Pro-tip Series: How to cook ONE MONTH's worth of homemade dinners before baby's arrival

When we plan for the birth of our little one, we often put a lot of energy and focus into making sure we have all the baby clothes freshly washed, the crib set up, we stock up the nursery and start counting down the days to when we'll have baby in our arms. The postpartum period is nothing short of tough - your body is in recovery-mode, your little one is dependent on you 24/7 and the lack of sleep is doing you no favours.

But you still need to think about DINNER!

The last thing you'll feel like is worrying about what to feed yourself and your family - and unless you're blessed with an in-house chef, you need to get your act together and prepare meals before baby comes into the picture. As generous as your friends and family might be with offering to bring food over, having a freezer stocked with nutritious homemade meals really takes one huge load off you in those bleary-eyed days. 

Supermum Nakita Attard Vassallo of The Mama Manual fame, has compiled a handy TEN-STEP PLAN that will get you ONE MONTH's worth of batch-cooked, frozen dinners - you can thank her later when you're elbow deep in nappies!


Nakita Attard Vassallo - How to cook ONE MONTH's worth of homemade dinners before baby's arrival


How does one month’s worth of homemade freezer food sound, mama-to-be?

If this is your first pregnancy, I can assume that you're being bombarded with advice, which goes something like this: 'Sleep while you can!' and 'Prepare some meals and freeze them!'

If it's your second, or third (or more!), pregnancy, then you know because you know.  Food is that one nagging thing that you have to have ready, yet takes such a huge effort when trying to ease into the early days of motherhood.  And especially at this time, our bodies need good fuel - lots of it!

I've been there, and I know it is HARD. It is why I have designed this 10 step plan to one month of freezer food for you to get ahead with before your bundle of joy arrives.

I promise, this will make your life a whole lot easier. Let's dive in!


  1. Research, research, research

    You might be one to enjoy spending a fair amount of time in the kitchen, cooking up experimental recipes, and I totally get that. But trust me when I say, you will need simple, straightforward recipes that can be put together in under 30 minutes.  Even less if possible.

    Steer clear of the following: a long list of ingredients, multiple processes, and more than two pans or dishes at the most.  Minimalist recipes will become your best friend.  One pot or one dish recipes rule, as do slow cooker ones (my favourite!) The great thing with slow cooker recipes is that there is no risk of burning your food, because it cooks very slowly and keeps warm in the slow cooker until it is ready to serve.

    If you need recipe inspiration I've put together a resource with list of 100 simple recipes.  They're all ultra-quick or batch-cooking & freezer friendly, delicious, reasonably healthy, and fun!  Go here to get access.


  1. Make a list

    Gather your favourite simple recipes and keep them in one accessible place. Besides picking a few recipes to prepare your one month of freezer food, the idea is that you have a little database of recipes to help you meal plan super quick. Having all of the recipes gathered in one place means that your partner or spouse can help at a moment's notice. 


  1. Pick your meals

    Have a look at the list you've just put together and select your recipes for your month of freezer food.  This is the way I would go about it:
    a) Pick two pasta sauces
    b) Pick a chicken wrap recipe, chicken enchilada recipe, and a chicken casserole recipe
    c) Pick 4 soup recipes
    d) Pick 4 freezer-friendly side dishes

    I would suggest that you overlap ingredients as much as possible to cut down on prep time. A great example is roasting veg to be used as a side, and also using it as a base for your soup, a base sauce for your pasta as well as the onion and bell peppers being used in your enchiladas.


  1. Make a plan

    Here is what your meal plan should look like for your first month of motherhood (based on the above):

    MONDAYS - rotate between your pasta sauces. You will batch cook when preparing them, so you will have 4 to 5 family portions in total.
    TUESDAYS - Soup day.  Make a big batch, the plan is to eat this twice in one week.  I like to switch to salad in summer and cook the main ingredients then add the fresh greens on the day.  Trust me, you won’t mind repeating one recipe when you discover how it feels to just need to reheat.
    WEDNESDAY - Chicken dishes on rotation. We're batch cooking a whole chicken (if you have a slow cooker, it’s perfect for this), and freezing it shredded to make quick chicken dishes for Wednesdays.
    THURSDAY - Soup, just heat up (or salad if it’s summer).
    FRIDAY - An easy to cook protein + your veggie side dish.  Think roasts, ribs or steak.
    SATURDAY - Buy something convenient to pop in the oven or stovetop.  Pie, pizza, meatballs (serve in pita and buy bagged salad + instant couscous), ravioli, stuffed olives, burgers, marinated meats, stir fry or kebabs are great options.
    SUNDAY - take the day off from cooking! Go out for lunch, or order takeout, whichever you feel most comfortable in.


