Favorite Meals to Bring New Moms

We have all been in those early days after giving birth when the sleep deprivation is real and the ordeal to make breakfast, lunch, or dinner just seems beyond our abilities. We are starving 24/7 and yet we don't even have two hands free to open a wrapper let alone to put a meal together that extends beyond a protein bar.

That's why you need a #MomSquad to step in.

For some, this is made up predominantly of family. For others, it is a solid group of friends. Either way, every new mom (or mom to a newborn+other littles, especially!) needs a little love postpartum by way of good nutrition. And although there is lots to be said about the nutritional demands of a new mom, I'll save that for another post. Today, we are talking about the meals that we moms can bring other moms to support them and their families in those early, sleepless days. 

Because the best meal for a new mom is one she actually gets to eat!

 
my favorite things (1).png
 

 

In this post, I will share some tried-and-true recommendations on:

  • What makes a great meal for new moms

  • Favorite meals to bring new moms

  • What you can do if you live too far to bring a new mom a meal


What makes a great meal for new moms

The obvious, sentimental answer is the fact that you are just seeking to support this new mom so pretty much any item she doesn't have to make will taste amazing to her! But beyond the emotional aspect of offering to bring someone a meal, here are some practical tips to consider:

Cost

This is obviously an added expense, so consider up front how much you are willing/able to spend. This will likely help guide what and how much you choose to bring (homemade vs takeout; a single batch vs extras).

Time

If you find yourself short on time, consider which items are easier to assemble and/or order to bring a new mom. While everyone appreciates a home-cooked meal, there are plenty of quick, ready-made options or elements to a meal you can effortlessly add on.

Effort

If you are bringing a meal to someone, it is often easiest to plan for your family to have the same meal. By making twice as much of whatever you intend to bring, you add minimal effort on to what you would already be preparing for your family alone.

Add-Ons

If you are going to bring a family a meal, do everything you can to bring not only enough but also some add-ons. Whether this be to help the picky eater in their home have something to eat, or to make sure the mom has enough to snack on later when her appetite spikes again, I don't think any mom has ever let food go to waste. Adopt the mentality that if you bring it, it will get eaten.

Versatility

Consider if what you are bringing is something that may sound good any hour of the day. This isn't an essential, but it is a nice added mention. With new moms having such a messed up internal clock, they may be eating what you bring in the middle of the night or right after their morning feed. Consider if the main meal or one of the add-ons (like rolls, fruit, etc.) may hold well to also be had later on at a less official "dinner time."

Allergen-Friendly

Whether it be a known allergy (in mom or baby) or just an intolerance for either, it is always smart to ask the new mom before bringing her and her family a meal if there is anything she or her family members can't tolerate.


Favorite Meals to Bring New Moms

Beyond the freezer meal ideas I shared in last week's blog post, I previously asked a few fellow dietitian moms to chime in on what their favorite meals to bring new moms are. Here is a round-up of our top faves, with some suggestions for things to keep in mind that make them favorites for good reason!

DIETITIAN MOMS LOVE: Simple MyPlate Pairings

As dietitians, we often live our lives with an innate need to build "MyPlate" at almost every meal. So by including a tasty protein with simple plant-based sides, bringing a meal that includes protein + veggies + whole grains + fruit for a family will help to not only satisfy their cravings for a complete meal but also help them to meet their nutritional needs from ALL food groups by giving them an assortment of options to build their plate with.

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken Thighs

Courtesy of Lindsay Livingston, RD of TheLeanGreenBean.com

I love Lindsay's add-on ideas of bringing this dish with brown rice, steamed broccoli (or just send broccoli in a microwaveable steamer bag!), and washed grapes!

 

DIETITIAN MOMS LOVE: Foods that Make Nutrient-Dense Breakfasts or Lunches (Especially Those You Can Eat with One Hand!)

Some of my favorite meals I have received as a new moms aren't actually "dinner" per say. While sometimes we have gone ahead and eaten these breakfast and lunch items for dinner, I often save these for mornings and mid days as those seem to be the hardest meals to get in (especially once a spouse returns to work!). Consider bringing frittatas, healthy muffins, sweet potato hashes, or even deviled eggs, chicken salad with crackers, or cold quinoa salads. These work to eat any time of the day and can be a nutritious way to help new moms, especially those breastfeeding, to get in a lot of nutrition outside of just at dinner time.

Cranberry Quinoa Veggie Saute

Courtesy of Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RD, LD at Milk & Honey Nutrition

A recipe I have enjoyed eating on several occassions myself (including as a new mom!), this is one of those versatile meal options that makes a nutrient-dense lunch, dinner, or any time in between!

 
 

DIETITIAN MOMS LOVE: Delicious Leftovers

Cook once, eat twice. I am pretty sure that is a mantra of motherhood, but especially in the early days. For that reason, consider dishes you could make a larger portion of so it serves the family not just on the night you deliver it, but also for leftover lunches or another night's dinner as well. This doubles the blessing of you bringing a meal well beyond just one night's worth!

Salmon Noodle Casserole

Courtesy of Megan McNamee MPH, RDN of Feeding Littles

This one sounds fancy but is an awesome, affordable option. Packed with great nutrition, I love how this one takes care of the protein, fat, starch, and veggie for a meal by putting them all in one! This is one of the best "one pan" meals you could pop on by with!

 

DIETITIAN MOMS LOVE: Dishes with Added Veggies

We all struggle with getting enough veggies in not only our kids but also ourselves. For this reason, bringing family favorites that you have added veggies too can be a welcomed surprise to mamas who want to eat healthy, wholesome favorites outside of just adding raw or cooked veggies on the side of any given entree.

