Disclosure: Please keep in mind that we may receive a commission when you click on our links and make a purchase. This, however, has no bearing on our reviews and comparisons. For more information click here.
“Everyone is in such a good mood when they’ve eaten well.” -E.A. Bucchianeri, Vocation of a Gadfly
Have you seen the viral TikTok video about the non-existent village Millennial moms are raising their kids with(out)?? It’s not a figment of your imagination. When I was a child, it was a true anomaly for families to live further apart than a few hours by car. Now, it isn’t uncommon for families to live so far apart that it’s inconvenient and physically impossible to access family by way of ground transportation. Just on my road, I have as many neighbors with families that are overseas, as those that are across town. That being said, most people still live within an hour of their parents1, but it isn’t just geographical distance that keeps us isolated while child-rearing. It’s emotional distance, too. In the United States, an estimated 25% of people are estranged from their families2, which means you are more likely to know someone estranged from a family member than someone with infertility. This sort of geographical and emotional isolation is challenging for new moms who are thrust into parenthood without the same community support as decades past.
One type of support; however, has not changed. In the US, we call it a baby shower. In the age of social media, this has become a “who’s who” event – the more people there are, the more over-the top the decorations there will be, as a result, more pictures can and will be plastered all over highlight reels, and people who end up with extremely small baby showers feel, well, extremely small. There is so much emphasis put on the amount of “things” a baby needs that baby showers have become an overwhelming gift parade that often results in a lot of returns for mom when guests go off the list, the baby is born bigger than the outfits that were purchased, or baby can’t wear a particular brand of diapers because it results in diaper rash every. single. time. The reality? Baby needs some diapers and wipes, blankets, a few pajamas, diapers, a safe place to sleep, and something to eat. A baby-wearing apparatus would be helpful. And the worst part of this whole endeavor is the fact that our culture is very programmed to show up to these see-and-be-seen events, but I would guess only half of the people that attend are close enough to warrant a postpartum visit. Moms go into the labor and delivery room feeling radiant and supported, and leave feeling alone and like they’ve been hit by a truck. It’s no wonder 20-25% of women develop some form of postpartum depression or anxiety3.
With my first baby, we had a (very) small baby shower with a few co-workers. It was fine, but most co-workers went off the list, so I was forced to feign gratitude and appreciation in the face of people I saw literally every day when really I was completely let down that the only baby shower I was having was one that actually created a lot more work for me – and required me to be out far past my pregnant bedtime to accommodate my young (childless) co-workers. I had one childless coworker who bought a stiff multi-layer lace dress with sandals for my soon-to-be-newborn. She clearly didn’t know me very well, otherwise, she would’ve known I’m all about keeping babies comfortable and not at all about dressing them up for funsies. Our first baby was born smaller than expected, then grew faster than anyone could have imagined, and I was still healing from a rather large and uncomfortable hematoma that didn’t allow me to sit comfortably for the better part of four months. Returning those gifts would’ve required a lot more time spent sitting in a car than I really wanted to invest myself in, so I prioritized my physical well-being and still have a lot of useless artifacts in bins, contributing to clutter (and mental distress), that will eventually get shuffled out when we are all set having babies :(. This might sound completely ungrateful but gifts just aren’t my love language in the slightest. Quality time, though? That’s my jam. Plus, I really enjoy shopping for my kids. Looking back on the whole affair, going through my first child’s marathon 24-hour unmedicated labor and delivery sounds like a lot more fun than getting dressed up while the size of an elephant and being expected to keep my legs closed while sitting in front of a bunch of people, opening gifts I will probably never use. All with a disingenuous smile plastered on my face because society says this is the way things are supposed to be. No thank you.
After the baby arrived, no one visited. We received our first visitor at 10 days postpartum, and no one else until 5 weeks. No one brought food. Luckily, we had prepared well in advance for that first baby and probably had a month of meals stashed by the time she arrived (we bought an upright freezer specifically for this purpose), but with our second baby, it was a lot harder, and more exhausting, to set aside time to make freezer meals. When the ladies in my community asked what I wanted to celebrate the arrival of our newest little one, I knew exactly the sort of celebration I wanted to have: a freezer meal party.
A freezer meal party is exactly what it sounds like and as unglamorous as you might expect. It’s a celebration where a pre-determined number of women organize, shop, bring groceries, and all roll up their sleeves and help mom or the expecting family with prepping freezer meals for after the baby’s arrival. Then they help clean up and leave the new parents with a satisfactory (though probably not spotless) kitchen. In my case, I sent the organizer a list of meals I wanted help with – I am pretty good at pre-prepping meals for dinner, so I opted for breakfast and lunch items, instead. What I’ve determined is people generally do not have the capacity after 32 weeks pregnant to put together anything, so having the attendees bring lactation muffins, smoothie packs, or other breakfast/lunch items already prepared and ready to freeze would be ideal. Other great options are homemade snacks, so the new family isn’t relegated to packaged items that aren’t good for recovery or breastfeeding. The whole affair was lovely. I didn’t have to leave my home, and because it only consisted of people that were already accustomed to seeing me in leggings and a topknot, I was able to wear jeans and a comfortable shirt. It was probably the most dressed-up this particular group of women had ever seen me. There was no belly measuring or labor horror stories and I didn’t have the awkwardness of opening gifts in front of anyone. The best part of all was it filled my freezer with nourishing meals and fulfilled my love language – quality time – by having all these women get together to help me cook and prepare for my newest addition. And, for a moment, I had a taste of the village everyone talks about.
If you have a family in your life expecting a baby, do them a flavor and ask if they would prefer a freezer meal party in lieu of a baby shower. And if you absolutely must purchase a gift, give them a new CrockPot or InstantPot, because that’s on theme, they can use it forever, and it isn’t dependent on the baby’s growth and behavior. Below I’ve listed all the supplies you’d need to pull off such an endeavor, as well as some tried and true recipes that have supported us through three postpartum periods.
