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Postpartum Meal Prep Guide

This postpartum meal prep guide is the ultimate resource and get-started guide for planning to meal-prep for the arrival of baby and beyond!

This is a collage for a postpartum meal prep guide. One picture is a smoothie meal prep guide, one picture is a buffalo chicken pasta bake, one is lactation energy bites, and one is breakfast burritos.

Table of Contents

Postpartum Meal Prep Guide 

I've built this blog making easy, healthy recipes for busy people. Making a postpartum meal prep guide feels spot on with my mission: new parents having something new and exciting to keep them very busy and are especially in need of consistent, nutritious meals within reach to support them and their family.

This guide is designed to provide easy, healthy meal ideas designed to support people and families through a postpartum season. It's great for those who want to plan ahead for the arrival of a newborn, for those with infants in the home, or anyone who wants to support another family through this time. It utilizes simple meals that freeze and reheat well for ultimate grab-and-go convenience.

Whether you treat this as a true "prep" or are just looking for something easy when you're in the midst of a busy time, I hope you'll find this postpartum meal prep guide to be useful—and maybe even inspirational!

Postpartum Meal Prep Ideas

When it comes to postpartum meal prep, there are a few criteria I wanted to use when selecting recipes (or dreaming up new ones). After all, not every meal is suitable for meal prep, and not everything will sound good all of the time.

First, I want meals that are easy to prep. Yes, meal prep involves work, but is it too much to ask to use recipes that are simple enough that I don't have to block out consecutive days just to finish them? I'm here to report that it can be done.

Second, I want meals that actually taste good when defrosted and reheated. Some recipes look gorgeous heading into the freezer but come out of the defrosting process almost unrecognizable. Some of that is prevented by using good frozen storage technique (see below), but part of it depends on the meal itself.

Finally, I want meals that give me fuel. Pregnancy is demanding, but so is postpartum. Whether or not you're breastfeeding, you're dealing with a brand new family member with their own schedule and set of demands. You need energy, and getting nutrition from easy grab-and-go meals is pretty much ideal.

Below, I separate recipe ideas by meal (breakfast, lunch/dinner, snack). After a quick intro, I link each recipe and follow up with tips for storage and reheating along with anything else I think you might want to know. I hope you enjoy!

Freezer Breakfast Ideas

I don't know if it's the most important meal of the day, but I always love when I can start the day off with some nutritious, tasty food. Breakfast is also a time when I am truly thankful to have prepped meals. It's not that I don't want to cook in the morning (although sometimes I don't)—it's just that there are so many things to do.

These breakfast meal ideas are in my regular rotation, and I had no trouble adding them to the postpartum meal prep lineup because they're easy, freeze well, and taste great when reheated. Check out the recipes below:

For tips on how to actually go about prepping, storing, and reheating these meals, check out the tips sections later on in this post!

Freezer Lunch & Dinner Ideas

While meal prepping for breakfast can truly change the course of your day, having an easy lunch and dinner in the freezer is equally amazing. If you're like me, though, you've probably had the experience of a frozen meal that left you unsatisfied. The great thing about this list of recipes is it uses some of my favorite meals—ones I'd make for lunch or dinner anyway.

Have a look at my favorite postpartum lunch and dinner recipes:

Be sure to check out the section on storage tips below!

Freezer Snack Ideas 

After meals are taken care of, you might naturally start to think about in-between times. Snacks feel like mini lifesavers during the day, but snacking can quickly become a nutritionally-expensive enterprise. Instead of relying on big bags of chips to supplement my meals (though I love some good chips and dip every once in a while), I like to plan ahead for ideas that I know will keep me fueled.

Here are some postpartum freezer snack ideas:

What Should a New Mother Eat After Giving Birth?

It’s so important for new moms to take care of their bodies after giving birth. Of course food plays a major role in this, but also rest, hydration, stretching, mental well-being... there's a lot. Because this is a recipe blog (and because I'm not a healthcare provider), we'll focus on the food angle.

When thinking about nutrition, it’s important to have balanced, nutrient-dense meals: fruits and veggies, whole grains, protein, and healthy fats—many of the things you were probably told to eat in pregnancy are going to apply after you've had your kid.

Just to jog your memory, we're talking about things like:

  • Fruits & veggies: carrots, apples, celery, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, berries, etc.
  • Whole grains: oats, quinoa, brown rice, whole grain bread, etc.
  • Protein: lean meats, beans, eggs, fish, etc.
  • Healthy fats: avocado, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, etc.
  • Also calcium and iron-rich foods

While you're making an effort to incorporate those things into your meal plans, it's also good to remember to keep up with your hydration.

For more specific foods to target during postpartum, check out this article.

Why Meal Prep Meals for the Freezer?

I don't know whether I can tell you to do anything—I'm not your mother! But I can share why I'm spending time making meals before baby.

Truthfully, I know I have no idea what life will look like when baby arrives. I'm certain it will be a little crazy, and my attention will be drawn to so many different places.

I do know that I won't want to spend more time cooking than I have to. Because of this, I want to have nutritious foods ready to go when my body will be recovering and also demanding fuel for breastfeeding (more on that below).

