One Handed Meals For New Mums

We couldn’t let RMF Food week go past without a post for us Mums. I don’t know about you, but even the thought of chopping an onion in those first few months post-birth felt overwhelming and it’s fair to say our diets resembled that of a toddler – ALL the beige food.

But if there was ever a time to fill your body with nutritious items, this is it. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there – biscuits, cake, toast and cereal are pretty much the stalwart meals for new parenthood, so I’m not about to tell you to start baking lactation cookies and whizzing up soups from scratch. But along with some help from the team, I’ve rounded up some really easy to prepare (and to eat) meals, along with some of our favourite hacks for getting healthy food into the system with minimal effort.

Easy To Cook Meals

Stir Fry – this is a great recipe for speed, although I’d leave out the chopped peanuts as that feels a step too far. The noodles that you just throw straight into the wok are perfect here.

Omelette or actually any form of eggs are really quick to prepare and can easily be jazzed up with greens, cheese, smoked salmon, onions, mushrooms, potatoes…don’t try anything too fancy, just get some protein and veggies in you and you’ll feel much better for it.

Things On Toast – Cheese with Worcester Sauce, creamy mushrooms (roughly chopped along with a small onion and a little garlic, in a pan with some butter, cream cheese), Avocado (excellent recipe here), beans, tomatoes. Things on toast is a meal and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Soup – I definitely mean the fresh shop bought variety here, don’t even contemplate making your own. There are SO many yummy flavours out there and you’ve got a whole lifetime ahead of you to make soup if that’s what floats your boat. For now, rest as much as possible. Soup can easily be made into more of a meal with bits to accompany – samosas, falafels, crackers, bread and butter.

Fresh Pasta – again there are lots of lovely fresh pasta options, you can simply stir through some roasted veg and a ready made sauce (or make this one, which I know lots of you are fans of. Perfect if your newborn is not your first child either).

Easy To Eat

Anything that can be served in a bowl. If you’ve been organised enough to pack out your freezer – then these are the kind of things you want to be eating – casserole, chilli, dhals and curries are all perfect. (Or send these recipes over to keen family members and they can make them for you, then deliver them with some of the easy sides listed below…)

Finger Food – Cruditรฉs & Dip, Ploughman’s Lunch, Quiche, Sausage Rolls (love this range), yes not the healthiest option in the world, but better for you than an entire packet of custard creams or half a jar of Nutella. Bonus of this one, it gets you prepared for weaning ๐Ÿ˜‰

Meal Hacks To Help New Mums

You can buy most vegetables peeled and chopped nowadays which is a life saver. Normally, I’d always advocate doing this yourself as obviously the veg is going to be fresher, but new mums need a break.

Buy chopped garlic, ginger, and chilli so you can easily add some flavour to your food.

All the team here use frozen spinach as an easy way to add a little extra green to meals – stir into sauces, eat with eggs, bulk out one pot stews. And it’s a super food too.

Easy sides that take very little preparation – mini naan breads, pita bread, microwave rice pouches, couscous, jacket potatoes (which I also love to slice up the next day and fry in olive oil to make wedges).

Most guests will offer to pick things up from the supermarket for you – TAKE THEM UP on this offer, even if it’s just some lovely crisp apples or sweet juicy grapes. If you feel comfortable, ask them to do a whole food shop for you – one of my neighbours did this for me in the early weeks and I’ll never forget it. Order your food online, battling the supermarket with a newborn is daunting, stressful and often results in tears (from both of you).

Keep It Simple

OK so I know we’re all an intelligent bunch and this post is taking things back to basic, but it’s SO easy to put pressure on yourself, get caught up in things and find yourself marinating some pork chops when really you should just be sleeping.

Sometimes you just need a reminder to chill OUT.

So with that in mind, please do share your easy recipes, cheats and your honest Cake:Healthy Food ratio during the newborn phase below the post, we’d love to hear ๐Ÿ˜‰

And don’t worry mine was about 100:0 for the first year…

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Fern lives by the sea with her baby girl Elle, her partner Matt and their little dog Drake. They spend most of their time at the beach, and if you see one of them, usually the other three arenโ€™t far behind.

46 Comments. Leave new

I think sometimes some back-to-basics is needed. Maybe new Mums should forward a link to this post to the new Dads… I remember having a total meltdown when Fern was about 2 weeks old because Phil cooked dinner – I was RAVENOUS – and he used reginette pasta. It’s usually my favourite but IMPOSSIBLE to eat one handed and I ended up a furious sobbing hot mess with my dinner covering myself, the sofa and Fern who was obliviously feeding away still. Just stick to fusilli in those first few weeks, ladies. Lesson learned!

