Tammy's Kitchen

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tip for healthy snacking + snack ideas

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

I love snacks! But more importantly, I get hungry a lot and need to eat snacks between meals. As a breastfeeding mom, I'm even more hungry than "normal". But I can't let my eating habits go out the window just because I'm extra hungry! I need to have a plan for healthy snacking options.

My tip? Plan ahead and make snacks ahead for easier, healthier snacks! Here are some of my current favorite snack solutions.

Carrots, celery, and hummus

Homemade hummus (made in a big batch in my crock pot and then frozen in smaller containers), carrots, and celery for dipping. I try to get carrots and celery ready for several days all at once -- a big bag of celery sticks and a big bag of carrot sticks.

Having the carrots and celery ready-to-eat in the fridge makes it easy to grab one-handed while I'm holding my baby and doing school with the boys. The hummus helps satisfy my hunger more than just carrots and celery. Hummus isn't low-calorie (if you pile it on like I do!) but it's got lots of fiber and protein and good fats (I use olive oil), and it's filling and delicious! :)

Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is my newest favorite quick snack, from Costco. (It's $3.50 a quart there.) One cup has 140 calories and 24 grams of protein! It's thick and creamy enough to substitute for sour cream, too. (Normal plain yogurt doesn't work for my taste buds when I've tried subbing it for sour cream...)

I usually pair this greek yogurt with some almonds for a snack, since I actually do want the extra fats in my diet (and the yogurt is nonfat).

I've also used this greek yogurt as a yogurt starter for making my own homemade yogurt. It's not as protein-rich, but easy enough to do (now that I've figured out how!) and I can make a gallon at a time.

Cooked pinto beans make a simple lunch or quick snack. When my beans are finished cooking in my crock pot, I ladle them into containers for snacks or lunches. The ones in this photo are for Joshua's lunches: 200 grams of beans, 14 grams of cheese, and a few splashes of hot sauce. Each container is 340 calories. Having a kitchen scale makes it super easy to measure the right amount quickly.

I also like to drink tea throughout the day! It doesn't satisfy hunger, but it's a yummy way to stay hydrated (I usually drink caffeine-free herbal teas). :)

Fresh fruit is another of our go-to snacks! Bananas, apples, pears -- whatever's on sale and looks good. I don't usually cut the fruit (like apples) ahead of time, but having it washed and in the fridge makes it easier to grab one for a snack!

I also got string cheese at Costco last week. It's a favorite of the kids', so I usually ask them to eat a banana or something else first. Otherwise, they'd beg for seconds! :)

Channah

Bonus photo: Sleeping Channah. I can't believe how big and chubby she is already!

Ruth

And one more: Ruth with "the goats at the park". We've had such a lovely Spring, with some rain AND some sunshine. :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Tips for healthier cookies (Bobi at Western Warmth)
2. Foraging for frittata ingredients (The Local Cook)
3. Frugal meal tips (Adrienne at Balanced Platter)
4. Grocery trip tips (Tara at SimplyMadeHome)
5. Having company in a small space (Purposely Frugal)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Make-shift whisk

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

I use whisks a lot when cooking or baking! They're perfect for beating eggs, sauces, batters, or combining dry ingredients. When my other whisks are dirty, I pull out my makeshift whisks:

Whisks

Tip: Use beaters from a hand mixer as a make-shift whisk. I just hold one beater in my hand and whisk with it. It works great for smaller tasks! :)

By the way, my very first "Kitchen Tip Tuesdays" tip was about using whisks! :)

Our weather has been like this for days on end:

Boys outside watering plants

I think we've spent most of the last two days outside! And today, I got the lawn mowed for the first time this year. Yay! I love a freshly cut lawn and sunshine. Today Yehoshua told me, "I wish every day could be like today." That may have had something to do with the new magnifying glass the boys got and were using out in the sun. ;)

Channah

Sweet little Channah in her Noah's Ark dress (handmade by a friend). :)

