Baby Meal Prep Guide

I have been looking forward to baby prep since, like, I myself was a baby. I love making prepackaged foods with labels and stuff, it’s the same part of me that explodes with excitement whenever I remember that in a few years I’ll get to start packing cute little lunchboxes every day. I currently have enough meals prepped for a good couple of months, including specific dishes for Passover, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and my birthday. (You’re going crazy, says Eggboy. But we’ll see who the crazy one is when he’s eating a nice hot burrito at 3am while holding a screaming baby!) Not every aspect of my impending life as a mother is as ready as my freezer, of course, seriously how do I change a diaper, but since I’ve learned so much and had so much fun preparing all of these meals, here is a post about it!

As soon as I learned of Poppy Seed’s existence, I started a list on my phone of prep-ahead-able foods that I wanted to make and also blog about, since I figured this would be a great way to organize all of the recipes that I wanted to post during my maternity leave. (So a lot of the recipes that are mentioned here will be posted over the next 3-4 months.) My goals for this list were to find foods that were comforting and delicious, but that were also going to pack some nutrition and not be too heavy. I didn’t want to just fill my freezer with hotdishes and mac and cheese, so I made sure to also add things like smoothie packs, veggie dumplings, and spinach-packed meatballs. I also asked Instagram for suggestions and the most suggested things were:

-Handheld foods

-Oatmeal muffins, to aid with lactation

-Everything on Pinch of Yum’s freezer meal guide

-Carby/comforting things like mac and cheese, lasagna, and chicken pot pies (and individual portions of them)

-Soups

-Breakfast sandwiches and burritos

So I compiled my master list! Here it is. Not everything is frozen, some of it is just shelf stable, and there are also lists of other grocery store items that I plan to have on hand as well. I’ve prepped most of these things so far. I have another week before my due date to try to get to the rest of it, but if I don’t we’ll be ok.

Oh and here’s a confession: we recently bought a new freezer that was on sale at Sam’s Club on the premise that it’ll definitely get put to use in the future for cakes, preserving rhubarb, and meal prep for my next 12 kids. So between that, the chest deep freeze that we inherited from Egggrandma, the little shoebox-sized freezer in my Smeg fridge, and the other fridge/freezer that we inherited from other Egggrandma, we have four freezers. 4! Here’s the new one that’s holding most of the meal prep stuff, the other ones are too messy for a photo op.

My Meal Prep Master List

* = recipe coming soon. I’ll post links here as they get posted!

Breakfast:

Green smoothie packs

Cocoa berry smoothie packs (the recipe is in my Instagram Meal Prep story highlights)

Potato bagel breakfast sandwiches*

Chocolate peanut butter oatmeal muffins

Sarah’s peanut butter granola

Other things I plan to have on hand: avocados, oranges, apples, berries, yogurt, ezekiel/seedy bread, matzo, peanut butter, jam, sliced cheese

Lunch:

Black bean sweet potato burritos*

Mini veggie pizzas

Kale and white bean soup

Veggie dumplings

Egg and chive dumplings

Everything bagel mac and cheese

Mozzarella pesto mac and cheese

Other things I plan to have on hand: salad kits, sandwich stuff (COLD CUTS GET @ ME), baby carrots, celery

Dinner:

Wild rice soup

Chana masala

Turkey bean chili and cornbread 

Chicken pot tater tot hotdish

Knoephla soup

Spinach and artichoke chicken and biscuits

Other things I plan to have on hand: salad kids, broccoli/other quick cooking vegetables, Rao’s marinara sauce (my fave!), pasta, rice, frozen cauliflower/sweet potato rice

Desserts, snacks, and occasion things:

Sausage and pancakes on a stick

Taco pizza

Sarah's chocolate chip cookie dough

Alana’s Furikake snack mix

Cookie salad ice cream

Homemade peanut butter cake mix

Passover:

Spring veggie white matzo lasagna

Chicken soup

Turkey spinach meatballs

Meatless meatballs (recipe in Molly on the Range)

Lily’s Charoset ice cream

Passover chocolate chip cookie dough

Brisket: I’ll probably only get to this if Poppy Seed is like 2 weeks late, but braised meats, including brisket, do freeze and reheat incredibly well. 

Here are some general rules for freezing and reheating certain types of foods! They might not be exact for every single recipe (use your nose/your best judgment) but consider this a roadmap to help get you started.

