There will be days when your little one demands to be held all. day. long. That doesn’t mean you have to go hungry.
Cooking while wearing your newborn might sound like a genius idea — while you’re pregnant. But once you actually step into the kitchen with a tiny human strapped to your front, it suddenly hits you that being in close proximity to flames, hot oil, and sharp objects could be a recipe for disaster.
Problem is, most brand new infants want to be snuggled all of the time. Which means that often, wearing them might be the only way you can get anything done. So what can you make that’s safe, while still managing to be more satisfying than a PB&J?
You’ve got more options than you might think. Here, simple strategies for staying nourished when your baby is basically living in their carrier, wrap, or sling.
Yes, chopping with a sharp knife is a task best done when you’re not wearing your baby. But we’re mentioning it here anyway because if you can carve out just 10 minutes to pre-cut a few different types of fruits and veggies that can be eaten raw, it’ll open up a world of healthy meal options (read on!).
- tearing pre-washed lettuce or greens
- slicing bell peppers, zucchini, cucumber, or summer squash
- halving cherry tomatoes
- shredding beets
- peeling and slicing mango or kiwi
- slicing apples or pears
Not every single vegetable needs to be broken down with a knife. You can totally tear apart broccoli and cauliflower florets with your hands, or break the woody bottoms off asparagus stalks.
Also, take advantage of store-bought options like cubed butternut squash or trimmed green beans. You can toss any of these options on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, top with your favorite seasonings, and roast until caramelized.
Once cooked, you can:
- Stuff them into a sandwich or wrap.
- Pile them on top of brown rice (get the pre-cooked, microwaveable kind at the supermarket, or save the leftovers from your next takeout order) and top with chickpeas or canned tuna to make a quick bowl.
- Fold them into beaten eggs to make a frittata.
High-protein Greek yogurt or cottage cheese can be the basis for satisfying meals that can swing sweet or savory, says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, author of “Smoothies and Juices: Prevention Healing Kitchen” and mom of three.
These bowls are made easier if you have a few of those pre-chopped fruits or veggies on hand. Some yummy combos to try:
- mango, walnuts, chia seeds with a drizzle of honey
- apples, dried cherries, rolled oats, cinnamon
- cherry tomatoes, cucumber, olives, za’atar
- chickpeas, shredded beets, everything bagel seasoning
All you have to do is dump your ingredients in the food processor and punch an “on” button. (If you think the noise will rouse your baby from a nap, do this when they’re already awake.)
With your hummus ready to go, you can:
- Slather it on a wrap with baby spinach, pre-chopped veggies, avocado, and cheese.
- Create a Mediterranean-inspired snack plate with crackers, olives, canned tuna, and cheese.
- Scoop it on top of a salad instead of dressing.
- Use it as a high-protein topper for store-bought veggie burgers.
- Thin it with olive oil and use it as a protein-packed pasta sauce.
Sweet potatoes cook up in the microwave in less than 10 minutes, no additional tools required. Best of all, there are endless easy ways to top them and turn them into a full meal.
Some tasty combos to try:
- black beans, halved cherry tomatoes, scoop of Greek yogurt
- hummus, canned tuna, handful of baby spinach
- shredded rotisserie chicken, store-bought BBQ sauce, shredded cheese
- peanut butter, banana, cinnamon
- tahini, blueberries, honey
Got a toaster oven? Then you can totally make a big plate of good-enough-for-you nachos while you’re wearing your baby.
Pile corn tortilla chips onto a baking sheet and top with shredded cheese, canned sliced olives, and diced cherry tomatoes, plus any roasted veggies you happen to have on hand. (Line the baking sheet with nonstick foil for easy cleanup.)
Bake until the cheese is bubbly. If you can manage to add some diced avocado on top, even better.
It’s the easiest path to a fuss-free meal that yields days’ worth of leftovers. “If you can find 10 minutes to chop up some vegetables and potatoes and throw them in the crockpot with a cut of meat, you’ll have dinner ready in a few hours,” says Evan Porter of Dad Fixes Everything, a dad of one with another on the way.
Some easy ideas to try:
- chicken thighs, broccoli florets, teriyaki sauce
- cubed boneless chuck roast, baby potatoes, baby carrots, peas, beef broth, tomato paste
- halved sausage links, sliced bell peppers, onion
- lentils, chopped aromatic veggies, fire-roasted canned tomatoes, vegetable broth
- chicken breasts, jarred salsa, black beans, corn
Marygrace Taylor is a health and parenting writer, former KIWI magazine editor, and mom to Eli. Visit her at marygracetaylor.com.