What to Plan Before Baby Arrives? Your Meals!

Photo: Quick and Easy Mexican / Leigh Beisch
Photo: Quick and Easy Mexican / Leigh Beisch

One of the things I loved about being in the hospital after my son was born was not having to make dinner. Not only did I not have plan and make the meals, but I could call food service any time I wanted and order anything I wanted!  For free!  (Okay, not really for free — I’m sure it was accounted for in the hospital bill.) For a foodie like me, that’s heaven.

But eventually, you come home from the hospital. The room service ends. People stop wheeling you food on a platter, right up to your chest. If you want to eat pancakes with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy, a slice of cheesecake, and a chicken roll-up at 2:00 a.m., you gotta make it yourself.

If your post-birth experience is anything like mine you’ll be exhausted. Know that ahead of time and prepare for it. For some couples, he does the cooking in the relationship and that just continues post-baby. But, for most couples that I know, she does the bulk of the meal preparation. If that’s you, you’ve got to try to anticipate the first couple weeks’ meals.  Ask yourself: “What can I do before delivery to make life easier on myself after delivery?”

Maybe it means when friends ask, “How can I help?”, your answer is, “A casserole, please.” Maybe it means asking your partner to take over the cooking. Maybe it means having plenty of cash on hand to pay the food delivery guys. Each family will tackle this one differently.

For me, there were a few strategies that worked:

Freezing meals. I made a few casserole kind of dishes — lasagna, Italian meatloaf and a chicken/broccoli bake and froze them. I whipped up a couple of batches of soup and put it in the freezer.

Stocking up on supplies for simple meals. I planned for meals that come together really quickly without much thought. Boil-some-noodles-add-some-sauce kind of meals.

Freezing ingredients. Before delivery, I browned five pounds of hamburger meat, put taco seasoning in some of it and then froze it all in smaller portions. Then when I wanted to make spaghetti or tacos or chili or soup, that was a big step already done. I did the same thing with chicken for quesadillas, enchiladas and chicken Makhani.

Making a lot at a time. Since there are only two adults in our family, we usually have leftovers anyway. When I did have a chance to cook, I made sure that I had enough to last a few meals. Often we’d get two dinners for two and several lunches for me out of just one cooking session.

Ordering pizza! There were a few times that I was just too stressed or busy. My husband isn’t much for cooking, but he’s very happy to pick up a pizza on his way home from work.

This actually isn’t a whole lot different from  how I usually plan meals — although we don’t usually order pizza as often as we did those first few weeks! You might not think that cooking post-baby is a big deal. After all, maybe you really like cooking and will make that a priority. But I can tell you that the odds of you having a well-rested body, two free hands and a desire to chop and stir at dinner time isn’t too high when you’ve got a new baby. Better safe than hungry!

How did you make your life easier as a new mom? Do you wish you’d done anything differently?