I have spent the last 5 years telling my clients, soon to be parents, to prep meals for postpartum and I am taking my own advice. Postpartum it is hard to feed yourself in the huge transition with a new baby. Sleep deprivation, new roles and learning your baby is a lot of work. Not to mention the endless laundry and keeping up with basic hygiene. Not all new families have loved ones and friends near by that can drop off food regularly. If your anything like me, I have pretty high standards for food quality and it isn’t an option for us financially or nutritionally to eat out.
I am lucky to have family and a few close friends locally who would bring by foods that we can eat, and I wouldn’t feel bad sending them a specific recipe or telling them our restrictions. With that said, I know we still need to feed ourselves most of the time. I meal prep weekly, nothing too crazy because we like to switch it up and I mostly do it to budget and have healthy food on hand, so we don’t get overwhelmed with making dinner or having lunches for the next day. The easiest way to meal plan/prep is to know your key words to search on Pinterest. Yes, I LOVE PINTEREST!! I have food boards, and a lot more birth/postpartum inspirations so feel free to go check out my pins/boards. Follow me on Pinterest
I simply search Primal or Paleo when looking for recipes. I will also search Vegan Keto as that will give you whole foods/plant based high fat options. The goal postpartum is lots of fiber (think veggies/quinoa/sweet potatoes/GF oats) LOTS of healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado oil, animal fats, nuts/seeds) and protein (clean sources of meats, avocado, chia seeds, nuts/seeds, nut butters, clean protein/collagen power). For baby’s digestion keep your diet gluten free and dairy free specially at first. I am pro gluten free for pretty much everyone! As a nutritionist I don’t see the evidence or need for it. Just too processed and yucky! If you must, go organic flour so that it doesn’t contain folic acid. As far as dairy. Most people don’t handle it well. If you do tolerate dairy make sure its quality, organic/pasture raised, grass fed. Goat dairy and local raw diary are great options too. In general dairy gives babies gas and why add to what is already a hard process for them as their bodies learn to digest?
Moving on! I did some Pinterest searching and found 2 bloggers that had great options for Paleo meals. I knew I wanted a few breakfast dishes, a few just meat (so we could make them into tacos/bowls/add veggies), a few soups for fall and a few casseroles we could easily just rewarm and eat with nothing else needed! I picked 9 recipes, printed them all.
Here are 2 blogs that have great tips for freezer meals!
Recipes I chose:
Slow cooker meat/meat only dish-
I personally chose a lot of recipes that called for veggies we had from our garden and lots of eggs since we have chickens. This made it much more cost effective for us. I also have a lot of spices on hand because we pretty much only eat at home, so I didn’t have to buy spices!
I went to Costco for the meat, it is the cheapest option for Hempler’s bacon, organic chicken and grass-fed ground beef. We got our pork sausage and pork roast at the local butcher. Like I said we had all the eggs and spices along with the zucchini, peppers and squash. My list was short and sweet, so I just went to our local grocery store for the other ingredients. I made a grocery list by category; meat, veggies and pantry (canned foods/other ingredients).
I suggest 2 crockpots, a Dutch over, 2 sheet pans, a large frying pan, gallon size freezer bags, 3 Quart size canning jars (or you can use baggies that stand up) and the best tool we had was my mom’s vacuum sealer! You could also just do double freezer bags or glass Tupperware. If you are not concerned about aluminum foil or plastic, many blogs suggest the disposable cooking trays or plastic storage containers. I personally wanted to make sure we had each meal divided into servings so vacuumed sealing each serving made most sense. You could also get quart size freezer bags for each serving and then place the whole recipe into a larger freezer bag.
I started by baking all the spaghetti squash and butter nut squash in the oven. Then I put both crock pot meat dishes in. Once those were both in I started the meat balls, then the meatloaf muffins. Once those were going I started the casserole and frittata meats. Once those were cooked the squash was done and I was able to assemble the casseroles and frittatas and cook those either on the stove stop or over. Last was the soups!
