New moms have enough to worry about what with taking care of their children, possibly going back to work, cleaning the house, keeping up with chores, and more. So the last thing a new mom wants to think about is making food.
Moms can tend to become so preoccupied with their new baby, nursing and/or making formula and trying to catch up on sleep that they often forget to eat, or simply can’t find the time to make food for themselves, resorting to grab and go, and often unhealthy, quick bites.
But eating healthy is important, as is having good, homecooked food. But who has time for that? With the right meal prep strategy, however, you can actually get ahead of the game and eat well with minimal effort.
Here are 10 meal prep hacks for new moms.
10 Make Big Batches And Freeze
The most obvious hack is to wait until you have some free time, whether it’s a weeknight when your spouse can take over childcare duties for a few hours or on the weekend, then make massive batches of food.
Prepare meals that will last for a week, even months. Store everything in neat, stackable foil or plastic trays and label them with the name of the dish and date. Then pop everything into the freezer. If you don’t have a large deep freezer, carve out space in your bottom or top freezer to store at least 7-10 pre-made meals. Then simply reheat and eat!
9 Make Food That Freezes and Reheats Well
Make sure to make food that freezes well and is easy to pop into the oven and re-heat. This could include dishes like lasagna, chili, shepherd’s pie, meatballs, or mini homemade pizza.
There are lots of meals that you can make quickly and easily, and in large batches, then cut into individual servings and reheat in the oven at 325 or 350 for 20-25 minutes. Reheat the meal, feed your baby or put them down for a nap, then scarf the food down in the few minutes you have to yourself.
8 Re-Use Food For Different Meals
Think creatively when you make dinner and find ways to re-use the leftover ingredients so you aren’t eating the same meal 3 or 4 times in a row. For example, if you make spaghetti and meatballs one night for dinner, store the leftover meatballs separately, then make yourself a meatball sub with cheese and green peppers for lunch the next day.
If you have fish and chips, reheat a piece of fried fish and pop it into bread with some tartar sauce and cheese. Use leftover potatoes to create an egg, bacon, and potato hash for breakfast, leftover chicken from chicken and rice to make burritos the next day and, well, you get the idea. You could easily get three unique meals from one set of cooked chicken or other ingredients.
7 Pre-Make Grab and Go Breakfasts
Cook a batch of hard-boiled eggs and bacon every Sunday, then store it in containers in the fridge. Reheat one every morning to get some protein in your system first thing.
You could also do things like make homemade French toast, pancakes, or waffles and freeze them. Pop one into the toaster in the morning, lather some peanut butter, jam, or almond butter on top, and munch on it as you go about your morning routine. Voila! A quick and easy breakfast.
6 Pre-Wash and Cut Fruits and Veggies
The most time-consuming part of prepping meals often relates to the vegetables and/or fruits, because you have to wash, cut, chop, dice, peel – you name it – to get them ready for the meal. Do this all ahead of time and store enough of the items in airtight containers in the refrigerator to last for a week.
Then grab a handful of mixed chopped veggies to throw into an omelette one day and add to stir fry with some noodles and chicken the next. Or make yourself a bowl of freshly cut fruit salad for a healthy snack or breakfast, or to add to some yogurt and granola.
5 Get A MultiCooker
A multicooker like an Instant Pot truly can be a lifesaver. You can effortlessly cook things like oatmeal, rice, pasta, and more by simply dumping in the ingredients, pressing a button, then waiting until it’s done. If you get tied up, many of them have a function that will keep the food warm inside until you have time to eat.
Plus, they can come in handy once you’re ready to make baby food since you can steam and cook vegetables and fruits in a fraction of the time, then puree them, store in individuals containers, and freeze, simplifying meal prep for not only you, but your growing baby who’s starting to eat solids as well.
4 Create A Schedule
Devise a schedule and then prep meals ahead of time so you have all of the ingredients at your fingertips to make what you need to make every day, or every second day. For example, maybe every Tuesday is Taco Tuesday where you cook up ground beef or chicken to eat with all of your desired fixings (including pre-cut veggies.) And that’s followed by pizza Thursdays, or tuna casserole Wednesdays.
Having a plan in place will help take the guesswork out of cooking, so you don’t need to also worry about what to make but can simply make it. Switch things up every month so you don’t get bored of the same old meals. And, as noted, each week, find a new and interesting way to use leftovers from dinner for an easy to make lunch the next day.
3 Make Extra Dinner
Whatever you’re making, if you’re taking the time to cook, whether you make enough for 3 people or 6, it’s going to take you the same amount of effort and time. So make a big enough batch so you have leftovers for lunch the next day, or even to repeat the meal for dinner the following night, or the night after.
If there’s still some left, package it up to store in the freezer and keep for a night or day down the road when you need a quick bite but don’t have time to cook.
2 Use a Crockpot
A crockpot is a great kitchen appliance for new moms (or anyone, for that matter) because you can dump ingredients inside, press a button, then leave it cooking all day. When dinnertime rolls around, open it up and indulge in your delicious stew with some French bread to dip in it, homemade chili, or pulled pork.
Crockpots make it easy to, again, make big batches of items that can be re-used another day (e.g. pulled pork sandwiches one night, pulled pork on rice the next) and/or to be frozen for later meals.
1 Tupperware Is Your Friend
Invest in a good set of stackable Tupperware, including sets with containers that are of the same size and some that are larger than others. Then individually store things like chopped vegetables, sliced onions, mixed fruit salad, carrot and celery sticks, cooked chicken, hard-boiled eggs, and more.
Fill these once a week and then grab and go, using them for various meals, from breakfast to quick snacks, lunch, or for dinner prep. It will save you tons of time, and it will keep your refrigerator looking neat and tidy, too.