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cooking with a newborn

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Westminstress May 1, 2010 01:23 PM

I'm expecting a baby in June (our first). I'm really not into cooking, freezing, and defrosting stuff, and I'm not big on take-out either. Usually in season I go to the farmers market every week and buy fresh ingredients and cook them -- we will cook maybe 3-4 nights in a week and go out the other nights. We really enjoy both cooking and going out to eat, so we do both a lot!

Well, I'm sure everything will change once we have the baby. I'll have at least 4 months maternity leave, all coming at the very best time of year for cooking from the farmer's market (which is pretty much the kind of cooking I enjoy). I'm trying to gauge, among other things, whether to sign up for a CSA, and I just have no idea how much time and inclination I'll have to cook. I'm really interested in hearing from others who've been through this -- did you cook with a new baby in the house? How long did it take before you were back in the kitchen?

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    appycamper RE: Westminstress May 1, 2010 01:51 PM

    congratulations! just a few ideas: i'd skip the csa share this season. if you can do farmers' market twice a week you'll have fresh stuff on hand and a handle on when you want to cook. find a spot for baby out of the line of fire and think in terms of stuff that won't be ruined if you have to turn off the flame under it and leave it for a bit.

    if you're breastfeeding, baby gets a vote on what you eat. my second was anti broccoli as well as potato. you might also think of doing the prep and having your partner do the cooking. your mileage will vary but i recall being back to wanting to be in the kitchen somewhere around 6 weeks after baby.

    if you don't already have one think about a rice cooker. hands free and easy. and have a couple of agreed-upon fallback dinners for when a day doesn't go according to plan (at least not your plan ;-)).

    7 Replies
    1. re: appycamper
      momskitchen RE: appycamper May 1, 2010 06:20 PM

      I ate everything while breastfeeding and my babies never had a problem with it...they are good eaters now as teenagers. So I just want to offer a different viewpoint than that other poster....eat what you want!!!!!

      1. re: momskitchen
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        appycamper RE: momskitchen May 2, 2010 10:55 AM

        since you replied to me i'll do you the courtesy of replying to you. as "that other poster" i wasn't suggesting that westminstress avoid eating anything, just mentioning that flavors from various foods make it into breast milk and babies being the individuals they are sometimes take exception to a particular item.

        to expand on the idea i had a lovely camembert this week that came from milk from cows that had obviously enjoyed spring onions. i thought it was lovely but can't imagine many babies would like that particular flavor, any more than i like it showing up in ice cream rather than cheese. if your babies didn't voice dislikes you were blessed.

        1. re: appycamper
          momskitchen RE: appycamper May 2, 2010 04:35 PM

          I'm glad that you weren't suggesting that the new mom avoid eating anything..babies are breast fed all over the world and they do just fine with flavors, including spring onions! It's not something that should be worried about....eat whatever you want, new mom! It will be totally fine...

          1. re: momskitchen
            sunshine842 RE: momskitchen Apr 23, 2012 10:22 PM

            With mine, eating certain foods made my breastfed babies painfully gassy and miserable -- so yes, it does happen, and yes, it's good advice for mom to keep an eye on HER intake so as to not cause discomfort for her wee one...and extra guilt for her.

      2. re: appycamper
        JerryMe RE: appycamper May 2, 2010 02:10 PM

        I had the same issue w/ the breastfeeding - My DS would not tolerate coffee (of all things when I had to return to work at five weeks) and oreos (Of all things - I CAN'T EAT OREOS?!?) and cabbage. . . .

        Soup was quick and easy and I know the OP doesn't like to freeze but that's an easy freeze-able meal.

        1. re: JerryMe
          lilham RE: JerryMe Apr 24, 2012 01:31 AM

          The most common thing for people to cut out while breastfeeding are the common allergic food. If your baby is very colicky, have some reflux, etc, it's worth trying to eliminate things like dairy, gluten from your diet. It takes a few weeks to notice the difference. Otherwise, you can just eat like you always do. Mine also have problems with coffee when she was very little. The caffine makes her noticeably hyper. I switched to decaff and it's fine.