Zucchini Lasagna

Courtesy of Emily Rose Samuels, MS, RDN, LD

Some of my all-time favorites dishes are those tried and true by fellow dietitian friends, and this one from skinnytaste.com is no exception. I love how this recipe could be whipped up the night before, held in the fridge at work, and dropped off at a friend's on the way home without being a big mess nor hassle!

 

DIETITIAN MOMS LOVE: Healthy Toppings and Sides

If you are short on time to cook up a bunch of options or know this new mom maybe has another apprehensive eater at home, bringing a dish with lots of added toppings and sides can help to ease her anxiety around "what else to offer" her other family members when you bring the meal. Some easy ideas are to include kid-friendly sides that you either make or quickly pick up at the store on the day of delivery. Such ideas as tacos or tortilla soup where you make the taco meat or soup, than add on a bag of shredded cheese, Greek yogurt, avocados or guacamole, fresh pico de gallo, whole grain tortilla chips and/or tortillas, and a can of black beans or cook-in-the-bag brown rice can make it an easy to execute meal on both you and the new mom!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Courtesy of Me at Veggies & Virtue

This is such an easy recipe to make a double batch of then split to serve out to your family and another. Then just buy doubles of: cheddar cheese, whole grain chips, avocados or guacamole, sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt!), and any other fixings you fancy!

 

DIETITIAN MOMS LOVE: Desserts with Added Nutritional Benefits

Lactation cookies understandably get a lot of attention with new moms but there are lots of delicious and nutritious dessert ideas to consider adding on to a meal you plan to bring a new mom. Think about adding avocado or zucchini to a batch or brownies, or wholesome ingredients like cashews, almond meal, and oats to something like a yogurt berry tart.

Yogurt Berry Tart

Courtesy of Yaffi Lvova, RDN at Baby Bloom Nutrition

If you are looking for a healthier option of dessert, this would make a delightful addition to any dinner that could be enjoyed around the clock. Plus, what newly promoted big or little sis wouldn't love to be told they can have dessert for dinner?!

 

What you can do if you live too far to bring a new mom a meal

See what options exist in the region of the new mom. There are lots of ways to send edible support even when you can't physically stop by with dinner.

Set up a meal train for them

There are a lot of websites out there that will organize this for you, but one that I have used several times is MealTrain.com. This allows you to set up a care calendar for the new mom/family with all the information one would need to bring them a meal.

Order delivery or takeout

Between UberEats or a takeout order for the dad to pick up, sometimes ordering delivery or takeout is a great alternative option when you can't bring something homemade. Just pick a place (or two), shoot over a web link to the menu(s), and ask her to give you the order for her (and her family). Then, agree on a pick-up or delivery time with her, and you take care of calling it in and covering the bill.

Think outside of dinner

Whether it be ordering from Great Harvest Bread Company's delivery options (a personal favorite to send people; free delivery available for orders over $35) or sending someone a cart full of groceries via services like Instacart, she is sure to appreciate any food she doesn't have to fetch during her round-the-clock feeding and out-of-whack eating schedule. This is a great way to help stock her up on some goodies that may serve for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner.


What will you make for your #MomSquad?

There are so many ways I have been blessed by way of food in the postpartum season. I hope these ideas above help give you some ideas on what you could do to support fellow moms in their postpartum season, knowing there is a good chance they will gladly reciprocate if/when you too find yourself needing a meal you don't have to make yourself! If you want more ideas of freezer-friendly meal ideas for new moms, be sure to see last week's post sharing my Favorite Freezer Meals to Make Before a New Baby.

Freezer Meals to Make Before a New Baby

If you have ever been a first-time mom, I would bet that in all of your nesting activities, baby-prep book reading, Pinterest searching, and conversations about survival with fellow moms, you have probably seen or heard the terms "make ahead meals," "batch-cooking," and/or "freezer meals" at least once or twice. If you are an expecting mom with other children, this topic has likely come up either with gladness that it was something  you did do before a sibling was born or with regret that it wasn’t you didn't do before delivery.

That’s because whether you endured the marathon cooking spurts before your baby was born or have just heard from moms who have done this, you can imagine how that "my freezer is full of healthy staples" feels. Just thaw, cook, and serve with little stress nor sweat amidst the newborn season.

Sometimes just starting that process to stock your freezer with food for postpartum is the hardest part though.

That’s what this post is here to help with.

 
8.png
 

Before our first daughter was born, I literally spent an entire weekend "batch-cooking" while my mom was in town to help. Although it was totally exhausting to spend several days on my feet cooking towards the end of my third trimester, it was oh-so-sweet when all I had to do was thaw and cook our pre-made meal post-pregnancy. 

I have repeated this marathon meal prep with each pregnancy since and am here to share some of my tried and true staples. Because although there are several websites, blogs, and pin-worthy recipes to give you ideas for bulk recipes to batch-cook and easily freeze for future use, I have a few thoughts and ideas to share of my own.

In this post, I will share:

  • What are Freezer Meals?
  • How to Turn Favorite Recipes into Successful Make-Ahead Freezer Meals
  • My Favorite Supplies for Making Freezer Meals
  • Favorite Freezer Meal Recipe Ideas for New Moms

What are Freezer Meals?

Freezer meals are meals that have been assembled ahead of time with the intent of being cooked (or reheated) in the future. These are frequently touted as a time-saving, cost-effective technique to any meal, as freezer meals provides you with already assembled easy, healthy recipes to have on hand.

Many meals can be converted into a freezer meal with a little modification to the ingredients needed (multiplying the batch to make more) or by shifting the time in which the instructions are done (some in advance; some saved for after the meal has been frozen).


