Before Camilla was born, I knew one thing that I did not want to have to worry about was cooking once she arrived. I also did not want to have to send Miguel out for takeout or get delivery every meal (because that would add up!) but, I also needed things that were stress-free and required the least amount of work. So that meant that I needed to have a plan in place and meals lined up. I am no stranger to meal planning, but I took it to the next level during my final months of pregnancy and had a meal plan laid out for the first 8 weeks after she was born! I am going to share my process and tips. Trust me, this is one of the best things I did to prepare for baby!
Meal Planning Tips to Prepare for after Baby:
- I had a tab in my “baby spreadsheet” in google docs dedicated to my meal plan. I had a cell dedicated to each day of the week for 8 weeks. Then I could see just how many meals I needed to plan.
- Make a list of simple meals ideas
- Freezer Meals that I prepped in advance
- Super Simple Meals (especially ones I could semi-prep)
- Dump and Bake Meals
- Takeout Ideas
- Frozen Meals from Grocery Store
- Plan meals that make lots of leftovers so you can reheat and eat the next day!
- Don’t forget to utilize your crockpot!
- Make meals for your freezer:
- Things that can be thrown into the oven or crockpot!
- Penne and Meat Sauce, Meatloaf, Chicken Alfredo, Meatball Tortellini Soup, Chicken Tacos, Cheesy Chicken/Broccoli/Rice, Tortelini Bake, Taco Meat
- Scour Pinterest for easy things
- Cut up chicken breasts so they are ready throw into the crockpot for dump meals (I had like 10 pounds stored in baggies)
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Tator Tot Casserole
- Brown up ground beef and freeze in baggies – use for dump and bake or soups in the crockpot
- Chili, Taco Soup, Tator Tot Casserole
- Stock up on premade meals from the grocery store
- Sam’s Club and Hy-Vee both have premade meals that can be frozen!
- Find anywhere local that does family take-out meals
- The Kirkwood Hotel in Cedar Rapids does family take home meals for $25 that come with a TON of food – we get this at least once a week
- Some restaurants do family meal deals for take out as well that you could plan for once a week
- Don’t forget about good old pizza delivery – I planned this for the first day back home
- Along with that, I always have a frozen pizza in the freezer for “just in case”
- Use aluminum baking pans for anything going in the oven for easy clean up
- Use Gallon Freezer Baggies to store frozen meals or prepared meat
- Use Crockpot liners for easy clean up
- Stock up on paper plates and plastic utensils
- Use grocery delivery to make your life easier
- Refer back to the meal plan weekly to reevaluate what you need, rearrange as needed and make shopping lists
I cannot stress enough how much doing this has made the newborn period so much more enjoyable – I know I had a plan for dinners that require minimal work and thinking! As she has gotten older, I have done some more hands-on dinners but am still keeping it simple. Even at 3-months PP, I still have things stored in the freezer to help me out – that’s how much I prepped, and I do not regret it one bit.