          As for cooking, I get my OH to do it as evening is usually cluster feeding time if you are breastfeeding. I surpervised my OH doing the chopping, frying etc. I think it's a good idea to have a look at what you normally cook that's fairly easy, and that you are confident you can get your OH to do it. We have a month of paternity leave, so it was very nice that OH can stay home for the whole time, concentrating looking after me. I think it's around 3 months before I started cooking again.

          I have groceries delievered while I was on maternity. Going out to shop is an absolute nightmare with a newborn. So I think a CSA might be a good idea, as long as you aren't going to end up with a lot of challenging vegetables.

          1. re: lilham
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            Westminstress RE: lilham Apr 24, 2012 08:09 AM

            Yeah, I actually had to go on a dairy free diet for quite a while, which made me miserable since I pretty much consider cheese to be its own food group. In retrospect, I'm not sure the specialized diet was necessary or made any difference at all, but my son had some reflux and various feeding issues, so we were trying to do everything possible. And it's really hard to think rationally when you're not getting proper sleep.

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        cheesymama RE: Westminstress May 1, 2010 01:54 PM

        It took me about a month to really get back into the swing of things. I love to cook and once we had established a sleeping routine and I was feeling a little more rested I was quite happy to get back to cooking. In most cases you can count on a couple of hours in the afternoon when the baby is sleeping. This was when I would do my prep so dinner would come together easily later on.
        It will depend on your baby. Some (like my second) always want to be held/with you. This can make it difficult to cook when they are awake. Others will happily sit in a bouncy chair, lie on a soft blanket or whatever and watch the world around them.
        Try to keep a couple of meals in your freezer because there will be days when you don't want to/can't cook and don't feel like going out either.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cheesymama
          lilham RE: cheesymama Apr 24, 2012 01:34 AM

          I agree with cheesymama about every baby is different. My 1 year old wasn't happy in a bouncy chair at all when she was a newborn. I have to carry her in a sling. And she cried whenever I put her down. All I could manage is make a cup of tea and walk around the house! That's why I wasn't really able to cook until 3 months, when she's more settled and happy to lie in the cot for sleeps. But if you have a easy baby that's happy to sit in a bouncy chiar watching you, then you could get back into your normal routine much quicker.

        2. v
          Val RE: Westminstress May 1, 2010 01:56 PM

          Well, of course, this will be an individual situation...will you have any help those first few weeks? Mother or MIL perhaps helping out? We lived in Denver when our first son was born, far away from Del and NJ, where our families were. Neither grandmother could come out to help. On the plus side, I was just a kid at 22 and bounced back pretty quickly into the kitchen. Spouse did not cook at all, so I HAD to get in there and cook, that's all there was to it. He was born in July and when the weather is warm, in general, I think people eat less. So, I wasn't making big heavy meals. I do remember using my crockpot, too. We definitely were not into restaurant-eating in those early days and were very very frugal, so anything I made, I remember spouse being very thankful for. A new baby is a big adjustment, no doubt about it...you'll be fine...you might just have to lower your expectations those first few months. Maybe come up with a list of easily thrown together meals which might be how you normally eat in June and July....? Dishes that require minimal prep and just a few ingredients, perhaps.

          1. pikawicca RE: Westminstress May 1, 2010 02:00 PM

            I was home on day 3 (after a c-section), and in the kitchen on day 4 (dinner only). Simple stuff, but tasty. This was the ONLY thing I did, other than take care of the little one; husband did everything else around the house.

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              allyall RE: Westminstress May 1, 2010 02:01 PM

              Two lived in the swing while I cooked, happy as could be. Third insisted on being held, thank goodness for slings and wraps! Keep it simple and easy, not sleeping all night makes it easy to mess up stuff and shortens your energy levels. I didn't cook for the first couple of weeks but was definitely back in the kitchen after a month.

              1 Reply
              1. re: allyall
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                LauraGrace RE: allyall May 1, 2010 06:47 PM

                +1 on the slings and wraps.