Before you store anything make sure they all cool completely. DO NOT blend the soup until it has cooled, you will get burned. I put the butternut squash in quart mason jars with ¾ space at the top of the jar for expansion once frozen. I put them in the fridge over night to make sure they were fully cooled and then put them in the freezer with loose lids the next morning. Once they are frozen tighten the lids.
Have people help you. My mom and her partner came over to help and my husband stepped in when I needed to take breaks since I am 9 months pregnant. People want to help, have your mom come or your best friend! It is was more fun and faster with multiple people! Establish your tribe and let them help.
Finally, storage organization was important to me. We have a 7 cubic feet chest freezer. It came with a small bin. In that small bin we have our garden veggies vacuum sealed. Essentially lots of squash and zucchini. Once I have breastmilk to store I plan to keep my breastmilk in this smaller organizer and move the veggies below. By that point I hope to have a few more bins, probably from the dollar store to stack things better and to use the depth of the freezer more efficiently. The other bin we have in there has all the baked goods I have made in the last few months. When I make breads, muffins or desserts I always freeze half. They go back before we can eat them all and in preparation for postpartum I wanted to have things we could defrost, and I could stuff in my face while breastfeeding! I have a few blogs up for yummy treats that are still “GOOD” for you.
At the bottom of the freezer are all the meals. The Chicken Fajitas had too much liquid in them to vacuum seal, so we put them in glass Tupperware. The Butternut Squash soup was put into canning jars and then the rest of the meals were vacuum sealed into servings sizes for the 2 of us, labeled and then then put into a gallon freezer bag to keep organized. Since we will be eating these meals in the next 2 months they will all be nice a fresh to re heat/warm whenever we need them!
HAPPY PREPPING MAMA'S!
For the last 6 months we have been using Sun Basket for 3 meals a week. I can’t believe the number of times its saved dinner for us. We got it at first to try new things after getting stuck in a rut of the same old dinners. We don’t eat out often because honestly, it’s expensive and not usually worth it. We also live in a town that doesn’t have the BEST options for Organic, non-GMO, grass-fed, gluten free, soy free shopping. Therefore, I do a ton of online ordering. PLUS, we are both so busy with work that we don’t have time to grocery shop. I only see this getting harder now that were expecting our first baby in October.
We do enjoy cooking together, especially in the winter when it gets dark early and there isn’t much else to do. As we go into summer with it being light so much later, it has saved us in a whole different way. We have an old farm house with chickens, goats, bees, a barn cat, our dog and a large garden. There is always work to be done outside and now that the suns out and the rain has (mostly) stopped, my husband is outside from the moment he comes home till when I call him in for dinner, then of course he goes back out until the sun goes down. I make dinner in less then 30 minutes (ALL their meals are 30 min or less) and most of the time they are only 1 pan recipes, meaning I only have to clean 1 pot or pan after! Another awesome benefit is there is no waste. They only give you what you need for the recipe so long gone are the days of throwing out left over veggies that I needed for a recipe. How many times do you buy random ingredients at the store, just to end up throwing them away half used?
Not only are they convenient, quality ingredients delivered to your door, but they also check all my boxes for dietary restrictions. I am allergic to wheat and avoid most conventional dairy and totally avoid soy. The fact that we can try diverse meals weekly and my husband who doesn’t have to avoid those ingredients, doesn’t feel deprived is a huge plus. No one misses out on taste with these meals!
For so many families with different eating restrictions Sun Basket makes it easy to accommodate everyone. You can even add meat onto vegetarian options and cook it separately to add into someone’s meal who might want the meat, while the others can pass! We do this often with dairy for my husband, he can enjoy all the cheese while I just omit it from my portion.
As a nutritionist I recommend this for many families who are trying to solve the “what can we have for dinner?” dilemma. I recommend having three go-to breakfast options you know you can make quickly, prep lunches for the week on one day and then BAM Sun Basket for dinner! No more stopping for fast food out of convenience, no more buying heavily processed frozen meals to heat up because it only takes 20 minutes.
I also can’t tell you how many nights this saved us while I was going through my first trimester of pregnancy. If I wasn’t DEAD tired requiring a 3-5 pm nap, I was having serious food aversions that made cooking impossible. My husband picked up the slack and made dinner most nights. I didn’t have to think about food, I could nap and wake up to dinner that always went down fine even if I didn’t love the idea of eating (ladies you know what I am talking about).
