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12 Make-Ahead Healthy Freezer Meals For New Moms

These 12 healthy freezer meals for new moms with prep instructions & shopping lists use a slow cooker and Instant Pot to make her life so much easier...in only 3 hours!

12 Ziplock bags full of healthy freezer meals stacked on table

When I was pregnant, I knew that stocking my freezer with healthy meals during my third trimester was high on my priority list. I did a lot of googling for recipes that would fit the bill, but, honestly, there weren’t a lot of recipes out there that fit the bill.

I’ve lost 100 pounds and it is very important to me to eat meals that:

  • are high in protein
  • include lots of vegetables
  • use limited processed ingredients

But, most importantly, with a new baby, I knew I needed them to be QUICK and EASY! I had no idea what to expect with our little one, but I knew that I wouldn’t have much time, energy, or brain-power to spare, so I needed meals I could just dump in and be done with it!

So, when I couldn’t find what I was looking for elsewhere, I decided to come up with a plan of my own.

And that’s my main goal of this post – to do the thinking, planning, and organizing for you so that you can just follow the plan, stock your freezer, and focus on your new little one!

In this post, you will find:

  • 12 healthy freezer meal recipes
  • a list of the supplies you need for this freezer session
  • step-by-step freezer bag prep instructions for each meal

12 Healthy Freezer Meals for New Moms

The meals below include 9 meals to be made in an Instant Pot and 3 to be made in a slow cooker or Crockpot.

I use a 6-quart Instant Pot DUO and a 7-quart Frigidaire Professional slow cooker (two of my favorite kitchen appliances!).

Instant Pot Freezer Recipes

I use the 6-Quart Instant Pot DUO for all of my Instant Pot recipes.

Slow Cooker Freezer Recipes

Get The Full Printable Prep Guide

Day Before Your Freezer Session

1. Grocery Shop

I recommend grocery shopping the day before your freezer prep session. It’s not the end of the world if you do it the day of, but it just makes it easier if you get it done the day before!

Save your energy for prep day.

I highly suggest you do two things for this step.

#1 – Download the full shopping list I put together for you for this 12-meal freezer session.

I’ve included the shopping list, prep instructions, the printable recipe cards, and a blank weekly meal plan in the packet for you to download….and it’s all free!

#2 – Use grocery pick-up.

I am a HUGE fan of Walmart grocery pick-up, especially for a big freezer session like this! It’s free, fast, affordable, and so easy.

If you’re new to Walmart pick-up, you can click here to get $10 off your first order!

2. Label Your Freezer Bags

I have created printable labels that you are welcome to tape onto your freezer bags (using packing tape).

Each printable label includes:

  • the prep instructions (so you can make each recipe separately if you want to pick & choose)
  • the ingredients & order to put things into your freezer bags
  • the additional ingredients needed on cooking day
  • the number of servings each recipe makes
  • the prep/cook time needed on cooking day
  • the cooking day instructions

You can also just use a sharpie and write the recipe name on each bag!

freezer bags labeled for meals

I write the name of the recipe and the very simple/condensed cooking instructions on each bag in permanent marker.

Helpful Hints To Make Meal Prep Easier

I was 36 weeks pregnant when I did my freezer session, so I didn’t want to spend too long on my feet or exhaust myself.

Here are some tips to keep this freezer session low-key.

  • Use pre-chopped produce. The produce prep in this session takes the most energy, so if you’d like to cut down your workload, feel free to use pre-chopped butternut squash, sweet potatoes, onions, and peppers. You can even use frozen, pre-chopped veggies if you’d like!
  • Make yourself a sitting station. This was the most helpful thing for me. I set up a station at our kitchen table with a knife, a cutting board, my chopper, a peeler, and the trashcan pulled right next to it so I could sit during all of the produce prep.
sitting station at the table for the freezer session with all other prep ingredients and a trash can
My Sitting Station
  • Eat beforehand. I ate breakfast right before starting so that I wasn’t starving mid-way through meal prep.
  • Drink water. I had my water bottle right next to me during the whole session and that helped a lot!