How to Turn Favorite Recipes into Successful Make-Ahead Freezer Meals

1. Pick one of your family's favorite recipes

I have prematurely made several make-ahead freezer meals using recipes I have never even tried before.

It still makes me upset when I think of how much time, energy, and money I wasted on what just boiled down to being a recipe I loathed having to eat again.

Instead, freezer meals should make you want to do a happy dance when it comes to dinner time because they are just that easy. You invested little extra effort to get the meal assembled and on to the table. Otherwise, that anticipated disappointment of going into dinner for a meal you didn't even like the first time totally defeats having freezer meals at all.

That's why, it is key to figure out how to convert your family's favorite recipes into make-ahead freezer meals.

Think through what types of recipes your family tends to gravitate to. Instead of assuming the lists of "freezer meals to make before a new baby" fit your family's taste preferences, make a list of your own family favorites and sort through the steps below to see which ones might be able to be converted to a freezer meal.

2. Identify which step in the instructions is the best "stopping point" to prepare a freezer meal from.

For recipes prepared on the stove-top or grill, this is often done after the step of making a marinade or sauce. Marinades/sauces can be made in a large batch and then portioned into small freezer-safe containers in the amount needed or you can put the marinade in with the meat to be immediately frozen. The latter will take more space (for those who might be more limited for freezer space), so you can always make just small jars/bags of marinade and keep them labeled to be added to the meat or dish later on.

If multiple but separate steps can be prepared in advance for the freezer meal, plan accordingly. Prep and store these items separately until the meal is cooked and assembled. An example includes:

  • Kung Poa or Orange Chicken: both call for chicken breasts to be cubed or thinly sliced as well as a sauce. Cut up all the raw chicken for as many batches worth as you made the sauce, and then freeze it in batches so it is ready to toss in the pan with no more raw-chicken-prep-nastiness required. Prepare the sauce separately, and store it in a container alongside the raw (but ready-to-cook) chicken.

For recipes prepared in the crock-pot, majority of the meal prep can occur in advance. All steps can be completed and combined into a freezer-safe container and later added to the crock-pot when it's time to cook. Exceptions may be when a recipe states to layer a fresh ingredient first (like onion slices) before adding the meat on top. If this is the case, just note that detail on the freezer bag/container so you remember to add that item prior to cooking (without having to go back and reference the recipe itself).

For recipes prepared in the oven, the freezer meal may include every step up to actually putting it in the oven. Preparing these freezer meals in oven-safe and freezer-safe containers makes this a one-pan way to prepare, store, cook, then toss away the dirty "dishes" when done!

3. Evaluate the total yield for the recipe as it is written.

Before deciding on how many batches you plan to make and freeze, ask yourself:

  • How many servings does the as-written recipe yield? What is the assumed portion size for each? If this isn't appropriate for your family, adjust up or down as desired.
  • Do you prefer to make a large batch and have leftovers, or to prepare enough for only one night's worth? Make a double or single-serving accordingly.

  • How often do you foresee your family eating this over the next 3+ months? Note in freezer-safe containers, most freezer meals can be stored for 3+ months in a regular or deep freezer. Depending on how often you want to include this meal in your rotation and how much freezer space you have, make that number of batches for the given recipe.

  • How much freezer space is available for this meal, while still leaving ample room for other freezer meals and staples? While a deep freezer may not be realistic for all families or in all homes, a chest deep freezer is an economical, efficient storage option (space wise) that can often be found at places like Costco for around $150. This is often less than families would spend on eating out or ready-made meals after a baby and may be an investment to consider before a baby arrives.

4. Modify the amounts of the ingredients in the as-written recipe based on the yields you desire.

Note: this depends on your answers to the questions in step #3.

  • Multiply the ingredients to be included in the freezer meal (those to be cooked and included before the stopping point) by the number of batches for each recipe you desire to make in advance.

  • This will give you a large-size batch for the X number of meals you are wanting to make ahead. Divide this into X number of freezer-safe containers to store.

5. Make a note of the items to be added later (and in what amounts) when only preparing part of the meal in advance.

These ingredients do not necessarily need to be multiplied by the full amount of ingredients needed at the time of shopping for and making freezer meals. Instead, you may want to write that these items are still needed directly onto the storage container so you see what else is needed when you pull the otherwise prepared item from the freezer. Examples include:

  • Broccoli for broccoli beef that is added later on in the recipe

  • Shredded cheese that is to be added at the end of cooking a baked dish

  • Garnishes like nuts, seeds, or fresh items (like green onions) added after cooking

6. Try it Out!

If you feel a bit overwhelmed initially, experiment and gain experience doing this approach before it is time to actually make these meals as freezer meals for a new baby. The next time you plan to prepare a family favorite anyways, walk through the above steps. See how easy (or not!) it is to prepare this meal idea not only for that one night, but also as a freezer meal option. Make any notes and modify accordingly so when you are ready to make freezer meals for postpartum, you know if this is one you want to include or not.


30 Favorite Freezer Meals Cover.jpg
 

Want a list of links to:

My 30 Favorite Freezer Meals to Make Before a New Baby


My Favorite Supplies for Making Freezer Meals

This post contains affiliate links, though all opinions are my own. When you purchase anything using these links, it will not cost you more to use. It does, however, give Veggies & Virtue a small commission to help me further pursue my mission of helping other achieve less meal time stress and more meal time success. Thank you for your continued support, both with your affiliate purchases and interest.

Foil Pans

These are available at any grocery store, but by far the best deal I have found is at Dollar Stores. Often, you can get 2-3 smaller pans in a single pack for only a dollar! Similar items are easily $3-4 per 2-pack at the store. Stock up on these before planning a big freezer meal making session, or buy extras so you can use to bring meals to new moms in these too (so that they don't have to worry about washing and returning your dishes!).

