5 Easy (Healthy) Meals for the New Mom

     Happy Wednesday!! It already feels like the weekend in our house; Jack is home from work until he officially starts his new position at the hospital, and I actually had a chance to make myself a "real" breakfast before getting back to full-time mom duty. I've only been a mom for 3 weeks, but some days it feels like months have passed since Ezra was born. Motherhood has proven itself to be so joyful, rewarding, challenging and difficult in so many different ways, even just within these few short weeks. I feel like I've been in survival mode for the most part, trying to take care of the baby, yet trying not to neglect myself and my own sanity. It's not exactly easy to take time preparing a decently nutritious dinner when you've been resting, cleaning, and keeping up with the baby all day, and now it's 5pm and he decides he wants his dinner first (and wants to take an hour to enjoy it). Talk about exhausting!

After the first week home from the hospital, I attempted to make a meal plan covering a few days out of the upcoming week. I found that for most of that first week, the only meal I was eating was dinner, only preceded by one or two snacks if I remembered to eat something. I realized that I needed substantial meals and snacks with actual nutritional value not only for me, but for my growing babe who is also relying on my body for all his nutrients (no pressure or anything...). So, I hastily made a list, sent Jack off to the grocery store and hoped for the best. And the result wasn't terrible!! I'm not a nutritionist, or a full-blown health-nut but I'm certainly not an "anything goes" type of person when it comes to food, either, so these recipes can be adapted to fit any diet or lifestyle. The point is to make it easy on yourself while still making smart choices when it comes to food! 

The recipes below involve a minimal amount of prep and cook time, and you can spend more or less time on preparation based on your schedule or lifestyle. I have been on a major Trader Joe's kick lately, so I included a lot of their products in the recipes below!! Whether you're a new mom, a college student in your first apartment, or someone looking for some new, simple meal ideas, give these a shot and let me know what you think!!

Trader Joe's Vegetable Fried Rice w/ Sauteed Shrimp
I'm pretty sure you can buy "shrimp fried rice" in the frozen food section of Trader Joe's, but I purchased my own frozen shrimp to cook separately and then add to the fried rice. You can use frozen, cooked shrimp, frozen raw shrimp depending on how much time you have/want to spend. Did you know shrimp is very low in saturated fats?

What you need:
1 bag Trader Joe's Vegetable Fried Rice (frozen)
1 TBSP Cooking Oil of Choice
1 bag Frozen Shrimp
1 TBSP Butter (if desired)
1 TBSP Soy Sauce
Whatever spices you like (I used salt, pepper, garlic, a sprinkle of ginger, and red pepper flakes)

What to do:
1. Cook rice according to package instructions (microwave or large wok or skillet)
2. Heat oil in a medium-sized skillet - once warm, add the shrimp.
3. Add spices, butter, and soy sauce to skillet - cook until shrimp are pink or heated through.
4. Add shrimp to rice and serve.

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Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot (Or Dutch Oven!)
This meal is hearty and filling, and usually leaves a good amount of leftovers in our fridge!! Even better if you're able to find free-range and responsibly raised chicken from a local farm or butcher!

What you need:
Whole Roasting Chicken

Spices (I use salt, pepper, parsley, garlic powder, paprika)

What to do:
1. Prepare chicken by removing the bag containing the neck and gizzards, then rinse and pat dry with a paper towel.
2. Add the chicken to the crock pot/dutch oven and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and/or any other spices you like.
3. Add carrots and potatoes to the pot, spreading evenly around the chicken. (You can use baby carrots or whole carrots peeled and chopped, whole baby baker potatoes or red-skin potatoes cut into wedges)
4. Add 1/2 cup of water to pot (to prevent burning - while cooking, the chicken creates its own juices)
5. Bake in dutch oven at 375 degrees for 2 hours OR in the crock pot on LOW for 6-8 hours.

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Baked Chicken with Sauteed Veggies
I make this at least once a week! I love that the chicken can be breaded or seasoned any way you like, and the veggies cook right from the freezer. My vegetable of choice is green beans! Trader Joe's and Aldi both have great frozen green beans.

What you need:
Chicken breasts
Any spices or breading - I usually bread mine using eggs, flour and bread crumbs.
Frozen Green Beans
2 TBSP Cooking Oil of Choice

What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Prepare chicken to your liking and add to a 9x13 baking dish or baking sheet lined with aluminum foil - bake for 25 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees.
3. Add 2 TBSP oil and frozen green beans to large skillet over medium heat
4. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder if desired.
5. Cook beans until tender, and serve with chicken.

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Trader Joe's Grilled Chicken Salad
Trader Joe's has really good pre-cooked, pre-seasoned chicken breasts in the refrigerated section - these are great heated up and served over salad, which makes for a SUPER easy and healthy meal!

What you need:
Trader Joe's Pre-Cooked Chicken Breasts/Tenders
Pre-made bagged salad OR romaine lettuce and toppings of choice
Salad dressing of choice

What to do:
This one is pretty self explanatory - if you have extra time to chop up some veggies, you can add whatever vegetables you like, otherwise you can purchase pre-made salad and just add the chicken and voila! This is great for lunch or dinner!

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Trader Joe's Ravioli w/ Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage
This one is a little lower in the "healthy" category, but I wanted to still give it an honorary mention, because I don't know anyone who can go a week without pasta! I love pasta, but it's easy to get tired of the same old "spaghetti and meatballs". Trader Joe's has a few different types of ravioli that are tasty and filling and a yummy replacement for regular pasta. The spicy chicken sausage contains no antibiotics or artificial ingredients!

What you need:
Trader Joe's Ravioli (I like the arugula and ricotta!)
Trader Joe's Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage
Sauce of Choice (if desired)

What to do:
1. Cook ravioli according to package instructions
2. Cut sausage into 1/4 inch coins and add to a skillet
3. Cook sausage until heated through - serve with ravioli and sauce (if desired)

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If you try any of these recipes, let me know what you think! I'd love to hear how you adapt them and fit them into your own weekly meal rotation. Simplicity is key!!

What's your favorite weeknight meal? Which of the above meals are you most excited to try? Let's chat!

XOXO, Kate
  1. Ummm... yum! I'm starving now! haha Great ideas Kate! Thank so much and I look forward to trying each of these!=D


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