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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Post Birth Meals- Freezer and Pantry Stocking

One of the most important rules of frugality is "Be prepared!" There are always unexpected things that come up, but even those, for the most part, can be dealt with (at least financially) by having a fully stocked emergency fund.
Its easy to say "Well, I just wasn't ready", but fortunately, with most things in life, we do have a bit of forewarning before they happen, and the frugal solution is to start preparing for things even before they are imminent, so you can get what is needed at the lowest available prices and not be forced to pay too much money in a difficult situation.

I'm rambling. (Nothing like not getting enough sleep to do that to you!)

My close friend and neighbor just had her baby last week. Yes, the one I made laborade for. Yes, she went overdue. Very overdue. No, she didn't get induced. Yes she had a lovely homebirth, and now I'm all psyched up for mine.
But thats not what I'm getting at.
In my community, we have a lovely tradition of people making meals for the post partum mother, so that mom can recover more easily without needing to worry about preparing supper for her family. Its a great service, and I had the pleasure of arranging it for my friend.


And it made me think.
I've got less than 3 months until it's my turn to give birth. But can I honestly expect the kindhearted people who'd make meals to be able to cook foods for me that won't make me sick? Because I'm gluten free. 100%. Because anything less than 100% gluten free makes me really sick. And also stay off dairy, cabbage, and beans soaked less than 48 hours. Because those cause me stomach trouble. And I really try to stay off white sugar, because forget the health aspects involved, I get an insane headache when I eat something with white sugar. (Yes, I cheated last night with some homemade chocolate pudding and really regretted it once I got that migraine...)
I'm used to cooking this way. Pretty much, anyhow. But can I ask someone who isn't used to these food restrictions to cook a meal for me catered to these pretty specific guidelines? It sounds very limiting to someone not accustomed to cooking like this.
I decided that when it comes my turn, I'll ask the friend who arranges these meals to say "Penny can only eat gluten free food. That means no bread or pasta based dishes, and nothing with flour, bread crumbs, or soy sauce in it, and if possible, she prefers dairy and bean free as well (but lentils are fine)." And if people sound too intimidated by that, I'll have my friend say "But if thats too difficult for you, she would definitely appreciate meals for the rest of her family who don't have these food restrictions."
And then I'd go from there. If the food seems safe, I'll eat it. And if not...

Well, thats where this preparation comes in.
I'm not going to rely on this food for me. I'm going to be prepared to fend for myself with regards to food after birth. Sure, its easy to say "Just make simple foods", but when living gluten free and frugally, simple food isn't so simple. I can't just make myself a peanut butter sandwich, use some processed instant meal, whether from the freezer or from a box. I'll admit it straight out- gluten free and dairy free certainly makes my life more complicated.
And having given birth to two kids, knowing how I usually push myself too far after birth and end up having a slow recovery because of it, I know I need to start preparing now to make my post partum period more easy.

That means stocking my freezer and pantry with gluten free, dairy free foods that I can eat. Starting now.

I want to fill my freezer and pantry with enough foods that are either already made or easy to make and quick to prepare so that I can have food to nourish myself, without needing to spend much time in the kitchen involved in food prep, especially because I know myself, that I get dizzy/lightheaded/unable to function when I am not getting adequate nutrition. And I want to keep these costs as low as possible, because I have many more expenses coming up both before and immediately after I have my baby.
And of course, these foods all have to be gluten free, and aside for perhaps the occasional butter, dairy free as well. (Butter thus far is the only dairy I can tolerate.)
And freezer friendly.

One of the most important foods for me to stock my freezer and pantry with are breakfasty foods, because until I eat something with good nutrition (and a decent amount of carbs) in the morning, I can't function... and breakfast foods are hard for me to do even when I'm not post partum.

So, what am I planning on stocking my freezer and pantry with? (Unless otherwise noted, all these will be in the freezer.)