                Westminstress, I know you said you aren't into premaking and defrosting meals, but what about freezing parts of meals? Brown and white rice, caramelized onions (and raw, pre-chopped or sliced onions), roasted garlic, mire poix, unbaked biscuits -- all those things freeze really well and can make the difference between feeling like you can get a meal together, and going out to dinner *again*. All the fiddly prep work is what kills me many nights! If you do that in advance I think you'll find it really helpful.

              2. Cherylptw RE: Westminstress May 1, 2010 02:59 PM

                With my first two, I had my mom & MIL; then I moved to NM from NY right as I found out I was expecting my last baby & I had to do it all. Ex only knew how to make chicken parmesan (which, by the way, he taught me how to make) so I started cooking ahead around the last 3-4 days before the birth. For a couple weeks after that, it was mostly store bought frozen, boxed & take out meals then it was back to the stove. Good thing my two youngest were 5 and 1 1/2 at the time so it didn't take alot to satisfy them.

                I wish I had my freezer back then, I would have stocked up a month's worth of meals. I'm not sure why you don't want to freeze ahead. Done properly, the food will be almost as good as fresh and you can supplement the meals with your farmer's market goodies. As I see it, you have a few choices including relying on others to help cook or provide food, take out, go out or do it yourself. While it's true babies take up some of your time, women have continued running households since forever after a birth and it's not like nothing else can be done when the baby comes. That always amazes me that some get that impression.....

                1. MrsCheese RE: Westminstress May 1, 2010 09:37 PM

                  Congrats! I had a June baby - it's the perfect time to have a baby! I would second the recommendation to skip the CSA if you have ready access to the farmers market. It can be difficult to keep up with a CSA box without a newborn! The farmers market will give you a good excuse to get out of the house with the baby and stroll around, and will allow you to buy just the right amount of food that you're up for cooking. I actually did a lot of cooking on maternity leave, because cooking is relaxing to me (and I had a colicky baby, for what that's worth). I usually waited until my husband got home from work and thrust the crying blob on him (she's a gem now, BTW) and set to work in the kitchen to clear my mind. Then if we were lucky she'd settle down for a bit in the bouncer or swing so we could eat, or else we'd eat in shifts. Even if you end up with a real troublemaker like I did, the newborn period doesn't last forever, and if you love cooking it might help you keep your sanity. :-)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: MrsCheese
                    nasv RE: MrsCheese Apr 24, 2012 09:04 AM

                    I agree 100% here - it was really important for me for my son to leave the house and to be exposed to the farmers market. A lot of times I would take him myself so my wife could rest and it would be "guys time" with the farmers. He is 16 months old now and I think he gets more freebies than anyone :P

                    The one thing I'd add is don't underestimate how tired you may end up... these kiddos are exhausting, and take that into account when you want to cook.

                  2. Emme RE: Westminstress May 1, 2010 10:07 PM

                    first off, congrats.... no baby here yet, but two of my friends just gave birth, one of them was a second child though, so she was old hat. i've actually been dropping food to both, but that's just because i love to cook and they know it.

                    i agree if you can find a way, cooking might preserve your sanity. so, some things to do/think about in advance...

                    i know it's hard to do, but knowing what will be in season, try to collect quick cook recipes, so you have a stockpile of recipes to make menus...

                    if you have a helper, perhaps you can get assistance watching the baby for a couple of hours, while you take a (sanity) break and hit the farmers' market. then when you get back, wash and prep everything you can, so that the ingredients are on-hand and ready to go when you have the moment.

                    get to love your slow cooker -- set it and forget it... morning nap, quick prep, set it and dinner will be ready when you are.

                    focus on minimal prep and bake or roast recipes... i.e. fish en papillote, roast meat, broiled steak, etc.

                    i know you don't want make-ahead freezer meals, so perhaps consider making a chicken on sunday, then using the meat over a couple of days in various preparations. use weekends to prepare things that have legs, and can get incorporated in various ways to following meals -- ratatouille, grilled veggies, simple lentil stews or salads, polenta (eat hot, then make into rounds), oatmeal (eat hot, then let cool, cut into rounds and broil or if you have the 30 sec saute in pan, etc.), etc.

                    good luck, and congrats again

                    1. roxhills RE: Westminstress May 1, 2010 11:35 PM

                      Congrats on the new baby!