Disposable Pan options (from Dollar Tree)

Freezer-Safe Ziplock Bags

I try to be conscious of the environment and prefer to use glass over plastic when possible. But when it comes to marinading meats and making efficient storage of freezer meals, I truly love using freezer-safe Ziplock bags. Whichever size you choose, simply fill; remove the air (manually); seal; lie flat to freeze. Then, once frozen, all meals can easily be stacked on top of the other or upright in a row in the freezer. This both helps to save space and find items easily.

Freezer-safe gallon-sized Ziplocks  (for chilis, soups, fajitas, etc)

Freezer safe quart-sized Ziplocks (for quinoa, rice, and spaghetti sauce)

Plastic Food Storage Containers

For these, you want something sturdy and reusable and yet disposable (in case you don't want to deal with any dishes). My favorites for these are the following:

8 ounce (for frozen marinades)

16 ounce (for frozen sauces)

32 ounce (for extra chicken stock, leftover soups ready for lunches)or 

Costco also carries a very economical option that serve as perfect leftover containers for lunch the next day (similar to these). These are not my favorite for liquids and sauces, but they work well for grains, a muffins, taco meat, beans, and other items you may only need 2-4 cups worth of per container.

Mason Jars

I love mason jars for a lot of things and prepping freezer meals are no exception. Mason jars can be great for storing marinades or making smaller batches of soups, say to pull out and have for a serving or two worth of soup. Just be sure to leave a little space at the top when storing liquids in mason jars so there is room for the food to expand (when frozen).

Mason jars (2 cups)

Mason jars (4 cups)


30 Favorite Freezer Meal Ideas for New Moms

Many of you have been asking for the latest list of what meals I prepped ahead for this postpartum period. So as promised, you can score the complete list of links to the following meal ideas on the download linked below. There are SO many more I could have included from family recipes as well as some Fall favorites (like chili, soups, and stews). But since I don't have electronic recipes for all of these and personally wasn't craving a lot of "cold weather" meal ideas (having an August baby in Houston and all), I opted for the following 30 freezer meal ideas instead! I am excited to enjoy these in the coming months as we welcome our newest member!


Did you find this article helpful?

If so, please be sure to share on social media or send the URL to fellow mom friends who might also benefit from more ideas on how to prep freezer meals for postpartum!

Food Prep for New Baby

There are over 200 MILLION hits on google for “what to do before baby is born.”

Between buying bottles and washing all those adorable little garments in gentle detergent, there are a lot of tasks, to do lists, and items to tackle before the big day. You can find lists that simplify it to the "Top 10 Things to Do Before Your Baby is Born" to more comprehensive lists covering all the ins and outs of planning ahead before your baby’s arrival depending on the degree of OCD you are.

One thing I don’t always see amidst the lists of “what it pack in your hospital bag” though is the wide list of what to pack in your kitchen! If the nursery is picture-perfect but we fail to plan what food will keep us and our families fueled postpartum, the saying rings true:

Fail to plan and plan to fail.

Now I recognize we can’t always (slash never!) get as ahead as we would like as moms, be it our first kid or our fifth! Here I am prepping for baby number three and just had the bomb dropped that they might have to induce me three weeks early ... Wait, WHAT?!?!?!

Thankfully the pause button was pushed on that for now, so that as I write this post in anticipation for my maternity leave, I have a bit more peace. My point is though, life happens. As much as we want to get "everything" ready before our precious little one arrives, we aren’t always able to do it all - in or outside of the kitchen.

As a dietitian mom, many of you could probably assume that food prep for postpartum is an area I prioritize heavily at the end of each pregnancy. It has evolved and honestly expanded quite a bit from what I did when planning for our first child. That’s why I want to take the next four weeks to share with you my TOP tips. This isn’t an end all be all list (since no list ever is), but if you have the time and are looking for the tools for how to prep for your next baby’s arrival as it relates to all things food:

 

This is Your Guide for Food Prep Before Baby

Over the month of August, you can expect posts on the following:

Freezer Meals to Make Before a New Baby

How to Manage Meals as a New Mom

Meal Ideas to Bring New Moms

 
6.png
 

Don't Miss This Info...

Once the above blog posts go live, I will come back and link them all above so this one post can act as your go-to hub for food prep before a new baby resources. But since our little one will be born sometime between now and then, I can't encourage you enough to sign up here for my newsletter! That way, even when I am up all night with our newborn in the coming weeks (and likely on social media and email a lot less), you can still plan to hear from me every Friday morning via a little note delivered to your inbox. In it, you will find an easy link to my weekly blog post for each of these topics above.

 

Whether you’re expecting another addition to your family or just want to tap into some of these ideas to make mom life in general more manageable, I know these upcoming few week's worth of posts will be as helpful to you as I know they have been to me.

Average versus Extreme Picky Eating

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Super Simple Online. As always, all opinions are my own.

Ever wondered if your child's picky eating is "normal"?

While I have worked with many families on How to Handle Picky Eating privately (through one-on-one consultations) and publicly (through blog posts and presentations), I will be the first to share:

Most picky eating is normal, but not all picky eating is average.

 
 

What I mean by this is that for most children, picky eating is as normal stage of development as toddler tantrums, sleep regressions, endlessly saying 'no' or asking 'why?', separation anxiety, and wanting to 'do it myself' as they exercise independence. As with all aspects of raising tiny humans however, some child fall into a more average pattern for these developmental milestones while others are what we may consider a bit more extreme in how they react and respond.

That's why over on the Super Simple blog this month, I share more about, What is “Normal” When it Comes to Picky Eating?

