Before you had a newborn in the house, you may have spent hours prepping and cooking dinners. Maybe you and your partner even spent time creating your own recipes and putting new spins on your favorites. Now, however, you can't even set aside 30 minutes to prepare dinner. Never fear! You can still make nutritious and delicious meals with a new baby around. You'll just have to get creative.
1. Bust Out the Crockpot
Simplify dinner time with a crockpot. Dust that sucker off and toss in all the ingredients to make soup, a pot roast, chili or one of the many other crockpot meals out there. When it comes to slow cookers, your dinner options are practically endless. A few hours after closing the lid, you'll be enjoying a delicious meal with minimal effort. Bonus points if you have an instant pot. One of those can whip up dinners in mere minutes.
2. Use a Rice Maker
If you don't have a crockpot or only need to make a side dish that requires more prep time, try using a rice cooker. While they obviously cook rice, they're also good for preparing other grains like oatmeal, barley and quinoa. With one of these handy gadgets, you'll no longer have to sit by the stove and wait for the water to boil.
4. Make Enough for Leftovers
Of course, you'll also want to make enough food to last a few days. Having leftovers on hand is always smart, especially when you have a newborn. From blowouts to sleepless nights, you never know what might take precedence over making dinner. Plus, the less you prep meals throughout the week, the more time you have to sleep, eat and cuddle your new babe.
5. Stock the Freezer
If you make a huge dinner one night and know you won't be able to eat it within the next few days, freeze it. Those frozen leftovers might come in handy later. You might also stock up on pre-made frozen dinners. Your local grocer's freezer section likely has a wide variety of foods to choose from, including vegetables, fruits and casseroles. However, if you have a hankering for fries, waffles and pizza, they're sure to have more indulgent options, too.
6. Enlist the Kids' Help
If you have other children, enlist them to help you make dinner a few nights each week. Even your youngest can assist you in the kitchen by stirring mixing, kneading and dipping. The amount of help that extra set of hands can offer — however tiny they may be — might just surprise you. Plus, your little one will learn kitchen safety and practical cooking skills that will follow them into adulthood.
7. Cook With Your Baby
Some days, all you'll need to do is pop a frozen meal in the oven and make a side dish to go with it. On these occasions, you might be able to sling your newborn to you. Using a baby wrap, secure your child to your chest so you can keep an eye on them and get to prepping. Just avoid cooking over the stove as it may become a safety hazard. You could also consider placing your child in a safe space, like a seat or a bouncer, to keep them in your line of site but out of the line of fire.
8. Cut, Don't Chop
No one loves chopping carrots and celery sticks. To save time, use the kitchen shears and snip your way to a shorter meal prep time. Of course, you may want to stick with the knife for cutting fruits and tomatoes. However, there's a vast array of foods you could possibly cut with shears. You can even cut your other young children's food up before you plate it to avoid chopping it all up at the table.
9. Pump While You Eat
If it's just you, your partner and your newborn at the dinner table, whip out the breast pump and keep it running while you eat. Admitedly, it won't make for the most romantic dinner. However, multitasking and pumping while you have the chance will save time and lift some weight off your chest. Clean both the dishes and the pump when you've finished eating.
10. Order Takeout
Some nights, you'll be so busy with your newborn, you won't even have time to think about dinner. You and your partner still need to eat, though, so why not order some takeout? If you need all hands on deck and can't leave the house, consider using a delivery service like DoorDash or Uber Eats. They can have your food at your doorstep in no time so all you have to worry about is eating it.
Know When to Hand Over the Apron
One of the bravest things anyone can do is ask for help. Handing over the apron and letting someone else do the cooking will allow you time to rest and recover. Plus, you won't have to add an extra responsibility to you're already long to-do list.
Know when to ask for help and get used to doing so. Odds are you'll be calling others up quite often now that you have a baby in the house. It takes a village to raise a child, right?