                      For us, number one was twins. They're 7 now. I didn't do much cooking and lots of people brought food. My 30th birthday was when the girls were 2 weeks old and my parents babysat so we could go to Spago in Los Angeles for dinner (it is very close to our house). The waiter asked us "where we just flew in from" because we looked so tired. we kept at home meals really simple. also, the girls were born in October, so we just hunkered down with soups and stews for the winter and by spring, we were back to our routine.

                      When our son was born 4 years ago, I was happily roasting chicken when he was a week old. He was a super easy baby and would sit in the bouncer on the kitchen floor while I cooked. I vividly remember cooking and baking like crazy when he was a newborn.

                      A lot will depend on the personality of the new baby. Some babies are totally portable and dining out is easy because they love to sleep through noisy places.

                      My suggestion is to stock your pantry really well and maybe freeze some soups. I am not sure a CSA is your best bet. You may enjoy heading out to the farmer's market with the baby (the basket under the stroller can fit lots of fruits and veggies). Good luck.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: roxhills
                        jbyoga RE: roxhills May 1, 2010 11:49 PM

                        put it in at the last minute or it'll get tough - KIDDING!

                      2. darklyglimmer RE: Westminstress May 2, 2010 06:48 AM

                        We had a baby last June, so I know of what you speak. Everybody's experience -- and everybody's baby! -- is different; some things you did pre-baby won't work, but others will, and you'll find a way that works for you. The one thing I would recommend cooking and freezing is pasta sauce -- pesto, bolognese, whatever; there will be nights when dumping sauce on a box of pasta is all you can manage, and it'll help your soul a little if the sauce is homemade and delicious.

                        We had a really hard time getting to the store those first months, let alone the farmer's market, so fresh fruit and veg were pretty scarce. My favorite gift was a box of pears from Harry & David, if that tells you anything. My mother-in-law threatened to microwave one and I threatened to bite off her hands. If we ever have another baby, I'm going to subtly hint beforehand that if people really want to help, they can skip the cute cards and impractical-but-adorable baby clothes and bring us a salad. One thing that we ended up doing that really, really helped was signing up for a local meal delivery service, the kind of thing designed for people who are too busy to cook but still want to eat tasty food. I don't know how common these are, but ours was vegan, organic, and local; we could care less about the first but are all for the last two, and three meals, plus salad greens, homemade dressing and dessert cost about what the equivalent in takeout would. We canceled the service when I started cooking regularly again, which was after about six months, but in the meantime neither of us got scurvy or beriberi, and my husband discovered that sweet potatoes won't kill him.

                        I will say that running to the store for that one thing you forgot is a much bigger deal when you've got a baby in tow, so I've found that planning ahead is key - I went from a "ho-hum it's four o'clock what do we feel like having for dinner" person to having a whole dorky little meal-planning spreadsheet (there are dozens online) and categorizing my grocery lists by store aisle.

                        Congratulations and don't worry - you'll figure it out!

                        1. Indirect Heat RE: Westminstress May 2, 2010 09:01 AM

                          First month was tricky for us. It takes a while to get into a schedule, plus my wife had a C-section, so she was pretty wiped for the first couple weeks. I did cook, but mostly unambitiously. Our best meals that first month was from friends who came over and made us dinner in our own home. After that, we pretty much fell into a schedule that wasn't all that different from before, cooking, eating out, etc. If anything, kids give you more time to cook, because you're home so much more anyway.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Indirect Heat
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                            mountaincachers RE: Indirect Heat May 2, 2010 02:16 PM

                            Indirect Heat makes a good point about the c section. I think it is impossible to predict how quickly you will get back to cooking. So much depends on everything going well medically for you and the baby, the baby's personality, how well the baby is sleeping, how well you do with chronic sleep deprivation, etc. I think it's better to be overprepared with some things in the freezer than to assume that you will immediately be up to the same level of cooking you were before. If everything goes great and you don't wind up using the frozen dinners, I'm sure you could pass them along to someone else who could use them!