The biggest issue I hear from people when I tell them how much I love Sun Basket is the price. Do you have a realistic food budget? Does it include groceries, dinners out, delivery food, quick stops at the grocery store for a last-minute dinner? Do you account for the amount of food you waste? I have a serious budget and we SAVE money using Sun Basket. With food waste, random trips to the store and in general buying ingredients for fun new recipes I was spending a ton of money. Just in spices alone, for all the different flavors we get in these meals, I know we save money! More importantly, how is your health? Is convenience making it hard to reach your health goals? Are you getting in diverse sources of protein, veggies, fiber, healthy fats and herbs/spices? I can tell you most people aren’t. In the end, time is money, your health is number one and your taste buds matter when it comes to sticking to your health goals. Make your health a priority while you save time and money!
To make it worth your time reading my thoughts about Sun Basket. Here are a few links for discounts on your first order! Just click the links below:
$35 off coupon
$50 off Family Meals
$45 off 18 meals
You can check out their website to see menu options and to see what the hype is all about just click here: Sun Basket
Here is a slide show of a few of our dinners recently! I have never had a meal I didn't like and have many that we repeatedly order when it comes back up as a menu option.
Congee is a thin porridge of rice (or other grain) and bone broth. It can also be made with water but I don’t suggest that! It is traditionally made 1-part rice to 5-6 parts broth. Although it is said to be better to air on too much broth; than not enough so I go about 7 parts broth!
I had not heard of congee until my naturopath gave me a hand out about it. We were discussing my poor digestion. She has an extensive background in Chinese Medicine and mixes that into her practice. Chinese herbs have been a part of my care while working with her and I love how she explain the philosophy behind it. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the stomach rules holding the food, while the spleen is transportation and transformation of the food. Their ability to work properly is considered so important that the human body rests on the proper function of the spleen and stomach. A bowl of warm rice congee fortifies the spleen, balances the stomach and is a great meal. Congee becomes a great digestive tonic. It is easily digested and absorbed. It is considered a cooling qi and blood tonic, making it great for those who are chronically ill or inflamed. My favorite fact in the hand out was that it can augment lactation as well. Yay for easy food for new moms!
The range of ingredients used in preparing congee are endless and also vary with geographic origin. In China, congees are typically flavored with chicken, pork, fish and seasoned with ginger and green onions and cilantro. In Japan, porridges are flavored with mushroom, scallops and shrimp, while in Korea the rice soup is enhanced with sugar, dates and pin nuts. Even dairy products, coconut milk and various spices are incorporated into the porridge in regions of India.
I went to Pinterest to find all my congee options and many very of course. You can add many things to congee in order to make it savory or sweet. These are add ins for common “issues” from the book Paul Pitchford’s Healing With Whole Foods.
My favorites are:
Ginger- warming and antiseptic to intestines: used for deficient cold digestive weakness: diarrhea, anorexia, vomiting, indigestion
Quinoa-warming, strengthening for the whole body: highest protein and fat content of all grains (technically a legume), high in calcium, iron, phosphorus, B & E vitamins.
Taro Root: Nutritious: aids the stomach and builds blood.
Yogurt & honey- Beneficial to the heart and lungs
Just start! Don’t overthink it. I suggest starting out with a basic 1 cup rice to 7 parts broth ratios. Add a little ginger, salt and pepper and simmer for a minimum hour or 5-6 hours! From there you have a large batch and can add to it what you want for that specific serving. When you do eat it again add a bit more broth to reheat it. I personally can eat a serving cold for lunch with other warm foods. Maybe you put veggies over it for lunch, with some garlic and avocado. Maybe you add coconut milk, cinnamon and berries for breakfast. There are so many possibilities. I made a Pinterest Board you can check out!
Here are two simple recipes I love!
