This weekend I threw a freezer cooking party for myself! I had six sweet friends come over for about three hours and we all worked together to make 3 lasagnas, 3 enchilada casseroles, 2 huge bags of minestrone soup, 6 pizza crusts, 12 bags of dry bread mix, and 6 bags of dry muffin mix! For our family, this is a monumental task, since we have to keep a strict gluten-free diet, and are unable to accept food after the baby is born. However, the more we all chatted about it, everyone agreed it was an amazing idea and something we should be doing to support all moms-to-be!
“Many hands make light work.”
One of the best parts of the morning was for me to be able to spend time with friends I hadn’t seen in awhile, without small children underfoot. We agreed that cooking was more enjoyable while drinking faux- mimosas and chatting with friends!
So what exactly did we do?
I planned my menu ahead of time by picking out some favorite recipes that I knew would freeze well, making a giant grocery list, and shopping. Unfortunately I missed a couple of ingredients but the recipes still worked! I put all the recipes in page protectors the night before and borrowed some extra cutting boards, bowls, and knives. I also made sure to have extra foil, gallon-sized freezer bags, saran wrap, and disposable foil containers in which to freeze the lasagnas and casseroles.
When everyone arrived around 9 am, we took a few minutes for introductions and some homemade muffins and coffee that I had prepared earlier that morning. Then I explained the tasks- one person would mix up my own homemade flour blend (it is the base for most of my gluten free baking), one person would use that flour blend to mix up dry bread mix (for me to use later in my bread machine), one person would mix up pizza crust dough, one person would wash/chop veggies, one person would brown meat and work over the stove, and I would sort of float around and do whatever needed to be done. We took turns washing dishes as needed. It worked well to have several people out of the kitchen at the table and several people in the kitchen moving around, otherwise the kitchen would have been too crowded.
Everyone chose jobs and got to work. The recipes were ones that I had modified so they were a bit confusing when helpers were doubling/quadrupling, and if I could change something I would have re-typed them out with exactly what to do, just to eliminate confusion.
We worked for about 2.5-3 hours, with a couple of people going and coming and re-shuffling of jobs. About halfway through I broke out the sparkling grape juice and orange juice for our “mimosas” (4 of the 6 women were pregnant!). Everyone took breaks as needed, and overall I think everyone got along well and the morning flowed nicely!
I sent everyone home with a big piece of cake from a baby shower my husband’s office threw for us the day before, and they liked that! I wish I had prepared a little thank-you gift ahead of time for each of them, but instead I’ll be writing hand-written notes.
What this morning came down to was friends offering several hours of their weekend to help me out, and supportive husbands who watched their kids while they did so! Because of their generosity with their time I will have so many handmade meals ready to go after baby is born! Considering how necessary it is for our family to have certain foods, this is such a blessing!
Hosting My Own Party
I felt a little silly hosting an event like this for myself, considering in our society usually a friend throws a baby shower/party for the mom-to-be. Since this is my fourth child, and we had new dietary restrictions since the third one was born, I let go of my pride and just went for it. And I am so glad I did. I preach to clients all the time about letting people help them out after the baby is born, and I realized I needed to take my own advice!
I would highly recommend offering to host an event like this for a friend, or even throwing one for yourself! Don’t be shy or afraid. One way we can change how society views our moms-to-be is through our own actions and by the example we set. Yes, baby showers and party games are very nice, but usually they’re centered around the baby. Mother Blessings and Blessingways are beautiful ceremonies in which mom and her baby take center stage, but I knew for me- by having our fourth baby and our strict dietary needs- what would help the most would be prepared food!
Consider your postpartum needs and decide what works well for you and your family, and then take action. Leave a comment if you have questions about the details of our party!