                          2. w
                            Westminstress RE: Westminstress May 2, 2010 11:41 AM

                            Thank you so much to everyone for the replies! It is truly helpful to hear other's experiences. It sounds like the CSA might be overload and like it would be helpful to freeze some pasta sauce for quick meals -- I will try to do this.

                            What do you think about a meat CSA in which the pick-up would be every other week and would consist of 1-2 pounds of fresh pork, 1/2 pound of bacon or sausage, and some charcuterie? I'd actually really like to join this one but am worried about being overwhelmed. It sounds manageable, but I've never had a baby before!
                            Here's a link if you're interested: http://www.thepiggery.net/summer-2010...

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Westminstress
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                              appycamper RE: Westminstress May 2, 2010 12:04 PM

                              sounds doable. and nice website.i didn't comb through it but check the goodies out for nitrates and nitrites. if you have some freezer space for overflow, managing it shouldn't be as labor intensive as the veggies. if you don't have one think about a vacuum bagger. you can get much more time and product quality in the freezer or fridge.

                              i hit a no-meat, no-how, no-way stage around mid-term. but it doesn't sound like a problem for you.

                              1. re: appycamper
                                JerryMe RE: appycamper May 2, 2010 01:53 PM

                                Oh - the no-meat, no-how, no-way stage hit about mid-term also. Which happened to coincide w/ the start of hunting season where I lived (Montana). OMG, I'd have to leave the house if the ex was cooking venison. Yuck! Remained a solid vegetarian for about 10 years after that.

                                What saved us was breakfast for dinner. Eggs and pancakes are really quick and can hold over if needing to stop and change a diaper or breast feed. I'm not ashamed to admit to relying on canned soup and sandwiches either.

                                1. re: JerryMe
                                  w
                                  Westminstress RE: JerryMe May 2, 2010 03:38 PM

                                  I'm lucky -- I haven't had any food issues at all, so I just try to eat a balanced diet with lots of veggies. I've been incredibly hungry since day 1 and have put on a bit more weight than I'd ideally like -- that's my only complaint. Though I have to say that in the last week or so my stomach capacity has shrunk and I'm not eating as much.

                              2. re: Westminstress
                                Indirect Heat RE: Westminstress May 2, 2010 12:47 PM

                                Go for it. Life doesn't stop after kids. You just get better at time management.

                                1. re: Westminstress
                                  darklyglimmer RE: Westminstress May 2, 2010 02:13 PM

                                  I wish I'd had something like that! It sounds like it would work really well, with the added bonus of getting you all out of the house on a regular and committed basis. I'd probably freeze the bacon-y sausage-y things and throw the pork in the slow cooker, which means it might be worth stocking up on barbecue sauces/marinades - either making your own or buying tasty ones from your local purveyor of tasty things. I wish I had more specific recipe recommendations for you, but my husband hasn't eaten red meat for several years which means that I haven't cooked it. I will say that if you're going to try and breastfeed, it's impossible to know ahead of time if your kid will like chipotle-flavored breastmilk as much as you like chipotle-flavored barbecue sauce, so keep that in mind. Mine was never that picky but other babies I know have definitely had strong opinions on the subject.

                                  (Incidentally, impending childbirth was what finally pushed us to invest in our basement freezer. It's been so very worth it, particularly since our upstairs freezer is roughly the width of a fat encyclopedia - M-P, say. Oh how I hate my upstairs freezer.)

                                2. j
                                  jeanmarieok RE: Westminstress May 2, 2010 01:58 PM

                                  I cooked every night when I was on maternity leave, and even did a corned beef and cabbage st. patricks day dinner with soda bread and everythng my second day home from the hospital because I had house guests. With my second, I even canned a bunch. If you are used to being busy, you'll be fine. I was used to working full time, so being home with an infant, I had a lot more time to get things done aroung the house, and to cook dinner. I would usually prep during the early afternoon nap, getting everything ready, and catching up on a load of laundry. It's all about time mgmt.