I spent so many years dieting that I, like many women, caused metabolic damage. This is when you restrict your body in calories and nutrients to the point you body believes it’s starving. Most women I talk to about health are restricting calories and are over working their bodies, causing an even bigger calorie deficit then they think. The old idea for weight loss that only calories in/calories out works is not helpful and in turn causes a lot of damage. I remember thinking and being told that 1200- 1500 calories was MAX I could have to lose weight. This caused me to under eat, over workout and then binge eat because we all break down at some point on this restrictive type of dieting. THEN to top it off I would feel guilty for over eating/emotionally eating and believe that it was my lack of self-control that got me there. The truth is that when we are restricting what we eat, not living a life of balance and eating dense nutrition our bodies and minds are being punished. We are creating a viscous cycle that must be broken.
When I am working with someone who wants to make health changes we start with their relationship with food, their ideas around dieting and what they believe is true of “healthy choices”. We all start at different health levels, some clients come to me at the basics and some have been dieting or following different eating styles for years. They have tried everything; every fad diet, juice cleanse, colon cleanse, Atkins, vegan, low carb, low fat… and had some success but nothing that was sustainable. The point is, that we need to learn to trust our bodies, we need to break the cycle of “hangry”, get our bodies detoxed off the process foods that have us chemically addicted and dependent.
Wouldn’t it be amazing for our day to not revolve around food? That we could stock our pantry and fridge with foods we know are good for us, keep us full and without crazy cravings? That we didn’t have to worry about a lack of self-control or falling victim to binge eating?
There is work to be done to heal our relationship with food and heal our bodies from the damage we have done dieting. I love working with clients on this and guiding them to the point where food doesn’t have a hold on them and they are able to lose weight easily. I would love to do a free consolation with you to lay down a game plan for your health!
The point of this blog is to help you realize first that restriction doesn’t equal healthy weight loss and that weight loss plateaus are signs you body is giving you to re adjust what you’re doing.
FIRST- Don’t compare your body and your worth to others! We all have different body types and different genetics. Genetics aren’t all fixed, we work on lifestyle changes, sleep, exercise and nutrition to beat genetics. Just because your family is overweight and has diabetes doesn’t mean you will. You might not be a small framed person with lots of lean muscle, at YOUR healthy weight. So, work on that idea. If healthy means your body is 5 lbs over your minds “ideal weight” then that’s okay! If your body doesn’t look like the girls you admire for having a strong healthy body, that’s okay too!
SECOND- Health is a continual process. WE must adapt and make healthier choices as our body expects more. Health is not a destination per say. We start slow, make changes, feel better and then we make more changes and feel even better! Once you’re at the weight you wanted to be or are feeling really great you can’t stop there. We are aging, growing and changing so our health habits do to! I promise this gets easier and the changes aren’t drastic!
THIRD- Screw the scale. Yes you heard me. Scales play with our heads. They chain us to the idea that our worth is a number. I personally don’t own a scale. In the last year I went from a size 10/8 to a size 4/2 and only lost around 8 pounds. What matters is I was consistent, I lost inflammation/toxicity and visceral fat! If I would have been on the scale daily or weekly I would never have watched my body change in other ways. My energy, mood, brain clarity and inches lost all shifted while the scale stayed the same.
Simple Changes- common reasons you’re experiencing a weight loss plateau
1. Water intake does matter- Yes, I know it’s simple and you drink a lot of water! Are you though? Are you consistent in drinking half your body weight in ounces of water a day? You need water to detox your body, for energy and cell function. It is a basic, but an over looked basic. It doesn’t have to be plane water. I recommend 24-32 ounces of tea a day. Herbal tea (Traditional Medicinal, is my favorite brand) I love the benefits of dandelion tea, nettle, turmeric, green tea and their blend called Gypsy Cold Care. You can have a cup of warm tea in the morning and then use the same tea bag, put it in 8 oz. of warm water (I use a large mason jar) once it’s steeped pour in 24 or more ounces of cold water. I drink I throughout the day.
