Doing even the most basic meal prep can be a huge lifesaver during your first few weeks as a new mom. Here are some expert tips to make it a little bit easier to get the nutrition you and your baby need!
#1: Do Different Levels of Meal Prep
It can be super helpful to have different stages of meals ready to go in the freezer. Fully cooked meals that just need reheating are amazing, but having some raw ingredients can give you more flexibility and options.
The three stages of meal prepped items you can keep in your freezer are prepped ingredients, prepped uncooked meals, and fully cooked meals. Prepped ingredients – like chopped bell peppers, onions, and other veggies – make it easy to throw together a quick meal like an omelet.
The uncooked meals are great for dumping out a bag into the slow cooker and letting it simmer all day long. The smell of roasting Italian chicken wafting through the house… um, yes please!
Premade, fully cooked meals like casseroles will make life easy when you want a real meal on the table without having to wait long.
#2: Order Extra for the Baby Shower
One of my friends had BBQ catered for her baby shower, and she had tons of leftovers. Instead of eating it all immediately or wasting it, she froze it all! She portioned out the meat, cornbread, and baked beans into meal-sized Tupperware containers and put them in the freezer.
This was one of her absolute favorite meals after having her first baby. If it works out with your baby shower, then try to order or make extra food. You’ll thank yourself later.
#3: Have Easy Snacks and Meals You Can Eat with One Hand
One of the most surprising aspects of becoming a new mom can be how insanely difficult it is to feed yourself enough. When you’re constantly feeding and tending to the baby, it can be hard to fit in enough time to take care of YOU.
Some meals like BBQ are amazing … but you don’t want to worry about spilling baked beans all over the baby while you’re trying to eat. You will definitely want many meals to be quick, easy, and preferably able to be eaten with one hand.
The muffin pan will become your best friend. Seriously. You can have real food, but muffin sized, to fit in the palm of your hand. Egg muffins, mini meatloaves, granola cups, and other healthy meals can be made one-hand-friendly with your muffin tin.
It’s really important to have easy options on hand, because it’s hard to take care of yourself when you’re so sleep deprived and enthralled with your new love!
#4: Stay Organized with a Freezer List
It can be hard to remember what’s in the freezer when everything is all piled up (especially if you do a LOT of prep). Here is a handy printable freezer inventory list to help keep track of what you have on hand. Cross off items as you eat them so you know what you still have left.
#5: Use a Vacuum Sealer
There’s nothing worse than spending all the time to prep and freeze food, only to have it ruined by freezer burn. Use a vacuum sealer to protect your food and keep it as fresh as possible.
There are different sealers with specific settings for wet or dry foods, so you can seal marinated meat and other items appropriately. It’s also more economical; you can buy meat on sale or in bulk at Costco and then vacuum seal it for later.
#6: Give Yourself Enough Variety
There are tons of lasagna, pasta, and other similar freezer meal recipes out there, so if you’re not careful, you could wind up with a whole freezer of Italian food. Don’t get me wrong, Italian is amazing … but you might get pretty tired of eating the same flavors over and over.
Make sure to prep some different cuisines and have a balance so you’re not just eating nutrient-deficient pasta for every single meal.
#7: Prepare for Guests
Once you have your baby, EVERYONE wants to come visit. Many amazing visitors will bring food and meals for you, which will definitely make life easier. You might be loved so well that you’ll find yourself on the receiving end more food than you can eat before it spoils. Leave a little bit of space in your freezer so you can add extra food brought by guests.
Some moms also feel inclined to offer guests food when they come over. One of my friends made a large batch of spinach dip in her third trimester and froze portions using the wet setting on her vacuum sealer. She loved having a pantry stocked with snacks to share and this dip ready for visitors.
#8: Get Enough Protein
You’ll definitely want to make sure you’re eating enough protein because of how many extra calories you’ll be burning during breastfeeding. Prep your favorite meats or protein sources ahead of time so you have some in stock. Prepping will make it easier for you to get some protein each time you get an opportunity to scarf down some food. Avocado, hummus, and nuts are all snacks that have some protein if you need some easy options.
#9: Prep Different Portion Sizes
Freezing a whole casserole will be great for a family dinner, but you’ll also want some smaller serving portions to pull from as well. There will be times when you just need one meal or a snack. Smaller portion sizes also thaw and reheat faster.
#10: Reduce Clean Up
Use disposable pans and storage containers when you freeze meals so clean up will be easier. Disposable lasagna trays are great for large meals, but just be careful when you serve it so you don’t cut through the metal and end up with sauce all over your counter.
#11: Take Advantage of Grocery Delivery Services
Eventually you’ll run out of prepped meals. Using a grocery delivery service can make life easier to stock the fridge without having to leave the house. You can also order pre-chopped items to make snacking or cooking easier.
You’re going through so many changes and emotions that you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself about the prep ahead of time. Do as much as you have the energy for. Any prep you do at all will be a big help!