                                  1. m
                                    modthyrth RE: Westminstress May 2, 2010 06:58 PM

                                    Even sitting was an issue for me for the first 10 or so days after my second was born last May. I was exceptionally lucky, however: my friends got together and seven of them brought meals to us for two weeks. Someone delivered a dinner for us every other day, and typically the meal had plenty of leftovers (lasagnas and the like). It was the most glorious, generous thing I've ever experienced. It's not something I'd be comfortable asking for, but if any of your friends are asking how they might be able to help when the baby comes, go for it!

                                    Otherwise, just allow yourself to take in, or let your husband cook for a while until you feel ready to jump back in to it. There's no telling when that will be for you; as others have noted, every baby and every new mother is different. There's no shame in letting others do the heavy lifting until you feel ready!

                                    1. w
                                      Westminstress RE: Westminstress Apr 23, 2012 02:20 PM

                                      I'm bumping this thread that I started almost two years ago before my son was born. I got so many helpful responses at the time (thanks again!). As it turned out, my son wasn't the easiest baby in the world, and I was so completely overwhelmed and exhausted that I wasn't able to cook very regularly for months. And since we didn't have a well-stocked freezer or a lot of family around to bring us food, we ended up eating a lot of take-out and frozen foods. Thankfully, I never did sign up for that CSA!

                                      Well, I am posting again because I am expecting baby #2 at the end of June. This time around I also have a toddler to feed and would like to do a better job of stocking my freezer. But I'm still having a hard time coming up with ideas for foods that freeze well and are palatable in the 90-100 degree weather that we tend to get in July. I am planning on putting up tomato sauce and pesto. Maybe red lentil soup with lemon or other kinds of dal to eat over rice. I would love specific recommendations for foods that freeze well and are relatively summery (no heavy stews or cheesy casseroles, please!), yet are complete or almost complete meals. Also, how long will these foods keep in the freezer? Is it OK to start putting things away now, 2 months before the birth?

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Westminstress
                                        m
                                        mountaincachers RE: Westminstress Apr 23, 2012 07:27 PM

                                        You are right that it's harder to think of freezable summer meals that sound appealing in 90 degree weather. On the other hand, when you can get delicious produce at the farmer's market, sometimes you can get away with a lot less cooking.
                                        I think it's a great idea to have tomato sauce and pesto ready for some quick meals. Along those lines, you could make pizza dough and freeze. Maybe you could make marinades that you could use for things to cook on the grill (if you live somewhere where you can grill). Also, maybe make other types of sauces (eg Masala) that you could use with shrimp or chicken. I have frozen the spicy turkey burgers recipe from Epicurious (frozen the raw patties, thawed in the fridge, then cooked.) Pulled pork (either BBQ or for tacos) freezes really well too.
                                        I think it would be fine to start making things now, particularly since you will probably eat most of them within the first month or so after having the new baby.
                                        Congratulations on baby #2. Best wishes to you!

                                        1. re: Westminstress
                                          Emme RE: Westminstress Apr 23, 2012 09:19 PM

                                          congrats on #2!

                                          thoughts that come to mind for me...
                                          - polenta triangles - serve warm or chilled with tomato suace
                                          - burritos
                                          - kebabs
                                          - [something] fried rice -- serve room temp or slightly chilled like chinese leftovers
                                          - sesame chicken dumplings with dipping sauce
                                          - frittatas or quiches
                                          - stuffed grilled or roasted mushrooms
                                          - meatballs - great cold, and finger food for toddler
                                          - muffins - easy to grab and go
                                          - pre-portioned cooked oatmeal - easy breakfast
                                          - roasted or grilled fruit

                                          good luck the second time around!

                                          1. re: Emme
                                            t
                                            tacosandbeer RE: Emme Apr 23, 2012 09:38 PM

                                            +1 on the oatmeal - I do several day's worth in the crockpot and portion it out into 3yo serving sizes. Vary the daily serving with grated apple or any leftover fruit.