Step 1 – Gather Your Supplies

Fortunately, you really don’t need very much for this freezer session!

**If you are a friend or family member prepping these meals for a new mom, you don’t even need an Instant Pot or a slow cooker yourself. You don’t need them for the prep, just for the day-of cooking!

A big thing to consider is how much freezer space the new mom has.

  • If she has ample freezer space, then you can use these round storage containers (you can just pop the food straight out of these containers from the freezer into the Instant Pot and cook them from frozen).
  • We didn’t have the freezer space for that, so I chose to freeze all of my meals in gallon-sized Ziploc bags. That required us to partially thaw all of our bags before cooking, but it was worth it to fit more meals in our freezer. ***NOTE – Do NOT fully thaw the Instant Pot meals including potatoes or rice. The rice will disintegrate and the potatoes will brown. If you leave it mostly frozen, just thawing enough to pour it into your pot, it should work great!

Aside from the simple Sharpie you need for labeling the bags, you really only need some basic kitchen supplies – a skillet, spatula, a good knife, a cutting board, and a can opener.

tools for freezer session - knife, cutting board, peeler, can opener, bag holder, vegetable chopper

Supplies You NEED

  • 12 gallon-sized Ziplock bags OR 9 round storage containers + 3 gallon-sized Ziplock bags
  • packing tape to affix printable labels to freezer bags OR permanent marker for labeling
  • large skillet & spatula for cooking ground meat (& I use a smaller skillet, as well – 1 for ground turkey and 1 for ground beef)
  • good knife for chopping veggies (I love Santoku knives like this)
  • scissors for opening packages (lentils, rice, etc)
  • large cutting board
  • can opener
  • peeler

Optional Supplies That Make Prep Work A Lot Easier

I’m pretty frugal, so, even though both of these things are pretty low-cost, I held off on buying these two things for a long time and now I majorly regret it! I highly recommend you get these, not just for this freezer session, but to make your cooking life easier from now on.

red pepper diced in vegetable chopper

The bag holder is SO helpful when you need both of your hands to lift, open, pour, and scoop things and the vegetable chopper saves me SO much time and energy in chopping vegetables!

pouring rice in freezer bag using bag holder

Supplies You Need On Cooking Day

Lay It All Out

I laid everything I needed out on our kitchen table.

all produce, meat, and other ingredients laid out on kitchen table

From left to right, I laid out:

  • the labeled freezer bags
  • my prep supplies
  • produce (keep the frozen green beans in the freezer!)
  • meat (I kept this in the fridge while I prepped my produce and then brought it out)
  • packaged goods
  • canned goods
  • spices & condiments

Step 2 – Prep Your Produce

This is definitely the most difficult step of the meal prep. There is a lot of chopping involved (which is why I recommend the Vegetable Chopper so highly…it would have taken me so much longer if I hadn’t had it!).

It took me just over an hour to prep the produce.

As you prep each ingredient, I recommend placing them in/on separate bowls/Tupperware/plates for smooth assembly.

plastic containers full of chopped vegetables

So, here is the full list of produce you will need to prep for these 12 recipes.

  • Wash red peppers, green peppers, zucchini, red potatoes, Yukon potatoes. & apple.
  • Mince 1 Tbs fresh ginger (or you can opt to use 1 tsp ground ginger).
  • Chop 5 red bell peppers (each pepper gives you ~1 cup chopped pepper).
  • Dice 4 green bell pepper (each pepper gives you ~1 cup chopped pepper).
  • Dice 10 medium onions (each onion gives you ~1 cup diced onion).
  • Chop 1 medium zucchini.
  • Chop 4-6 cups butternut squash (1 medium to large squash).
  • Chop 9 cups sweet potato.
  • Chop 4 cups red potatoes.
  • Chop 4 cups Yukon gold potatoes (or another 4 cups red potatoes).
  • Chop 1 large green apple

Step 3 – Prep Your Meat

This step took me a little over half an hour.

