Top 15 Dairy-Free Freezer Meals For New Moms
There are plenty of things to worry about in the first few months of parenthood, preparing dinner should not be one of them. Most new mothers complain their newborns cry excessively, have colic, are gassy, don't sleep well, suffer from reflux, or aren't pooping regularly. While there are several more detailed reasons, the most common is food related. A newborn's digestive system is not fully mature at birth. It can take more than 6 months for full development to occur, which is one of the main reasons it is recommended that babies exclusively receive breastmilk until 6 months of age. During the time of digestive development, most newborns struggle with consuming breastmilk (or formula) that contains dairy. Dairy comes from cows, and cow's milk is meant to be ingested and digested by other cows - who have 4 compartments to their stomach, unlike humans. To properly digest dairy, a cow's stomach completes the following process:
- Step 1: Milk enters the Rumen; this is the first part of the cow’s stomach. It helps break down complex plant products like grass.
- Step 2: The Reticulum, where the food mixes with the cow’s saliva and produces cud. Cows burp up the cud into their mouths and chew it to help break it down more. When you see a cow that looks like she is chomping on bubble gum, really she is chewing her cud.
- Step 3: The Omasum, where all the water is absorbed out of the food.
- Step 4: The Abomasum, where the food is finally digested, similar to what happens in a human stomach.
Now you can understand why a newborn (let alone any human stomach) should not be trying to process dairy.
During the last few weeks of pregnancy, many mothers choose to take dairy from their diets in preparation for their baby's birth. After complaining a bit, they get use to it! (I have baby #4 lying across my lap right now, and at 7 months old I try to limit my dairy intake. Trust me, it's worth it.)
Ok - so enough of the lecture talk; I'll get to the good stuff! I wanted to share with you something I did with my 4th pregnancy: FREEZER MEALS. I have actually kept them up for SEVEN months now - that has to be some sort of record!!
The key to freezer meals is to have a plan, a great shopping list, and an entire day to get it all done. My husband is in charge of getting all grocery items and the meat from the butcher (we shop local - and as organic as possible), while I prep bags, labels, watch kids, etc. Then we switch. He takes the kids and I get to meal-making. I typically make 16-20 bags full of meals, but only about 6 recipes that I double or triple to make it easy, and then I use different recipes the next month so we don't get bored.
Here are my favorite dairy-free freezer meals. A few have additional (minimal) things to do the day you decide to cook them, but nothing hard. I like to keep a list on the fridge of any sides that may need to be purchased for meals. It's turned in to a wonderful system!
I'm including any changes that I make to them to meet my requirements. We eat a whole-foods, unprocessed diet - so you'll see my changes! Don't forget to double or triple the recipes as you see fit for your family. (We are a family of 6, but the kids are all between 7months and 7 years old.)
Go ahead and start stocking your freezer for when that baby arrives. Dinner will be one less thing you need to worry about!
Chili: We aren't a 'ground beef' chili family, so we use pre-cut stew meat and add maybe 1-2 tablespoons of chili powder, a dash of salt, and any other seasonings I have lying around (fresh basil or cilantro for example). Don't skimp on the meat or beans - and canned beans are fine if you don't have time to soak dried beans; they just aren't as nutrient rich and cans have BPA.
Chicken Wings: Toss them in a ziplock with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. You can thaw them and use the crockpot or the oven to bake them. Once cooked, toss in whatever coating you'd like! They are delicious as is, but man I love them dripping in Frank's buffalo sauce!
BBQ Chicken and Potatoes: My kids dislike sweet potatoes, so I sub in red potatoes and use all dark meat chicken. I use all-purpose gluten-free flour and toss in any extra veggies I have lying around.
Lemon Pepper Chicken and Green Beans: We add potatoes to this one and call it a "one-tray-dinner."
Tuscan Chicken and Pasta: You can make pasta or rice the day of, whichever you prefer. I love to add 2 cups of English Peas the last 30 minutes on the crockpot.
Bacon Wrapped Maple Chicken: Definitely pour the "sauce" over the bacon-wrapped chicken before freezing. I make the sides the day of because I don't want everything to be maple-flavored. Also - don't skimp on the bacon!! And boneless chicken thighs stay juicier than breasts in the crockpot.
Steak Kebobs: I only freeze the meat, and make veggie kebobs and rice the day of the dinner.
Fajitas: I use about 3lbs of boneless chicken thighs (or skirt steak) combine with a jar of organic salsa and sliced peppers/onions. It all freezes together and then is tossed in the crockpot on low for 4-5 hours. I add black beans (canned, organic) the last 30 minutes and chop fresh lettuce, peppers, avocado, tomato, and any other toppings we are craving! Don't forget your tortillas! (leftovers= nachos, salads, or quesadillas)
Pork Tenderloin: Add everything except the water and cornstarch to the freezer bag. I like to add potatoes and carrots to the bag as well.
Meatballs: Precook these and then freeze with or without sauce in the freezer bag. Make sure you add a veggie and a pasta to the grocery list! (you can do meatball subs too)