1.) Aluminum pans – Listen – I despise putting my food into contact with aluminum. But there’s a time and a place for most things and immediately postpartum is both a time and a place for disposable cookware. PRO TIP: Write the recipe name on the front AND side. This way, no matter how they’re stacked in the freezer, mom/dad/caregiver doesn’t have to rifle through the freezer like my toddler rifles through the clean laundry.
2.) Aluminum foil – for topping the aluminum pans. PRO TIP: Double wrap with foil, then write the directions on the top sheet. This way, the person who has no core strength whatsoever doesn’t need to bend at the waist to read the directions. Also, now the sharpie layer can be removed and set aside, so they can refer back to the heating instructions, if necessary.
4.) Sharpie – for writing on the abovementioned supplies.
5.) Paprika app – For anyone who has never used the Paprika app, I highly recommend it. It’s a nominal purchase ($4.99) on the Google Play Store but it isn’t a recurring subscription. It makes meal planning infinitely easier and has a fun little feature that scales all the ingredients for you. There’s also a “shopping” option, where you can browse the ingredients list and check off what you need. It will organize the shopping list by category (you can edit and rearrange them by the way your store is organized), and when you’re in the store or placing your order, you can check the items off as you go. Talk about convenience.
6.) Groceries – This will be based on whatever recipes the family has selected and the number of meals you’ve chosen to create.
This is one of our favorite freezer meals. It holds up well, can easily be scaled, and can be made a million different ways to suit the family’s preferences. Vegetarian? Leave out the chicken and opt for a second type of bean and roasted veggies. A mom that trends anemic? Substitute chicken for high-quality beef. We almost always roast peppers (Vitamin C) and cauliflower and roll them in, making it a complete meal. PRO TIP: Place shredded cheese in a separate bag in the event baby has a dairy sensitivity, and go easy on cruciferous veggies in the event it gives baby gas.
My husband found this recipe many years ago. It’s fancy enough for guests and delicious enough for the postpartum period. I have had people from all walks of life and taste preferences fall in love with this dish. We have made it for every postpartum period and have never been disappointed. PRO TIP: Saute the beef, garlic, onion, and jalapeno (make sure it’s seeded!!), then dump all the ingredients into a bag. Buy a bag of frozen, chopped spinach as well as a bag of egg noodles or rice for serving.
Lasagna is a classic and for good reason! It’s easy to make, delicious, and feeds a crowd. PRO TIP: Do not make more than a batch or two, and cook in smaller portions. (We made the mistake of making too many lasagnas with our first and I’ve cooked it begrudgingly two or three times since her arrival six years ago).
Absolutely delicious. We usually substitute ground beef for an equal weight of beans. We made this for my freezer meal party and everyone asked for the recipe. This can and should be made into a burrito for an absolutely delicious postpartum lunch. PRO TIP: If using beans, add rice to the burrito to make a complete protein.
One of the benefits of having a homebirth is being able to eat WHATEVER YOU WANT immediately postpartum. These were my first postpartum meal after my first baby and there really aren’t words. Absolutely delicious and they smell amazing when they’re cooking. PRO TIP: Make multiple batches.
This is another dump-and-go recipe that is a household favorite. Much like the Thai Beef, I’ve never had anyone come through my doors who doesn’t love this recipe. It’s filled with plenty of galactagogues and anti-inflammatory properties, which are crucial for the postpartum period. Purchase un-cooked brown rice and frozen, chopped spinach to store in the pantry and freezer for serving.
Frozen yogurt bark is a fun treat for adults and kids alike! It’s also an easy one-handed snack for a breastfeeding mama. PRO TIP: Make these at the beginning of the party and then smash them apart and store them in a bag.
In our house, we have a tradition of having an ice cream cake stored in the freezer for immediately after birth (what’s a birthday without CAKE?!), but these are also delicious and satisfy the cravings for sugar and chocolate that happen after giving birth. Plus, they’re Paleo, so they’re sweetened with honey and don’t have any refined sugar. Win-win!
Do you know what’s exhausting? Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding moms need an additional 300-400 calories PER DAY just to make milk. I’m here to tell you: I’ve been breastfeeding babies and toddlers basically nonstop for almost six years – I still find it exhausting, especially if they’re teething or going through a developmental stage. These lactation energy bites are a great pick-me-up and they’re a great snack for older kids, as well.
With so many great resources out there, it can be hard to choose which freezer meals to make. My suggestion is to find seven meals that mom loves and that freeze well and quadruple the recipe (thereby making enough for a month). If mom doesn’t have freezer real estate, consider having each member of the party volunteer some of their freezer space, and replenishing the meals as they are used up. Of course, another option is pooling financial resources and paying for a HelloFresh membership for a defined amount of time if space or distance is an issue. I’m not sure if there’s anything that could make a woman feel more loved than feeding her and her family during the fourth trimester. Let’s stop showering women with gifts, and instead shower women with homecooked meals and the company of those that know and love them best. Let’s start a new trend and bring the village back.
1Fogle, A. (2022, June 23). The average American lives closer to mom than you think. Good Housekeeping. Retrieved January 15, 2023, from Source Link
2Collins, L. M. (2022, December 22). 1 in 4 Americans is estranged from their family members. Deseret News. Retrieved January 15, 2023, from Source Link
3Medically Reviewed and Fact-Checked by: Kimberly Langdon M.D., by:, M. R. and F.-C., & Editor, M. (2022, March 21). Statistics on postpartum depression – postpartum depression resources. PostpartumDepression.org. Retrieved January 22, 2023, from Source Link