Hello! I'm fairly new to the forums and haven't ventured outside of the pregnancy forums very much yet - but I was pointed in this direction for help with postpartum meal planning :)
I'm due in the beginning of July with my 3rd child (my other two are older - 12 and 7) and I'd like to start the planning process now (with the actual preparing beginning in April or so).
I can (have both a hwb and a pressure canner), plan on buying a dehydrator in the spring and have a huge stand up freezer.
I'm looking to start putting together a list of meals and meal ingredients (and snacks etc . . .) to have on hand for the first 6-8 weeks postpartum.
Because it'll be summer, food will be fresh and easy to prepare and most nights it shouldn't be too hard to throw something on the grill with minimal preparation and attention.
But I would still like some stuff stocked up so when I get a few minutes I can concentrate on preserving this summers food for next year too!
I'm looking at stocking up on a few dinners (preferably not casseroles and soups since it'll be summer) dinner ingredients (like precooked beef and chicken to add to fajitas and stirfrys and pizzas), snacks, breads, breakfasts etc . . .
Can anyone help point me in the direction of some similar threads or blogs or cookbooks, or post any ideas for freezer/pantry/canning for some go to summertime postpartum eating?!
Thanks so much!
I should mention that I've got the basics of meal planning down - I work nights and often I start something in the am or put it in the crockpot and my husband finishes it off. I plan for the week ahead and am fairly organized (aka a control freak!) about it sometimes.
But one thing I've never been good at is planning more than a week in advance and even though I've half attempted freezer cooking I've never really got it down. My freezer is mostly filled with last summers fruits and veggies, stocks and meat.
So I'm good with advance planning and preparing - just not on such a large scale!
You say that you've been pretty good at planning a week at a time, have you by chance saved previous weeks menus? If you have you could look back at previous summer's menus.
There is also this long running thread that has loads of feed the freezer type recipes. What about selecting one or two of them a week to make in the two or three months leading up to the due date?
Instead of trying to sit down and plan out a whole month just do it one week at a time, but don't wait until the week is up before you start the next week, does that make sense? Don't look at it as large scale if that is what intimidates you.
When I was getting geared up to have my second this past July, I wrote out a few lists, the first was a list of dinners that could be frozen (many were from that thread linked above), the second was a list of Quick/Cold dinner ideas (ie no or little cook so it wouldn't heat up our non-air conditioned house, and the last was a sandwich type list that have four categories- starch (bread, rolls, chips, pasta), protein (meats, beans, cheeses), sauces (dressings, pesto, etc. and toppings (veggies, fruits, cheeses, spreads, meats). This way I could select any combo from that list and come up with a few varieties of dinners/lunches.
If the goal is to cut out a little time from dinner prep so that you can have some time to work on harvest preservation, I would recommend consolidating dinner prep. For example, Monday night grill up some burgers, BBQ chicken, plain/marinated other chicken breasts, and veggies. Slice up several nights worth of veggies for snacking, putting on sandwiches, tossing with some lettuce and dressing, and cook some plain noodles. You would eat the hamburgers the first night with the hot grilled veggies. Day two you eat some cold BBQ chicken and some of the sliced veggies, and day three you have the chicken breast with the pasta and some of the leftover sliced veggies all tossed together with either bottled salad dressing (whatever variety is appealing) or a quick mayo and herb seasoning to make a chicken pasta salad. This way the first night is the only night of the three that you need to do any length of cooking. Day two and three are basically ready, especially day two. Day three could be ready if you assemble the chicken noodle salad the first night and just cover it in the fridge (maybe you would then switch day two and three so that salad wouldn't sit as long). Day four could stay no prep by using one of your preplanned freezer meals for dinner. This way out of four nights dinner would only need real work once which leaves three days for harvest preservation.
I'm sure other people have more suggestions, but hope my two cents help a bit. Just do a little bit of the planning each day/week and you should be fine.
Thank you so much! I really appreciate those tips and ideas (and link to the thread!) I think maybe having other meals (no cook, simple cook etc . . .) sort of laid out will help a ton too. thanks!
Homemade granola. Can eat it one handed while BF, in yogurt, on top of ice cream or with milk.
My last two babies have been summer babies--June and July. I have made freezer meals for both of them, and it was very helpful. Honestly, the first couple of weeks, I didn't care that some of the meals were heavy and wintery---it was just that nice to have supper taken care of. I did freeze a lot of soups, and for after the initial hump, a lot of "helpers" to make supper prep quickly. Things like raw chicken in marinade, hamburger patties, mashed potatoes in ice cream scoop size blobs, taco meat, beans, and the like. It just cut down on a lot of prep time, and I could do it one handed.
I also second the pp's suggestion to have freezer meals (complete), some meal helpers (marinated chicken, etc), and a list of really easy meals. Initially postpartum, my brain is just in a fog, and it's nice to not have to think about anything, but have it all planned out for me.