Yes, I've even cut green beans with Ava in this sling carrier in the picture. It really works!
- Give yourself more time: Before Ava was born, I cooked quickly because I have my tools (sharp knives, access to equipment, etc), but now I leave myself more time. Truth be told, we eat later now, typically around 8pm if I'm cooking a meal. The baby needs care and when she's hungry, you can't ignore a baby with a growling tummy so I stop what I'm doing to feed her. I've learned to make a dish when she's sleeping or playing happily and then stop and then go back to cooking. I put the baby in the swing in the kitchen or even on the floor on her Baby Einstein and talk to her about what I'm doing. It can be a 2-hr process sometimes. It depends on how it goes that night. This leads to me to my next tip...
- Strategically plan your cooking nights: The first 4 weeks back to work, I work in the office on Monday's so I cook a larger meal (like my Enchilada Casserole) on Sunday for about 4-6 servings of leftovers for the week. Then, Mon night comes around and we'll have leftovers or a sandwich and fruit for dinner. On the days I work from home, I will cook something simple like a quick pasta and veggie or prep the slow cooker in the morning so it cooks throughout the day. I recently made Lentil Stew in the crockpot. A great option!
- Weekly shopping and meal planning: I do meal planning and shop once a week on Saturdays. I hit the stores efficiently when Aaron is home with Ava or sometimes even take her with me. The baby loves the lights in the stores. Shopping once a week helps stay on budget because you're not running to the store randomly or even getting takeout.
- Keep it easy when entertaining: One night I made Beef and Noodles (homemade semolina flour) and that was more extravagant, but most times I made really easy meals when we're hosting people for dinner. I might make steaks, steamed veggies or salad, roasted potatoes or even frozen french fries. Panini sandwiches are really easy to make because it's super easy and people can customize how they want their sandwich. You can serve with a salad and fruit. For dessert, we usually buy something or if our guests offer to bring something, I suggest dessert.
- Kitchen organization: Check out my post on kitchen work zones. When we moved into the house, I organized the kitchen into functional work zones so that I would be efficient. Now, I can whip together muffins or even Banana Chocolate Chip Snack Cake really quickly because everything is in reach.
- Stocking the pantry: My success with cooking with a small baby is that I keep essentials that I use all the time handy in the pantry. I get an organic produce delivery every week and always have seasonal produce on-hand and stock basics like cans of beans, rice, chicken stock, cheese, eggs, bread, milk, etc. I can always whip together something healthy even if it's a turkey sandwich with avocado. Easy sides work. Check out my post on the snap peas that steam in the bag in the microwave!
- Get a helping hand: Aaron is really good about helping me when I have to stop cooking to feed Ava. He will finish something for me so I can stop and take care of her or just hold her while I'm getting food on the table. Our friends that have come over are always willing to do the same! After all, they're getting a nice meal!
Even if you don't have a newborn and you have a toddler, or you're a busy person without kids, these tips can apply to you! In real life, we're all busy, but taking care of our bodies (our ONLY body), is a great priority to ensure a higher quality of life and hopefully a longer one, too!
Send me your tips or comment below to share your secrets.