And I think that's enough off-topic photos for now. ;)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. "Two of everything" tip (Bobi at Western Warmth)
2. 10 tips for ice cream making success (The Local Cook)
3. Slicing onions without tears (Anna at The Joyful Wife)
4. Quick and healthy meal tips (Adrienne at Whole New Mom)
5. Tips for setting the table (Heather at Feel Good About Dinner)
6. How to make your vegetables taste amazing (Mindy at The Purposed Heart)
7. Sparkling stainless steel sink tip (Nature's Nurture)
8. Cooking whole chicken in the crock pot tip + 1 more (Purposely Frugal)
9. Tips for getting more veggies (Tara at SimplyMadeHome)

Foraging for Stinging Nettles

Moshe helps gather nettles

I took this little guy out to the back yard last week. It was a beautiful sunny day, just barely warm enough to go swearshirt-free. Sweatshirt-free is never a guarantee here, even in the middle of summer. We enjoy it whenever it happens, though!

We brought gloves and a grocery bag. What were we after?

Stinging nettles

Weeds! Actually, stinging nettles. The woodsy area behind our house grew some big tall nettles last year and I kept knocking them over so they wouldn't fall into our yard. I vowed that next year I'd be ready and pick them young so we could try eating them.

I have never been so happy about weeding before! I picked the fresh young green nettles and Moshe held the bag for me. He loved helping!

Stinging nettles

The nettles were washed (in a strainer with the sprayer) and then put in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Afterwards, their sting was gone and we all eagerly sampled the cooked greens for our first time.

Delicious! I thought the taste was mild and reminded me of green beans. I chopped up the cooked nettles and added them to beef vegetable soup, and no one could even taste them.

I used stems as well as leaves, even though my research indicated the stems were too tough to eat. I imagine the freshest youngest stinging nettles are the most tender and tasty, and ours sure were!

I can't believe I grew up on a farm overrun with nettles and never ate any of them! (We did eat gobs of dandelions though.) I think foraged food is my favorite... just pick and enjoy!

Now, I'm brainstorming how I'm going to get the kids all down the road to the woodsy park and go nettle-hunting. There just aren't enough nettles in my own backyard!

Tip: Cook stinging nettles and use them as you would spinach. Quiche, lasagna, soups, and more are all wonderful made with stinging nettles!

Have you eaten stinging nettles? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts and more tips for gathering or using them! :)

Channah

Sweet Channah slept while we all played at the park last weekend. She sleeps best on/by/with me, which is part of my lack of blogging. (I am typing one-handed right now, but the slow pace is frustrating!) :)

Boys playing

We all soaked up the sunshine. Joshua played catch and t-ball with the older boys. There was bike riding, goat-feeding, and plenty of running around.

Eat Well, Spend Less: One year later

Eat Well, Spend Less series

It's been a whole year since the Eat Well, Spend Less series began! This month, we're writing about the changes in our grocery budgets and eating habits through the past year.

For my family, the past year has been full of twists and turns! Discovering medical conditions of my husband (Joshua) that demanded attention, pregnancy and the birth of our 5th baby, 3 months of having my husband home from work (on medical leave), homeschooling 3 children, and all of the children growing and eating more and doing more as we try to balance frugal and simple and healthy and quick, the 2-year-old just pulled down a stack of puzzles! :)

Last year, my sanity stayed intact and life was frugally simplified by:

1. Having a chest freezer

I still can't believe the difference this has made! We've had our freezer for 14 months now and it has become key in helping our family to eat well on a budget. It has saved trips to the store, allowed us to gather gallons of berries in the summer (without making it all into sugary jam or pie filling!), and afforded the ability to stock up on fish at discount prices.

Kitchen shelves
My "upgraded" kitchen shelves!

2. Bi-weekly grocery shopping

I am still a huge Costco fan! All my reasons for loving Costco hold true. I like their produce. I like their baking supplies and spices. I like their frozen veggies and fruits. I like their dairy prices. And I love only going to 1 store, twice a month! It saves time and I know we spend less when we don't shop weekly.