Oh and Fern is now 2.25 and I still used loads of frozen veg – chopped frozen onions are a godsend.

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Philippa, I’ve bought the entire range of Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients frozen stuff – onions, garlic, ginger, coriander etc etc. Every time I use them, I feel like I’m winning at life.

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Fern Godfrey
9th May 2017 11:01 am

Waitrose Cooks’ is the best!!! Also, totes just had to google reginette pasta! Looks lovely but definitely on the messy side of the pasta scale. So cute that he cooked your favourite though. Blame the rage on the hormones ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Ahh. The new born days! Epic post Fern! I think you’ve nailed it really.

The one thing I have a proper flash back about when I think back to those hazy first few weeks was how much my fridge looked like the tesco finest Isle! ๐Ÿ˜ณ we were a massive fan of the ยฃ10 meal deal which included main side wine and puds. I think we got 4 in our first week as a family! But hey… Lots of vegetables and minimal cooking. ๐Ÿ˜˜

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Fern Godfrey
9th May 2017 11:03 am

Thanks Jo, I read through the post last night and thought – god this seems so obvious, but until you’re in the thick of it you just don’t realise how tough just preparing one meal is!!! Love a good meal deal and all the supermarkets do decent ones now too!

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I’m with you on the pre-chopped things! The frozen food section was a revelation when I last looked properly… It’s not all Findus Crispy Pancakes and frozen peas. I felt a little bit silly being so amazed at finding chopped herbs and chillies along with a bag of pre-made giant couscous with veg. Who knew? ๐Ÿ™ˆ

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I love those giant cous cous n veg packets! We have one between two of us with loads of random veg quickly chopped up and stir fried with a piece of fish for a super quick dinner -yum!

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That sounds perfect. I found them in Iceland of all places… I needed milk (like I’m justifying going into Iceland) and ended up with bags and bags of frozen stuff!

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Haha!! I randomly popped into Iceland a few months ago and was shocked (and a bit excited!) about all the stuff they had……..Think perhaps that is a sign I need to get out more……..

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Fern Godfrey
9th May 2017 11:05 am

HAHAHAHA love this convo xxx

Ohhh those first few weeks (months!) of eating meals with one hand whilst having a newborn attached to the nipple…..!! I think I used to eat topless sometimes too, just because it all just seemed a bit too much at the beginning to have to faff with a top/bra/newborn feeding AND eating myself!!
I would definitely stock up the freezer with food that just perhaps needs some pasta/rice adding to it if we are lucky enough to have a another and some fresh pasta and pots of sauce.
Those pouches of fish in marinades that you can just pop in the microwave are great too…..I’m all over those at the min!

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Fern Godfrey
9th May 2017 11:07 am

Ha Jane I would have, but Elle is a January baby so I think I would have frozen! And yes, love those fish pouches, I bought one by mistake a few weeks ago and then when it came to cooking dinner I actually did a dance of joy when I realised I could just shove it in the microwave. Cooks it perfectly too and I’m terrible at overdoing fish x

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Lowering the tone as usual here but my goodness watch your fibre if you’ve got stitches! It’s so tempting to live on carbs and eggs and then you end up in real trouble. Two recipes that stop this before it starts: olive oil in a pan, add a packet of pancetta cubes and fry until just crisping, add a drained tin of cannellini beans and add sage. Cook until the beans are sticky and cracking and catching on the pan. Similar but different, same method with black or pinto beans and chorizo cubes adding cumin and paprika. Super quick you can eat from a bowl and delicious.

Also iron- spinach, kale, black pudding if you like it which I do. It’s great shoved in a sausage casserole.

And finally… Aldi do a version of those posh CookShop ready meals!!! In the freezer section- look delicious!

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Fern Godfrey
9th May 2017 11:09 am

I can always rely on you to mention fibre Lucy ๐Ÿ˜‰ but, good point! Veggies and beans are SO important during those initial days and weeks x

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Oooh this couldn’t have come at a better time! I’m just shy of 37 weeks pregnant now and have been thinking about stocking up the freezer… I’d normally go straight for things like cottage pie and casseroles but as baby will be newborn during the height of summer I’m thinking we probably won’t want to be eating what I call ‘winter food’! Any suggestions for quick and easy meals that I can cook straight from the freezer? Are there any relatively healthy frozen ready meals out there?

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I’d still do “winter food” as it’s so comforting and you can pack loads of veggies in it . Sorry not much help!

