Stocking Up on Meals Before (and After) Baby’s Arrival
Let’s get real here. Once your baby arrives, you won’t have time for basic hygiene, let alone cooking. Babies are on their own time schedule, which means when you’re ready to prepare a fabulous five-course meal, your crying bundle of joy will be ready to be held nonstop. And who wants to spend Baby’s future college fund on takeout? Besides, the goal is to lose the baby weight, not to pack on more pounds eating pizza day and night just because it’s a quick fix.
One solution is to stock up on meals before your new baby’s arrival; another is to keep meals coming after your baby comes home. Whether you’re a first-timer or already have a few kids, here’s how to secure all the food you’ll need to be the best new parent you can be:
Make meals in advance at home.
Have you ever been in the middle of cooking dinner, only to realize you were missing one crucial item? It’s a cinch pre-baby to stop cooking and run to the store for what you need, but with a new baby in the house that seemingly simple task suddenly becomes downright frightening. So once you hit the second trimester (or whenever you feel a burst of energy), grab a once-a-month cooking cookbook (see Resources) and make and freeze some meals. And forget about those bulky foil pans, because you can freeze some meals in plastic storage bags or containers to save freezer space.
Make meals in advance off site.
Nothing compares to the fun of cleaning up the kitchen after preparing and cooking a meal (yeah, right). For a few of your stock-up meals, make life easy and head to the computer to find an off-site meal preparation kitchen near you. When you get there, just assemble the meals while they provide the food, supplies and containers. All the ingredients are already chopped and ready to throw together in the amounts your family prefers. If you are allergic to or just dislike an ingredient, skip it! To make this a fun night out, you could even take along several friends. And what a timesaver! At Dream Dinners in Overland Park, guests can make 10-12 meals in 60-75 minutes!
Count on the kindness of friends, family, neighbors and strangers.
Most people understand that having a new baby is not about spending your every waking hour cooking and cleaning. So after your baby is born, you may find people asking whether you need anything. If you want to find yourself in non-cooking Heaven, give up on the Supermom routine and exclaim, “Yes!” If you have kitchen-challenged pals, suggest they bring over things like pizza gift cards, salad and sandwich items, takeout and paper plates. If you feel comfortable enough, set up a meal calendar online at Google.com/calendar before you give birth and send out a mass email to family and friends with the link.
Call for backup.
If all else fails—and you can afford it—find a company to deliver food to your door. No, I’m not talking about Pizza Hut or the Chinese restaurant around the corner! Depending on where you live, you might find a food service that will deliver prepared meals, as well as frozen vegetables, meats, pancakes and more. Companies like Schwan’s (Schwans.com) will make small deliveries as often as you like, and you can order online.
When you run out.
After a number of weeks, your freezer stockpile will inevitably run low. Don’t despair, because you have several options. You can (1) crack open a quick dinner cookbook; (2) break out the Crockpot; (3) hit the computer for easy recipe websites; (4) head back to the off-site meal prep store for a night out sans Baby (and really feel like you’ve accomplished something!); or (5) have a helper (whether that be your partner, a friend, a hired sitter or your mother-in-law) come over and take care of the baby while you do your once-a-month-cooking.
All done! Now you can relax, take care of yourself and truly enjoy your baby. While you’re at it, why not sneak in a nap with your new miniature sweetie instead of being stuck in the kitchen for an hour?
Kerrie McLoughlin is the mom of five and blogs her crazy life at TheKerrieShow.com.
- Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month by Deborah Taylor-Hough
- LifeAsMom.com. This is a terrific blog written by a mom of six who has much experience not only with stocking up on meals, but also with saving lots of money doing it.
- Once-a-Month Cooking: A Proven System for Spending Less Time in the Kitchen and Enjoying Delicious, Homemade Meals Everyday by Mary Beth Lagerborg and Mimi Wilson
- The One-Armed Cook by Cynthia Stevens Graubart and Catherine Fliegel