In the post (read it here), you will find a summary of what average and extreme picky eating individually are, how each normally presents, their unique impacts physically, socially, and emotionally on a child, and what the best solution for addressing each are. This way, if you find yourself asking, "Is my child's picky eating normal?," you can quickly identify what average versus extreme picky eating looks like, how each differ in their physical, emotional, and social impacts on your child, and what course of action may be most effective should your child fall into the more "average" picky eating realm or be a child with more extreme picky eating.

If you'd like to read more on this for yourself, click the button below to see the full article.

I know this will help put a lot of parent's questions and concerns at rest and/or in the direction of seeking the best-suited action plan to help a picky eater get the assistance they need to grow, thrive, and live out a healthy childhood!


For more on this topic, visit these posts:


Looking for more inspiration on how to help picky eaters?

Be sure to follow my Instagram where I share tips, tricks, and endless encouragement for raising healthy children (even if they are currently more apprehensive than adventurous)!

How to Make One Meal for the Whole Family

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Super Simple Online. As always, all opinions are my own.

If you find yourself short-order cooking and amidst the stressful dynamics of making everyone a separate meal, you need to tune in to today's post.

Over on the Super Silly blog, I share how to How to Make One Meal for the Whole Family. With five considerations to avoid short-order cooking or fights over the food that is offered, this post will walk you through some of the steps to establishing set a new precedence at family meals. These act as a framework to help you begin serving one meal for the whole family.

I am confident that these five steps can help families find newfound freedom with what to offer at meal times, making the shared experience at the table a happy and healthy one! Which one will you start implementing tonight?


For more on this topic, visit these posts:


How to Make One Meal for the Whole Family Menu Ideas

I spent the first half of 2018 sharing family-friendly meal plans on the Veggies & Virtue blog. I also sent bonus content each week to subscribers on serving these up to more apprehensive of eaters, using my "Love it, Like it, Learning it approach to deciding "what to offer" so that everyone has something at the table they enjoy! To join the thousands of mamas who receive this newsletter each week, join here!

Otherwise, review the menus for Winter and Spring by clicking on the thumbnails below. You will find a variety of ideas of family-friendly meal ideas, all of which can be offered as one meal for the whole family!

Looking for more inspiration on how to offer one meal to the whole family?

Be sure to follow #onemealtwoways each week on my Instagram! With each, you will see how one meal is offered two ways for my child and my preferences and on each of our plates!

Family-Friendly Meal Plan: Week #21

It is hard to believe this will be my last official meal plan shared here on the blog.

In case you missed my announcement at the beginning of May (you can see it here), this comes with an exciting opportunity for me to provide more valuable content in an even better platform than these meal plans via weekly posts. I appreciate knowing how much everyone has used and appreciated these as a weekly resource. I look forward to continuing to make them available soon through another awesome opportunity I am doing as a collective with Feeding Littles!

If you want to be kept up to date about the release of our new project, I encourage you to subscribe here so you get our release date and more importantly, subscriber-only coupon codes!

Together myself, Megan, and Judy (both from Feeding Littles) are so excited about what we have in store for you (make sure you stay in the know here)! I know that if these meal plans have been helpful to you so far, you will love having them all in one place with our new offering.

For now, here is one last meal plan for you to enjoy this spring and into the summer! Thanks so much for your ongoing interest and support.

 

Veggies & Virtue Meal Plan: Week of May 27

 
meal plan thumbnail (20).png
 
 

STEP 1: PLAN

If you have been following the past 20+ weeks of meal plans, do you feel like you can now plan, pick, pair, purchase, and prep like a pro?

It does take some practice but I hope this outline has helped to equip you with a better understanding of how to walk through meal planning in a way that works for you and your family. If you want more concrete tips and meal planning templates to use from here on out, please check out the link immediately below to grab your copy of my "Meal Planning Playbook." It is an outline of the five steps I suggest for meal planning, as well as details on how to be more successful with each. There are also two varieties of meal planning templates to use and my healthy-family grocery list for you to continue to reprint each week or as needed!

Get my Meal Planning Playbook (currently on sale) HERE!


STEP 2: PICK

A SPECIAL THANKS TO EACH OF THE FOLLOWING CONTRIBUTORS FOR THE DELICIOUS RECIPE IDEAS THIS WEEK!

Dinner Menu:

1 ǁ Seafood Sunday: Cajun Grilled Shrimp (Recipe by @firstandfull)

2 ǁ Meatless Monday: Trader Joe's 1-minute Lentil Salad (Recipe from @traderjoes)

3 ǁ Taco Tuesday: Grilled Fish Tacos (Recipe from @cookingclassy)

4 ǁ Asian Night: Lettuce Wraps (Recipe by @mydiaryofus)

5 ǁ Salad Night: Kale Peach Salad (by @detoxinista)

6 ǁ Pasta Night: Pesto with Cybele's Veggie Noodles (store-bought)

7 ǁ Family Night Out (slash Mom's Night Off!)


STEP 3: PAIR

Want more ideas and encouragement for how to offer #onemealtwoways from this week’s meal plan? You can follow me and check out this hashtag on Instagram to get new ideas of how we are making one meal work for the whole family (apprehensive eaters included!).

Otherwise, email subscribers have gotten a breakdown of how we use "#loveitlikeitlearningit" for any of the meals we offer during the week for every one of the meal plans I have shared in 2018. I will continue to share these on the meal plans offered through my upcoming project with Feeding Littles, so I encourage you to subscribe here if you want more information about when that becomes available!


STEP 4: PURCHASE

What I Buy and Why: A highchair at the right height*

*This post is sponsored by Regalo. All opinions are my own.

