Welcoming a new baby into your home can be exciting, exhilarating, emotional and exhausting. New parents have to learn a new routine, cope with little sleep and figure out a new schedule. A collection of easy, freezable meals makes a thoughtful gift for new parents. They can pull out a dish and pop it in the oven or microwave come mealtime. They'll have good food to eat and more time to spend with the new baby.
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Soup freezes well and is a snap to reheat. Choose comforting chicken noodle, a spicy chilli, hearty minestrone, ham with bean or rustic tomato-basil. You can cook the meals from scratch or use mixes from the grocery store. Make in a large batch and freeze in individual portions. Send with bread or a box of gourmet crackers for a quick meal or lunch on the run.
Casseroles offer one-dish convenience for busy parents. Mix up chicken and rice, macaroni and cheese, tuna and noodles or your other favourite casserole ingredients. Avoid items such as cooked potatoes, which tend to get mushy, sour cream, which separates, or other items that don't freeze well.
Cook the main dish and let the new parents supply their own vegetable, bread or side salad. Roast chicken leg quarters, pork chops in gravy and sliced roast beef or meat loaf freeze quickly and reheat well. Sloppy joes or barbecue beef for sandwiches are other good choices. Don't overcook the food, remembering it will cook further when reheated.
Many ethnic foods freeze well and offer an interesting change from the usual. You can make a big batch of lasagne, meatballs, enchiladas, quesadillas, curry, kung pao or other favourites and freeze for a meal that is even easier than takeout. Include any accompaniments, such as dried spaghetti for meatballs or chutney for curry, in a separate package.
Package your freezable meals in containers suitable for either microwave or oven. Use disposable containers, or buy reusable plastic and make the containers part of your gift to the couple. Sealable plastic freezer bags work well for some items. Write reheating directions on a label and attach it to each freezer container. Group items for a single meal together, either taping them together or putting them all in a plastic bag.
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