It’s 7:24 pm and you’re sitting on the couch, scrolling 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 era (or as it’s casually referred to, the 4th 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 absolutely 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.
From an Expert: Postpartum Nutrition in the 4th Trimester
Expectful advisor Janine Higbie, 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). 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 recoup.
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.” Nursing mothers will need to take in an additional 500 extra calories a day—so be ready to eat well and often.
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!).
For a little background entertainment while you meal prep, check out our podcast, The Five Universal Truths Of Your Fourth Trimester.
Four Freezer Recipes for New Moms
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!
- 9 eggs
- 2 T olive oil, divided
- ½ medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- ½ C cremini mushrooms, diced
- ½ bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup spinach, chopped
- ¾ cup full-fat coconut milk (from can, not carton)
- ½ chicken sausage link, diced (optional)
- 1/8 t ground nutmeg
- ½ t salt
- ¼ t pepper
- Preheat oven to 375°. Peel sweet potatoes and dice them into 1/2 in cubes. Toss with 1 T olive oil, salt, and pepper, roast in the oven until cooked and slightly browned, ~20 min.
- Dice onion, pepper, and mushrooms then sauté with remaining 1 T olive oil. Set cooked veggies aside to cool. If you use precooked sausage like Applegate or Billinski’s you do not need to sauté the sausage. If you bought 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° for ~ 25 min or cooked through.
A hearty main dish that tastes just as good at dinner time as it does after a 3 am feeding.
- 4 lbs boneless chicken breasts or thigh, cut into equal pieces
- 1/3 C red wine vinegar
- 1/3 C olive oil
- 1/2 head (not clove!) of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
- 2 T dried oregano
- 2/3 C pitted prunes
- 2/3 C Spanish green olives
- 1/3 C capers, with splash of juice
- 3 bay leaves
- 2/3 C dry white wine
- 1/3 C brown sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground pepper
- 2 T cilantro or Italian parsley
- Mix all ingredients in large bowl. Divide equally between two gallon-sized zip lock bags and marinate in the fridge overnight. The following day, you can cook all at once to serve 6, but I freeze half for later.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Arrange in a single layer in a baking dish. Cook for 30-35 minutes.
- Ideally you 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 C gluten-free rolled oats
- 2 Tbs ground chia seeds
- 1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 C chopped pecans (or any nut) divided
- 2 Tbs maple syrup
- 2 1/4 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice)
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 Tbs unrefined coconut oil, melted and cooled, plus extra to oil the pan
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 C fresh or frozen berries, divided
- Preheat oven to 375. Oil 9-inch round baking dish.
- Combine oats, ground chia, cinnamon, sea salt, and baking powder ¼ cup chopped nuts.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together maple syrup, “milk,” egg, melted coconut oil, and pure 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.
You can also substitute any nuts or fruit based on what you have at home. Cut into squares or slices and freeze. Recipe adapted from pamelasalzman.com
Butternut Squash Soup
Smooth and nourishing, this soup is full of both fiber and flavor.
- 6 cups (~ 2 lbs.) butternut squash, cubed
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 carrot , chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced (~2tsp)
- 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
- 4-5 cups chicken bone broth (or vegetable broth for vegan soup)
- 1 Tbs fresh sage (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- 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 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 10-15 minutes.
- Transfer strained vegetables and fresh sage to high power 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