2. Cut out process oils, limit your processed/packaged foods- Cutting out canola oil and any synthetic oils is a MUST. It damages your cells and causes a lot of inflammation in your body, which is turn leads to cancer and other diseases. Check labels of processed foods, most contain these oils. When you’re cooking at home use avocado oil, coconut oil and olive oil. Through it out. Seriously. Margarine, butter spray, or butters that you put in the fridge that spread easily aren’t good for you. They contain these oils even if they say they don’t. BELIVE ME. So instead use real butter. Non-GMO/organic brands are best, you can also use coconut oil as a butter substitute or Ghee! Packaged foods are convenient but usually contain preservatives, oils and chemicals you don’t want to ingest. They are fortified with synthetics that cause inflammation and in general contain lots of sugar and sodium. Also, the packaging contains chemicals, specially plastics and aluminum cans. If you buy these products look for BPA free cans, non-plastic wrapped and buy in bulk when you can.
3. Gut health and hormone balance are necessary- You can absorb the foods you’re eating properly if you don’t have good gut health. You need to be eating foods that support healthy gut bacteria. This in turn will help balance your hormones which are necessary for weight loss. Choosing fermented foods, Kombucha (low sugar kinds), pickled foods, sauerkraut, kimchi, plane Greek yogurt, non-dairy cashew keifer and coconut yogurt! Talk with your naturopath or integrative health Dr. about supplements to help balance your gut health also. I have to say it, pooping daily is important. Being constipated or having loose stool is not “normal”.
4. More healthy fat- I could go on and on about this. You need healthy fat in your life. Daily, abundantly! You need it to be able to burn stored fat, you need it for cell repair and brain function. You need it for hormone balance! Healthy fats for the base of all your meals, moderate protein, fiber and carbs only from veggies and natural sources. That is a great place to start. You won’t get fat from fat. You get fat from too much carbohydrate turning into stored insulin in your body!
5. Work out less- Like I said before most of us are in too big of a calorie deficit, we have busy lives and then workout too long, doing the wrong type of workouts. This is causing us to burn our bodies out. Now this is not an excuse to not workout. My point is that cardio needs to be limited. You need to get your heart rate up by doing sprints not cardio for 45 minutes or longer. This puts your body into a stressed state and you hold on to fat instead! So short HIIT cardio is best, only 2-3 times a week. Then lift heavy things 2-3 times a week for a max of 45 min in the gym. The most important thing here is that your resting. Letting your body recover and build muscle! You want to be at the gym intentionally, work out with intensity and be done. I recommend 3-4 days a week. The other days go for a simple walk outside, do some yard work, play with your kids or do yoga. Stay active but don’t kill yourself in the gym!
6. Sneaky sugars- Pay attention to the amount of sugar you consume a day. Staying away from drinks that contain sugar, coffee that has sugar. Look at your sauces, dressings and packaged food in general. I shouldn’t have added sugars. Natural sugars are one thing, but sugar added to apple sauce, yogurt, pasta sauce, condiments etc. aren’t unnecessary. There are lots of great brands out there that don’t contain them! The more you cut out the sugar the less your body craves it. I tell my clients to start by cutting out the extra sugar then cutting down on the natural sugars. Lowering your carbohydrates and cutting back to one serving or fruit a day is a great start! Don’t fall victim to the sugar free sweeteners. The chemical alternative to sugar is even worse for you. If its made in a lab your body doesn’t know what to do with it.
7. Intermittent fasting- Yes FAST! Meaning, go a period of time without eating. Let your body burn stored insulin, repair your immune system and give your organs a break from digestions. There is a ton of science to support intermittent fasting. There isn’t a once size fits all approach to this so do your research, but I know what works for me and so many others, reach out and we can chat more specifics.
I could go on and on, but there is a starting place! Remember these are starting points. Set up a consultation with me, find a local nutritionist or naturopath. Most importantly please understand that Dr.’s do not study nutrition, they don’t and can’t know everything. They are specialists in their field and nutrition is not apart of that. Work with someone who is a specialist in nutrition!
I am a Doula, Childbirth Educator and Primal Health Couch. Essentially I am a women's health nerd. I have struggled with Autoimmune issues for the last 10 years, and more recently fertility issues. This along with my birth work, has driven me to self research. I have added a blog to my site in hopes of giving resources to clients or those interested in these topics. I would love feedback and comments.
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