(We do occasionally go to other stores to buy certain items, like bulk foods. And now that Joshua's back to work, we'll be buying bananas at QFC just down the road for the weeks when we're not doing our "regular" grocery shopping.)

See also: Is Costco Frugal?

Getting ready to pick blackberries

3. Foraging for food

Okay, so I've only foraged two things so far. But still! It's a start, especially for someone (like me) living in an urban area and not having daytime transportation (and needing to take 4 kids along on walks!).

Last summer we picked 12+ gallons of huge, plump, delicious blackberries and froze them! We've been making blackberry syrup and using them in smoothies. Considering the price of frozen fruit in the store, we're saving a lot by harvesting the berries that grow wild here in western Washington! :)

This Spring I've been gathering nettles. (More about that later this week!)

Kitchen shelves

4. Making easy meals and snacks

Unless we're having guests, I mostly follow my "three things and it's dinner!" rule. I've focused more on simple meat main dishes (grilled or baked fish, chicken, or turkey) with a grain on the side (often brown rice) and a veggie on the side (often frozen veggies from Costco). We've eaten lots of beans for lunches and oatmeal for breakfasts.

Snacks are usually no-cook things like fresh fruit, cheese, veggie sticks with hummus, or nuts (smoked almonds are our favorite). Again -- Costco makes these things more affordable, I have the older boys help prep fruits or veggies (doing several days' worth at a time), and I feel good about the food and snack options I'm serving!

5. Eating at home

This one's essential for spending less and eating well. I don't always feel like cooking dinner, but I combat that by having super easy meal options available (freezer burritos or beef vegetable soup from the freezer have "saved the day" more than a handful of times!). I also happily enlist Joshua's help with meals on the weekends, when he has time to grill chicken or fish. And ultimately, being home a lot (like... all day every day!) allows me to cook more while still keeping life feeling "simple".

Our favorite restaurant copycat recipe are filed here!

Where we're headed now: Weight loss (me)

Last year, I felt like we ate pretty balanced and healthy meals, but I had really fallen off the "weight loss" bandwagon and onto the "weight gain" one long before getting pregnant again. I don't have any good excuses... the summer was cold and cloudy, I felt depressed, I didn't care enough, and I liked food way too much. ;) I pulled out of that cycle (with God's help and blessing!) in time to be pregnant and then spend 8 months eating enough and gaining appropriately. Baby Channah is beautiful and healthy as can be! And I've lost 20 of the 25 pounds I gained in pregnancy.

However, I still have 10 pounds to lose from pregnancy #4, and 10 to lose from #3, and if I got really ambitious (which I may not be), 10 pounds to lose from pregnancies #1 and #2! Yikes. So, I'm definitely going to be watching my food choices and even keeping track of my calories for quite a while if that's going to happen.

I would rather just eat and eat (and gain weight) than to count calories, but I find I must count calories to help me keep a healthy balance, lose weight slowly, make sure I'm eating enough, and "spending" my calories wisely.

I'd like to share more on this topic in another post soon, but until then, I've written about weight loss in the past:

Weighing in: Practicing moderation in eating

Weight loss: Motivation, habits, and counting calories 

Healthy snacks, moderated 

Food Budgeting: Spending my calories wisely

sandwich

Where we're headed now: Healthy lunches (Joshua)

After 3 months off, I felt a little rusty when it came time to start packing lunches for Joshua again! Fortunately, he keeps his lunch requests simple for me and with some planning, it can all be made ahead and just thrown in the lunchbox in the morning.

Joshua's been eating oatmeal (made with lactose-free milk) in the morning before leaving for work. In his lunch I pack 2 bananas, a protein drink (made with milk and protein powder), and a container of cooked pinto beans with some hot sauce and 1/2 ounce of cheese sprinkled on top. He eats something at each of his breaks, and warms the beans in the microwave for lunch.

