Healthy Postpartum Meal Prep

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Watch My YouTube Video on Postpartum Meal Prep Here

 

When I started planning for postpartum, I knew food prep was a MUST. And the more I read books like The First Forty Days and The Fourth Trimester, the more I really began thinking through what kinds of foods I wanted to ingest while going through the postpartum healing period. In many cultures, postpartum women are cared for by mothers and grandmothers. They are given nourishing foods, kept warm, their bellies are wrapped, they are given daily massages, sitz baths, and they forced to rest and simply feed their new child. Learning about this was completely eyeopening and honestly, surprising…and even a little disheartening. In my own culture and with own family dynamic, I don’t have that type of support. I have a family who will absolutely care for our baby girl at any point, but for me and my own actual healing, I had to have my own back, plain and simple. Those traditions weren’t passed down to them nor have they read the books and done the same research I’ve done throughout pregnancy. So to ensure I had my own back, not only did I hire someone to come in for massage and belly binding to help me heal from the outside-in, but then I prepped a bunch of different meals to help me heal from the inside-out.

And if this all sounds outlandish or over-the-top or even privileged…it’s time we changed that and talked about it more! The more we normalize women being cared for as they bring life into the world, the more those support systems will be normalized in our culture and more accessible!

When it comes to postpartum meal prep, people often set up meal trains, which is a fantastic idea, but I don’t trust other people when it comes to the ingredients I use at home. How uptight do I sound? I want the bone broth to be grassfed, the chicken to be pastured raised, and the fruit and veggies to be organic…and I don’t expect others to have to spend that kind of money when it comes to building me and my family a meal…so a meal train didn’t call my name. Instead, I just planned meals myself around 26 weeks when I had a decent amount of energy! When I started thinking through meals I would want to eat postpartum, these were the most important building blocks:

Bone Broth – Bone broth is rich is gelatin which helps boost collagen in the body. Not only will this help with your digestive tract hydration, which can be a little off after birth, but it’s loaded with protein. Those amino acids will help with so much postpartum – connective tissue repair, building strong bones, milk supply, blood sugar control, and more! I’m not personally interested in making my own bone broth because I think other people are better at it than me AND I hate how it stinks up my house. So instead I’ll be loading up on local bone broth to sip and using Kettle & Fire Bone Broth for all my soups, stews, and slow cooked meats. Do I want to drink bone broth and soup in the dead of summer? Of course not. But I know it will be worth it!

Animal Proteins – When you cook meat on the bone and slow-cook tougher meats, it’s loaded with glycine. Glycine helps with cellular growth. This will help with protein synthesis, protecting collagen in the body, brain function, lowering inflammation, and more. When you give birth, immense amount of nutrients are lost, like iron. Making sure you replenish the body with these animal proteins such as grassfed and pasture raised beef, buffalo, chicken, eggs, full fat dairy (or raw, if you are comfortable with that and have good sourcing options), wild caught fish and seafood, will help replenish these vitamins and minerals that are lost in the birth process. For me, I made some options such as carnitas and taco meat to pair with different starches and veggies.

Healthy Fats – Fats are a must for healing, helping your brain function optimally, and they will also help you absorb other nutrients. Fats such as grassfed ghee, butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and lard are all great options. Use them in your cooking daily to help you feel energized and alert.

Bowls – Bowls are a great way to get a ton of different nutrients in and to not get bored. You can easily make big servings of meat, starches, and veggies, and freeze them for later! And then you can also mix-and-match your different options and spice them up with different condiments and toppings. Plus, many different meat options and starch options can be cooked in bone broth so you’re getting double the nutrients with meat AND bone broth!

Drinks – In most of the books I’ve read, they talk about not drinking cold drinks because it brings the body temperature down. I won’t be following this. I will still be drinking smoothies daily because it’s an easy way to get in protein, fat, veggies, and fruits. Not only can you load those smoothies with fiber to help keep things moving, but they are delicious. I will also be making some different hot and cold tea options to keep me hydrated when water just isn’t doing it. There are multiple drink options in The First Forty Days and The Fourth Trimester to choose from!

PaleOMG Postpartum Meal Prep

Deciding How Many Meals to Prep for Postpartum:

This is so personal and I can’t tell you how many meals you and YOUR family will need, especially since some people will have family support, others will have meal trains, some people will have extra children in the house, etc. But I made sure I doubled everything I made so I had extra to go around in case we were feeling pooped during the first few weeks. My main concern was having 4 weeks of meals covered for postpartum recovery. And since I doubled most of the recipes, I was able to get anywhere between 8-12 servings per meal. That means anywhere between 32-48 meals will be covered, give or take how hungry each of us is. This is no where near an exact math equation, that’s just how I broke it down in my own head! Will you care about having that many meals covered? Maybe not. But hopefully that gives you a better idea of how to prep!

