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5 Meal Prep Secrets for the New Mom

These tips will make cooking nutritious meals so much easier, even with a newborn around.

5 Meal Prep Secrets for the New Mom

As a new mom, we often forget about ourselves during the newborn phase. It usually takes a few months of parenting to figure out the balancing act of caring for your newborn, taking care of yourself and managing domestic responsibilities. Often times, finding the time to cook a healthy meal is easier said than done. So we don't blame you for succumbing to the temptation of premade meals that you can heat up in mere minutes.

But before you go reach for that take-out menu hanging on your fridge, we want to help you get all the nutrients that you, as a new mom, need. So here are 5 tips that will help you prep healthful homemade meals that will answer all of your nutritional needs.

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1. Time it well. If you’re tired and focused on baby, meal prepping will seem like a bigger chore than it actually is. But once you get into the groove of (new mom) things, get organize and determine a time to do one weekly activity that's related to cooking and food: grocery shopping one day, cutting vegetables and boiling them for your own sauce the next. Whatever cooking task you decide to tackle, keep it realistic in relation to the other things you have to accomplish with an infant in the house. It may take some time to figure out how much time you actually have and need, but it's best to keep it under an hour so it doesn’t overtire you. You can undertake longer food preps, like marinating meat or making your own stock or broth, on a day that you know you'll have more time or help around the house.

2. Choose healthy foods that you can cook up quickly. Once the baby is out, you probably want to get your body back to its pre-pregnancy shape -- something that, especially if you are breastfeeding, you can't just do by choosing low-caloric foods. Eating rich, yet nutritious food is especially important to the nursing mom. So what can you prep that's easy to fix and packed with nutrients? Grains such as couscous, bulgur, and millet cook on the quicker side and can be stored easily and for a long time. Vegetables such as spinach, pepper, onions, broccoli and zucchini cook relatively fast, and you can make a large quantity to add as a side, into an omelet or throw into a sandwich wrap.

3. Multitask. The best part about cooking is that many prepping techniques can be done at the same time. Once you select a recipe that you like, you can organize yourself with tasks that overlap: baking, roasting, boiling, chopping, and cleaning. While you chop vegetables, you can heat a saucepan on low with oil, or if something is boiling, you can start cleaning up. Just make sure that baby is away from the stove and oven.

4. Freeze Dishes. When you cook, make the whole recipe for 4 people, even if it's only you eating it for lunch. You can freeze whatever food you don't eat, and you'll be glad to have that extra stash of vegetable lasagna on days when life isn't cooperating with you. Items such as soups, sauces, ground meat, grilled meats and baked breads are excellent to freeze for future use. If you're still waiting on baby's arrival, you can also prep meals in advance for your first few postpartum days. It will save you a lot of time and energy when you have to adjust to your new life with your bundle of joy.

5. Accept help. Friends and family will want to see you and the baby, and if they ask you, “do you need anything?” or “what should I bring?,” tell them you need food! Accepting offers doesn’t make you weak or vulnerable, it makes you smart. And it means you'll receive something that you'll actually use. So consider asking for a cooked meal, baked treats, or even a gift certificate to a restaurant of choice.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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