TLDR: The postpartum period is so busy that you might forget to eat or plan meals. But it’s important to fuel yourself while you’re taking care of your baby, so we had a nutritionist put together four easy recipes that you can make ahead of time and freeze for the fourth trimester. Future you will thank you!
It’s 7:24 p.m. and you’re sitting on the couch, scrolling through your phone during yet another marathon cluster-feeding session with your newborn. Then it dawns on you—you haven’t actually eaten a full meal today. It’s been nonstop: leaking boobs, learning to babywear, and making sure your tiny Houdini doesn’t escape from the swaddle. We get it!
Life with a newborn is intense. Every day is a challenge, especially during the postpartum period—or as it’s referred to, the fourth trimester—with new concerns and questions to navigate. Having healthy, well-balanced meals constructed from nutritionist-approved recipes for new moms is one important way you can make life easier for yourself after giving birth.
You won’t be able to control your baby’s sleep habits or schedule in these first few weeks, but you can ensure you have tasty meals and snacks to eat as you recover from birth and get to know your new little one. If you spend a bit of time being proactive on meal prep in your third trimester, you’ll set yourself up for a more peaceful and positive fourth trimester. You also could ask friends or family members to make you a few of these.
The Postpartum Mom Diet
Janine Higbie1 , a board-certified integrative clinical nutritionist who specializes in optimal nutrition for mothers, explains that the fourth trimester is one of the most important times in your life to be eating well.
“Your body has gone through so much, through the nutrient depletion of pregnancy and the marathon that is labor and delivery, whether it’s vaginal or cesarean," she says. "You need to focus on nourishing your body in a way that is going to help with healing and recovery.”
Nutrient-rich, filling meals, and snacks (like stews and soups) are easy to digest and will give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to recuperate.
And if you’re breastfeeding, the need for good nutrition is even more vital. Higbie says, “When you’re pregnant, it makes sense that what you eat affects both yourself and the baby. But for some reason, it’s almost like you forget that you’re still nourishing a baby when you’re breastfeeding. So, be thoughtful about eating enough food, as well as hydrating really well, and ensure you’re eating plenty of protein and fat.”
Eating nourishing food after birth doesn’t have to be complicated. Higbie shared four of her go-to freezable recipes for the fourth trimester—all created with maximum nutrition and minimal fuss in mind (and yes, they taste great, too!).
4 Freezer Recipes for Postpartum
Egg Muffin Cups
A nutrient-dense breakfast or snack, these portable muffin cups will help keep you satiated. Bonus: you can eat them with one hand!
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1 cup spinach, chopped
3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk (from a can, not a carton)
1/2 chicken sausage link, diced (optional)
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Peel sweet potatoes and dice them into 1/2 in cubes. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast in the oven until cooked and slightly browned, ~20 min.
Dice onion, pepper, and mushrooms, then sauté with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set cooked veggies aside to cool. If you use pre-cooked sausage like Applegate or Billinski’s, you do not need to sauté the sausage. If you are using raw chicken sausage in a casing, cut off the casing and break up the meat as you cook.
Beat eggs, add coconut milk, and once sweet potato, sausage, and veggies are all cooked and cooled, add them to egg mixture. Add spinach, nutmeg, and additional salt and pepper.
Place paper muffin cups inside the muffin pan. Divide egg mixture and bake at 375° F for ~25 minutes or until cooked through.
A hearty main dish that tastes just as good at dinner time as it does after a 3 a.m. feeding.
4 pounds boneless chicken breasts or thigh, cut into equal pieces
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 head (not clove) of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2/3 cup pitted prunes
2/3 cup Spanish green olives
1/3 cup capers, with splash of juice
3 bay leaves
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons cilantro or Italian parsley
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Divide equally between two gallon-sized zip-top bags and marinate in the fridge overnight. The following day, you can cook all at once to serve six, but I freeze half for later.
Arrange in a single layer in a baking dish. Cook for 30-35 minutes.
Ideally, you should spoon the marinade over the chicken several times while baking, but I usually set it and forget it. As long as there’s enough liquid in the pan, your chicken will come out moist.
If cooking from frozen, you may need to add additional wine for more liquid (it will depend on how evenly you divide the ingredients and liquid initially). Goes well over rice, cauliflower rice, or couscous, or with sweet potato.
Berry Oatmeal Bake
Snack away on this deliciously healthy treat—complete with milk-boosting oats!
2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
2 tablespoons ground chia seeds
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or any nut), divided
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 1/4 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice)
1 large egg
1 1/2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil, melted and cooled, plus extra to oil the pan
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen berries, divided
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Oil 9-inch round baking dish.
Combine oats, ground chia, cinnamon, sea salt, baking powder and ¼ cup chopped nuts.
In a separate bowl, whisk together maple syrup, milk, egg, melted coconut oil and vanilla.
Scatter 1 cup of the berries on the bottom of the baking dish.
Use your hands to evenly sprinkle the dry mixture over the berries.
Pour the wet ingredients evenly over the oat mixture. Sprinkle the rest of the nuts and berries across the top.
Bake for 35 minutes or until the oat mixture is set and wet ingredients are absorbed.
Serve topped with nut butter, yogurt, non-dairy yogurt, or maple syrup.
Butternut Squash Soup
Smooth and nourishing, this soup is full of both fiber and flavor.
6 cups (~2 pounds) butternut squash, cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (~2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced or grated
4-5 cups chicken bone broth (or vegetable broth for vegan soup)
1 tablespoon fresh sage (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Toss butternut squash cubes with olive oil and roast for ~30 minutes.
Sauté chopped onion, carrot, and celery ~5 minutes until soft.
Add minced garlic and fresh ginger. Sauté another minute.
Combine everything so far with 4-5 cups of chicken bone broth in a large pot. Note: if using bone broth, it will be thicker than a vegetable broth so you may want to add more liquid. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Transfer strained vegetables and fresh sage to a high-powered blender and puree.
Add back enough of the broth to desired thickness.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Freeze in your favorite freezer-friendly container. Serve with drizzled extra virgin olive oil and pepitas or a dollop of crème fraiche and snipped chives.
All recipes courtesy of Janine Higbie