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totally agree with Victoria, you really won’t care if its seasonal or not and is wasy to make big one pot meals x

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Fern Godfrey
9th May 2017 11:10 am

There are some great recipes on this post that Lottie did – http://www.rockmyfamily.co.uk/winter-family-meals/ perfect for freezing stashing x

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Mum is doing lots of cooking for me (her freezer is filling up, mine is tiny!). She’s making fish pie – a bit lighter than cottage – and also she’s done aubergine parmigiana, so lots of veg there! I think next on her list is chicken pieces in sauces that include veg!

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Love this – great post Fern ‘All the beige food’ – So true!! I would have found the tips really useful as though I have always loved cooking, I didn’t seem to be able to adapt my cooking methods when I had my little boy and we had so much ‘beige’ food at the beginning and probably too many takeaways ๐Ÿ™ which just made me feel more tired.
One thing I did do was start making this smoothie for breakfast, I know smoothie sounds like ‘work’ but honestly this Jamie Oliver one takes 5 mins and is yum http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/fruit-recipes/frozen-fruit-smoothies/

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Fern Godfrey
9th May 2017 11:12 am

That recipe looks great Nicola, thank you! V easy to adapt too. I keep meaning to give Elle smoothies as she’s going through such a fussy food stage – this has given me the push to actually do it!!!

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Oatcakes were my go to – slathered in houmous, cream cheese or ready made egg mayonnaise for lunch when I was home alone with a cluster feeding new born!

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Fern Godfrey
9th May 2017 11:13 am

Can’t believe I didn’t mention Oatcakes! I’d honestly rather eat an oatcake covered in cashew nut butter than a chocolate bar these days – love them.

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This post is fab thank you Fern! A few days before my son was born I’d bought a whole host of ingredients to make a new fish dish… they were still in the fridge when he was 3 days old so instead of chuck them I thought it was a good idea to cook the recipe. Needless to say it took all evening, we all cried and the meal was a disaster… not sure what I was trying to prove!! Anyway, I found smoothies a fab way to get a load of goodness in at least at the start of the day. Pre chopped frozen smoothie bags from the supermarket, banana, frozen spinach, almond milk and literally whatever else is kicking around popped in the nutri bullet for a few seconds. My husband would make me one before he left for work and leave it next to me with a straw!

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Fern Godfrey
9th May 2017 11:15 am

Ahh Nicky, your husband sounds so sweet, that’s really caring. I think we’ve probably all got a story like that. Soon-to-be-mums reading this – take note!!! x

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Another brilliant post! Luckily for me, my husband does pretty much all the cooking but even snacks were a challenge with a clusterfeeding baby glued to your boob. And definitely agree with the above piste re fibre and stitches – definitely make sure you drink lots and lots of water! I always had a drinks bottle/gym shaker with water in the fridge and just added a fruity or he also teabag for flavour when I took it out. Also, if you have a Cook nearby, they do discounts for new parents – I think it’s 10 or 20% off for six months. Very handy (although a bit pricey) – especially for the odd treat meal!

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Sorry for the atrocious spelling, meant fruity or herbal teabags…

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Fern Godfrey
9th May 2017 11:19 am

Ah he sounds like a gem Maike, Matt has literally never cooked me a meal in the entire seven years we’ve been together!!! x

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Kind against the point of the post but…Brownies freeze amazingly. Make a big batch before the baby arrive, cut them in whatever size portions you like, whack them in the freezer (with greaseproof between layers). Then the genius bit is you can get them our one at a time, bung in the microwave for 30 seconds and TADA a perfectly gooey, warm, chocolatey pick me up.

More healthily, I used to have one of those Innocent veggie pots (I think they are now branded Bol?) for lunch everyday at the beginning, an easy way to have loads of veggies at once and no washing up.

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Fern Godfrey
9th May 2017 11:22 am

Liz I was going to mention those pots but wasn’t sure how many places stocked Bol! We used those lots too, really delicious and so easy. Like a v posh, clean-eating pot noodle ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Haha! This is the kind of advice is LOVE! Plus, quite frankly, getting through the day with a newborn requires inordinate amounts of baked goods ๐Ÿ™‚

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Definitely bookmarking this post! Only 7 weeks into our pregnancy journey, but already wondering how we’ll get through those first few weeks. Some great, but easy ideas here – thank you!

