Becoming a parent is an enormous change in your life. From one day to the next your priorities will change, and all your focus is on the baby. The early days as a new parent can be challenging in many ways, and you might wonder how someone so small can take up so much time! Your own diet often suffers as a result, but in order to be able to deal with sleepless nights, nappy changes, walks with the buggy and cosy days in, it is important to fill up on nutritious food. This is why I’d like to share some of my dietary advice that helped me during my parental leave:

Use the end of your pregnancy to fill your fridge and freezer. Make big batches of stews, gratins and various patties to freeze and defrost when needed. Other things that are useful to have in the freezer are frozen fruit or berries for smoothies, and frozen vegetables for stir-fries, side dishes or stews.

Help with food shopping. Getting to the supermarket for a big shop might feel like a major project with a newborn baby, so forget the stress of that and ask a friend or relative to help, or order online and get the food delivered.

Prepare when you can. Since you often have to adjust to the baby’s routines, you might not always be able to cook when you normally would. Instead, prepare food when you are able to, even if it means that you’re cooking in the morning in order for the food to be ready later.

Meals that can be eaten with one hand. If you are breastfeeding, it can be convenient to eat while the baby is feeding, which means that food that can be eaten with one hand is easiest. Some examples include wraps, sandwiches, stir-fry, platters and porridge.

Food that is easy to reheat. Sometimes you might have to eat in shifts, which means that meals that are easy and tasty eaten reheated work best – for example stews, soups and stir-fries.

Sling or baby carrier. Most babies like to be close to you and some days they might want to be close to you the whole time. On those days, a sling or a baby carrier will free up your hands so that you can prepare a meal.

Some suggestions for meals

Here are a few quick meals for when you’ve got stuck in a feeding marathon, the hours have flown by and you need food pronto:

  • Fried rice. I often cook extra rice when I have it with stews, so that I can fry it later with vegetables and some kind of protein source, such as tofu. It is also a useful way of finishing leftovers and vegetables that are about to go off, since you can throw in almost any vegetables! I flavour it with garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil.
  • Ready soups, for example vegetarian pea soup. It is always a good idea to have soup in the fridge. Complete the meal with a sandwich.
  • Porridge. Porridge doesn’t just have to be breakfast food -it works well as a snack, lunch or dinner! Make the porridge extra filling and nutritious by adding grated apple, mashed banana or berries, along with chia seeds, pumpkin seeds or nut butter for example.
  • Omelette. Beat 2-3 eggs and add whatever you happen to have in the fridge, maybe baby spinach, onion, sliced boiled potatoes, feta cheese and tomatoes. Eaten with a sandwich, this makes a nourishing and filling meal!
  • A simple salad. Mixed leaves + cooked lentils or beans + vegetables (such as tomato, olives, red onion or peppers), + feta cheese + vinaigrette make a quick and tasty salad!