I'd like to know when and how you make the time for cooking with a small baby.
I usually end up spending an hour or two each day in the kitchen. I enjoy cooking but I would much rather be cuddling with my baby, so I really try to minimize my time spent cooking. Here's how:
1. Prepare food before the birth. I didn't do this for my first baby, and really regretted it! I wanted and needed to rest, but dinner wasn't cooking itself. For the subsequent children, I did as much food prep as possible before they were born. It made an amazing difference!
Freezer meals -- what filled my freezer
Menu plans -- including a 2-week "easy meals" plan for when my freezer meals were gone
2. Enlist help if possible! With our last baby, when people asked if we needed anything I said "food"! We were blessed with a couple weeks' worth of dinners and/or ingredients for easy meals from friends and family. Joshua also started grilling regularly and hasn't stopped! (Yay!)
3. Plan easy meals. Freezer meals, casseroles that can be assembled during nap time and baked later, crock pot meals, salads, or soups are all great options that either take less time or can be done on "the baby's schedule" rather than needing your attention at 5PM! :)
4. Use your time wisely. I have spent many afternoon naptimes cooking dinner while my baby slept. I often do some quick food prep after my kids are in bed for the night -- even if it's just making sure everything is planned/ready for the next day. Or -- go to bed early so you're ready to get moving the next morning! I know this is a hard one. Caring for little kids wears me OUT! But if you can, examine where you might carve out some extra time for cooking that doesn't cut into sleep.
5. "Splurge" on a few more convenient foods for this busy season. We buy bread, cold cereal, hot dogs, and other stuff I can't remember right now when I'm not able to spend as much time cooking. And that's okay! :)
6. Wear your baby while you work. I've had the most success with this using the Ergo carrier on my back (not front) while cleaning up the kitchen. Getting the dishes done before the baby goes to sleep means that I have a chance of getting some sleep myself when it's quiet!
Remember that this is a season, ever changing. In many ways, having my fourth baby has been easier than having my first! The older children help in the kitchen, or they play with the baby on the floor.
What are your best tricks for finding time to cook with a small baby in the home? :)
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