As a new mom, we often forget about ourselves during the newborn phase. It usually takes a few months of parenting to figure out the balancing act of caring for your newborn, taking care of yourself and managing domestic responsibilities. Often times, finding the time to cook a healthy meal is easier said than done. So we don’t blame you for succumbing to the temptation of premade meals that you can heat up in mere minutes.
But before you go reach for that take-out menu hanging on your fridge, we want to help you get all the nutrients that you, as a new mom, need. So here are 5 tips that will help you prep healthful homemade meals that will answer all of your nutritional needs.
1. Time it well. If you’re tired and focused on baby, meal prepping will seem like a bigger chore than it actually is. But once you get into the groove of (new mom) things, get organize and determine a time to do one weekly activity that’s related to cooking and food: grocery shopping one day, cutting vegetables and boiling them for your own sauce the next. Whatever cooking task you decide to tackle, keep it realistic in relation to the other things you have to accomplish with an infant in the house. It may take some time to figure out how much time you actually have and need, but it’s best to keep it under an hour so it doesn’t overtire you. You can undertake longer food preps, like marinating meat or making your own stock or broth, on a day that you know you’ll have more time or help around the house.
2. Choose healthy foods that you can cook up quickly. Once the baby is out, you probably want to get your body back to its pre-pregnancy shape — something that, especially if you are breastfeeding, you can’t just do by choosing low-caloric foods. Eating rich, yet nutritious food is especially important to the nursing mom. So what can you prep that’s easy to fix and packed with nutrients? Grains such as couscous, bulgur, and millet cook on the quicker side and can be stored easily and for a long time. Vegetables such as spinach, pepper, onions, broccoli and zucchini cook relatively fast, and you can make a large quantity to add as a side, into an omelet or throw into a sandwich wrap.
3. Multitask. The best part about cooking is that many prepping techniques can be done at the same time. Once you select a recipe that you like, you can organize yourself with tasks that overlap: baking, roasting, boiling, chopping, and cleaning. While you chop vegetables, you can heat a saucepan on low with oil, or if something is boiling, you can start cleaning up. Just make sure that baby is away from the stove and oven.
4. Freeze Dishes. When you cook, make the whole recipe for 4 people, even if it’s only you eating it for lunch. You can freeze whatever food you don’t eat, and you’ll be glad to have that extra stash of vegetable lasagna on days when life isn’t cooperating with you. Items such as soups, sauces, ground meat, grilled meats and baked breads are excellent to freeze for future use. If you’re still waiting on baby’s arrival, you can also prep meals in advance for your first few postpartum days. It will save you a lot of time and energy when you have to adjust to your new life with your bundle of joy.
5. Accept help. Friends and family will want to see you and the baby, and if they ask you, “do you need anything?” or “what should I bring?,” tell them you need food! Accepting offers doesn’t make you weak or vulnerable, it makes you smart. And it means you’ll receive something that you’ll actually use. So consider asking for a cooked meal, baked treats, or even a gift certificate to a restaurant of choice.