoon sea salt
· 3 grinds freshly cracked black pepper
· 10 non-GMO corn tortillas

Preparation:
In a skillet over low to medium heat, add the extra-virgin olive oil and poblano pepper. Sauté 5 minutes then add the garlic and onion. Sauté 5 more minutes. Remove from skillet and place in a large mixing bowl. Next, add the water to the same skillet over low to medium heat. When the water begins to sizzle, add the kale and sauté until just wilted (approximately 1-2 minutes). Strain off the water and add only the kale to the mixing bowl. Add the sweet potato, black beans, cumin, salt and pepper to the mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir to combine. One at a time, place the black bean, sweet potato and kale filling into a corn tortilla. Wrap and place in a freezer and oven-safe baking dish. Repeat until the dish is filled. Cover the enchiladas with moisture and vapor-proof material such as freezer paper, heavy foil, plastic wrap or a tight-fitting lid. Fix tape around the edges to make a tight seal. Label and date the contents and place in freezer.

To reheat: Place uncovered in a 400 degrees F until heated through (approximately 1- 1 ½ hours).

PASTA WITH HOMEMADE MARINARA SAUCE

Ingredients:
· 10-14 Roma tomatoes
· 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
· 1 small onion, diced
· 2 cloves garlic, minced over low to medium heat. Heat through stirring occasionally until the desired temperature is reached.

· ½ teaspoon dried oregano

· Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Preparation: Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a cooling rack on top of the pan. Slice each Roma tomato lengthwise and place cut side up on the rack. Roast the tomatoes in the oven for at least 2 but no more than 3 hours. Remove from oven and allow to cool. In a large pot over low to medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat to low and add the tomatoes, oregano, sea salt and pepper. Using an immersion blender, blend through until you reach your desired sauce consistency.

You can stop here by simply freezing the marinara sauce and cook the pasta just before mealtime or you can prepare your pasta of choice (I love buckwheat for the added protein) and add it into the sauce prior to freezing. If you are freezing the pasta with the sauce, only cook it to al dente. As the pasta is reheated, it will cook just a bit more and you don’t want overcooked, mushy pasta.

To reheat: The night before you plan to serve the pasta, move it from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight. 30 minutes prior to serving, place in a large pot.

Bon appétit to you and your bébés!

This article is by Michelle Marinis courtesy of Well Rounded NY.  Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.

Raised in Texas with a down home Southern upbringing, Michelle Muller-Marinis grew up with a passion for food and cooking. After moving to NYC and beginning a family of her own, Michelle realized the importance of fresh, healthy baby food – she discovered her little ones were always happiest with a spoonful of homemade food in their mouths!  She is the founder of Petit Organics and an NYC mom of three boys, Pearce, Rylan and Brandt. You can find Michelle on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Petit Organics on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.