Choosing What Kinds of Meals to Make:

What I recommend is thinking about what meals are most challenging for YOU. If you struggle with getting breakfast in now, before you are raising a new human in the world, you’ll most likely struggle more with that meal once you do have a child. So I would recommend prepping lots of breakfast options! If snacks are a pain now, prep more snacks! It’s all about you thinking through what life looks like now and what will change once your little babe gets here. Since breakfasts aren’t a worry for us because we can quickly make some sausage/bacon, eggs, and fruit and be quite content, I didn’t concentrate much on breakfast. Instead I concentrated on lunches and dinners so Brian would only need to reheat things instead of figuring out a protein, starch, and veggie. At the end of the day, choose meals that sound good for everyone, that work with your busy schedule, and that give you the nutrients you need to rebuild everything that is lost in pregnancy and birth.

Storing Your Freezer Meals:

Learn from my experience and get yourself two things for postpartum meal prep:

When I first started making my meals, I added all the soups to ziploc bags which really sucks ass for storage in the freezer and then they all got freezer burn. Not a huge deal, but the storage was definitely annoying and can get messy, especially when defrosting. With Souper Cubes, you can freeze the soup in 2 cup portions, freeze them, then use your Vacuum Sealer to seal the frozen portions for storing. Then it’s easy to cut the cubes out of the bags and reheat! Much easier than ziploc bags all around. And there are tons of different sizes of Souper Cubes so you can freeze depending on the amount of food you have. They even have breast milk storage options!

Here are the simple steps to using Souper Cubes:

  1. Make your meal. If you’re making soup or a stew or rice or whatever else in a pot or pan, you’ll want to let it cool first.
  2. Transfer to whatever size Souper Cubes silicone mold you’re using and press down to firmly pack.
  3. Freeze overnight.
  4. The next morning, pop the frozen meal out of the silicone mold then place into a Food Saver bag and then vacuum seal it and place in the freezer for whenever you need!

Reheating Your Freezer Meals:

Now when it comes to reheating your freezer meals, you’ll want to think through how they were cooked in the first place. You can simply defrost your frozen meal in the fridge overnight or dunk the wrapped freezer meal in a bowl of water. Once defrosted, heat back up the same way you did – in a pot, quick instant pot reheat, or you can fry up in a pan or even rebake the item for a short amount of time. The main thing I don’t recommend is microwaving food just because you don’t get the same texture and it can get a bit rubbery. But you do you!

Now Here’s What I Made:

These are the meals I made for us based on ingredients I had on hand and meat I had in the freezer. Five of the meals included bone broth, and most included grassfed and pasture raised meats/eggs.

Easy Breakfast Casserole

Protein Pancakes

Taco Pasta Soup

Instant Pot Creamy Gnocchi Soup

Bacon Beef Stew from Juli Bauer’s Paleo Cookbook

Instant Pot Rice

Instant Pot Carnitas

Taco Meat

Chocolate Collagen Energy Balls

Date Banana Bread

Tahini Honey Collagen Energy Balls

And Here Are More Recipe Options For You:

If those recipes don’t interest you, here are a bunch of other options that may work for you and your family!

Breakfasts:

Bacon Veggie Loaded Egg Casseroles

Mexican Chorizo Frittata

Greek Yogurt Fluffy Waffles

Pizza Egg Bites

Breakfast Burritos

Soups & Stews:

Roasted White Bean Garlic Soup

Italian Pasta Soup

3 Bean Chili

Chicken Rice Soup

Ham Bone Potato Soup

Bowl Builders:

Turmeric Rice & Beans

Creamy Butternut Squash Orzo

Braised Purple Cabbage

Asian Stir Fry Noodles

Roasted Potatoes

Roasted Carrots

Casseroles:

Chicken Pot Pie Cornbread Casserole

Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole

Chili Cornbread Casserole

Taco Lasagna Casserole

Pad Thai Casserole

Sheet Pan Meals:

One Pan Turmeric Chicken

Sheet Pan Spatchcock Chicken Dinner

Spanish Chicken & Potatoes

Sheet Pan Breakfast Bake

Snacks:

Carrot Breakfast Cookies

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Energy Balls

Brownie Energy Balls

Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

Greek Yogurt Protein Fudgsicles

Drinks:

Chocolate Blueberry Protein Smoothie

Strawberries & Cream Collagen Shake

Green Mango Smoothie

Orange Creamsicle Collagen Smoothie

I hope this huge breakdown doesn’t feel too overwhelming and helps give you insight into how I thought out postpartum and how I navigated it early on during pregnancy, before I ran out of energy to prep. I truly believe that food is medicine and food is INCREDIBLY important when a women is healing after birth. Support systems are so important in so many different ways, but if you don’t have the support when it comes to meals that will nourish you, make it happen for yourself! Prepping one or two meals a week for even just a month will go such a long way and help you in more ways than you will know!

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Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.