Mac and cheese

How to freeze: Prep up the baking step, transfer to containers, let cool, cover, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Ideal container: Containers that are both oven safe and microwave safe (these 10oz kraft paper cups are my favorite). Glass would also work but you want to be careful with drastic temperature changes, like going from the freezer to the oven immediately (check the manufacturer’s notes) or defrost in the fridge overnight before baking. Foil or metal containers, either individually sized or casserole sized will work but that eliminates the option of reheating in the microwave.

How to reheat individual portions: Oven at 375ºf for 25 minutes covered with foil + 20 minutes uncovered, or until heated through. Microwave for 4 minutes, stirring halfway through. 

How to reheat full casseroles: Oven at 375º for about an hour covered with foil + 15-30 minutes uncovered, or until heated through. 

Example recipes: Everything bagel mac and cheese, all of the mac and cheeses in Molly on the Range

Etc: Here are printable labels for individual portions, they are for Avery labels #6570.

Hotdishes, casseroles, lasagnas, matzo lasagna

How to freeze: Prep up the baking step, transfer to containers, let cool, cover, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Ideal container: Foil or metal, either individual 8oz or 10oz sized or larger casserole sized. Glass would also work but you want to be careful with drastic temperature changes, like going from the freezer to the oven immediately (check the manufacturer’s notes), or make sure to defrost in the fridge overnight before baking. Individual kraft paper cups would also work

How to reheat individual portions: Oven at 375ºf for 25 minutes covered with foil + 20 minutes uncovered, or until heated through. 

How to reheat full casseroles: Oven at 375º for about an hour covered with foil + 15-30 minutes uncovered, or until heated through. 

Example recipes: Chicken pot tater tot hotdish, paprikash hotdish, turkey wild rice hotdish, classic tater tot hotdish

Etc: Here are printable labels for individual portions, they are for Avery labels #6570.

Smoothies

How to freeze: Put all ingredients (minus any liquid) in a freezer safe container, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Ideal container: Ziploc bags are the most efficient because you can squeeze all of the air out of them and store them flat. I use quart sized because I make two at a time, one for me and one for Eggboy, but sandwich size will work for just one. Deli containers or other freezer-safe containers will work too.

How to prep: dump into blender, add liquid (water, juice, milk), if you have a few minutes let it sit so it can thaw just for a bit, gently break up any larger chunks that have stuck together with a butter knife, and blend on high until very smooth. You’ll likely have to use the tamper to help it along.

Example recipe: apple and peanut butter green smoothie

Potstickers

How to freeze: Prep dumplings up to the cooking step and place them on a parchment lined sheet pan that’s dusted with a little flour. Freeze them on the pan for an hour or so until solid and then transfer them to a Ziploc bag or other freezer safe container, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Ideal container: Ziploc bags are the most space efficient, but any freezer safe container will do.

How to reheat: Steam or fry! This is the ultimate dumpling reheating guide!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

How to freeze: Prep dough, scoop into balls, and place them on a parchment lined sheet pan. Freeze them on the pan for an hour or so until solid and then transfer them to a Ziploc bag or other freezer safe container, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Ideal container: Ziploc bags are the most space efficient, but any freezer safe container will do.

How to reheat: reheat pretty much exactly how you would bake them if they weren’t frozen, just add on a few minutes to the baking time.

Example recipes: Sarah’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Soup (my old fashioned way)

How to freeze: Cook it fully, let it cool, transfer to a container, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Ideal container: Any freezer safe + microwave safe container. I use these quart deli containers.

How to reheat: Microwave on defrost for a few minutes until soft and then microwave on high or pour into a pot and heat on the stove until heated through. Or defrost in the fridge overnight and microwave on high or reheat on the stove until heated through.

Example recipes: Knoephla, Kale and white bean soup, pita ribollita

Soup (if you’re working with an Instant Pot or slow cooker)

See Pinch of Yum’s post. These recipes are so clever and delicious looking!

Meatballs

How to freeze: Cook them fully, let cool, transfer to a container, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Ideal container: Ziploc bags are the most space efficient, but any freezer safe container will do.

How to reheat: Stovetop- Simmer in red sauce until heated through. Oven- place on a sheet pan and cover with foil. Bake at 350º for about 15-20 minutes, or until heated through.

Burritos

How to freeze: Cook them fully (err on the side of keeping a bite in your veggies since they’ll continue to cook when reheated), wrap in parchment held together with tape or a rubber band or in plastic wrap, place them all in Ziploc bag, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

How to reheat: Wrapped in parchment (remove tape or rubber band if that was on there) or a paper towel, microwave for about 2-3 minutes (for a burrito made in a standard 10” tortilla), flipping once, until heated through. If you have the time/energy, it’ll be even better if you then grill it in a pan on both sides until browned and a little crisp. 

