My friend Chrystal who heads up Momodcasts recently did a great podcast on how to survive meal planning with a new baby in the house, and having survived the first three months of mommy-hood with barely having to cook, I wanted to add some of my own survival tips that may come in handy to someone else.
First of all, I attacked my last trimester to-do list like a fiend. And when ‘cook and freeze meals’ came up, I knew this was a big project not to be taken lightly. Unfortunately, a lot of the meals I cooked before-baby weren’t very freezer friendly, so I went on a massive hunt to assemble and taste test recipes that Brandon and I would both enjoy. I used the My Recipes search tool to help with sorting through recipes based on things we didn’t like or couldn’t eat. In the end, I still had to get creative and found out that Brandon isn’t quite as picky as he claims to be.
Once I made a list of all the recipes I planned to cook and freeze, I picked one or two to make each week so that I wouldn’t be completely overwhelmed with cooking. I made some basic things like meatloaf and beef stew, also some fun dishes like jambalaya and a chicken & broccoli casserole. I also realized that I needed to make a checklist of what we actually had in the freezer so that Brandon could pull out meals in advance and not leave us with a bunch of one meal to eat for several days in a row. You can check out my finished product here.
The second BRILLIANT idea I had was a grocery list template. Since I’m the one who does the cooking in our house, and I’m the one who puts together the grocery list each week, Brandon would be hounding me ever single week about what we needed to get at the store if I didn’t give him some help. It sounds complicated, but since I wasn’t going to be cooking any major meals (they’re in the freezer, ha!) I basically just needed a pantry cheat sheet, plus some easy lunch items. It took a little bit of thought and preparation, but I can’t tell you how many Sundays I’ve had to bow out of grocery shopping and Brandon was able to handle things without a hitch. Obviously our list is completely suited to our tastes and needs, but feel free to use it as a template for your own shopping trip. You’ll notice we opted for disposable eat & drink-ware since we don’t have a dishwasher, and doing dishes was pretty low on our priority list the first few weeks. Since then, we’ve mostly switched back.
In the end, my month’s worth of meals in the freezer ended up lasting almost three months with a little help from family and carry-out from our favorite restaurants, and I re-made a couple of the easier recipes and restocked the freezer, too. Now that we’re in our third month of parenthood, we’re on a bold new mission to clean up our diet a bit, and still keep our sanity. We’ve started ordering most of our meat from Seven Sons, a local farm that raises free-range, grass-fed animals, and we also just signed up for this amazing organic produce delivery service, Green Bean Delivery. My favorite thing about Green Bean, as opposed to a standard CSA from the farmers market, is being able to customize each weeks order, and still knowing where the food comes from. We’ve had two deliveries so far, and I have to say just how great the quality of the produce is! Plus, it comes right to our door… it doesn’t get any better than that!
So we’re starting to get into a groove around here, and it tastes pretty good!