Your number one priority as a new parent is being there for your baby, and that can mean skipping lunch or resorting to fast food when you’re short on time. Not to mention a lack of sleep causes cravings for greasy chips and fries to skyrocket—fast.
Setting yourself up for healthy eating success takes a little planning. Follow these tips to put yourself on the right track for a nutritious start to 2020.
Spiralize Your Veggies
As a new parent, your schedule really depends on your child. When your baby cries, needs to eat or wakes in the middle of the night, you’re there to make everything better, even if those were minutes you’d planned to spend exercising, cooking or sleeping yourself. While you can’t change the unpredictable nature of a newborn’s needs, you can make small changes to how you prep for cooking that will save you precious minutes in the kitchen. For instance, using a spiralizer helps you quickly break down butternut squash or other tough-to-prepare produce in advance (plus, it’s cooks much faster!).
Make Mini Meals
As a new parent, you’ll likely find that you are eating smaller meals, more frequently, because you are up at all hours, but rarely have more than a few minutes to yourself to eat. You can still eat healthy by prepping satisfying snacks-to-go in advance with one of these yummy muffin pan recipes. You can make egg cups, mini meatloaf portions and healthy muffins, too. Get ahead of the chaos by dedicating one day a week to meal prep: Write out a list of every ingredient you think you’ll need for a week’s worth of meals, then hit the supermarket early in the morning before the crowds arrive. The best time to prep meals for the week ahead? Likely after putting your baby down in the evening when, if you’re lucky, you may have a few hours to yourself. You can store meals in smart seal containers in the fridge or take them on the go to the office. The translucent material lets you see what’s inside and the various container sizes make portion control easy.
The faster you can put together a meal, the more likely you are to cook for yourself rather than grab a greasy-but-convenient fast-food sandwich. What you need are tools that expedite the process, and that means you need a manual food processor. You can dice tomatoes for sauce or salsa in 30 seconds, and put together a fresh fruit bowl in about one-tenth the time it takes to slice and chop with a knife. You’ll also literally take 20 minutes out of the salad-making process (i.e., you might actually have time to make one!) with this easy, no-slip salad spinner that works with the press of a button to get your leaves clean and dry. And always keep kitchen tools where you can access them quickly: This 15-piece set can be stored in its stainless steel holder right next to your stove or sink so you can grab what you need without rummaging around in drawers.
Roast Your Veggies
One of the biggest new-parent challenges is the unpredictable nature of your baby’s schedule. It’s hard to plan what time you will eat, sleep or shop, because it all depends on baby. The beauty of roasting vegetables is that they make satisfying side dishes or late-night snacks and will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days in a Smart Seal container, allowing you to reheat them easily in minutes. They are also fairly easy to prepare. After slicing green or red peppers, broccoli, cauliflower or zucchini, spread them in a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and pop them in the oven to roast for 25 minutes. You’ll know they are done when the edges are crisp and you can slide a knife into the center with ease.
Resist the urge to scarf down food, even if you’re running around from one errand to the next and don’t have time to sit for a meal. Eating too quickly prevents your body from registering feelings of fullness, meaning even though you took in plenty of calories you still think you want more. Instead, put your fork down between bites or pause and sip water if you’re utensil-less to let each tasty morsel register with your body and brain as you eat. Even if you are feeding yourself while also rocking or nursing your baby, allow the “meal” to spread out over the course of 15 minutes or more. Then, wait at least another 20 minutes after the meal before deciding if you’re truly hungry enough to warrant second helpings.
It’s not easy to eat healthy with a new baby on board, but you can find even more ways to save time with these meal prep tips.