I recommend keeping the turkey meatballs in the freezer while you prep your meat. Take them out when you assemble that particular meal.

I get both skillets of meat browning and while they cook, I slice the kielbasa and chicken.

  • Brown 4 ½ lb ground turkey & 4 chopped onions (in one large skillet), drain, & cool.
  • Brown 1 lb lean ground beef, 1 onion, & 1 Tbs minced garlic (in smaller skillet), drain, & cool.
  • Slice 12 oz turkey kielbasa into half coins.
  • Dice 1 lb chicken breast.
  • Dice 1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs.

Step 4 – Assemble Your Meals & Freeze

Now you get to put it all together! This is definitely the easiest step. It’s really just grabbing and pouring.

This step took me about an hour.

I recommend having measuring cups and spoons handy for this step to grab the appropriate amounts of produce and spices.

measuring cup in large container of onions

This is where I LOVE using the Upright Freezer Bag Holder. I assemble one meal at a time, set the bag up, and then I have both hands free to open and drain cans, walk away from the bag to get other ingredients, and keep them stacked in the right order without having things spill everywhere!

bag holder holding up freezer bag of potatoes and green beans

You will notice that for the Instant Pot recipes, I have you assemble the ingredients backwards from the order listed in the recipe.

This is because you will be dumping the ingredients into your pot, so the ingredients we want at the top of your Instant Pot for cooking actually need to be at the bottom of your freezer bag.

I also have you put the spices kind of in the middle of the bag, instead of at the top or bottom so that they don’t stick to the bag.

When you have all of the ingredients in the bag, try to squeeze out as much air as possible, then lay it flat in your freezer (you can rearrange them later, but I recommend freezing them flat!).

Freeze each bag immediately after assembling.

freezer meals all laying flat on bottom shelf of freezer

As you can see in my picture, I emptied the bottom shelf of my freezer and got all 12 meals to fit there.

Layer Each Freezer Bag In This Order

#1 – Instant Pot Turkey Sausage, Potatoes, & Green Beans

  • 4 cups red potatoes
  • 1 Tbs garlic & herb seasoning
  • 24 frozen whole green beans
  • 12 oz turkey kielbasa half-coins

#2 – Instant Pot Unstuffed Turkey Cabbage Roll Bowl

  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 (16 oz) bag coleslaw mix
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
  • 1 lb cooked ground turkey + 1 onion

#3 – Healthy Instant Pot Egg Roll Bowl

  • 2 (16 oz) bags of coleslaw mix
  • 1 Tbs fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 lb ground turkey/onion

#4 – Instant Pot Enchilada Quinoa

  • 1 (10 oz) can enchilada sauce
  • 1 medium chopped zucchini
  • 1 (4 oz) can green chiles, drained
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 (15 oz) can corn, drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 chopped onion

#5 – Healthy Instant Pot Chicken Burrito Bowl

  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 2 Tbs taco seasoning
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 diced green bell pepper
  • 1 diced red bell pepper
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 lb diced chicken breast

#6 – Instant Pot Turkey Chili Soup Recipe

  • 1 (15oz) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15oz) can black beans, drained
  • 1 (13.5oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 ½ Tbs chili powder
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 chopped red pepper
  • 1 chopped green pepper
  • 4 cups sweet potato
  • 1 lb cooked ground turkey + 1 onion

#7 – Instant Pot Turkey Meatball Stroganoff

  • 12 oz uncooked whole wheat egg noodles
  • 36 frozen turkey meatballs
  • 1 oz packet onion soup mix
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire

#8 – Instant Pot American Goulash & Green Beans

  • 1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 diced green bell pepper
  • 8 oz uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 2 Tbs Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire
  • Cooked 1 lb ground beef/ 1 diced onion/1 Tbs garlic

