Ask Kitchn: What Are Some Quick Recipe Ideas for New Moms?
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Hi, Kitchn Editors —
There’s a lot of content on the internet about how to freezer meal prep for a new baby, but not a ton of resources on how plan and shop ahead for quick non-freezer meals in those first few sleep-deprived weeks. Can you help those of us in urban kitchens with small freezers prepare for baby with a shopping list and quick recipe ideas that can mostly be purchased in advance or in one grocery trip for two weeks of meals?
Arie: I feel like Meghan is going to have opinions here.
Meghan [has a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old]: I have a lot to say about this — as a mom but also as a cook with lots of friends who have had babies in the last 10 years.
Lauren Kodiak: What if a (very awesome) friend came over and did a Power Hour prep session in their kitchen?
Arie: Oooo which power hour would you choose??
Lauren Kodiak: This one!
Kelli [expecting mother]: Was just about to say the no-weeknight-cooking Power Hour, too! Everything is prepped and cooked (no freezer space necessary), so there’s only light reheating for dinner. Plus breakfast and lunches are also done.
Sheela: Also, these 3-ingredient dinners from TJ’s! They all come together super easily!
Lisa: Never underestimate the power of pasta! As long as I have a box of pasta in my pantry, I always know that dinner can happen.
Lauren Masur: If I were her, I would hire The Home Edit to come make over my pantry. JK they are not in my budget, BUT I’d definitely steal organizing ideas from them.
Lisa: And eggs! Eggs!
Kelli: I feel like this is a time Miracle Meals would also be super helpful. And these slow cooker drop dinners are just protein + bottled sauce.
Arie: Boxed mac and cheese from Banza forever and ever. But I’m not a mom, so take that with a grain of salt.
Lisa: YAS for Banza!
Sheela: Also, toast is more than acceptable for dinner. Eggs on toast, avocado on toast, hummus and whatever sad vegetables are in your fridge toast.
Arie: Okay, Meghan, it’s time to spill your tea.
Meghan: You guys, I don’t want to be a Negative Nancy, but I also think it’s hard to ask your friends to come cook for you. And it can also be difficult to have someone in your space when you’re like half naked and trying to breastfeed. Even some of the Miracle Meals are more cooking than a new parent might be able to pull off. That being said, I think Sheela and Kelli have the right ideas about Trader Joe’s meals, drop dinners, and no-cook meals!
Faith [has a 1-year-old and 3-year-old]: I agree!
Arie: Tell it like it is, Meghan.
Meghan: And this new mama needs more “anytime meals” because sometimes dinner is eaten at 10 p.m. and first breakfast is at 3 a.m. when you’re ravished during a night feeding.
Kelli: I also want to know about the secrets from Meghan and Faith!
Meghan: This is totally the time to shop for grocery shortcuts, whether you can get to a Trader Joe’s or you can just utilize the prepared foods section at your grocery store. The deli and salad bar should be your first stop for things like already chopped vegetables, cheese, and cooked proteins. Plain cooked whole grains are awesome (think: barley or quinoa) because you can plop yogurt and frozen berries on top or you can add chopped veggies and cooked protein and have a grain bowl for lunch.
Lauren Masur: Would an Instant Pot come in handy here? You can 5:5:5 a week’s worth of hard-boiled eggs.
Meghan: Totally, but also — buy the hard-boiled egg right now! Have you guys seen these yet?
Lauren Masur: TRUE they come in bags!
Grace: Speaking of pasta, what about one-pot pastas? The noodles and sauce all cook together, so you only dirty one pan. Ready in 20 minutes tops, and if you’re just feeding two and a baby, you’ll have leftovers!
Lisa: Even as a non-mom, I really embrace this one-pot pasta.
Faith: So, with all of this very fresh in my memory, I need to say that people over-emphasize dinner. You don’t often sit down to a full dinner when you have a newborn. You need midnight snacks and nursing snacks. I think making long-lasting oatmeal cookies with nuts (like our vegan thumbprints — the BEST!) that can store at room temp for a couple weeks is what you need. Buy yogurt cups, cheese sticks, nuts, pitas you can stuff with peanut butter.
Meghan: Like — what would you shop for (and eat) if you had to survive on snacks alone for six to eight weeks?
Faith: RIGHT! The perfect ultimate meal for a nursing mom is a small empanada. It’s often hard to even use utensils — even if you’re not nursing you’re snuggled up in bed or on the couch
Meghan: Oh, I totally forgot I wrote about the no-cook shopping list, and this is a great roundup from Dana.
Faith: Yessss! Make yourself some muffins, some cookies, get some cheese and crackers — it’s NOT a time to avoid carbs — your body is like, GIMME urgent fuel. Also, make sure you have tons and tons of good drinks; if you’re nursing or pumping you will want maybe a gallon a day. I put a splash of kombucha into flavor my big bottle of water.
Arie: I love this! Any last words or advice for Kristen?
Faith: Oh boy, Kristen — it’s SO FUN and crazy. Just like having a kid, figuring out all the food stuff is something where you have to do what’s right for you and is easy in the moment, so don’t be hard on yourself — and always be open and willing to ask for help.
Meghan: Don’t Google anything after midnight. Actually, Kristen, don’t Google anything for the next six to eight weeks. Text your friends, your mom, even your pediatrician, but avoid strangers on the internet for a while.
Faith: Hahahaha true.
Meghan: And take lots of pictures — it goes so fast — as Gretchen Rubin says “The days are long, but the years are fast.”
Do you have any advice or recipe suggestions for Kristen? Let her know in the comments!
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