Thursday, April 15, 2010

Freezer Meals & Ready Meals For New Moms

Today I wanted to share some ideas on helping new mother's after their babies are born. There are many ways to do so, but I want to focus on helping with meals. In the church I attend we have two wonderful plans for helping pregnant mothers and their family after their baby has been born.

Several weeks before the baby is born we have a freezer meal day. We have someone each year that volunteers to be the coordinator for the freezer/warm meals for new mothers. The expectant mother comes up with several recipes that would work for their family.That coordinator takes the recipes and buys the food needed for the freezer day. It is announced that we having a freezer day and all the mothers who can make it show up. I'm going to share how this was accomplished last year when I was the coordinator.

A day was chosen to work on the freezer meals with the ladies of our church and we set a time for 9:30 AM on a Saturday. I went out and bought the food for the recipes we were using this time. Our budget is $50 per freezer meal day at this point. I made it at $51. If the mother has some extra food she would like to have help getting together on this day she can bring that food along, but pay for it herself.

My goal for this freezer meal day was to begin at 9:30 and end by noon. To help expedite the day I put all the chicken in the crock pot the night before and had it cooked up by morning. I kept the chicken broth from the crock pot for the meal we were putting together. I then cut up all the chicken at home and brought it to church. This freezer meal day was for my sister Caroline. She came up with these recipes she wanted to have made:

Freezer Meals for Caroline:
4 Pizzas
2 meat loafs
3 of Breakfast Hot pockets
3 of Creamed Chicken
3 of Potatoes with Ground Turkey
ABC Muffin Mix
3 of Skillet Lasagna Mix
2 of Pride of the Farmer's Wife Oatmeal Cookies
Homemade Wheat Bread

We had nine ladies who came to help with the freezer meal. Almost all of these ladies have young children they brought with them. Here's how we did it:

1. We took turns watching the children in the fellowship room, 1 mother for 30 minutes at a time before the next mother took over.

2. As we began our freezer day we had several stations set up ready to go with a recipe. There were 2 Kitchen Aids and 1 Bosch Mixer. We had the Muffin Mix ingredients together in one spot with a large bowl for one mother to start on. We had another large bowl with ingredients for the Skillet Lasagna Mix.

3. Other mothers began helping with things that would take the longest in preparing first. For example one lady got started on the pizza dough immediately. This was the meal she prepared from beginning to end. While the pizza dough was rising she helped with other small quick jobs for another meal. Another lady started on the Calzone dough for the Breakfast Hot pockets since that would take awhile to rise. While it was rising she made the cookies with a friend and spooned out the cookie dough onto cookie sheets. They had them done and in the freezer to flash freeze before her dough had risen.

4. Have someone in charge of the meal preparations who can try and assign ladies to a certain meal or portions of a meal to keep things going quickly. Several ladies peeled all the potatoes, cut them up, and fried them on the stove in several skillets for the Potatoes with Ground Turkey.

5. Someone can be in charge of cooking up all the meat on the stove.

6. Once all the ingredients have been prepared they can be put in bowls in the fridge until needed to assemble. For example we had all the ground turkey and hamburger cooked before we had to use them. We put them in bowls in the in the fridge separated in the amounts needed for the meals they would go in.

7. Have fun together in the kitchen! I think all the ladies enjoyed the time together and we got done by noon. If you go longer than this you can plan on having each family bring their own lunch or order pizza.

This is the essence of the freezer meals. Now the mom to be has some meals and or mixes to be a blessing to the family for the week before or after a baby is born. There were some ladies who were unable to make it to the Freezer Meal day. For those ladies they can be asked to make something at home. They can bring bring the food they prepared to the church freezer and leave it in there marked for the mother. An example is one lady who made all the bread as she wanted to help but was out of town on this day.

In the past there have been freezer meals made where there was a list of the food wanted and different ladies volunteered to make this in their own homes. No one met at the church at all. One lady made the pizza and put it in the freezer. Another made meatloaf, another the bread, and so on. I personally prefer meeting at the church and getting it all done together in a few hours. Plus when we have it done in the homes the ladies will bear more of a burden financially in making the meal in their own home. It's hard to spread $50 among those who help although the meat is still paid for and given to them. When we have it done in the church kitchen we can use flour, sugar, spices, etc, that are already in the church kitchen without an added expense to those helping us. Which ever way you do it these freezer meals will be a blessing to the family receiving them.

The second part of this gift for a new mother is bringing warm meals for a week. This is very simple. When we know a baby has been born the coordinator gets a list of days the mother would like to have meals brought to their home. It is one weeks worth of meals normally, although a mother could ask for it every other day. If there has been some especially difficult situation with the birth or baby bringing in warm meals may last for 2 weeks. You create a sign up sheet of the days the new mother needs warm meals and ask ladies to sign up for one of those days. If you have signed up for a day you prepare the warm meal and deliver it to the new mom and her family at the time they normally eat supper. It is greatly appreciated by the family!

I think this is a wonderful help to new mom's! I'm so thankful we do this at our church. I think it's an idea that should be spread around and implemented in other churches as a way to help families with new babies.

From Jennifer Allen

Coming next: The recipes we used for the Freezer Meal day.

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At April 15, 2010 at 9:08 AM , Blogger Sarah said...

That was great! Loved it! Great blog you have here. I'm the author of Blogger Chix Designs and just set up my free blog directory to help direct new traffic and readers who are interested to your site, if you want to link up. You can check it out here

At April 15, 2010 at 1:26 PM , Anonymous Jennifer Allen said...

Glad you liked it. I'll be taking a look at your blog directory. Sounds neat!

At April 16, 2010 at 7:02 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful idea! Thanks for sharing!
Renee Webster


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