There are lots of books, blogs, and websites, not to mention advice columns, YouTube videos, and old wives tales to help people get through having a child. Some are helpful, others not so much. What I have come to realize is that when you walk back in the door with that new little being, and you sit down on the couch or lay down in the bed—without the nurses, without the doctors, with just you and the baby—you will suddenly realize that everything is up to you now. Furthermore, there is no book, blog, or website that can tell truly tell you what to do in that moment or in the countless moments to come. Sorry. And I’m certainly not going to offer any sage-like wisdom here either. I barely know what I’m doing, so how can I tell you what to do? What I can offer is the one tip that made our lives infinitely easier and which, I think, can make yours easier as well: Make meals ahead of time.
Seriously—make meals, freeze them, and you will be thanking your past-self for all the time, energy, and headache you saved your future-self. There will be more time to snuggle and bond with your bundle of joy without having to ponder over what to eat, when to find time to buy ingredients, and then when to find time to prep and cook the food.
This might seem like a big hassle, making all this food ahead of time, but it’s worth it for two reasons: (a) you don’t want to eat out every night or else you’ll go broke (not to mention your waist line will hate you), and (b) you don’t want to eat processed food every night because you need to be nutritionally at your best, both for yourself and for your little one. That is why pre-making part or all of your meals for at least a few weeks postpartum is an incredibly simple way to make life easier.
You can make and freeze whole meals, or you can make and freeze parts of meals (e.g., prepping individual ingredients). We opted for both of these options, as some recipes and some ingredients work best for one option or the other. This might seem like a daunting task, especially for those who don’t like to or feel that they can’t cook. However, try to think of this as preparing yourself for years of parenthood to come—there is a lot you might not know how to do now, so you might as well dive in with both feet because that is what parenthood is all about! As parents, we need to be an example for our kids, not only in how (and why) to eat ethically but also in how (and why) to eat as nutritiously as possible. While getting dinner out can be fun, and while buying box-food can seem easier, in the long run gaining the knowledge and skills to make your own meals is best for you, for your children, and for your family.
So, what should you make? Just about anything will do, but here are the meals that we made:
• A mirepoix for Chickpea Noodle Soup — A mirepoix = chopped onions, carrots, and celery, and it is the core of lots of meals; making this can serve as the base for just about anything you want to make. Either sauté the mirepoix ahead of time, or just chop the veggies and freeze them.
• Creamy Wild Rice Soup, Tempeh Chili, Coconut Curry with Tofu, Cheesy Broccoli Rice with Tofu. We made the entirety of these recipes and then froze each of them in batches, getting at least two or three meals out of each recipe.
• Black Bean Enchiladas. Cooked and then stuffed wraps (8) with enchilada filling, placed them in a 9×13 pan, topped with vegan cheese and covered it in foil. Easy peasy.
• Tempeh Stuffed Peppers. Similar to the enchiladas, we made the filling, stuffed the peppers (4 peppers cut in half), and foil wrapped the whole container.
• Lentil Loaf. You can throw a few of these together in foil loaf pans and freeze them for a few day’s worth of food each.
• Extra Ratatouille Veggies for a Pasta. We had made a ratatouille pizza () that had lots of leftover veggies, so we decided to freeze the remainder and add them to any pasta dishes that we would make (since pasta is an simple, carb loaded, and flexible dish).
Note: for many of these meals, we used the recipe as a guide and then added or altered ingredients depending on our tastes and what we had in the pantry.
The final thing to make sure you have is a seriously stocked pantry. This consists of stocking up on foods like:
• Dried staples: rice, lentils, beans, cereal, quinoa, pasta
• Perishable proteins: tofu and tempeh (which you can freeze)
• Shelf-stable foods: stock-up on lots of nut butters and shelf stable, plant-based milk
• Root vegetables: potatoes and onions that are stored properly will last a while; learn more about storing produce here.
Start putting together a list of recipes and the foods you need to buy and get cooking! If you set aside time to plan and make some freezer meals, I guarantee that it will make postpartum life a whole lot easier.