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Having a baby is kind of like running a marathon and then getting into a car accident. Your body is EXHAUSTED, your brain is jumbled, you’re slightly hormonal … basically you just don’t quite feel like yourself, but you know you’d like a nap and so much water. You’ll start off with a bit of take out or some meals gifted to you by others (maybe ones from this awesome round up), but eventually you’ll be on your own to feed yourself while feeding your baby. Having a fully stashed fridge or freezer will make those hard days easier, so keep reading for some inspiring recipes to make as an expectant mom.
I’ve done this twice now which means I’m not an expert, but I can tell you what has been most helpful for myself and my family. For us the greatest time saver and blessing has been prepping staples, thank goodness for my instant pot which made doing this while >32 weeks pregnant a breeze. Keeping staples on hand means you can easily throw together meals or stretch them without an extra trip to the store or a last-minute Grub Hub order. Below are some of my go to recipes and how they help or how we used them.
Frozen beans– this pregnancy and since Henry was born, I’ve been all about black beans. Specifically, black beans with cumin and sweet potatoes… not entirely sure why but maybe give it a try and see if it’s just me. Cooking beans from dry in the instant pot is not only a great cost savings but they are so much more flavorful in future recipes when you make them yourself. This recipehas been my go-to but I add an extra 5 minutes to cook time for a softer texture (when I cook per her instructions they’re a little too firm). I’ve used them to mash and add to burritos or quesadillas, I’ve used them in burrito bowls, as a bed for a fried egg and ripe avocado, and as a side dish. Stove the beans in quart-size bags and lay them flat to freeze then you can stack up all your staples in the freezer for quick access.
Granola– I made a double batch of granola before baby came. It’s such a satisfying dish along with some yogurt and fruit. I’ve also been known to eat a handful for some necessary crunch with my fruit and veggie loaded smoothies.
Frozen grains– brown rice, quinoa, and barley are all stacked up in my freezer for a future meal. I cook each according to the Instant Pot booklet recipes, but I make a double batch. It only takes a few extra minutes but I am set for 4-6 weeks which is such a blessing. Brown rice usually ends up with a stir fry, but it’s also a great side for some quick roasted salmon and steamed broccoli. The quinoa can be added to your bowl of oatmeal for a mix of textures and more protein. We have mostly been using the grains as lunch add-ons, so take some leftover proteins from dinner, add extra veg and use the frozen grains as a base.
Muffins– If you’ve been on this website or any of my social media channels before you likely know that I’m a big muffin fan. They are such an easy meal option and so versatile. It also helps that my boys love them so they’re an easy way to make sure we can all have a good breakfast without me doing any extra work in the mornings. Currently in my freezer I have: lentil banana muffins from Lean Green Bean, banana muffins, and apple muffins. As we head into fall I’ll be making pumpkin muffins/bread and fall harvest muffins soon.
Protein or lactation bites– I won’t get into the debate on breast feeding vs formula feeding because it’s such a personal choice. I will say that I breastfed Charlie and enjoyed it so my plan with Henry is to nurse as long as it works for us and our family. With that I knew I would need some little snacks on hand to maintain a good supply (in addition to frequent nursing and really good hydration). I love these ones, but there are so many good recipes out there.
Smoothie bags– Are you making smoothie bags yet?? If not you totally should be. I portion out fruits and veggies into sandwich-sized bags and then when I’m ready I add my liquid, my extras (hemp hearts, ground flax seed, a bit of cinnamon or vanilla), and a dollop of yogurt. Having it all pre-portioned is such a nice back up and it helps ensure I get in some extra vitamins and minerals while I’m so busy caring for my family. I also make ice cubes of the last little bits of juices or pureed veggies that can be thrown in. Plus the fruit or veggies that don’t look great and need to be used quickly I’ll pop those into freezer smoothie bags as well – love that we are reducing waste and food cost this way. In our house I make the smoothie bags in a couple different sizes, one for parents and one for Charlie.
Sunbutter & Jelly sandwiches– my little one started school FOUR days after little brother was born. While I could have utilized the school lunch for Charlie, it was a point of pride in making his lunch. I had spent so much time over the past 6 months that he was home feeding him that I wasn’t ready to go back to a school lunch situation. So I used the trick I learned from my internship days and made a few extra sandwiches that I individually packed and popped them in the freezer. (Charlie’s class is nut-free as are many schools, so we use sunbutter.) You can remove from the freezer and pop in the fridge overnight and it will be ready to eat by lunch time. You could also use this as a good option for mommas.
Meatballs are also fantastic items to make and keep on hand. The meatballs can be made and frozen and turned into meatball subs or served with spaghetti or just eaten with sauce and a side of veggies.
I hope this gave you some great ideas for how to make feeding your family easier while waiting for baby and in the days to weeks after baby’s arrival. I’d love to hear what other recipes you made as an expectant mom or things you found helpful. And if you’re looking for more inspiration head on over to the extra popular busy mom meal prep post.