Do you remember being ravenous when breastfeeding your first born? But you were so exhausted the last thing you felt like doing was cooking. And besides, cooking one- handed is a learned skill. So until you waited for your hubbie to come home from work, you devoured a pack of Tim Tams.
Make it easier on yourself this time and as the Girl Guides say, “Be Prepared”. You’ve probably already got everything under the sun for your new baby so instead of having a Baby Shower, why not have a “Fill Your Freezer Party”?
It’s similar to baby shower in that you invite your closest family and friends but instead of giving you gifts for your baby, they gift you their time. And rather than playing the same old games, you’ll cook a bunch of meals together for you to store in your freezer to eat once your hubbie has gone back to work and your visitors have disappeared.
In her book, “the first forty days, Heng Ou says, “women have gathered in circles around the kitchen table to “put up” provisions in the larder for the season ahead.”
It’s the perfect way to gather your tribe before your baby arrives and enlist their support. As the guest of honour, ask your mama, sister or best friend to help you plan ahead and on the day.
Follow these steps to organise your “Fill Your Freezer Party” so you can enjoy the planning process and the party.
4- 6 WEEKS IN ADVANCE
1. Set a date
Any time between 32- 38 weeks is a good time to start preparing food for your postpartum.
2. Choose the venue
If your kitchen is too small, ask family or friends to host it.
3. Create a guest list
Include family and friends that don’t enjoy cooking. They can help out by labelling the containers, washing up or stacking the dishwasher or keeping an eye on things in the stove or the oven.
4. Organise food for your guests
You don’t need to do it all. Ask your tribe to bring a plate of food to share or a bottle of wine or Seedlip (a non- alcoholic spirit that you can enjoy too). Make a list of the food and drink you’d like to serve and add it to your So Kind Registry. Your family and friends can choose what they’d like to bring from your list and ensure you don’t end up with only cheese and crackers.
5. Send out the invites
Send out the invites 4- 6 weeks in advance to give guests time to find a babysitter. I’m a huge fan of evite which enables you to send free invites via text, email or a shareable link, track RSVPs and send messages to your guests. Make it clear on the invite that instead of bringing a gift you’d love them to help you fill your freezer and bring a plate or something to drink. Include the link to your So Kind Registry.
2- 3 WEEKS IN ADVANCE
6. Make a list of your favourite freezer friendly meals and snacks
Meals you enjoy boost oxytocin which improves digestion, increases nutritional uptake and balances your appetite- all of which will help with your postpartum recovery. Foods like broths, soups, stews, casseroles are very healing and nourishing and perfect for freezing. Having nutritious snacks on hand will keep you satisfied and stop you reaching for packets of biscuits laden with sugar and guilt. Bliss balls, muffins, slices and banana bread are all good options.
7. Find recipes, print and laminate them
One pot meals are the easiest. Some of my favourite websites for recipes are: Low Tox Life, Well Nourished, The Healthy Chef, Honest to Goodness, Brenda Janschek, Star Anise Organic and Wholefoods Simply
8. Make a list of the ingredients to buy
Make a double batch of all your meals so double the ingredients. Create a list on the Wunderlist App and add all the ingredients for the recipes you’ve chosen. Share it with your mama, sister or best friend. When they buy any of the ingredients they can “tick it” off the list so all Users will know what has and hasn’t been bought yet. Don’t forget to add labels to your list.
9. Check the host has enough cooking equipment, tables and chairs
Look at the recipes to see what equipment you’ll need to cook them. If you don’t have enough space on your kitchen island and dining table to prepare meals, borrow cooking equipment, tables and chairs from family and friends.
10. Prepare your freezer
If you don’t have a big enough freezer, hire a deep freezer from Radio Rentals, loan one from a friend or ask your friends and family to store some of the meals in their freezers. If you’re cooking at a friend’s house, bring an esky or cooler bag or two to bring your meals home in. Ask your friends to load into your car and have your hubbie empty the car when you get home.
A WEEK IN ADVANCE
11. Gather your glass jars or containers to store meals
Save money and the environment by reusing your glass jars to store and freeze your soups and broths. For casseroles and stews, store them in glass containers. Or ask your guests to bring one with them.
12. Create a plan
Create a rough idea of how you’d like the day to pan out. For example, allow 15- 20 minutes for guests to arrive, time for getting to know one another, cooking, packing, cleaning and socialising. Decide in advance how many cooking teams you’ll need and how many guests you’ll put in each team.
THE DAY BEFORE
13. Ask your mama, sister or best friend to go shopping for the ingredients
You can buy them from Coles, Woolworths or Aldi or have them home delivered. If you’d prefer organic ingredients, buy them from your local farmers market or wholefoods store.
ON THE DAY
14. Set up workstations
Allocate space for workstations, then allocate a recipe to each station. Put laminated recipe, ingredients, cooking equipment, storage containers and labels and a pen on appropriate station.
15. Set up a “food and drink station”
Set aside an area for the plates of food and drink your guests will bring and set up drinking glasses, crockery and cutlery.
16. When guests arrive
Ask guests to put their food or drink on the food and drink station and to help themselves. Before you begin cooking, put guests into teams and allocate them a station. Explain what to do and how to do it. You may like to start with a game or an ice- breaker.
17. Divide portions into storage containers or jars and label them
Once a meal is cooked, have guests divide portions into storage containers or jars and label them. (The size and number of portions will depend on the size of your family). Once cool, put into your freezer.
18. Clean Up
If you have a non- cooking guest, you can have them cleaning as the day progresses or you can take turns washing and drying or packing the dishwasher.
Once everyone is finished cooking, kick back and relax, play a game or ask your guests to send a wish to the pregnant mama.
Not convinced a Freezer Party could work for you?
1. Double Batch: From 32 weeks, start making double batches of your evening meals. Eat one and freeze the other.
2. Pot- Luck Dinner: Invite your family and friends to a “pot- luck” dinner where they prepare the meal at home, store it in a container, bring it to your ‘baby shower’ and you can store it in your freezer.
Tell me in the COMMENTS below.….what’s your favourite freezer meal?
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