  2. Look for shortcuts

    There are SO many available, don't be scared of using them! Our aim is to make this batch cooking session as easy as possible, because we do not want you on your feet for too long now do we?

    Frozen onions and garlic are fantastic time savers.  As are other frozen vegetables.  Personally, I am not a fan of mixed veg varieties, but I use bell peppers, butternut squash and broccoli successfully.  I don't use them all the time, as the crunch of the fresh veg in certain dishes is something I am after sometimes, but I do use them whenever it makes sense time-wise.  Plus I'd rather cook using frozen veg than having to resort to something less nutritious. 

    Keep in mind that not all convenience foods are created equal.  Microwaveable rice or other grains such as quinoa can actually be quite decent.  Just watch out for preservatives by having a look at the label.


  1. Stock up on freezing containers

    If you're freezing, you will need something to freeze in, and a permanent marker or labels. You can opt for a variety of containers, but my favourite are ziploc bags.  They're cheap, take up little space both when being stored in and out of the freezer, and are reusable and practical.


  1. Sort out the shopping

    I'm a big fan of using an app for my shopping list. Use your phone in tandem with your laptop to make shopping list creation speedier. You can access the recipes on your laptop and add your ingredients on your phone app. 

    I also suggest shopping online (extra points if you manage to shop from one place).  This way you can schedule to get your shopping delivered the eve of your batch cooking day without lifting a finger.


  1. Prepare an action plan

    Read through all the recipes and start to figure out what you need to do on your batch cooking day. For example, as you look at the ingredients you note you need a total of 6 chopped onions, 3 minced garlic, and 3 finely chopped garlic. Take note of these so you can batch your chopping on the day.  Use your food processor wherever you can.  Makes life a lot easier.


  1. Enlist help and get cooking

    Family is usually very keen to offer help during pregnancy, particularly in the last few months. Do take them up on their offer.  Share your plans for your batch cooking day and have your mum or siblings come over to help out.  That's 50% less time spent preparing.  Enlist them to get ahead with the prep work.  You can get the veg washed and chopped just before you start, giving you substantial headway.

    Once your action list is ready, and your veg has been prepared, it's all smooth sailing.  If a family member is helping out, split the recipes between the two of you. 
    Have your tools laid out on the counter, always read the recipe before you begin, and prepare the ingredients in order of use according to the recipe before you begin.  Make sure to clean as you go, and if you have a dishwasher ensure it is empty when you start.


  1. Freeze me please!

    Leave meals to cool down for not more than an hour before transferring them to your freezer bags. Expel the air before closing, air is the freezer’s worst enemy. If you’ve been exposed to colourless, dry food from the freezer before, chances are it was not packed properly and had been exposed to what we call ‘freezer burn’.  Remember to label all your meals, they’ll look identical once they’re frozen.


Whatever you do, don't get discouraged.  You're only preparing 11 simple recipes, and you're covered for a whole month.  If you’re planning way ahead, you can also spread this plan over a few weeks, and cook one batch cooked recipe a week.  Whatever you choose to do remember you will be SO grateful during that first month while you can spend more time falling in love with your little one and recovering.

If you need help with batch cooking, or what you can or can't freeze, I have a free PDF guide that will answer all of your questions. You’ll be delighted to discover that batch cooking will save you at least 2 hours daily.

It also includes links to recipes you can batch cook and freeze, along with a nifty list of fast lunches you can also make ahead. 

Go get my batch cooking cheatsheet

And because I KNOW you're gonna need them, here are a few other resources you’ll find handy:

Fast & healthy meal ideas for busy families
How to: 3 homemade meals in 20 minutes
15 breakfasts in 10 minutes
Freezing foods: 5 things you’re scared of, and why you shouldn’t be
4 ingredient slow cooker chicken (5 minute prep)


Nakita helps busy mamas simplify their life and get things done, and meal plan, batch cook, slow cook and WIN.

Through her best-selling book (the Mama Manual - How busy mums get organised), top-ranked blog, online courses and thriving online communities, Nakita inspires a realistic yet empowering sense of “YES - I can rock this!” for over 21,000 busy mamas.

She proves that by working smarter instead of harder, even the most overwhelmed, discouraged mamas can immediately start to feel relief, confidence and joy as they move closer to designing the life they want to live.


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