What You'll Really Be Eating Once Baby Arrives

All the pre-baby food advice seems to involve weeks of freezing meals to have on hand after birth, but seriously? You have swollen feet and a belly out to there. Rather than slaving away over a hot stove, stock the pantry with these crisis-mode staples.

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Photo credit: Caden Crawford/Flickr

We spend a lot of time during pregnancy planning how to feed the baby, who will feed the baby and what supplies we will need to pull it all off. All important things! But then the baby comes and with her your blinding exhaustion and ceaseless hunger. You will be awake at all hours, on a ridiculous schedule, and you simply won't always have time to prepare yourself a balanced meal. More likely you'll be grabbing what you can and cursing that it's already time to go back to the store for more diapers/wipes/detergent/sleep. Take the time now to stock your pantry with a few essentials.

  • Cereals. Especially oatmeal, if you're planning to breastfeed (it might boost your supply!). Boxed cereals you don't mind eating dry will come in handy when you find yourself famished during one of Baby's ten daily feeds.
  • Dried fruits. You can use these to top oatmeal or toss in a bag with some nuts to make a quick trail mix. Apricots and prunes have the benefit of staving off constipation, something I promise you don't want to deal with post-delivery.
  • Nut butters. Not gonna lie, postpartum breakfast was often a scoop of peanut butter off a spoon. I think of it like that paste marathon runners choke down during long runs. You get all the protein and calories and fats you need to get through a few hours without all that bothersome chewing. Mama doesn't have time for chewing.
  • Dry grains, all kinds. A few types of rice, pasta, quinoa — any of your favorites that cook up quickly. Bonus brown rice cooking hack: If you have a couple of minutes first thing in the morning, put the rice and water into a pot and leave it covered to soak all day. When it comes time to prep dinner, turn on the burner and cook as usual — but it will take only half the time.
  • Beans (canned or dried). I vote canned. Black, kidney, pinto, refried, etc. You can put these on top of a salad, serve them over rice topped with cheese, or throw together a quick chili or soup.
  • Tomato products. Whole tomatoes are the most versatile; pulse them a couple of times in the food processor if you need diced. Even if you always make your own sauce, grab a couple jars of marinara.
  • Cooking stocks and broths. Chicken, vegetable and beef. They won't have the flavor of homemade (if that's your preference) but they get the job done. Look for natural, low-sodium varieties — they taste marginally more like home.
  • Canned meats. I can't tell you how much tuna and chicken salad I ate with a newborn attached to my front. It makes a surprisingly satisfying dinner rolled up in a tortilla with some fresh spinach. Also you can eat it one-handed.
  • Granola bars. Or cereal or protein bars. (Or all of them, you are going to be so hungry.) Stick to ones with higher fiber and protein to avoid sugar crashes.
  • Snacks. And then more snacks. Pretzels, crackers, mixed nuts. Grazing tends to be the way of life for the first month or so when you're in survival mode, and a handful of almonds will keep you going longer than you might expect.

More on preparing for birth

A trimester-by-trimester baby preparation guide
Breastfeeding baby steps: 12 ways to get ready before your baby comes
5 Ways to prepare your marriage for Baby

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