One of the things that new mum’s worry about with the arrival a of a new baby is the overwhelming feeling of meal times! I have to say that because of my experience with my son who was a very unsettled newborn for the first few months, I remember thinking during my second pregnancy “What am I going to do if my daughter is like that too? How am I going to manage to prepare meals for my family if I have a rather unsettled newborn again?!?!”
My 1st born would cry non stop from around 1pm- 9pm every single day. My second didn’t cry as much however still wanted to be carried constantly. You can guess how I was cooking most days! She was in the baby bjorn carrier! I learn’t after that first week, something has to give, and so I became quite proficient in meal prep and years on, it has become second nature to me. Fast Forward to 2019, I have a 3 month old baby in mix and because of all these years of dedicating my time to meal prepping in the kitchen, eating wholesome food has been achievable!
If you are reading this thinking how do I get started? My first advice is this: Now is not the time to create new recipes, to experiment or get pulled into this whole “healthy diet” strategies because you want to loose weight. There is one word I want you to focus on: “EASY” Keep it BASIC and SIMPLE. I am going to share with you my top 10 tips that will hopefully help you to feed the family in the least amount of time and also help to inspire you. Just remember you totally GOT THIS!
Before the baby is born get food into your freezer. My top ideas would be sauces, broths, crumbed meats and meatballs/veggieballs. If you can fit some ready made meals like pies, cooked lentils and bean soups that will be useful. As you batch cook, replenish your freezer stock.
Work out a weekly schedule with your partner and practice tag teaming. I remember my husband cutting back on training and some private classes initially to help me re-group both times round. Don’t feel guilty asking your partner for assistance. Home life is a full time 15 hour a day job in itself, Stay at home Mum’s need some help. When he was home on a Sunday, he would look after the kid’s whilst I batch cooked 2-3 dishes. We would always order takeaway on a Sunday night too that way I didn’t have to worry about dinner on that day. It actually became abit of a ritual. As I was nearly finished with all the cooking he would go out and get me coffee and a cup cake for me and I knew he would organise dinner for us. It was my silver lining every Sunday and I urge you all to do something similar! Least you know the food you prepare will take you all the way to Thursday!
Avoid meals that involve having to prepare different elememts or where you need to chop up so many different vegetables. As nice as taco nights and poke bowls are give them a miss- FOR NOW. When I had to baby wear, cutting up a lot of vegetables with a crying baby attached to me was not much fun. Remember, you are looking for simplicity in the beginning. Dishes likes, roast meat with roughly cut up veg, One pot pasta, cottage pie with either meat or legumes are all big winners and leave a lot of left overs for future meals! Best best of all, it is one pot/pan meals!
Cook today for tomorrow! Get in the habit of whenever you roast meat, to roast double the amount! So don’t roast only 1 whole chicken, get 2 into the oven! So many things cane be done with that left over. Think a quick chicken soup with that handy broth you have in the freezer, chicken wraps or chicken stirfry.
Invest in a slow cooker.What I love about slow cookers is all the beautiful soups and stews you can prepare and leave it be! If you can get into the habit of cooking soup you have to blend, you don’t have to worry about how you chop the veggies! WINNING! think tomato soup, pumpkin soup, potato, parsnip and spinach soup, lentil soup!
Use aluminium roasting trays. Now before anyone says “It is not environmentally friendly” I totally agree BUT hear me out. I am 100% into reusable cookware however reducing your workload is a priority atm. New mum’s would agree if you have a newborn that needs to be cuddled a lot, that cluster feeds etc, washing up and scrubbing roasting trays is so tedious. I remember leaving them to soak and then dealing with all that grease in the morning. 2nd time around I used aluminium trays for all those tedious dishes like pork shoulder, pasta and rice bakes, lasagna. Basically food you know that will stick to the tray! Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for cutting corners initially. This is SHORT TERM only so don’t beat yourself up.
Online shop! Gosh I have said this to so many people it isn’t funny! With some stores, you have to kind of get over the whole delivery in plastic bags for the sake of sanity. Ladies who have had a caesarian that care for their child with no unassisted help would benefit from home delivery services. I always say that mental health is the most important thing and at the end of the day this is all temporary. Some stores like Harris Farm do place all your items in a box for you which is great, but if they don’t, they don’t. Ease your stress levels and just do it!
Ok so we know the advice ” Eat the Rainbow” when it comes to Fruit and Veg consumption. Sometimes I feel it actually puts pressure on families that they need to eat this huge variety of veggies every day, so this advice might challenge that a little. When you have a newborn, you are stripping everything back to basics! For example lets not worry about filling your fridge with: Kale, English Spinach, Silverbeet, Chard, Mustard Greens etc etc etc You know where I am going with this. Every week decide on a few veg of each colour you are going to have in the kitchen. One week you may focus on some Asian Greens, the next week you may select some mediterranean ones. Just keep them rotating so you are consuming a nice variety throughout the week, but don’t feel like every single day you need new vegetables.
Canned veggies and frozen veggies are ok to use! Don’t feel guilty if you make a pasta bake with canned peas and corn. It still has nutrients. It is still good to use. If you are worried about BPA, there are actually a few brands on the market that are BPA free too. Again, do your research and stock up before bub arrives.
It is ok to eat takeaway. Pick up a roast chicken and have it with a simple salad. There are so many great options for takeaway nowadays. Even stores like Harris Farm have such great ready made meals. You are no less of a Mum for buying pre crumbed chicken, good quality fish fingers or ready made lasagna. My biggest advice is to make the best decision based on the nutritional panel of WHAT there is AVAILABLE. Take note of any non ‘whole food’ ingredients, salt and sugar content and again make the best decision of what there is.
Bringing your baby home is such a life changing moment. It is especially more dauting when you bring a 2nd or 3rd baby home as unlike a 1st baby, you do have to feed and care for your older children too. Honestly don’t feel bad EVER for making meals like a toasted sandwich, eggs on toast because you ran out of time to prepare a “meal” I can tell you now, there are many times I have given the family baked beans on toast and it is totally ok. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you are cutting corners or not doing the best you can. The important things is getting full tummies! especially your’s Mum!