                                            When chopping vegetables for something else - I do some sticks or slices to bag up, keep in the fridge for a quick steamed component of Taquita'smeal.

                                            Load muffins with dried fruit - extra iron. Pull one out of the freezer as soon as I'm caffienated and it's thawed for her by breakfast.

                                            Congrats!

                                          2. re: Westminstress
                                            c
                                            cheesecake17 RE: Westminstress Apr 24, 2012 05:33 AM

                                            Make some pizza dough and freeze it in toddler size and family size portions. Easy to thaw and roll while new baby is napping and can be cooked in the oven or grill. I did this often as my baby was not a great sleeper as a newborn.

                                            Prep some vegetables and beans and freeze. Chopped raw onions and bell peppers. Hummus.

                                            Before number 2 is born, hire a sitter for toddler and go grocery shopping. Stock up on basics and meal starters. Shredded cheese is a lifesaver. A few frozen kids meals can't hurt when toddler is having a meltdown abut what's for dinner and newborn is screaming like a banshee.

                                          3. t
                                            TrussedUp RE: Westminstress Apr 23, 2012 07:33 PM

                                            The first thing I thought of was the Mark Bittman 101 simple summer meals article that turned me on to cooking in the first place! Maybe take this time to stock up the pantry for the meals that look good?

                                            http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/18/din...

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: TrussedUp
                                              The Dairy Queen RE: TrussedUp Apr 24, 2012 03:14 AM

                                              Funny, I thought of Bittman's 101 summer meals list, too, though it's not for especially freezable recipes.

                                              Congrats, Westminstress! Yes, I'd start stocking the freezer now. In addition to the above terrific recommendations, maybe

                                              Mini meatballs http://www.marthastewart.com/274277/f... (no defrosting necessary--can be reheated from the freezer by baking 15 minutes in the oven or simmered in soup or sauce for 10 minutes)

                                              Burritos http://www.marthastewart.com/274277/f... (can be reheated directly from freezer in microwave) or the breakfast variety http://www.food.com/recipe/breakfast-...

                                              Cucumber casserole (I haven't tried this one yet) but can be reheated in microwave http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8448...

                                              I don't know how you feel about running your oven in summer to reheat what you've frozen, but:
                                              Beef handpies http://www.marthastewart.com/317055/i... (no need to thaw--can go straight from freezer to oven for reheating)

                                              Empanadas http://www.marthastewart.com/274277/f... (no need to thaw--can go straight from freezer to oven for reheating)

                                              Not a freezer recipe, but this steel cut oats "breakfast in a bowl" is an easy breakfast recipe to portion it out in advance, say, 4-5 days at a time, and is summery because there's no cooking:

                                              http://www.food.com/recipe/breakfast-...

                                              It's a very forgiving recipe, you can change up the proportion of yogurt/cottage cheese. Also, I add chopped frozen fruit (such as mangos or peaches) or frozen blueberries to the top before popping it in the fridge.

                                              Good luck!

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                The Dairy Queen RE: The Dairy Queen Apr 24, 2012 06:06 AM

                                                Also, I like to roast two chickens at a time http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo..., shred it and then freeze the shredded chicken flat in one cup portions to use later in chicken salad, tacos, etc. In summer you can roast the chickens two at a time as "beer can chicken" very easily on a gas grill.

                                                You can also do batches of ground beef (we put garlic and onions in ours) or turkey and freeze them for later use in tacos, etc. Just remember to freeze everything flat for better freezer organization and faster defrosting.

                                                Pizza in the oven would heat up your house in summer, but you can also do pizza on a gas grill. (I'm sure these things work fine on a charcoal grill, too, but my grill is gas.) http://www.marthastewart.com/316808/w...

                                                We've been using a grocery delivery service which has been fantastic for grocery store staples.

                                                There was one more thing that occurred to me but I'll be darned if I can remember it.