Breakfast Foods:
GF Muffins
GF Waffles and pancakes
Hashbrowns
Shake fixings. This means lots and lots of frozen bananas and other frozen fruit, and tahini and peanut butter in the pantry.
Eggs. They sell eggs here in trays of 30. I want to make sure to have at least 2 trays (60 eggs) all the time when I'm nearing my due date. They last a while even unrefrigerated, so I don't have to worry about it taking up precious refrigerator room.

Main Meal Foods:
Cooked rice.
Fried rice with specific freezer friendly veggies.
Soaked and cooked beans, probably already made into various dishes.
Gluten free pizza, using my gluten free flat bread recipe as the base.
Mujaddara.
Chicken shnitzel.
Fish sticks, using the same crumbs as the shnitzel.
Shepherd's pie, both meat versions and lentil versions.
Lentil sloppy Joes.
Meat loaf.
Lentil loaf.
Meatballs in tomato sauce. (I figured out a way to make these frugally by using cooked ground chicken gizzards and a little bit of ground raw chicken breast.)
Cleaned and cooked chicken gizzards.
Frozen veggies, including frozen corn, peas, green beans (prepackaged), as well as self chopped and frozen greens, pumpkin, carrots, onions, bean sprouts, zucchini, cauliflower, butternut squash, mushrooms, etc...

Soups: (Because I'm due in the winter, and soups are both warming and terrific for the winter, they're also easy to make frugally and gluten free and are often very freezer friendly.)
Split pea soup.
Chicken soup.
Minestrone soup.
Lentil soup.
Meatball soup.
Tomato beef soup.
Brown rice and mushroom soup.
Vegetable soup.

Snacks and Other Pantry Items:
Rice cakes
Popcorn
Dates
Almonds
Honey
Canned tuna.
Canned corn.
Canned sardines.
Rice noodles (instant, pretty much, and relatively cheap as well).
Instant mashed potatoes (I already have this as I bought it in bulk.)

Wow, that list is extensive. And no, I do not plan on getting that all done in one day. Because doing that is a heck of a lot of work.
I plan on spreading out the work, starting now, and continuing for the next while until I give birth. I plan on making these dishes to feed my family, and then just making extra (3 or 4 more meals) to freeze at the same time. A little more work now but will save a lot of work in the future when I need to save time.
Each time I go grocery shopping from now until I give birth, I plan on buying things to use after birth, so that its not all a bunch of expenses coming out at once, and hopefully I'll be able to hit up enough sales to make this more frugal.

To make things easier for me after birth (and to help the harmony in my home, because my husband really doesn't like a mess and I have a hard enough time keeping up with the dishes when I'm not immediately post partum), I do plan on doing the "unfrugal and ungreen" thing and using disposables, including utensils, plates, bowls, and cups... and yes, even aluminum baking dishes. I plan on stocking up on these in the cheapest places possible and on sale, to keep the costs down.
Yes, its something that goes against my value of not wasting money and being environmentally friendly, but sometimes compromises need to be made, and if I do what I need to do to make it as easy as possible for me after birth, I'll be back to myself sooner and be able to go back to doing my money saving activities sooner. So it'll save me money in the long run.

So, there you have it. How I plan to stock my freezer and pantry before birth to make my recovery easier while still being able to eat the nutritious foods I need.

Do you stock your freezer and/or pantry before birth to make your recovery easier? What do you stock it with? 
Do you in general cook foods for the freezer? I'd love more suggestions of frugal freezer friendly meals that are gluten free and dairy free, in addition to what I already have.
Do you use disposables after birth? Do you feel guilty at all about that, or totally content with your decision?

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1 comment:

  1. I am 2 years late on when you posted this, but it is a HUGE help to me as we are also gluten and lactose free, and have a handful of other random allergies, and I'm due in 5 weeks (yikes!). The great news is that we were very recently given a small chest freezer, so now I have the capacity to stock up unlike before. I'm also having my third and know how hard it is postpartum (I have to do cesareans) to not push yourself more than you should. Any thoughts on what would have been better for you - or suggestions for me as I prepare to get some meals/snacks, etc into the freezer for my little family? Thanks!!

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