Pizza

How to freeze: Prep up to the baking step and place on a parchment lined sheet pan. Freeze for an hour or so until solid and then wrap in plastic wrap, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

How to reheat: Remove plastic wrap, place on a baking sheet, and bake at a slightly reduced temperature (about 25º lower than the regular/non-freezer directions) until cheese is splotchy and the crust is golden. It will be a good few minutes longer than the regular/non-freezer directions, keep a close eye on it. 

Example recipe: Mini veggie pizzas

Muffins

How to freeze: Bake them fully, let cool, transfer to a container, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Ideal container: Ziploc bags or plastic wrap are the most space efficient, but any freezer safe container will do.

How to reheat: Microwave until heated through or defrost at room temp.

Breakfast Sandwiches

Breakfast sandwiches are hard!! I have one that I’ll be making on Girl Meets Farm in a few weeks that literally kept me up at night because figuring out a pre-cooked egg situation that would heat up at the same rate as the bread was a journey. Basically, if the egg is too thick, then the bread will be rock hard and overcooked by the time the egg is heated through. My solution: use a bagel, which is very sturdy and can withstand a longer amount of time in the microwave, and a layer of egg that is on the thinner side. Also go with bacon or Canadian bacon instead of a thick pieces of sausage. Reheat wrapped in parchment. My full microwaveable breakfast sandwich recipe is coming soon!!! 

Another option: the breakfast bourekas from Molly on the Range. They freeze and reheat in the microwave or toaster oven beautifully. 

Cauliflower Fried Rice

This is still in testing mode for me but as I was making some for dinner the other night I realized that cauliflower fried rice would be a really easy and healthy dinner to have in the freezer. I buy Green Giant’s cauliflower/sweet potato rice mix from the freezer section and all it needs is about 5 minutes in a skillet, so I figure that combining it with other finely chopped or small vegetables (alliums, kale, broccoli, peas, corn), pre-cooked proteins (scrambled eggs, cooked chopped bacon, chopped ham, cooked ground sausage, etc.), and flavorings (grated fresh ginger, soy sauce, kimchi brine, sesame oil, sriracha, black pepper, etc.) would make an easily reheat-able meal in a bag that you could just dump in a skillet, heat, and eat. That makes logical sense right? I’ll tell you how it goes!

Resources

Labels- It’s important to label everything with the date and the contents! Even if you’re 100% positive that you’ll remember, you want to be prepared for sleep deprivation brain and also make it easy for visiting friends/family members to heat stuff up if they’ve offered to help. A sharpie marker and masking tape does the trick, or you could make labels on the computer (Avery makes it really easy to make customizable labels).

Containers- The Webstaurant Store is my go-to for deli containers and kraft paper containers because they have tons of options and you can buy them in bulk. Most grocery stores also have a wide selection of foil containers. And of course trusted brands like Pyrex and Rubbermaid make great covered containers and covered casserole dishes.

Freezer guides- Pinch of Yum’s freezer guide! Also the Kitchn has a lot of freezer tutorials, and if you Google “how to freeze such and such,” you’ll usually find tons of results!

My Instagram meal prep story highlight- I’ll be posting more recipes and tips over the next few months here!

Phew! Ok I think that’s it! Since I’m about to go on maternity leave, I might not be able to answer many prep-related questions but I hope this guide helps!!!!

-Yeh!

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

knoephla soup

We have had a great big week! On Friday, we wrapped filming and ate a bunch of fried food to celebrate. It was so sad to see everyone go, but unlike the past two seasons when I didn’t know if the show would be renewed or not before wrapping, this time I knew they’d all be back in July! And they’ll be able to meet Poppy Seed! Over the two weeks of filming, Poppy Seed grew soo much and also flipped to be head down. For a little while I kept patting what I thought was her head but then we went to the doctor and confirmed that I’d been patting the butt this whole time. Hehe. Even though the counter became further and further away, my carpal tunnel symptoms luckily subsided (there will be a lot of pre-chopped vegetables in these episodes!) but then my brain turned to mush! Toward the end of the run it sometimes took me like six attempts to explain the simplest things like how to put sprinkles on the rugelach. And I dropped an entire tray of choco tacos. But thankfully I was able to hold onto my energy for the most part and avoid back pain, which were my two greatest fears other than over baking the potato bagels. On my evenings and days off, I recharged by swimming, watching figure skating, and descending deeper into my bachelor obsession. 