He comes home hungry! But my goal is to have dinner on the table when he gets home, so we can eat right away. :)

Eat Well, Spend Less series

Check out what the other Eat Well, Spend Less bloggers are sharing about their year:

Jessica at Life As Mom
Katie at GoodLife Eats
Carrie at Denver Bargains
Amy at Keeping the Kingdom First
Aimee at Simple Bites
Katie at Kitchen Stewardship
Shaina at Food for my Family
Mandi at Life...Your Way

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: A soft resting place for fragile fruit

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

I use this tip mostly for bananas, but it's good for any ripening fruit that tends to bruise easily, like pears, peaches, etc.

Place a piece of cardboard, bubble wrap, or foam under the fruit (or bag of fruit) as it ripens, to ease the pressure and prevent bruises.

Bananas ripening

I normally store bananas on a hard shelf. My current "banana shelf" is a hard plastic mesh -- even more likely to bruise a heavy bunch of bananas. I used some old bubble envelopes to make a nice cushion on the shelf for the bunches of bananas.

Eliyahu on the bike

I hope no one missed me online last week. We were busy enjoying amazing Spring weather! Inside it's Legos, outside it's the bikes. We're blessed to have a nice quiet driveway/road in front of our house. The kids have been outside so much more since we moved from the apartment to this house. I'm SO GLAD for the space! :)

Kids riding bikes

Sometimes I get tired of the clouds, but when the weather is nice here it is really, really nice. 60's and sunny is perfect in my book! :)

And... I really truly will be blogging at least two more times this week. I'll be posting my Eat Well, Spend Less post for April (!!) and then write about some of the new "food things" we've been doing lately. And next week, well, we'll see. I have ideas but run out of time first sometimes. ;)

Related Kitchen Tips:

Easy way to wash fresh fruit

Fruit basket tips 

How to save an avocado without it turning brown

Keeping apple slices fresh

How to ripen pears quickly easily

Snacking on frozen blueberries

When grapes (start to) go bad

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Leeks and green onions tip (Donna at Moms Frugal)
2. More affordable fruit desserts (The Local Coook)
3. Coconut oil tips (Heather at Feel Good About Dinner)
4. Healthier desserts tips (The Better Mom)
5. Vinegar tips (Tara at Simply Made Home)
6. Hash browns tips (Sarah at Nature's Nurture)
7. Food prep tip (Frugal in Florida)

Note: I'm sorry about the delay in getting these links posted! Our internet was down all day Tuesday.

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Cutting greens with less mess

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

When I need to chop some greens, like spinach or kale to put in soup, this helps contain the mess:

Kale greens

Split the bag open and chop on the bag. If I'm chopping a lot of greens, I may do this in two batches.

Kale greens

It looks like a lot less after being chopped! For some reason, chopping on the bag seems to be easier and less messy for me. I did use a cutting board under the bag, to protect the landlord's counters. ;)

And be sure to use a dull knife. I used a big sharp knife and chopped away happily... and it cut into the bag a little! We definitely don't want plastic in our food! Normally my dull kitchen knives don't cut the bag at all.

The kitchen counter

After I took pictures of my chopped kale (it's awesome in Turkey Sausage Kale Soup or Veggie Bean Soup!), I took a picture of what the *rest* of the kitchen counter looked like. Way too full of my junk and projects I keep thinking I'll have time for. Well, I did get some mending done this week and did some decluttering last week, but I'm ready to be done! Plus, the weather has been too nice to spend my free time cleaning junk out of kitchen cupboards. :P :)

Eliyahu with his Legos

And one more bonus picture today: Eliyahu with a Lego drawer. The drawer slides in and out and can hold small things (like treasure maps). :) For Eliyahu's 6th birthday this year, he got The Lego Ideas Book and both boys have spent hours looking through it, reading it, and using ideas from it to create things from our big box of garage-sale Legos! I am amazed at the things the boys have been building. I look at it and just see a jumble of bricks... :)

I've missed blogging! I did pull my camera out last week for some pictures of dinner, and I have some really good stuff to write about... I may start trying to use the computer again during afternoon quiet time... or get up super early to write... :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please!

