Want to see a list right away? Check out the graphic below with all 30 of the lactose-free freezer meals from this list grouped in categories!
Cooking for others is one of my favorite parts of life. I think it’s a way I express love. It’s not that I’m a great chef–far from it! I keep learning how to make new things by asking David’s Italian uncle or the older ladies at our small Southern church or by the never-fail technique of Googling lots of recipes and reading reviews. But there’s something about preparing food with my hands and serving it to people I care about that warms the insides of my heart! Feeling the bread dough sticking to my fingers and watching it rise, slicing bell peppers from the garden and throwing them into a stir-fry, shaping cookies with a generous spoon, draining pasta and turning my face away from the steam…And if I can make things that work for my lactose/gluten intolerant friends and family, all the better.
However, while I was pregnant, I realized that cooking might be a bit lower on my priority/ability list during the couple of months after Baby was born–and I was right! I thought I’d share a list of some of the lactose-free freezer meals I made or heard about in case it might help other expecting moms. I was looking for 1) meals that weren’t super cheesy casseroles, because we aren’t crazy about them and David has some stomach issues that may be related to dairy, and 2) meals I could just cook for us and then freeze the leftovers instead of having to cook a meal just to freeze. I found out that it was harder than I expected to find lactose-free (read: no cheese or sour cream, people!) freezer meals. So I had to consider simple choices, like pulled pork or crockpot chicken.
I wasn’t that worried about making lots of breakfast stuff (that’s why all I have listed in that category is banana bread) because we don’t normally eat big breakfasts. And I focused on meats because they are the time-consuming part of most meals. Plus, I’d rather have a fresh salad than a frozen one any day! 🙂
My hopes were that because I wouldn’t be as stressed out over meal-planning for us, I would be able to be hospitable earlier after baby-arrival than had I been less prepared.
Here is a list of my meals, with a link to a similar recipe if possible. (I say similar because rarely do I exactly follow a recipe. Hmm…I don’t have that. Wonder if I could throw in this or that…I bet it would be better with onions!) The infographic below includes the recipe suggestions from friends at the bottom of the post. Feel free to share!
Lactose-Free Freezer Meals
2 loaves of banana bread
*2 meals of chicken soup (I didn’t cook the vegetables for hours along with the chicken. I added them later and cooked them for maybe 45 minutes.)
*2 meals of chili (I free-styled this one. I’ve actually never tried making it with masa harina like in the linked recipe.)
*2-3 meals lactose-free potato soup (My version was slightly less healthy because I started it out by browning bacon in the pan and crumbling bacon into the soup after blending half of the potato mixture with a stick blender.)
*2 meals chicken and vegetables (I cooked chicken breasts, potatoes, celery, rice, and carrots with spices in a crock pot. Fresh rosemary makes this really tasty.)
*1 meal Chinese pork stir fry with veggies (needs to be served over freshly cooked rice. I already have Jasmine rice ready in the pantry.)
*1 meal Italian Chicken (drop chicken breasts in the crockpot, cover with Italian dressing–homemade or from a bottle–add sliced onions and bell pepper, and sprinkle seasoned breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese on the top. Cook for 4-6 hours on high.) I already cooked this, so it can now be thawed, heated, and served as sandwich meat for several people or over pasta. Update: after Baby Boy came along and I started nursing him, we discovered that bell peppers made him cry for hours. So you might want to try variations of this meal. (One without onions and bell peppers–try onion powder instead.) However, it tastes much better with the veggies!
*3-4 meals homemade Italian meatballs and sauce (serve with freshly cooked spaghetti and a salad) My meatball recipe has evolved, but it was based on the one linked to above.
*3-4 meals Sloppy Joes (serve with hamburger buns and a side) My recipe uses more chili sauce, which I discovered that you find near the ketchup in WalMart, and no ketchup at all. It also leaves out the celery, but I’m sure celery tastes good in there as well.
4 meals pulled pork (Serve with buns and a veggie side.) I was so excited to have learned how to make pulled pork! It’s super easy in the crock pot! The oil and chicken broth called for in this recipe are unnecessary, though, because the pork usually produces a lot of grease.
1 meal roast chicken (Serve with bread and a salad.) David’s uncle John taught me that when I season a roast chicken, I need to shove the dry spices between the skin and the chicken to get the best flavor. Stuff the inside of the chicken with chunks of lemon or lime, onion, and garlic, along with a few sprigs of rosemary.
3 meals gumbo (serve over Jasmine rice) Actually, we will probably serve a bunch of people this meal and just have it once.
I posted a question for other moms on Facebook about freezer meals, and I wanted to share a few of their tips here, as well. Some of these meals I still haven’t made because the meat for them hasn’t gone on sale yet. Yes, I am a budget chef.
Freezer Meal Ideas From Friends
Aunt Vicki: Meatloaf!
Mrs. Sheryl: Thirty Day Gourmet This is a great website! I plan to use it in the future!
Kara: Enchiladas freeze well, and I don’t use a lot of cheese. I also like to make waffles and freeze them. Just thaw overnight then toast.
Karen: Fajitas do really well as freezer meals – just cook your chicken and veggies up and then bag it for the freezer. Pot roast is another one that freezes pretty well, especially if you make a gravy with it.
David’s Aunt June: Beef roast with gravy freezes and microwaves well. Be sure to slice the roast before freezing so much easier to freeze in portions.
Lauren: I’ve got to say our favorite was spaghetti with sauce! It had everything in it, ground turkey and tons of veggies (carrots, broccoli, spinach, peppers) so you didn’t need to do anything but boil water for the pasta. [Note: I think my Italian husband would be very sad if I tried to feed him this version of spaghetti-and-sauce. But if you want to try a more healthy version than the old standard, I’m sure Lauren’s is delicious!] We also really like stews for the crockpot as well as chicken noodle soup. Also breakfast burritos for breakfast. We did chorizo, beans, and cheese, but you can put anything you want (eggs, potato, ham, bacon, etc.). Maybe a broccoli and cheese soup? (Another Anna note: Not if you’re avoiding lactose!)
Some other ideas that we liked were peppered broccoli beef, and honey chicken and sweet potatoes. Both you can find in Pinterest.
Make some ready-to-make oatmeal baggies with whole oats, dried fruit, brown sugar, and flax seed. Just measure it all out and distribute into baggies; that way, you’ll just have to throw it into a bowl with some milk and nuke it in microwave. Bonus: it’ll help with milk production!
Can also do the same with smoothies. Make frozen baggies and dry baggies. (Frozen fruit and veggies) [Combine] flax seed, peanut butter, almonds, or whatever you like–then you just have to throw it all in the blender with liquid of your choice!
Amanda: Breakfast burritos are the best. Just make up eggs, add sausage or peppers. I like cheese, too. Aha! Another non-lactose-free person! 🙂 Then wrap them and flash freeze the wrap in plastic wrap. [This] is a quick, easy breakfast or snack.
Reagan: I like making a whole bunch of pancakes and freezing them. In the morning I can just put them on a cookie sheet and stick them in the oven while it preheats to 400 degrees. By the time the oven is done preheating, they’re ready!
More recipes for items on the graphic:
Stuffed Onions (my husband asked me to leave out mushrooms)
Update: I wrote the original list of meals pre-baby. Now, I have to say I am SO grateful that I chose to freeze meals that were lactose-free. Baby Boy ended up feeling so miserable every time I drank milk/ate yogurt/consumed anything with cheese. The only dairy I can eat while nursing him is butter!
Enjoy making your lactose-free freezer meals and dreaming of seeing your baby! Or, if you’re not expecting, dream of being able to grab a meal out of the freezer next time you really don’t feel like cooking.