Future me is going to be thankful to pull out a freezer meal and heat it up, knowing that the labor is behind me (ha—literally!).

When Should I Start Postpartum Meal Prep?

Though this answer is different for everyone, if you're thinking about doing some meal prep for postpartum, I'd say the answer is to start whenever you can.

Many people prep items in the 1-2 months leading up to their due date. You don't want to make food too early—the freezer isn't eternal—but you also want to make sure you still have enough energy to cook.

One tip to make prep easier is to double up. If you make two batches of your meal, you can have one right now and freeze the other one for postpartum. I like this method because it's efficient and gets me excited about the meal I'll end up having on the "other side."

Another tip is to invite friends over to help with postpartum meal prep. You can get all of the ingredients and have recipes picked, and they can help with cooking and assembly. If you're fortunate enough to have friends asking how they can help, this is a great way to make use of their generosity!

How Many Meals Should I Prepare for Postpartum? 

The quantity of your meal prep is determined by a number of different factors. How much you need when reheating a meal depends on how many non-infant family members will be dining with you. It's also limited by freezer space. I'll share a little bit about my goals in the time of writing this (Spring 2024) so you can see how I'm thinking things through.

My personal goal is to prep at least 5 recipes from each category (breakfast, lunch, dinner) so I'll end up with 15 full meals. That sounds like a lot, and it is—but my freezer is also small, so I'm pretty much dedicating the whole thing to this purpose.

Since 2 adults will be eating, one full recipe will last 2-3 meals for us. If you're a larger family or have more freezer space, you might want to prep more. You can also start with how long you want meals to last for and prep accordingly.

How Do I Store Freezer Meals for Postpartum?

If you put in the care up front to store things properly, you'll have a very pleasant experience defrosting and reheating. Here are some general tips to follow when preparing to store prepped foods in the freezer for maximum longevity while reducing the chance of freezer burn.

Label your foods

Make sure to label every meal prepped item before tucking it away in the freezer. Details you might want to include are

  • What the item is (it can be hard to tell sometimes!)
  • When the item was made (bonus points if you add a use-by date for your own planning)
  • Instructions for defrosting/reheating

You can use labels for this purpose or write directly onto a ziploc/freezer bag.

Cool before you freeze (and other tips for freezer burn prevention)

When you’re storing things in the freezer, no matter what you’re putting in there, make sure it cools completely first. Cooling completely helps prevent freezer burn that results from trapped steam causing excess moisture in the container.

You can individually wrap single serve items like burritos or sandwiches in aluminum foil or parchment paper and then put them in gallon bag from which you've removed the air.

Different storage methods for different foods

As a general rule, freeze foods depending on the portion you want to consume it in (individual portions, meals for 2, and so on). How you store will ultimately depend on what you're making. Here's an overview of different common categories of meals.

Soups

Because they tend to behave like a liquid (thanks, yummy broth!), soups present you with a few storage options. They can be stored in freezer bags, in small containers, or even frozen into cubes.

If you plan to enjoy in single servings, freezing in small cubes or small containers will also single-serve defrosting rather than having to deal with a larger bag or container with the whole recipe.

Slow Cooker Meals

If you like the option of defrosting a meal with several servings at once, freezing slow cooker meals in larger batches may work for you. Once cool, you can store in gallon freezer bags and then defrost via slow cooker, instant pot, or on the stovetop.

Casseroles

Casseroles can be stored in aluminum food trays to accommodate either the whole dish as-cooked or split into two or three large servings. Alternatively, individual servings can be wrapped in a layer of aluminum foil or parchment paper before being stored in a freezer bag. These can then be baked in the oven to reheat or defrosted and heated in the microwave (more on reheating below!).

Casseroles can either be stored after baking or simply after assembling the ingredients as you would before putting them in the oven. I do not recommend storing casserole ingredients with raw meat, however, so that should be cooked in either case.

Other Baked Items

For items that have been prepared by baking in the oven, let cool completely. These can be directly placed into a plastic freezer bag. For extra protection from freezer burn, wrap in parchment paper before storing.

Some More Tips

Freezer bags: As useful as freezer bags can be, it is important to get all of the air out before freezing. Some go as far as using a vacuum sealer for this purpose, which really removes all of the air and makes the bags as compact as possible. Personally, I opt for just squeezing the bags before sealing, sometimes using my mouth to remove air at the end if I really want to go all-out.

Stasher bags: Stasher bags and similar products are fantastic, reusable options for freezer storage. They create enough of a seal that I don't worry about freezer burn, but provide the option to use again as soon as I'm done with the frozen items. Pretty great!

Organization bins: If you really want to make efficient use of freezer space—especially when limited—then you should consider storage bins.

Food safety: This food safety website uses industry standards to create guidelines for how long to freeze items, as well as general tips for freezing foods.

Where to get meal prep supplies

I've created a list on my Amazon storefront for meal prep items, which include containers and supplies I use for my own freezer storage. I do get a small kickback for purchases you make through these links, and it comes at no extra cost to you, so if you're finding this post useful, consider getting some supplies through this storefront.