In order to keep the kitchen tips more easily accessible, posts not adhering to these guidelines will be removed. We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Using and storing avocado (Heather at Feel Good About Dinner)
2. Growing green onions in water (Sarah at Nature's Nurture)
3. Egg substitutes in baking (Tara at Feels Like Home)
4.
5.

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: How to make your food look as good as it tastes!

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

When I started cooking regularly (which was when I got married 8 years ago), I was a no-nonsense cook. Garnish? Bah! Who needs it?! Taste is all that matters, right? :)

Joshua, however, loves to make foods look beautiful. In the years since I started blogging about food, I've realized the importance of making a dish look attractive. Here are some of my tips for garnishing foods!

The obvious: Place a few parsley sprigs on the plate of food (attractively arranged, with the main dish in the middle of the plate).

Grilled chicken souvlaki gyros

Grilled food:

Aside from getting beautiful grill marks on our Weber Q grill, Joshua recommends fresh coarsely ground black pepper to garnish grilled meats or veggies.

My mom's chili

Mexican food:

Garnish Mexican food with freshly snipped cilantro or chopped green onions.

Garlic bread:

Add chopped parsley (dried or fresh) or chives to the butter when making garlic bread for a more colorful appearance.

Pizza:

Sprinkle dried basil or Italian seasoning on top of homemade pizza before baking. After baking, sprinkle with crushed red pepper and/or Parmesan cheese.

Salad

Salads:

Finely shred some carrot or cheese to garnish a lettuce salad.

Garnish a pasta salad with shredded Parmsean cheese.

Use red onion rather than white or yellow for a more attractive presentation.

Oven-roasted chicken

Roasted chicken:

Sprinkle with parsley flakes, freshly chopped chives, or kosher salt.

Breads:

Brush beaten egg over bread tops and sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sliced almonds, rolled oats, or wheat bran before baking.

Waffles with powdered sugar

Waffles, french toast, or desserts:

Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Cheesecake with whipped cream

Cheesecake, pies, baked apple oatmeal, chai tea lattes, and just about anything else:

Top with whipped cream for some extra style and deliciousness! :)

Any tips to add on the topic of beautiful food? :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please!

In order to keep the kitchen tips more easily accessible, posts not adhering to these guidelines will be removed. We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Homemade natural blue food coloring (Whole New Mom)
2. Hard-boiled eggs tip (Newlyweds Blog)
3. Tips for simplifying lasagna (Happily Home After)
4. Tip for stocking up on eggs (Feel Good About Dinner)
5. Ingredient substitutions (Whole New Mom)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Hosted at Armstrong Family Fare this week

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

I'm taking today off from hosting Kitchen Tip Tuesdays. Would you believe we have more doctor appointments and an outpatient surgery scheduled this week?! (I'm not the one having surgery.) At any rate, I'm thinking this has just got to be the last week of doctors, surgeries, and babysitters at our house for hopefully quite a long time! :)

Willa at Armstrong Family Fare is our Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hostess this week while I'm busy baby-snuggling and wrapping up loose ends at home.

Head over to Armstrong Family Fare to add your kitchen tips and check out her tip for Crumbs Made Simple! No, not the kind of crumbs you get when you give a kid a cookie... although those are pretty easy to come by too. ;)

Eat Well, Spend Less: Pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond

Eat Well, Spend Less series

Last week, the the Eat Well, Spend Less team was blogging about babies and food!

Kitchen Planning When You Are Pregnant -- Amy writes about overcoming pregnancy tiredness and aversions, with simple tips for planning ahead. Her final advice? Keep it simple! (I definitely do that... and it's 100% okay. :D)

Tips for Taking Meals to a New Mom -- Carrie gives some AWESOME tips about meals for new moms (and their families), with things to keep in mind whether you're on the giving or receiving end of the meal. I resonate with everything she says!! Food is one of the best after-baby gifts (in my opinion!) and even if you're not making it from scratch, it's still a blessing to the mom who didn't have to plan the meal or get the items from the store. And on the receiving end, let others serve you and try not to be high-maintenance. But just go read Carrie's post -- it's great.