As we prepare for baby #3, there are a lot of infant products I look back on and laugh at being so "research-savvy" about in anticipation for our firstborn that later proved to be silly first time mom "mistakes." The saying goes you don't know what you don't know but nothing could be more true than when it comes to infant high chairs and toddler booster seats.

After five years now as a parent and even longer as a feeding professional, I have such a better sense of what I wish I would have considered when I first bought a high chair (before our oldest was born). I have tested SEVERAL out there, keeping some and letting others go, only to learn what I did, and more importantly didn't, want in a high chair.

A high chair or toddler booster seat is synonymous with a daily war zone where mom is 0-497 for winning against food. It is a messy place for exploring food, and don't get me wrong - one of my FAVORITE places to experience children in their element. But I thought I would share this criteria to any new mom who is considering what high chair or booster seat to buy:

1. Ease of clean: This is the big one, but you don't realize quite how much so until you have had kids and see how messy meal times really are - especially when happening so many times a day. Something I could wipe clean without having to disassemble or machine wash is a must to me, especially now with three littles to clean up after each meal.

2. Portability: Is this ONE high chair something you could easily pack up and take to a friend's house, out of town, or even to a restaurant if you wanted to? I love having something I can pack up easily, is compact, and can even fit in with the car seat as checked luggage when we go on a flight. It could be in addition to a more permanent solution at home, but honestly, I find a single adjustable booster seat can dual at home and away just fine. Plus within the home, I want something that is manageable around our current kitchen set-up and doesn't require it's own "space" (often away from the family table). For us, that means my youngest uses a booster like this one both at home and away.

3. Longevity of use: Personally, I hate buying kids products that last for only a short window when others may suffice for a much longer stint. That's why I would love to spare some parents wasting the money that we did when we first invested in a traditional infant high chair when our oldest first began solids. By the time she was a year old, I knew I disliked how much space it took up in our house, how awkward it was to pull up to the table, and the hassle of cleaning all of its nooks and crannies after each time she ate. For this reason, we got rid of it when we moved and immediately transitioned her to a toddler booster seat (like this one). The toddler seat worked just fine for her up until she was 2.5 years old, when my next daughter began using it as we introduced solids again with her.

4. Adequate support: Too often, I see parents go from infant high chair to their child having minimal added support at the table as an older toddler. While some older kids may still benefit from special seats or books on a stool to support their feet, giving young children proper core support to aid in the difficult task of eating is important. As I shared in this post on 7 Ways to Keep Your Child Seated at the Table, a booster seat with straps and proper support can play a big role in trying to move beyond solely "self-feeding" to actual life skills around family meal times and appropriate table behavior.

5. Affordable: As much as I love feeding products and novelty kitchen gadgets, at the core I am still a budget-minded-mom who wants to see what is worth the splurge and where I can save without noticing much of a difference. That's why I often encourage friends to add booster seats like this one to their baby registries and personally gift them at baby showers. I know firsthand that these have met my criteria for the above four items and are something my family has used day in and day out without missing the bells and whistles of other, more expensive high chairs. Plus, beyond boosters like this one by Regalo making a great gift, I feel good giving them as a "mother-tested, dietitian-approved" tool for feeding.

I hope this information provided some helpful food for thought if you are in the market for a infant high chair or toddler booster seat, or something that can function as both like this one by Regalo! If you'd like to try it out, get 10% off a Right Height Booster seat with coupon code "BOOSTER10" on Regalo's website.

What kind of chair does your child use?


Want my free grocery list download? Download it here.

Want your own tear-off pad of my go-to grocery list to keep on the fridge? Order your 6-month magnetic grocery list notepad here.


STEP 5: PREP

Steps to simplifying:

1 ǁ Seafood Sunday: Cajun Grilled Shrimp (Recipe by @firstandfull)

  • Make your marinade and chimichurri sauce in advance. Thaw shrimp within 24-hours before eating.

2 ǁ Meatless Monday: Trader Joe's 1-minute Lentil Salad (Recipe from @traderjoes)

  • Easy-peasy idea! No prep required.

3 ǁ Taco Tuesday: Grilled Fish Tacos (Recipe from @cookingclassy)

  • Make your slaw in advance. Combine all the oils, juice, and spices for the marinade in advance and add to fish prior to cooking.

4 ǁ Asian Night: Lettuce Wraps (Recipe by @mydiaryofus)

  • Make the filling and dipping sauce in advance. Wash and dry lettuce leaves and store with a paper towel in the fridge.

5 ǁ Salad Night: Kale Peach Salad (by @detoxinista)

  • Make salad dressing in advance. Buy pre-washed baby kale.

6 ǁ Pasta Night: Pesto with Cybele's Veggie Noodles (store-bought)

  • Use a premade pesto and toss over noodles while they are still hot for a one-pot meal!

7 ǁ Family Night Out (slash Mom's Night Off!)


Family-Friendly Meal Plan: Week #20

Do you know what you are making for your Memorial Day festivities yet?

I love holiday weekends in the summer when everyone is outside, kicked back, and enjoying the warmer weather. Outside of tasty ideas for what's on the menu (shared below!), I have some other considerations for How to Best Handle Holiday Picnics, Summer Potlucks, and Picky Eaters that may help you with "what to plan" for your weekend fun.

 

Veggies & Virtue Meal Plan: Week of May 20

 
meal plan thumbnail (21).png
 
 

STEP 1: PLAN

Depending on what your plans for the holiday weekend, you will find a variety of crowd favorites on this week's menu. Ranging from pasta salad to cobb salads (both of which make great sides to bring to any potluck!) or grilled chicken or salmon that can be made as a larger fillet (if you find yourself hosting!), I hope some of the ideas below get you ready for next weekend and the togetherness that three-day weekends bring!