#9 – Instant Pot Lentil Curry With Potatoes & Zucchini

  • 1 can (14.5oz) petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 cups diced Yukon gold potatoes
  • ¼-½ tsp cayenne (depending on your spice preference)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbs curry powder
  • 1 Tbs minced garlic
  • 1 ½ cups green lentils
  • 1 diced onion

#10 – Slow Cooker Curry Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

  • 1 chopped large onion
  • 4-6 cups diced butternut squash
  • 1 Tbs dried basil
  • 1 Tbs curry powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups diced sweet potatoes
  • 1 large chopped green apple
  • 2 tsp minced garlic

#11 – Slow Cooker Turkey Sloppy Joes Recipe

  • 1 lb cooked ground turkey + 1 onion
  • 1 chopped green pepper
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup bbq sauce

#12 – Slow Cooker Chicken Curry & Vegetables

  • 1 onion
  • 2 diced bell peppers
  • 1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 cups sweet potatoes
  • 1 Tbs minced garlic
  • 3 Tbs curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 (13.5oz) can coconut milk

Step 5 – Thaw & Serve!

I recommend moving your slow cooker meals from the freezer to the fridge 2-3 days ahead of time so that they can thaw before cooking.

I recommend taking your Instant Pot meals out of the freezer a day ahead of time and moving them to your refrigerator. It depends on the temperature of your fridge, but that’s about how long it takes my meals to thaw just enough to be able to pour them into my pot.

***Reminder – Do NOT fully thaw the Instant Pot meals including potatoes or rice. The rice will disintegrate and the potatoes will brown. If you leave it mostly frozen, just thawing enough to pour it into your pot, it should work great!

***The Instant Pot Turkey Sausage, Potatoes, & Green Beans Recipe is the only meal I don’t recommend thawing at all ahead of time. Your ingredients shouldn’t stick together if you freeze it quickly after assembling and if you thaw it first, your green beans will overcook.

For the slow cooker meals, all meals should be thawed ahead of time. I thawed my Instant Pot meals just enough for me to get them out of the bag and into the pot.

As I mentioned earlier, with the Instant Pot meals, you can cook them straight from frozen as long as your frozen block of food can fit into your pot (and you still need to have at least 1 cup of liquid for your pot to come to pressure).

You don’t need to adjust your cooking time if you are cooking from frozen, but know that it will take longer for your pot to come to pressure (about 25 minutes is normal for my frozen meals).

Also, if you forget to pull your meals out ahead of time (like me – oops!), I’ve found placing the frozen bag in some water for a while thaws it fairly quickly (I use my sink for this).

Make sure to download your packet for all of the day-of cooking directions, as well as any additional items needed on cooking day.

More Helpful Hints for This Freezer Session

Recommended Serving Calendar:

I planned for these 12 meals to last us a month. I plan on cooking 3 meals from this plan a week after the baby is born.

We will also have a frozen pizza night, one family dinner night, and 1-2 leftover nights every week (we will probably fill in with another meal out when we need to).

For The Chicken & Beef Broth:

You can use homemade broth, store-bought broth, OR you can use water and add Better Than Bouillon (it adds such amazing flavor!). I use a mixture of the three, depending on what I have on-hand at the time!

Side Dishes For These Meals:

Most of these meals were created with the intention of being one-pot meals, meaning no side dishes are necessary!

I’d encourage you to look over the list of meals and add side dishes where you’d like (I almost always serve frozen sweet potato tots and a bag of frozen vegetables with the sloppy joes!).

Pin This Post For Later!

12 Healthy Freezer Meals for New Moms

Sara @ The Holy Mess

Wednesday 24th of June 2020

Wow, what a fabulous post! This really gives everything for start to finish for a set of freezer meals. So helpful.


Thursday 25th of June 2020

Thank you so much! I knew I needed it so I'm hoping it'll be helpful for others looking for healthy freezer meals!