The Postpartum Diet -- Aimee writes an overview of some things to consider for postpartum eating, with tips for making healthy food choices, yummy breakfast oatmeal (milk-supply boosting!) recipes, and a high-fiber prunes recipe that Aimee says is amazing enough to eat any day of the week, postpartum or not!

Food Celebrations and a New Baby -- I smiled all through Jessica's delightful post about celebrating a new baby with food! I think I've tried nearly all of her ideas in the past -- including making a BIRTH-day cake to celebrate the new baby's arrival! (I didn't get a BIRTH-day cake made this time, boo!) Best of all, Jessica gives us permission to stock our pantries with easy foods and drinks. (Is this the time to admit that my kids have been mostly eating cold cereal and milk for breakfasts for the past month?)

Channah
Channah (3 weeks old)

A Homemade Baby Food Primer -- Mandi shares about several homemade baby food approaches, with approachable ways to avoid the shelf of jarred baby food at your grocery store. If you're already serving fresh healthy meals to the rest of your family, homemade baby food just makes sense!

Real-Food Baby Food -- Katie talks about the ways she's started her babies on solid foods and gives pointers for introducing some of the best "first foods" for babies -- avocado, sweet potatoes, egg yolks, bananas, and more!

Food for New Parents to Eat Well and Spend Less -- Shaina has some tried-and-true ways to eat well as a new parent without spending hours in the kitchen or spending a lot on take-out food. I love that she recommends keeping carrots, romaine lettuce, and apples in the fridge  -- all foods that keep well and make for healthy snacking! (They're also some of the more affordable produce items at the grocery store.)

A No-Work Kitchen After Baby Arrives (Eat Well, Spend Less)

Channah

This month's Eat Well, Spend Less topic is all about BABIES! Okay, babies and food. ;)

In the past few weeks, Aimee, Carrie, and I have all given birth to baby girls! The rest of the team decided to help us celebrate and picked baby-related topics to write about. (Scroll down for links to the other posts in this series!)

You know, I love having children. Every age (that I've experienced so far... my oldest is only 8) is amazing in a different way.

Yehoshua and Channah

My older children are inspiring to me, make me laugh, and bring so much love to our home. My littler ones say cute things, make big messes, and bring so much love to our home. ;)

And my newborn, Channah -- she makes me feel so relaxed and content, everyone fights over getting to hold her (but I get her the most :D) and she brings even more love to our home.

And I sure don't feel like working in the kitchen when I could be cuddling with a sweet little baby!

So, I don't. I mean, as much as possible. And how is this possible?

Freezer food

1. Make freezer meals.

This was my biggest regret after having my first baby: I hadn't made any meals for the freezer. Oh, I'd planned on just making "easy stuff" but with a fussy baby who didn't sleep much, I very quickly realized that my 30-minute "easy meal" was not at all easy to pull off as a new mom. In fact, things that normally took me 30-uninterrupted-minutes suddenly took 90-very-interrupted-minutes. Or more. :)

With subsequent babies, I have made freezer meals my top priority when getting ready for the baby. And with even more hungry tummies to keep filled, having dinners made ahead transforms any afternoon into a much easier juggling feat of naps and quiet-time activities, minus dinner prep.

We're picky about what we consider a good freezer meal (e.g. it really shouldn't taste like frozen reheated leftovers!), but I've been able to find a good variety of freezer meals we like. At the very least, freezing cooked or grilled chicken breast, cooked taco meat, cooked beans, or other "ingredients" can make from-scratch cooking a lot faster!