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Fern Godfrey
9th May 2017 11:23 am

Gemma you’re welcome and good luck with your pregnancy! xxxx

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One handed eating, oh those days! Poor baby always had some sort of crumbs or remants of dinner on them! I must admit to filling the freezer prior to birth, this was a lifesaver…mince dishes (spag bol, lasagne, chilli), fish pie and stews all easy to eat and reheat once defrosted. Also helped she was born in Jan so nice to have healthy comfort food! Sausages and mash also featured a lot (get the husband to cut up the sausages for one handed eating!) to be honest anything with mash was a winner in our house! M&S meal deals for a weekend ‘treat’ when you want to go out for food but then remember your life just isn’t like that anymore!! I did think about a ‘Hello Fresh’ subscription for a few months, we never got round to it and seemed to manage but could be good gift for a new mum or for yourself!

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Fern Godfrey
9th May 2017 11:23 am

I just didn’t do this with Elle and I really wish I’d been more organised. Next time round I’m going to be on it!!

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The best preparation I did both times before my babies arrived was batch cook hundreds of freezer meals. Fish pies, moussakas, cottage pies, currys, casseroles, soups, shepherds pies…. all oven things in foil trays, take out of freezer in the morning and whack in the oven in the evening – winner winner!

Two and bit weeks in to baby number 2 it is a LIFESAVER.

Also did traybake cakes for the freezer – less healthy but more of a lifesaver ๐Ÿ˜‰ Those and an endless supply of dark choc digestives ๐Ÿ’™

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Fern Godfrey
9th May 2017 11:25 am

I’m in awe Victoria! I really will make sure I do this next time around. I can only imagine how mad it is trying to eat well, let alone cook from scratch with two little ones xx

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Overnight oats for breakfast are a godsend! Oats, coconut milk, berries and some chopped nuts – mix it all up the night before and you have premade healthy breakfast ready to go

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Fern Godfrey
9th May 2017 11:26 am

I love oats for breakfast Hattie, I’m such a porridge fiend and they are really good for milk production too x

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Oooh also recommend those Merchant Gourmet pouches of puy lentils, quinoa etc (and other brand etc too). Quick fry of sliced leeks and chopped bacon, add the puy lentils once microwaved, and serve with a bit of fried fish. Excellent fork food on the slightly healthy end. Not that I can talk, I existed solely on cake, chocolate and biscuits for quite a while ๐Ÿ™‚

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Fern Godfrey
9th May 2017 5:23 pm

Annie this sounds delish! Might have to make it one week night this week ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I second the batch cooking approach. It was a godsend, along with the rice pouches you bung in the microwave for 2 minutes. They do such a good range now including brown rice, lentils, bulgar wheat etc. So tasty and you can have a hot, home cooked meal in less than 10 minutes if you grab something out of the freezer. I also made loads of things in the silver trays you can get from the Pound Shop. That way you don’t have the washing up either. We made chicken tagine, fish pie, spag bol, veggie chilli, chicken casserole etc etc.

The other thing I would highly recommend is a soup cup / bowl. I made loads of soup and froze it in individual portions and then heated in the cup. As they have a lid with a good opening you can safely eat it whilst feeding with one hand. Winner! Absolute godsend when you’re on your own and want something nutritious. x

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Fern Godfrey
9th May 2017 5:24 pm

Another super organised person! I vow to be like this next time round…love the idea of no washing up too ๐Ÿ™‚

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This is such a great post and great timing-I’m due my second next week and want to make sure both myself and my toddler keep eating well in those early weeks (husband too, obvs, but if he’s doing the cooking it may not be quite so tasty…).

I’ll definitely be referring back to this post and the comments too! Although feeling a bit intimidated by all this batch cooking for the freezer, I have done none and don’t feel I can summon the energy at this point!

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Definitely batch cook beforehand if you can and once you’re home with baby don’t let anyone in the house unless they bring food!

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Perfect timing as have been returning to the newborn style meals with a poorly toddler who is just flaking on us by teatime and refusing to be put down. Cue the old one handed skills eating being needed again!
Jacket potatoes were good here, esp sweet potato with different toppings – beans, avocado, mashed up mackerel, crรจme fraiche and beetroot. Also tried to put spinach in everything (with mixed success!) for veggies and some iron.
Online shopping has been a godsend, I wished though I had prepared an online basket pre baby arrival which I could have just hit order on. Not food related but also ordered lots of kitchen and bathroom wipes which I wouldn’t normally use but were good for a wipe round when you have literally 30 seconds to clean in.
Finally B&M often have the Tilda rice pouches for about 30p ….(plus a fine range of cheap biscuits ๐Ÿ™‚ )

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