Anyone who has kids can attest to the fact that time is a precious commodity. There never seems to be enough of it, and it always goes by too quickly. A new baby in the house usually means changes to the way you spend your time. For my family, where home-cooked meals are a priority, it became important to find shortcuts to simplify meal planning and preparation. Here are five tips to help you get a healthy, home-cooked meal on the table without adding more time in the kitchen.
- Use a slow cooker or Instant Pot. These kitchen appliances are wonderful ways to cut down on time at the stove, as well as time washing dishes. Look for recipes online that incorporate the flavors you like, include vegetables and a protein, and ingredients you tend to have on hand.
- Purchase pre-cut vegetables. Nearly all grocery stores now carry cut vegetables in the fresh produce section. Items like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and even onions are available and can be significant time savers. Taking this shortcut is a great way to ensure you get vitamins and minerals that are found in vegetables and critical for postpartum healing and breastfeeding. Always check the expiration date on these items, and plan to cook them before eating.
- Cook in bulk and freeze. When possible, cook soups, lentils, and casseroles in double or triple portions so that you get multiple meals for your efforts. Freeze the leftovers in single serve portions so they are easy to pull out and reheat on days that are especially hectic. If you can do this during the last month of pregnancy, you can set yourself up for a few meals once baby arrives! Frozen dishes typically last for up to three months from the date they were frozen.
- Have staples readily available. Chickpeas, white beans, black beans, and nearly all grains freeze well after cooking because they are low in water content. Prepare these items and freeze in single serve portions so they are easy to access when you want to use them for a recipe. Again, stocking up on these before baby arrives will mean one less thing to spend time on after you deliver.
- Establish your go-to recipes. When you are having an especially rough day, it’s good to have a few recipes up your sleeve that you can whip up quickly. These are the recipes you always have ingredients for and you can make when you are completely sleep deprived. These are mine: Italian chickpea stew, Spinach dal, and Sheet pan chicken fajitas.
The strategies above can be very helpful in getting your nutrition back on track, even when you are busy tending to a new baby. However, settling into a new pace after your little one takes time, so be patient and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Sheila is an Oakland-based dietitian specializing in fertility, prenatal and postpartum care. During her own pregnancies, Sheila discovered that there was very little nutrition support provided to new moms, and was inspired to help fill this gap. Her hope is to simplify healthy eating for women and, in the process, empower women to nourish themselves, their growing babies and their families. In addition to providing nutrition services to women, Sheila fills her days being mama to Avni and Iyla. Learn more about Sheila's practice at www.squareplatesolutions.com, or by contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Great tips. Don’t forget to spend time prepping breakfast too. I freeze large batches of fruit and oatmeal as well as smoothie kits and breakfast burritos.
This is definitely a read BEFORE having baby! So glad I did some freezer meals (and freezer snacks too, like oatmeal/flax energy bites!). Having go to meals has helped too, because my husbands familiar enough to make dinner!
does eating effect your milk supply?
The crock pot is a lifesaver! I’m always putting myself last with eating, as I have a 4 year old and six month old sons to take care of. Thank you for the tips!
Love this article! Lots of great ideas. I’ve started to prep my fruits & veggies right after I buy them. I wash all fruits & veggies right when I get home from the grocery store & prep veggies (slice/dice) based on meals I plan to make that week. And my Instant Pot is my best friend! With a toddler & newborn, it definitely helps save time!
I need an instant pot! These are all great tips and I am excited to try to implement them. Just gotta get the husband on board haha