This post is part of our ongoing “Five Questions With” series, in which we interview a health and wellness expert on their particular area of focus. Today we share information from a meal planning and prep expert. Is there an individual or topic you’d like to see featured in “Five Questions With”? Send us an e-mail.
Preparing Your Kitchen for Baby
Is your kitchen ready for your baby’s arrival? No, you didn’t misread that sentence, and no, we didn’t mean to type nursery (although, we hope that’s ready too!). The first few weeks after your baby is born will be busy and possibly overwhelming. With just a bit of advance planning you can stock your pantry, refrigerator and freezer with foods that will nourish you during that crucial time, so that you can spend time bonding with your new baby. In today’s Five Questions With, chef and dietitian Allison Schaaf of Prep Dish, a gluten-free and Paleo meal plan service, shares some of her favorite tips and strategies for a well-stocked postpartum kitchen.
What are some things that a mama and/or her partner can do to prepare the kitchen for those busy first few weeks after baby comes?
Take a deep breath and enjoy this time together. Spend some time preparing your kitchen for the crazy time after baby is born. I recommend cleaning out and reorganizing your pantry, freezer and fridge so everything has a place and is easy to find. Restock your kitchen with healthy foods that will sustain you. I would also prepare a few freezer meals for those times when you need a quick, ready-made meal (Click here for Stephanie Greunke’s strategies for preparing postpartum freezer meals). Make sure to leave plenty of space to store meals that friends and family bring you. Using a slow cooker is a great strategy for making freezer meals. Click here to download my slow cooker freezer meal handout.
What types of recipes freeze well?
I recommend having a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner foods stocked in the freezer and ready to go. This is crucial during those first few months. You and your partner will be exhausted, so the tendency will be to go grab something quick and most likely, unhealthy. Kick that urge to the curb and feed yourself and your family the right foods from the get go. I love freezing:
- Soups, stews & chilis. I love this Mexican Pork Stew.
- Frittatas. Try baking them in muffin tins for single-servings.
- Crockpot meals. Anything from beef stew to Paleo gumbo and more.
- Breakfast hashes. Hashes, like this Sweets, Beets & Kale Hash, are my go-to “Whole 30” style breakfast and can prepped ahead and stored in the fridge or freezer.
- Homemade bone broth. Freeze the broth in ice cube trays for single-serving “cup of broth.”
- Lasagnas. I make mine with thinly sliced zucchini or eggplant “noodles”.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you see with meal prep?
Not having a systematic plan in place before you start prepping. Without a plan, the tendency is to feel a little lost or like you are flailing in the kitchen. You’ll set yourself up for failure and might be tempted to have another meal out or hit the to-go counter. I also recommend having the right tools in place. A good chef’s knife, set of pots and pans, cutting board and storage containers are must-haves.
Are there any tools that help make meal prep easier?
I cannot live without my food processor and blender for making marinades, soups, pestos, nut-based crusts and more. A slow cooker is a must-have for new moms. Another fun tool, but not as crucial, is my spiralizer. I love making zucchini noodles and sweet potato noodles with it.
What are your best tips for successful meal prep?
- Plan to prep 4-5 days of meals at one time. Much more than that and you will feel overwhelmed and/or have way too much food on your hands. This also allows for leftovers to be used as well.
- Have a plan for the grocery store. There is nothing worse, in my opinion, than going to the grocery store without an organized list. Talk about chaos, especially with a new baby. Knowing exactly what you need by category in the store will save you both tons of time and quite a bit of money!
- Get familiar with your recipes and plan your meal prep. Take 5-10 minutes to read through your plan so you know exactly where you are going. It’s much like reading a map before heading out on a road trip. Then make sure everything you need is laid out and accessible while you prep.
- Lastly, pre-wash all of your produce before starting. Otherwise, you end up wasting time running back and forth from the sink to wash veggies.
A Special Prep Dish Offer for HMHB readers
Through her Prep Dish service, Allison helps subscribers take the guesswork out of the dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?” Her weekly downloadable plans act s a step-by-step guide for meals each week. The whole-foods based meals are thoughtfully crafted to make the most of your budget, save you time and surprise your taste buds. Allison is offering HMHB readers a free 2-week trial of Prep Dish. To learn more and take advantage of this special offer, please visit: http://prepdish.com/mamasw30
Allison Schaaf is a personal chef and Registered Dietitian. She lives in Austin, Texas, where she operates her company Prep Dish Personal Chef. She also created and operates the meal-planning service Prep Dish, through which she helps her clients plan gluten-free and paleo weekly menus.