Those first weeks after the baby can be difficult to find the time and energy to eat well. Here are a few tips to eat well and spend less without relying on the drive-thru or takeout. Plus a Parents Need to Eat Too giveaway.
This month we’re talking about feeding babies here on Eat Well, Spend Less. Between the lot of us, we have 35 kids, so I’d say this is a subject we’re pretty well equipped to take on, but more than that, in the last few weeks we’ve welcomed three brand new babies into that count. Aimee welcomed Clara into her home, Tammy and family rejoiced when Channah arrived, and Carrie said hello to a new Baby Bargains.
It’s been a few years since my fourth baby made an appearance. Still, I had plenty of practice with those first few week, the following months, and the toddler years with the four kids, and there is no mistaking that they aren’t the slowest time in your life.
Still, this isn’t the time to start relying on takeout boxes and pizza delivery. As a mom, your body is healing from a nine-month marathon, complete with a mile-long sprint to the finish line. You need the best nutrition you can get to heal and provide the energy to get through those first newborn days and nights, as well as for milk production if you’re breastfeeding.
A Well-Stocked Pantry
Having a pantry stocked and full can be a lifesaver in those early days when you just might not have the will to head to the grocery store to stock up. In addition to spices and pantry basics, aim to stock up on food that is easy to prepare and that provides a source of energy: dried whole wheat pastas, quinoa, rolled oats, polenta, dried or canned beans, seeds, nuts, nuts, and more nuts. Debbie does a wonderful job covering this topic in her book, detailing what to keep on hand and also providing easy recipes on what to do with it now that it’s there.
If you can, have a few meals prepared and ready to go in the freezer that can just be taken out and popped into the oven. This will take the stress out of family dinner as everyone gets used to the new schedules and the shift in family life. A few good freezer meals to stock (or to give to new parents):
::Cream of Turkey/Chicken Wild Rice Soup
::Baked Manicotti Florentine
Eating a balanced diet means that you need to include plenty of produce, but the problem here is that if you are busy and harried, as so many are during the first few months of adjusting to a new family member, then it’s also easy to forget that gorgeous zucchini, the bundle of asparagus, or the bowl of just ripe peaches. Aim to purchase produce with a bit of a longer shelf life and that can be eaten without much prep work. Some ideas:
- Apples – Apples seem to keep for weeks in the crisper drawer. A good rinse and you can bite right in with one hand while carrying baby in the other. (Note: Be sure to choose organic varieties. These are on the Dirty Dozen list.)
- Citrus – Whether you slice them into smiles or give them a quick peel, citrus provides plenty of vitamin C and are good at staying fresh for more than a few days.
- Bananas – While bananas do brown pretty rapidly (if you’re like me, often before you consume them), overripe bananas can always be peeled and tossed into the freezer for later use as banana bread or baby food.
- Romaine and Kale – These are my go-to salad base for just having around. Romaine heads (and kale) tend to stay fresh a bit longer if they’re attached to their base and wilt less than some other lettuce varieties. Kale is a great source of iron, too.
- Carrots – Easy to snack on, and baby carrots make it easy to grab a handful (or a bowlful) as a snack.
- Avocados – I let my avocados sit next to the bananas until they’re just ripe enough to eat, and then I store them in the refrigerator to use as the week progresses. They’ll go bad a bit faster than some of the other suggestions, but they provide a great source of healthy fats for a nursing mom.
- Frozen Berries – While not fresh produce, having a supply of frozen will be the perfect treat on a bowl of yogurt and granola or to top off a baked oatmeal treat.
- Sweet Potatoes – A great source of vitamin A, these take a bit more forethought to consume, but rub one down with olive oil, poke it a few times with a for, and toss it in the oven to roast while you’re doing something else. Top it like a baked potato, but with butter and a drizzle of raw honey for a lunchtime treat.
As always, you can check out what others are writing in the Eat Well, Spend Less series about eating well during those busy baby moments:
- Aimee from Simple Bites
- Alyssa from Kingdom First Mom
- Carrie from Denver Bargains
- Jessica from LifeasMOM
- Katie from Kitchen Stewardship
- Mandi from Life Your Way
- Tammy from Tammy’s Recipes
I’m giving away a copy of Parents Need to Eat Too by Debbie Koenig! Inside you’ll find recipes and tips for eating healthy during those early days, as well as how to transition those meals into baby’s first foods and then into toddler times.
To enter, simply leave a comment on this post. That’s all there is to it. Tell me about your first baby, your sixth baby, what you deliver to your friends who just had a baby, or just say hi.
This giveaway will run until Sunday, March 25th, 2012 at 12 noon EDT and is open to all U.S. residents. A winner will be chosen at random using Random.org from all eligible entries. Chosen winners must respond within 48 hours of notification to claim their prize. Good luck!