Interested in walking through the steps to meal plan like a pro?

Download your copy of my Meal Planning Playbook. It outlines the following five steps of successful meal planning in more detail so you can achieve "Less Meal Time Stress and More Feeding Success" for your own family!

On sale!


STEP 2: PICK

A special thanks to Fruit Bliss for sponsoring this week's meal plan!

Dinner Menu:

1 ǁ Seafood Sunday: Roasted Salmon with Herbs (Recipe by @InaGarten)

2 ǁ Meatless Monday: Mexican Quinoa Salad (by @minimalistbaker)

3 ǁ Taco Tuesday: Slow-Cooker Carnitas (Recipe from @chewsfoodwisely and shared in this FREE download)

4 ǁ Salad Night: Build Your Own Chopped Cobb Salad (Recipe by @skinnytaste)

5 ǁ Pasta Night: Tuscan Pasta Salad (by @alyssa_therecipecritic)
Made with
these Organic Turkish Tomato Halves from Fruit Bliss (Sponsored)

6 ǁ Grill Night: Marinated Grilled Chicken (by @veggiesandvirtue) 

7 ǁ Family Night Out (slash Mom's Night Off!)


STEP 3: PAIR

Ideas and encouragement for how to offer #onemealtwoways from this week’s meal plan!

Family Meal: Baked cod, roasted asparagus, this Tuscan Pasta Salad made with these Organic Turkish Tomato Halves from Fruit Bliss (Sponsored), and mandarin oranges for dessert.

one meal two ways.JPG

Kids plate:
LOVE IT:
plain noodles in EVOO, mandarin oranges
LIKE IT: baked cod
LEARNING IT: pasta salad, roasted asparagus

Parent's plate: Similar to my child's although I ate the savory options together and saved the mandarin oranges for last.

Notes: My oldest tends to prefer no sauce on her noodles, nor other ingredients mixed in so we offered the pasta salad both plain and composed as the recipe calls for so both girls could try it either way. They also just tried their first mandarin oranges recently when eating out on vacation and really liked them. Although they aren't a fruit-alternative we will have often (due to them not being as nutritionally-dense as other options they also enjoy), we serve fruit for dessert Sunday through Thursdays so it was a sweet option the girls enjoyed alongside our family meal. Of note, both girls tried the learning it foods but neither "ate" them, per say beyond their initial touch, lick, or taste.


STEP 4: PURCHASE

 
This post is sponsored by Fruit Bliss. All opinions are my own.

This post is sponsored by Fruit Bliss. All opinions are my own.

 

What I Buy and Why: Fruit Bliss Sun Dried Tomatoes (Sponsored)

Parents are always asking me how to get their kids to eat more vegetables or how to expand on a child's existing favorite(s) in a few more ways. Especially with smaller children who can't (or won't!) crunch through raw produce as well, finding safe and enjoyable veggies can be a bit of a trick.

That's one of the reasons I love the products by Fruit Bliss, including these Organic Turkish Tomato Halves. If you saw me share any other of Fruit Bliss's organic dried fruit on my Instagram stories, you might remember my sharing how their products were significantly more tender than most dried fruits I find at the grocery store. This not only makes them more flavorful to eat, but as a mom with young kids it also helps reassure me that my girls can safely chew the foods (which isn't always the case with dried fruit as it can be a choking hazard to small children). The dietitian in me also appreciates that the ingredient list is simple and preservative-free to include only organic sun-dried tomatoes, water, and salt.

These Fruit Bliss tomatoes are tender enough that they resemble a really soft dried fruit and yet they have a savory taste that offers a tasty twist on traditional raw tomatoes. If your child is still learning to like tomatoes in their plain, fresh form, consider trying these sun-sweetened tomatoes:

  • At breakfast: alongside scrambled eggs, avocado, and whole grain toast with butter
  • At snacks: Cut them up into smaller pieces to add into for a "salty  mix" with a variety of snack crackers, pea crisps, veggie straws, freeze-dried veggies, and/or popcorn (again, note choking hazard with small kids)
  • At lunch: Build your own English muffin pizzas. While you make them, have a taste test of fresh tomato slices, cherry tomato halves, pizza sauce, and these sun-sweetened tomato halves. Talk about how pizza sauce is made from tomatoes and all the different ways you can enjoy these, including diced up as a pizza topping! 
  • At dinner: Use them in place of sun-dried tomatoes in the Tuscan Pasta Salad  recipe shared above! We will be making this again for a Memorial Weekend backyard picnic. When doing so, you can make this assembled in advance (as advised below) or offer it up deconstructed with the noodles, sauce, and tomato halves separate and let them self-toss their pasta salad so they can try the ingredients individually. Doing this, they may learn to like the tender, easy-to-chew nature of these sun-sweetened tomato halves much more than they do their raw or sun-dried counterparts!

To get your Fruit Bliss Organic Tomato Halves, be sure to enter my giveaway over on my Instagram account! Otherwise, you can go ahead and order them online or find a retailer for Fruit Bliss products near you.


Want my free grocery list download? Download it here.

Want your own tear-off pad of my go-to grocery list to keep on the fridge? Order your 6-month magnetic grocery list notepad here.


STEP 5: PREP

Want to get ahead?

Pasta salad is one of my favorite items to make the day ahead and keep in the fridge - either for lunch leftovers during the week or to easy grab and go after wrangling our kids and packing up what feels like a million items for a picnic or play date!

If you want an easy idea to take (or make!) this Memorial Day, go ahead and order these Organic Turkish Tomato Halves. Then make this pasta salad up to 24 hours in advance and you'll have the perfect side dish to add to any Memorial Day menu.


