Need make ahead dinners for the week.
When I was a working mom and in grad school I used a crockpot at least 2 nights a week. On Sundays I would cook several meals and freeze them. One family favorite were burritos. When you freeze them, wrap well in paper towel and place in good freezer bags. To reheat, place the wrapped burritos in the micro wave for approximately 3 minutes. The paper towel actually steams the burritos. Another trick I used was to cut up ingredients for any meal I was going to cook the next day the night before. For example, when I cooked steak and peppers I would cut up all the ingredients the night before, so that I just had to toss it in the pan and ate with microwavable rice. One other investment you may want to consider is a rice cooker. I would walk in the door of my house, turn on the rice cooker and 20 minutes later, I would toss in cooked chicken or beef leftover from Sunday supper, birds eye veggies, cheese perhaps or any other no. of condiments and head to the table. Good Luck!
For my friend with new babies, I usually make things that can be heated up or frozen easily and can be eaten one handed.
Mac & Cheese, Fettucini Alfredo, Baked Ziti with meatballs, Meatloaf. Soups and stews are good as well, frozen in smaller portions. I like chili as well although some new mothers avoid garlic and onions when breastfeeding.
Using a crockpot is a good idea (especially if you make something you can prep the night before) but if you are breastfeeding, it seems like you are always hungry, and smelling that cooking all day can make you ravenous.
If you roast a chicken or turkey breast, it'll give you a nice Sunday meal and then great leftovers all week, plus a carcass to make stock with.
I would bake some chicken on the bone, from their you can make a good chicken pasta with a light cream sauce some fresh vegetables and put in a casserole. Reheats well, hearty and easy to make.
Also, some for a chicken soup. I like a hearty chicken rice or chicken noodle soup.
Also, you can make some a somewhat spicy mexican chicken dish, if with a newborn, maybe not spice, but you can eliminate the spice. Some enchilada sauce, layered tortillas, cheese, some roasted green and red peppers, onions and then baked.
Make some white beans in the crock pot, potatoes, vegetables and chicken and make a simple dish that can be ate as a stew .
I also add some BBQ and seasoning and the chicken becomes a simple BBQ chicken for sandwiches.
Also when you make it, shred or cut some up and freeze in a baggie ... Great to use for sandwiches as is, chicken salad, quesadillas with some quick cheese and dinner. Panini with some cranberry sauce and gruyere cheese is amazing. Add to soups, a whole variety. Add to a base tomato sauce and you have a great chicken spaghetti.
Add to a simple bechemel (white sauce) a little white wine, Parmesan cheese and you have an amazing creamed chicken. Serve over simple store bought biscuits and dinner.
Buy a huge package of chicken and cook, roast with some olive oil, salt and pepper and some simple seasoning, thyme, maybe some all purpose and then roast. I do that very often, make a couple frozen dishes and then the rest freeze for future use. With frozen chicken I can have dinner in 30 minutes.
I also do a chicken (my frozen packages) Add some Asian vegetables your choice and then a spicy soy sauce over white rice. Very traditional but it is easy and quick for a working mom. Still very fresh ingredients.
I too like the salmon. Buy several filets and cook. Freeze several filets. After they are cooked and frozen. Defrost when needed. Makes great simple, salads and sandwiches, even salmon cakes.
Meatloaf, but I like to make mini meatloafs, easier, quicker, and quicker cooking, I make mine with turkey too.
Mac and cheese ... but I make mine with chicken and broccoli and some bacon. Hearty and healthy. Use a good corkscrew pasta, good roasted chicken from that chicken in the oven you did and fresh broccoli and some crispy bacon.
Roast pork loin, made in gingerale yes gingerale, some seasoning and let cook all day. Then shred. You can use it on sandwiches, add BBQ for a BBQ pork sandwich, add on salads or just as is. Make some roasted potatoes and serve with that. Great on a pizza. Great in Asian dishes with noodles and some asian vegetables.
Ok enough ideas ...
I know a new mom sometimes can have alot of spice or alcohol so I tried to give you my versions.
Soups freeze well too. Freeze them in a plastic bowl, then take out and seal in a ziploc for individual servings.
I like to grill a big mess of chicken on the weekend. The uses are almost unlimited. (Quesadillas, soup, sandwiches, salads, quick stir fry, etc.)
Like the crockpot idea too. Here's another link I like a lot.
soups are amazing because they can supply you with so many nutrients and can also be delicious. recently i have found that a meaty beef bone, which can be bought at the grocer or butcher for a very small price, is a great addition and can replace the use of a stock in almost any soup. water with a beef bone adds tons of flavor and none of the salt or "natural flavors" you would get from a bouillon cube or can or carton of broth or stock. homemade stock cannot be replicated but is not necessary for a rich delicious bean and/or veggie soup. my recent fave is a navy bean, quinoa and kale concoction with the usual holy trinity of aromatics as well is some rosemary thyme and garlic.
chicken curries or veggie curries with yogurt instead of a coconut milk are good to eat off of. indian style food in general is good. family style dishes. each dish encompassing multiple food groups.
and dont forget about eggs. one of my favorite late night meals is an egg sandwich. scrambled. in a pita. with chipotle mayonnaise, tomatoes, avocado and mozzarella, swiss or goat cheese. or fried hard. on whole wheat bread with mayo cheese lettuce and some fresh chives.
If I am doing Sunday cooking for the whole week I like to make one or 2 quick soups, make sure I have quick cooking veggies for the whole week like asparagus, brocoli or spinach and then do 2 types of meats. One example would be sauteed chicken breasts, I will cook a quantity that I can get two meals out of. One half used for tacos or something like that and the other half used for a hearty chicken meal along with the veggies and soup. Filling because you have the veggies, the soup, and the meat and you only cook the veggies nightly.
I like to do things like cook a batch of beans, and fix them up in several different ways. Also, I keep high quality canned salmon on hand for those types of days - Natural Sea brand is really yummy, and makes an awesome topping for a salad with some dressing.
You can do the old standbys, like lasagnas and enchiladas, frozen on the weekend and ready to heat/cook at dinner time.
But my favorite tactic is to use my crock pot. Load it and turn it on in the morning, and you can literally eat dinner before you've even hung up your coat when you get home.
Also, this meal planner has a filter for finding ONLY crock pot recipes:
Hope this helps you, and congratulations on being a new mom!