                                                ETA: oh! I remember! This wild rice recipe from epicurious freezes well. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... It's a bit unnecessarily labor intensive but since you're doing the work in advance, that shouldn't be bad. You can cut corners by using jarred roasted bell pepper and not toasting the wild rice (especially if you buy the hand-parched hand-harvested stuff which already has a nice smokey flavor http://nativeharvest.com/catalog/1/wi... ). It's hearty without seeming heavy. And you can add some of your shredded roasted chicken to it, if you wanted.

                                                ~TDQ

                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                  w
                                                  Westminstress RE: The Dairy Queen Apr 24, 2012 07:39 AM

                                                  Thanks for pointing me to those Martha Stewart recipes. It looks like there's a lot of good options there.

                                                2. re: TrussedUp
                                                  melpy RE: TrussedUp Apr 24, 2012 08:02 AM

                                                  Love this list too. I went through and picked everything the fam would eat and then anything that can be pre done (chopping, sauces etc.) Then make sure you have what you want on hand.

                                                3. w
                                                  Westminstress RE: Westminstress Apr 24, 2012 07:58 AM

                                                  Thanks everyone, these are great suggestions. I especially like the idea of pulled pork, meatballs, and healthy muffins, packed with veggies, dried fruits and nuts. I'm going to look through those Martha Stewart freezer recipes too. And yes, last time around I made a weeks worth of steel cut oats at once (it reheats very well in the microwave) not to mention gallons of iced mothers milk tea.

                                                  Pizza is a great idea too but since I live in Brooklyn and can get pretty good pizza delivered, I think we'll do that instead -- it's even easier! Also, no grilling unfortunately. We only have a charcoal grill but are not that skilled at using it, and I think we'll be too busy to learn.

                                                  Finally, thanks for reminding me of the Bittman list. 101 items is pretty overwhelming, but I think what I'll do is make my own list of 5-10 meals that are really easy to put together. Roast chicken will definitely be on that list despite the heat. That should make shopping and meal planning a lot easier, every week I can select a few meals from the freezer and a couple from my easy meals list and we'll order in a couple of times, and that should get us through.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Westminstress
                                                    The Dairy Queen RE: Westminstress Apr 24, 2012 08:56 AM

                                                    I haven't had a chance to try any of these recipes yet, but I liked some of the tips in this "dinner on the table in 20 (really!) minutes" piece from Working MOther. http://www.workingmother.com/2010/4/h... Also, pita pocket bread freezes pretty well. It's great to pull out one at a time, pop it into the toaster, and use it for quick v eggie/shredded chicken/meatball/pulled pork sandwiches in a pinch. Crazy to say, but you can freeze your shredded cheese, too, so it doesn't go bad. You can even buy mini-pitas for your toddler. Kids love those little pockets.

                                                    ETA: waffles and pancakes freeze pretty well, too. I think there's a pancake recipe amid those Martha Stewart freezer friendly ones... Haven't tried it though.

                                                    ~TDQ

                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                      c
                                                      cheesecake17 RE: The Dairy Queen Apr 24, 2012 05:04 PM

                                                      Shredded cheese freezes wonderfully. I usually buy 5 or 6 lbs of mozzarella And grate it to freeze.

                                                      Another good tip. Write a Master List. Think of the groceries and foods you use most often and write it and attach to the fridge. Milk, orange juice, yogurt, coffee, eggs, waffles, ground beef.....
                                                      That way when you have visitors who offer to go to the store all you have to do is hand them the list and make any adjustments.

                                                  2. v
                                                    valerie RE: Westminstress Apr 24, 2012 11:08 AM

                                                    In addition to meatballs, I usually keep meatloaf in my freezer. I cook it, slice it and freeze it in packets of 2 slices for my kids to eat for dinner during the week before I get home from work. Also, the turkey chili that I make freezes well and is not very heavy. I also freeze that in smaller portions and serve it over some rice or barley. My kids like it.

                                                    Just one other word of advice...I have 2 kids that are 23 months apart. Having #2 does not make double the work, it makes triple the work! Be kind to yourself and don't get crazy over the food. If you have to order in occasionally to make your life easier, do it! Eventually, things will settle down and you will start cooking again.

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