A Squared: Preparing for Baby: Stocking the Kitchen

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Preparing for Baby: Stocking the Kitchen

While I know it's virtually impossible to prepare for being a parent, I knew I wanted to be as prepared as possible for my baby's arrival-- or at least, have my kitchen prepared for our arrival home as a family of three. Since food is kind of my thing, I knew that having a stocked kitchen was one thing I could definitely do ahead of time to help us prepare for those first few crazy weeks of parenting-- and especially after finding out that I'd have a more extended recovery (due to a C-section birth), this became even more important to me in those last few weeks of pregnancy.

So, over the 5-6 weekends leading up to the baby's birth, I did a lot of cooking and we made a few big bulk food buying expeditions too. I wanted to make sure that even if we haven't slept very much, we are at least well fed.

My freezer is stocked with dinners in disposable baking pans that can go right from the freezer (or after thawing in the fridge) straight to the oven. The dinners are all portioned for the two of us, with maybe enough left over for lunches the next day. I also wanted to make sure that each of them included a protein and vegetables, if possible, so that one pan could be an entirely balanced meal. Here's what you'll find in my freezer:

-2 pans of Chicken Divan (with a bottom layer of cooked brown rice, so it's all there already)
-1 pan of spinach & cheese stuffed shells with meat sauce
-3 small pans of mac & cheese with bacon, bell peppers & caramelized onions
-1 pan of enchiladas stuffed with chicken, cheese and red bell & poblano peppers (I used this recipe to cook 2 lbs. of chicken breasts in my slow cooker, which I used for the enchiladas and for the Chicken Divan)
-1 pan of spicy supreme pasta bake
-Individual portions of marinara sauce (leftover from the batch I made and mixed with ground beef for the stuffed shells above)
-Individual portions of homemade sage pesto
-Pre-portioned chicken breasts, steaks, and salmon fillets (for when I feel like cooking-- or having Alex man the grill)

I also did some baking so that we have breakfasts and snacks available in a pinch too:

-2 batches of banana muffins: 1 with nuts and another with chocolate chips
-1 batch of Morning Glory Muffins
-2 batches of banana pancakes (this was a gametime decision the weekend before we went to the hospital when I realized I had 2 brown bananas to use up. They heat up really well in the toaster though)
-1 batch of lactation cookies (I used this recipe)

And in addition to stocking the house with enough essentials like toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, body wash, and shampoo to get us through the next several weeks, I also made sure that our pantry and fridge was stocked with tons of snacks and (relatively healthy) convenience items for quick and satisfying meals:

-Krusteaz pancake and waffle mixes
-Granola & breakfast bars
-Granola & dry cereal
-Annie's Organic Mac & Cheese
-SkinnyPop popcorn, pita chips, pretzels & whole grain crackers
-Bertolli organic pasta sauce
-Frontera slow cooker & skillet sauces 
-Instant brown rice
-Barilla Plus pastas
-Dried fruit & nuts (and we got a bunch of these to make a huge amount of homemade trail mix, which we also packed in our hospital bags)
-Snacking cheese
-Sabra hummus
-LaCroix flavored seltzer water

I also made us a handy list of any coupon codes and gift certificates we had for takeout/delivery options from local restaurants. This is super handy for those nights when even heating up a frozen dinner is a struggle and you can't even think about searching your email for coupon codes or that random drawer for a gift card you know you had somewhere!

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