Storage Containers for Freezer Meals 

Here's a list of some of my go-to supplies and containers for freezer storage and meal prep:

How to Reheat Freezer Meals

Obviously a major goal when reheating is to get the food up to a temperature that's enjoyable for heating. Soup popsicles aren't a particularly popular item, after all. But the biggest consideration in reheating frozen food should be to make sure it's safe to consume.

Food safety experts say the safest way to defrost food is in the refrigerator for 24 hours. There are some ways to speed along the process, of course. Most of us are aware of the defrost setting on the microwave, which is a good solution for foods you're going to consume right away.

There is a difference in the defrosting approach for meals with cooked meat vs. raw frozen meat—it's good to consult the guidelines I linked above for your particular situation. Note that all of the recipes in this post will be frozen after being fully cooked.

Freezer Meals to Make Before Baby 

If you're seeking inspiration for the types of recipes to look for when meal prepping for postpartum, or if you want to make some recipes of your own, consider the general categories shared in this post along with some other ideas outside of this list:

  • Healthy Breakfast Burritos 
  • Veggie Burritos 
  • Smoothie Bags 
  • Protein Bites
  • Muffins 
  • Freezer dump meals 
  • Egg Cups 
  • Meatballs 
  • Soups 
  • Casseroles
  • Pancake Bites
  • Protein Waffles
  • Lactation Cookies
  • Chili 
  • Banana Bread
  • Waffles 
  • Lactation Bites

Quick Postpartum Meal Ideas 

I heard someone say best meals for postpartum moms are ones that can be eaten with one hand. I can certainly see where they're coming from, and it goes back to the theme of wanting quick, easy meals that are as easy to make as they are to eat.

Here's a list of meals for postpartum that aren't freezer or meal-prep focused but still fit the bill in being simple and quick to prep: 

What is the Best Food for Breastfeeding Mothers?

I'll always defer to experts when it comes to specific nutritional advice, especially for special stages of life like breastfeeding. To summarize what I'll link below, experts recommend breastfeeding mothers maintain a diet of nutritious foods high in protein, with a variety of whole grains, fruits & veggies, and healthy fats (sensing a theme?).

If you like to eat a variety of foods, then you're in luck. Research suggests that food can change the flavor of breastmilk, so eating a variety can be helpful to baby when introducing the solid version of the food later on.

I've already said it, but it never hurts to be reminded to stay hydrated. Go take a sip of water!

You can check out this guidance from Mayo Clinic and health.gov to read up on more.

No-Bake Lactation Bites

What Foods Help Produce Breast Milk?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, an overall healthy diet is the best thing you can have if you want to produce more breastmilk. While there are a variety of foods claimed to help you make more milk—a category known as "galactagogues"—there hasn't been research suggesting they actually do much on their own to aid in breast milk production.

As for what you can do from a nutritional standpoint to support breastfeeding, the article linked above suggests eating a balanced, varied diet and limiting the intake of caffeine and alcohol.

Producing breastmilk is a complex process with many variables that go beyond nutrition. I recommend consulting with your healthcare provider and a lactation consultant for advice on that front.

My Personal Freezer Stock

I'm taking all of my own tips and creating my own postpartum freezer stock! We're a family of 2 (almost 3!) with a small freezer so I planned a prep I knew would get us as many meals as possible for our space. I focused on easy, high-protein grab & go meals!

Meals I Prepped:

Meal Prep Approach

To start my freezer stock, I did pre-planning! I made a list of all the recipes I wanted to prep and noted how many servings to make. My approach for efficiency with this meal prep was to split the recipes into mini meal preps to make it feel more manageable. I grouped together recipes that were similar and made those all on the same day (example: casserole day, burrito day, etc.)

More Meal Prep Details

I split these preps over the course of 2-3 weeks in my 8th month of pregnancy. My goal was to be finished cooking by the time I hit month 9 and was in the final stretch so prioritized finishing this before then! I used all of the meal prep supplies and recipes shared in this post.

Videos of My Meal Prep

I have videos of every single freezer meal prep, tips, and more on all socials. I highly recommend watching if you want a visual to see exactly what I did.

More Tips for Freezer Meals

As you prepare to prepare, I recommend making space in your freezer and organizing its contents. You may find you haven't given your freezer a clean in a while—this is a good time to do that while also inspecting items to see if they need to be consumed or discarded.

Gather all the supplies you'll need in advance when it comes to containers, packing, and labeling materials (see above).

Create a prep plan by getting out the calendar and blocking out time on the schedule to cook. If it's daunting on your own, invite some friends or family over to help. It's also good to remember that you needn't do everything at once—one meal at a time is plenty!

Print recipes out or have them organized in your favorite way for easy access. If you're having people help you, this is also great so everyone can have a general reference and know what each recipe needs.

Hype yourself up by making an encouraging/motivating meal prep playlist, writing yourself some positive notes, and doing everything you can to remind yourself of the WHY of this big task. You're doing this for you and your family and to invest time now to save precious moments in the future. Whatever your why, keep it at the front of your mind and use it to crush this task.

You got this!