After wrapping, Eggboy and Poppy Seed and I were thrown the most beautiful baby shower by our moms (soon to be grandmas!), sisters (aunties!!!), and friends. It was sprinkle and hotdish themed, and they took my fear of baby shower games seriously so it was a lovely afternoon of eating confetti petit fours and tater tot hotdish, hanging out with friends from near and far, writing funny things on diapers, and unveiling the sweetest gifts that ranged from ultra practical (mountains of diapers!) to ultra homespun (like cousin Elaine’s hand knit sprinkle cupcake hats!!) to ultra hippo. I’m obsessed with this hippo. He’s sitting right next to me and I can’t stop looking at him and giggling. Eggboy and I felt soo loved and got even more excited to bring Poppy Seed into our extremely rad mishpocha. 

Continuing on with my list of foods that I plan to stock in our freezer for my maternity leave, I have to share this soup with you that is the best kept secret of the upper Midwest. Knoephla soup is right up with tater tot hotdish as my favorite new food that I’ve learned about since moving here. Knoephla (neh-fla) are little chewy dumplings that made their way to this area with German immigrants and are most commonly enjoyed in creamy potato soup, but can also be sautéed with sauerkraut and sausage or put into hotdish. They are kind of like plumper smoother spaetzle and the frozen store-bought ones look a lot like mochi bits. Knoephla soup is traditionally made without meat, just potatoes, vegetables, a bit of cream, and my favorite (from Dakota Harvest, r.i.p.) had the most warming hit of nutmeg. The texture of the dumplings and the pure comfort of it all makes this the kind of soup that I just shovel into my mouth with abandon. We had it at our wedding and for years now I’ve wondered why it hasn’t seemed to pick up that much popularity outside of the upper Midwest. The #knoephla hashtag is my favorite hashtag to follow on IG but all of the posts are from North Dakota! Many of them are from Kroll’s dinner, which has a killer version that you can supposedly buy by the bucket (?!), just in case you find yourself at one of those. This is probably one of the only areas where you can buy frozen knoephla at the grocery store, but not to worry, they are very easy to make. I have a recipe in Molly on the Range for knoephla soup but this is a new and improved version because over the past couple of years I’ve started adding more herbs to it, including an egg in the dumplings for added chewiness, and making a much bigger batch so that I can freeze some. I’m not sure if adding dill would be considered the most traditional move, but as I become closer and closer to being a Jewish mother, I’m more inclined than ever to channel severely dill-y matzo ball soup vibes into, like, everything. So while it’s still winter, make a gigantic batch of this and then eat it on the couch from under a fluffy blanket. 


knoephla soup

Serves 8-10

ingredients

3 tb unsalted butter

1 large onion, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

kosher salt and black pepper

2 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp nutmeg

10 c chicken or vegetable stock

1/2 tsp dried thyme

2 sprigs dill, chopped

4 sprigs parsley, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 lb (680g) red potatoes, chopped into 1/2” pieces

1 1/2 lb (680g) store-bought frozen knoephla or homemade knoephla (recipe below)

1/2 c (120g) heavy cream

clues

in a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. add the onions, carrots, celery, a good pinch of salt, and a few turns of black pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. add the garlic and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes, until fragrant.

stir in the stock, herbs, bay leaves, and potatoes, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. if using store-bought frozen dumplings, add them when the soup reaches a boil. if using homemade dumplings, begin making them when the soup reaches a boil and then add them for the last 20 minutes of simmering.

stir in the cream. taste and adjust seasonings as desired. remove the bay leaves before serving.

enjoy!

to freeze, let cool and transfer to freezer safe containers. freeze for up to three months and defrost in the microwave or overnight in the fridge, and then reheat in the microwave or on the stove.

knoephla

3 1/4 c (422g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

black pepper

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 c (236g) water

1 large egg

to make the knoephla:

in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, a few turns of pepper, and the nutmeg. stir in the water and egg and mix to form a shaggy dough. turn it out onto a clean work surface and knead it for a few minutes, adding flour as needed, until you have a smooth and stiff dough. roll it into 1/2”-thick blob, cut into 1/2”-3/4” squares, dusting with flour so they don’t stick together, and drop them directly into simmering soup.


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett! dutch oven by great jones!

oh baby!

Friends! I am so soo excited that I can finally talk about our forthcoming little nugget!! Do you know how hard it was to keep this secret from you for almost four months?? Harder than sitting in front of a pile of cheese fries and not eating any of them. Or, harder than not eating bagels and matzo with cream cheese every other hour during my first trimester. I feel like we need to ketchup on a lot of things. 