My freezer meal plan in 2010 (with baby #4)

My freezer meal plan this year (with baby #5)

2. Don't do dishes. (Or: Have a dishes plan.)

When we lived in a house without a dishwasher, we bought paper plates and bowls to use for the first few weeks after baby was born. This really kept the kitchen cleaner, and with no effort on my part. (For some reason, Joshua enjoys kitchen clean-up a lot more when it doesn't involve him having to wash dishes!)

Where we live now, we have a dishwasher and haven't felt the need to use lots of disposable dishes. Using my homemade freezer meals means there is already a lot fewer dishes to be done each day, and with the dishwasher, kitchen clean-up is something I've been able to do in ~20 minutes after dinner (for the whole day's dishes).

At any rate, if you hate dishes or don't have a dishwasher, have a plan so you don't need to worry about them.

Floor duty for kids :)

3. Clean the kitchen floor.

A dirty kitchen floor drives me crazy! It wasn't so bad before we had all these kids who drop so many crumbs with every meal. Seriously, it is next to impossible to keep the kitchen floor clean with kids unless you...

...have the kids help clean up their crumbs! (And if you don't have kids to help sweep crumbs, then hopefully this means you have way less crumbs on your floor than I have on mine!!)

My favorite kid-friendly sweep-up method is to have a Dirt Devil or similar sort of cordless hand-held vacuum and let them use it to sweep dry crumbs (I make them pick up wet food spills by hand). We had a Dust Buster for several years and used it multiple times a day before it wore out. It's easy enough for even a 2-year-old to sweep up crumbs from the floor.

Currently, we use good old fashioned brooms and dust pans. The kids have their choice of a regular broom or whisk broom, and after a meal I usually assign someone the task of sweeping up crumbs. They don't do a perfect job, but they do get a lot of the crumbs -- and I know there will just be more after the next meal anyway. ;) Every couple days the vacuum cleaner gets brought out and then we really do get every last crumb swept up. :)

Channah

4. Grocery shop before the baby's born.

I found it helpful to stock up on pantry staples (at Costco, of course) before a new baby. With a stocked pantry and freezer meals made, it's so nice to not need as many groceries each week for a while!

Grocery shopping is also one of those things you can mention when someone asks if you need anything. Armed with a detailed list (and your grocery money, of course!), having a friend or relative pick up groceries for you is such a blessing if you don't feel like going out with a new baby in tow.

(Personally, I just never feel like going anywhere with a new baby. I'm such a homebody!)

5. Use appliances.

If you have a crock pot, bread machine, rice cooker, or other handy kitchen appliances -- learn how to use them for foods your family likes!

Babies are often really unpredictable, so when you can start a meal early in the crock pot, or use the timer feature on your bread machine, you can fit dinner prep into whatever snippet of time you have early in the day rather than scrambling at the last minute (or stressing out because you need to work on dinner but you'd rather rock your baby to sleep!).

I don't have a lot of kitchen appliances, so help me out here -- what other appliances streamline dinner prep or include timer features? :)

6. Accept help.

This only works if you have offers of help, which I hope every new mom does -- from her husband, family, or friends. When someone wants to help, accept their offer! Okay, so your husband doesn't do housework just like you would -- but that's okay. Your kids fold the laundry and it's not folded "right" -- but that's okay.

I feel really blessed right now because my husband and kids can and DO do so much around the house for me! And honestly, they do a pretty good job most of the time. No, it's not all exactly how it would be if I were doing it. But it's definitely okay and I thank them and tell them how awesome they are. :)

More on preparing for a new baby: All the stuff I did before #2 was born :)

6 Tips for Cooking with a Baby (because eventually, you gotta do it!)

Eat Well, Spend Less series

More about babies and food from the Eat Well, Spend Less team:

Food celebration and a new baby (Jessica at Life As Mom)

The postpartum diet (Aimee at Simple Bites)

A homemade baby food primer (Mandi at Life...Your Way)

Taking meals to a new mom (Carrie at Denver Bargains)

Kitchen planning when you're pregnant (Amy at Keeping the Kingdom First)

...and more to come from Katie at Kitchen Stewardship and Shaina at Food for my Family! :)

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