Family-Friendly Meal Plan: Week #19

Happy almost Mother's Day!

Knowing that almost all of my audience is made up of moms, I want to personally send my warm wishes to you for a special day of celebrating YOU this weekend! While you may be the main cook in the family (like me!), I hope that you either get a day off from cooking or find a new favorite meal from the menu below to enjoy around the table with those who fondly call you mom/mommy/mama.

 

Veggies & Virtue Meal Plan: Week of May 13

 
meal plan thumbnail (18).png
 
 

STEP 1: PLAN

I admit, this week's plan was made up of many of MY favorites! Because even though what my kids *will* (or likely will not!) eat drives a lot of decisions around here, many of you know I am not shy to still try to introduce them to new flavors and other's favorites as well. So in honor of mom this week, I planned meals that are ones I often crave and enjoy!

If you want to see how I breakdown each meal to make sure that everyone has something at the table to enjoy (even if the main dish shown below itself isn't their favorite!), be sure you sign up for my newsletter where I give a full meal plan of the main course plus #loveitlikeitlearningit options for what goes with each night's menu.


Interested in walking through the steps to meal plan like a pro?

Download your copy of my Meal Planning Playbook. It outlines the following five steps of successful meal planning in more detail so you can achieve "Less Meal Time Stress and More Feeding Success" for your own family!

On sale!


STEP 2: PICK

A special thanks to each of the following contributors for the delicious recipe ideas this week!

Dinner Menu:

1 ǁ Seafood Sunday: Grilled Snapper Vera Cruz (Recipe by @foodnetwork)
Made with snapper from our Fish Fixe delivery.

2 ǁ Meatless Monday: Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad (Recipe by @natashaskitchen)

3 ǁ Taco Tuesday: Taco Bowls (Recipe by @damndelicious)

4 ǁ Asian Night: General Tso's (Recipe by @skinnytaste)

5 ǁ Salad Night: Blueberry Feta Salad (Recipe by @lemontreedwelling)

6 ǁ Pasta Night: Spaghetti (Recipe by @wholesome_child)

7 ǁ Family Night Out (slash Mom's Night Off!)


STEP 3: PAIR

Ideas and encouragement for how to offer #onemealtwoways from this week’s meal plan!

Family Meal: Blueberry feta and almond spinach salad (recipe from @lemontreedwelling above) with red potatoes and a whole roasted rotisserie chicken

IMG-3823.jpg

Kids plate (self-served by my 4 yo):
LOVE IT:
blueberries, roasted chicken legs, roasted red potatoes
LIKE IT: shredded spinach
LEARNING IT: feta, toasted almonds

My plate: I had some roasted chicken breast with potatoes and a tossed salad

I love roasting whole chickens. It allows my daughters to eat their favorite part (the legs), my husband to have his favorite (dark meat) and me as mom to eat a small amount of chicken breast while still having plenty leftover for lunches or another dinner during the week!


STEP 4: PURCHASE

 
 

What I Buy and Why: Cybele's Veggie Pasta

If you have followed any of my "Feeding Therapy Thursday" tips on Instagram, you know I am often taking about food chaining and how to gradually introduce more variety into our children's diets using small, singular changes to "love it foods" (or those foods we know our children tend to prefer). While it may seem like changing something as simple as the shape or the color of a pasta noodle is no big deal, any of us with apprehensive eaters knows that these changes can make or break a meal time.

That's one of the reasons I have LOVED introducing Cybele's Veggie Pasta in my home. Unlike a generic box of noodles or even a whole grain option, Cybele's allows me to food chain a favorite food (pasta) in a way that gets key nutrients in as well. With short ingredient lists containing only the foods my kids are otherwise "learning to like" (like lentils, cauliflower, kale, pumpkin, butternut squash, beets, sweet potatoes, and parsnips!), I have been able to swap out a standard noodle for Cybele's to provide a much bigger nutritional punch.

It has taken some time for my oldest to accept noodles in different shapes and especially any noodle made from lentils, but the first time I introduced Cybele's pink "princess noodles" (made from ren lentils, beets, sweet potatoes and carrots - that's it!), she took to them! Ever since, we continue to rotate through the colors as a fun new "love it food" I can feel good about offering.


Want my free grocery list download? Download it here.

Want your own tear-off pad of my go-to grocery list to keep on the fridge? Order your 6-month magnetic grocery list notepad here.


STEP 5: PREP

Suggested things I do to make my mom life easier:

1 ǁ Seafood Sunday: Grilled Snapper Vera Cruz (Recipe by @foodnetwork)

  • Use Fish Fixe for easy thawing. Make Vera Cruz sauce in advance. Wash and snap ends off of asparagus.

2 ǁ Meatless Monday: Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad (Recipe by @natashaskitchen)

  • Make in advance to eat for lunch and on taco night.

3 ǁ Taco Tuesday: Taco Bowls (Recipe by @damndelicious)

  • Cook rice and taco meat in advance. Prep corn to grill.

4 ǁ Asian Night: General Tso's (Recipe by @skinnytaste)

  • Buy pre-riced cauliflower. Make white rice in advance to mix.

5 ǁ Salad Night: Blueberry Feta Salad (Recipe by @lemontreedwelling)

  • Make salad dressing. Roast chicken in advance, or buy an already-made rotisserie if in need of an extra-easy dinner.

6 ǁ Pasta Night: Spaghetti (Recipe by @wholesome_child)

  • Make spaghetti sauce recipe in advance.

7 ǁ Family Night Out (slash Mom's Night Off!)

  • Put your feet up, and make someone else do the dishes!