Number one, zucchini is gross! Cream cheese, citrus fruits, bagels, matzo, and Sonic tater tots drenched in honey mustard after three hours of sitting at the hairdresser are… the most amazing things in the entire world. So is Korean BBQ with Aunt Lucy. And hand pulled noodles on Rob’s rooftop. And potstickers!!!!! Wow, eating while pregnant is incredible, as long as it’s not zucchini. At one point I did have to test a zucchini recipe for Girl Meets Farm, a recipe that I used to love, but it grossed me out so much. I think it was the only thing during the whole month of filming that I couldn’t scarf down in the meal scene at the end (aside from things that were just off limits, like the runny yolks in the scotch eggs and the salami on top of one of the salads). 

Cravings aside, nutrition was the first thing that I threw myself into after learning that I was pregnant. Eating immediately took on a new meaning to me since I felt like it was the biggest thing I had control over in that moment to take care of little Poppy Seed (oh, Poppy Seed is our nickname for him/her since that’s how big he/she was when we first learned of his/her existence). I read everything I could get my hands on about getting enough protein, calcium, carbs, omega-3s, iron, etc., etc., and found myself in a new world where I now get cheese on all of my sandwiches, drink milk every morning, and sprinkle Trader Joe’s super seed mix into my oatmeal. It was a slightly clumsy ride because in the beginning I miscalculated my protein and took in probably twice as much as I needed, so I puffed up like a puffer fish/body builder combo. There were days when I got a little stressed about it and just wanted to puff up in peace and sweatpants, and not in front of a camera and in TV clothes, but I got over it anytime I’d just think of how it’s all in the name of Poppy Seed. (And also I’ve just become more comfortable asking for a higher angle on any camera pointed at my face lol.) These days I think I’ve gotten a grip on what I should be eating, and it’s similar to before I was pregnant with just a few modifications, like a nice big breakfast since I’m often starving in the middle of the night and when I wake up.

Figuring out my wardrobe for Girl Meets Farm and Gingerbread Showdown (which was filmed in my first trimester) was a challenge because everything just fit differently, right from the beginning. It was all confusing. I suddenly didn’t know how things were supposed to fit or how they were going to look on camera, even little things like my aprons fit so differently. It all hit a head last week when I suddenly had to fit into fancier clothes for some events and everything exposed my belly! (Hatch saved me, and for basics, Old Navy and Gap saved me. And for my winter coat—this is my new favorite find—Bridge the Bump worked perfectly. So I’m slowing figuring it out!)

By far the biggest challenge though was how sleepy I was throughout my first trimester. I was glued to my couch. I’d sit and do work on my computer, and then nap a little, and work a little more, and then on most days Eggboy would peel me up and we’d go for evening walks that felt like I had lead strapped to my feet, but they almost always helped. Toward the end of the first trimester I got soo frustrated with how hard it was to be productive, but one day I woke up and all of my energy was back, like magic! Thankfully, that day happened about a week before filming for season two started.

Workout wise, I’ve been doing as much as I can with weights, resistance bands, and cardio, but it’s just bonkers how much easier it is to get worn out! My biggest inspiration with workouts has been the Lamoureaux twins (Monique and Jocelyne), who are due in a few months. They post tons of their workouts on IG. And In two weeks I’m going to start swim lessons, which I’m really excited about. 

These days, I am enjoying second trimester energy, the 300 extra calories I get to eat each day, and the little dances that Poppy Seed recently started doing! We’ve been researching cribs, bassinets, strollers, baby monitors, and baby names. It’s all so fun. I never thought I’d say the words “the sage green uppa baby vista stroller is absolutely gorgeous!” And yet, here I am. Nursery wise, I think Eggboy and I are both in agreement that it will basically be a library of baby books with a crib in the middle. Although we aren’t planning to go all out on the nursery until Poppy Seed is born. According to Jewish custom, doing anything extravagant for an unborn baby could cause very bad luck. So necessities will be set up, and everything else (like the insanely cute toddler-sized tractor from Eggparents, omgggg) will stay in our garage or another building on the farm. 


Next up on our to-do list is to read about baby sign language (my dad and stepmom did this with Mia and it was incredible!), breastfeeding, and doulas. And following mom/baby/maternity Instagram accounts with abandon. 

Ok, I think that’s everything that’s been on my brain for now. 

Thank you soo much for all of your sweet words on our announcement!!! Sending hugs to all of you <3 <3

-Yeh!

P.S. Here are some pics from this weekend’s GMF episode, Thanksgiving!!! I’m making a grilled sweet and smoky turkey, charred creamed corn, soft pretzel stuffing, and my lemon olive oil cake with cranberry glaze! And there are some very special guests :)