Around week 36 of my pregnancy, I decided I wanted to stock our freezer with some meals I could make ahead so that we would have some quick dinners in the weeks after the baby arrived. Since this was our first baby, I wasn’t sure what life would be like with a newborn so I thought it might be a good idea. We are exactly four weeks post little Lyla Jo’s birth now and I’ve only pulled out three of the meals I made ahead! We’ve been blessed with awesome neighbors, friends, and family that have brought us dinner on numerous occasions. We’ve also taken Lyla out to eat and she’s done so well! She had her first restaurant experience a week and a half after we came home from the hospital; we went to Rafferty’s with her which was where Aaron and I had went on our first date.
But back to my reason for writing this post!
I made five different recipes and ended up with probably 20-25 nights worth of meals depending on whether we have leftovers or not. Now that Lyla is here and we’ve tried all of the meals, I wanted to share the links to the recipes I used because they were all great!
The first recipe I used was The Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Potato Soup. Her title does not lie; since I discovered the recipe last year, this is the only one I use for potato soup anymore. The recipe is a little more involved but its so worth it. I’ve made this soup and frozen portions of it for later many times and it always reheats just as yummy as when its fresh. I follow the recipe exactly. Here is the link:
The second recipe was another of The Pioneer Woman’s soup recipes – Chipotle Chicken Chili. This one was a first for me but it turned out really good. I modified the recipe a bit and was glad I did because had I stuck to the original instructions, my taste buds might have caught fire. I only used two chipotle peppers and totally cut out the cumin. My husband still thought it packed a punch but I really liked the flavor.
A note on the chipotle peppers* – I found a can of these in Adobo sauce that had 5-6 peppers in it. Another recipe I will mention later also calls for chipotle peppers so it worked out well and I didn’t have leftovers. However, I read a tip online for saving the leftovers. You can throw the peppers in a food processor, chop them up, and then pour the blended peppers into a freezer bag. You can pull the bag out of the freezer and break off bits at a time for future recipes.
The only type of beer we had on hand at the time was Samuel Adams. I also added 2 cups of low sodium chicken broth to make it a bit more soupy when I initially made the chili. When I reheated a batch last week, I added a cup of water to it. It reheated very nicely and I ate it with tortilla chips. Here is the link to the recipe:
The third recipe I made… shocker… was also from the Pioneer Woman! Here is a link to her Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork. I used a crockpot because I didn’t have a Dutch Oven. I heated the meat and other ingredients on high for six hours and then turned it down to low for another two hours. We really liked this pork.
Okay.. I promise this is the last Pioneer Woman recipe I will mention. I also made her Lasagna Rollups and my husband said it was the best lasagna recipe he’d ever had. When reheating a tray of these, I found it took quite a bit longer than her instructions called for. I heated them in the oven for an additional 30 minutes than her recipe said. Here is the link:
The last recipe I used was super simple. Check out the link below for some really tasty Three Ingredient Slow Cooker Pork Chops. I cooked these tonight on the high 8 hour setting for three hours and they were very tender. For such a simple recipe, these had great flavor!
One tip – I froze the soups and pork chops in gallon freezer bags laying them flat on top of one another. That saved a lot of space in my freezer. If you don’t have time to thaw the soups in the refrigerator before reheating, you can just break apart the frozen soup into smaller pieces that will fit in a soup pot.