Surviving with a Newborn: Meals
There are lots of things that you can “let slide” in the first few weeks with a newborn. Washing kitchen floors, weeding the garden, washing windows – they can all wait for another day. But meals… there are three meals and two snacks to provide each day and unlike washing the dishes or the clothes, you can’t take a day off and catch up another time!
The best way to survive with a newborn and still have a healthy diet is to prepare. If you have the freezer space, preparing meals in advance and freezing them is the easiest way to go about it. You can make a bulk lot of something easy, say bolognaise mince, and serve it in many different ways (lasagne, on spaghetti, on rice, with corn chips as a sort of “nachoes”, with mashed potato…) so that you’re not always eating the same thing. Cook three or four things in bulk and you’ve got a variety of meals to pull out of the freezer without feeling like you’re eating the same thing every day. My favourite way to do it is to prepare the meat-veggies-sauce in advance and freeze it, with only the carb portion to prepare on the night (and tortillas or bread are easy, no fuss options on nights when even cooking up a packet of pasta is too hard).
However, there are ways you can simplify that don’t require so much freezer space.
If you buy your preferred meat in bulk (as much as you can reasonably fit in your freezer and fridge space) bagged up into meal sized portions, they will be easy to grab. Then buy the other ingredients for favourite recipes (preferably ones that you don’t actually have to use the recipe for so they become “no thinking” meals) and place them in a bag in the pantry (the non-perishables anyway). Bag up a jar of pasta sauce, a packet of pasta and some Italian herbs to grab quickly along with a package of meat and either canned, fresh or frozen veggies. Do the same with a jar of curry paste, a tin of coconut milk and some rice. That way, while you still need to cook each night, you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to cook or whether you have all the right ingredients.
However, dinners aren’t the only meal you need to provide!
I like to keep breakfasts, lunches and snacks as simple as possible during this period. Breakfasts are cold cereal or toast (or warm up some weetbix in winter if you prefer). Lunches are usually just spreads on bread, or a cheese sandwich in the sandwich toaster if I’m feeling adventurous. Add a whole piece of fruit or a super-simple salad of a sliced cucumber and some cherry tomatoes if you want. Snacks… at this time I usually rely more on packaged snacks, along with nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit and yoghurt. It’s a season.
Also, now we have more freezer space, I like to make the kids’ sandwiches for school in advance so that I only have to make them once a week/fortnight not every morning. Same with their morning tea snacks for school (along with a piece of fruit) and Mark’s lunches to take to work (usually leftovers).
Being well prepared in this area can make a huge difference to the first few weeks with a newborn! And remember to take up any offers from friends and family to bring you a meal – let others bless you and your family!