food prep: maternity leave edition

Over the past few years, I’ve dabbled in what many refer to as “meal prep,” or more accurately in my case, “food prep.” Every Sunday, I set aside some time to prepare a few simple food items in bulk to save time later in the week. I’ve gotten into a good rhythm over the past few months of maternity leave, so I thought I’d share here on the blog. The foods you see below mostly help me put together quick meals with adequate nutrition for myself, but Seth and Caleb also benefit from having these items ready to go in the fridge.

Each week, the foods I prepare generally follow this pattern:

hard-boiled eggs: I snack on these and occasionally make an egg salad for lunch. Seth likes to eat them with breakfast, but I haven’t been able to convince Caleb to like eggs prepared this way just yet.

chopped rotisserie chicken: I started buying a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods every week sometime last year as an alternative to deli meat (it’s cheaper and doesn’t have all the funky fillers!), and now I depend on it as a protein source throughout the week. I cut it up all at once so that it’s ready for me to add to my lunchtime salads. I’ve just recently started saving some of the bones in hopes of making some homemade stock in the future.

crudites: Most of the time, the crudites selection ends up being carrots and celery. Typically we use these for snacking (e.g., dipping in hummus or peanut butter), but occasionally I’ll use them for a mirepoix.

breakfast item for Caleb: This item changes on the regular because, well, toddlers are fickle creatures. I like to prepare Caleb’s breakfast ahead of time to help Seth, who is usually in charge of this meal while I nurse Nathan. Recent examples include:

  • baked oatmeal cups (PB-banana flavor, using this recipe)
  • overnight oats (with milk, chia seeds, Pa’s homemade applesauce, and cinnamon)
  • smoothie packs (blueberries, spinach, hemp seeds, frozen whole milk yogurt cubes–stored in a reusable zip-top bag)
  • cereal parfaits (cinnamon Puffins cereal, blueberries, bananas, whole milk yogurt, almond butter, and hemp seeds)

salad dressing: This also changes every week, depending on my mood. We might use it as a dip for the crudites mentioned above, as a marinade for our dinner, or I’ll just use it to dress my lunchtime salads. Recent examples include:

  • yogurt ranch
  • honey mustard
  • garlic tahini

lactation treat: Finally, I’ve also been dabbling in making myself some lactation treats. Most lactation recipes are sugar-loaded cookies, so I’ve been experimenting with my own recipes. I’m not really sure these make any difference in my breast milk supply, but it’s a fun project, nonetheless. Ground flax and brewer’s yeast are the galactagogue ingredients I use most often. So far, I’ve tried:

  • chocolate lactation cookies (loosely based on this recipe)
  • cinnamon flax lactation muffins (with almond flour, eggs, and the other usual suspects)
  • lactation granola (based on this recipe, omitted honey)
  • chocolate seed pudding (using this recipe, substituting half the chia seeds for ground flax)

So that’s how I’ve been handling the food prep game over the past few months. I expect the pattern will change in the next season of life (i.e., when I go back to work), but this is what works for us right now.

Please send any make-ahead breakfast ideas my way…Caleb demands variety!

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