I’m a food hoarder. And a really bad dancer. If you don’t know me well, you will probably not understand my humor. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time. Thanks for listening to my ramblings of my ever-changing life and trusting my kitchen mishaps. Your trust in me is appreciated.

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31 thoughts on “Healthy Postpartum Meal Prep”

  1. Super helpful post, thanks so much Juli! I am 30 weeks pregnant today and I have started my postpartum freezer meal prep as well. I’m oddly excited about it. I started with your 3 Bean Chili and I’ve got a ton of others from you on my list. I’m due in early October so I’m excited to have alllllll the soups and stews in my freezer ready to eat. Congratulations to you on the birth of your little babe! I’ve been checking IG constantly and I always get so excited to see any updates from you. So happy for you and this next chapter in your life.

    1. wooooohoooo!! congratulations, Victoria! and you are in the perfect time to get a bunch of different meals frozen for later! and thank you so much for the support! i don’t know if this will be your first, but it is truly the most magical and life changing experience

  2. Would you store the casseroles in a souper cube as well? I’ve never frozen meal prep before and am kind of nervous! Do you let it come to room temp and then transfer to a ziploc or other storage? (probably a dumb question!) I am due in three weeks so this is excellent timing! Congrats on little avery

    1. great question, catherine!! i added a little bit extra in the post to hopefully make that more clear! you could totally bake the casserole in souper cubes, then cool a bit before freezing in the mold. then the next day you can pop the frozen meal out of the molds, add them to a storage bag to vacuum seal, then freeze for whenever you need it! does that make sense?

  3. Do you store all your prepared meals in a deep freezer? I am struggling because I want to prep but am realizing we dont have enough storage space to freeze, now Im trying to figure out what to do, buy cheaper fridge and freezer for basement or deep freezer.

    I have loved watching your journey and have been so inspired to really prep for our family this go around! Because like you… as much as a food train is appreciated, I dont want restaurant food, so Id rather cook beforehand. Congrats on baby girl!!!! I legit squealed when I saw your story and she was here!!

    1. hey brooke! we don’t have a deep freezer. we do, however, have a fridge/freezer in the garage which I used as storage. deep freezer would be awesome. my garage fridge was pretty packed with frozen meats so i used those in the meals that i made to free up space then had to do some tetris. but it worked out pretty well!! and thank you so much for the love! it has been INCREDIBLE. truly incredible. and i’m with you…someone tried to bring pizza the other day. not that i don’t want and love pizza, just not right now lol.

    2. We bought a garage freezer at Home Depot to store extra food (I make and use bone broth ALL THE TIME) and it’s been one of my favorite purchases ever. Spendy, but so worth it. I’m 17 weeks and will also use it for breast milk storage when baby girl gets here in December.

  4. This is a really helpful post! My daughter was born 6 months ago today (!) and having meals prepped in advance was a lifesaver. The breastfeeding hunger was so real and having easy, healthy meals and snacks made me feel so much better and so much more like myself. I think I’m going to find a weekend to do another round of meal prep using some of these tips and recipes because life is just so busy these days. Congrats on Avery- it’s wonderful seeing you so happy. I followed a similar journey as you in terms of being unsure about wanting kids, absolutely hating pregnancy, and then loving being a mama and my baby girl more than I ever thought possible. Enjoy it 🙂

  5. Congrats to you and your family, and thanks for the prep/freezer tips! Could you please share how you freeze energy balls and how long you defrost them for?

  6. Shelby Standley

    I am so excited. Just got all these recipes ready to go and make so that when our little one arrives around Thanksgiving we will be good to go. Thank you for the help and I am so happy that you got this out just before she came!

  7. Kira Diestelkamp

    Hi Juli! I am 11 weeks, so my pregnancy is still really new, but watching your journey with Avery has been incredible. Like another poster said, I’m constantly opening IG just to see if you’ve added a new story, and the morning you gave birth I KNEW you were in labor and I was just so beyond thrilled for you. Your post with her brought tears to my eyes and I am so excited to enter motherhood as well. Congrats and thanks for sharing so much with us!!!

    1. eeeeeek congratulations Kira! so exciting! pregnancy has been one hell of a wild ride, but i officially understand how worth it it all was! you are in for the greatest happiness of your life!

  8. Not overwhelming at all! Very very helpful! I’m 17 weeks with my third and will be doing all of this. Since I’m due in December and we’ll be in the Midwest, I have no qualms about making a crap ton of casseroles and stews for my family to eat. Thank you so much, Juli, and congrats on sweet Avery!

  9. I’m looking for the chocolate peanut butter oat bites recipe from the video. Can you please point me to the recipe? I can’t find it.

    1. i sliced it and just put it in a container instead of vacuum sealing it. but that was just because i made it pretty close to my due date. i would recommend slicing and using a vacuum seal, if possible, if you plan to store it for a long amount of time!

  10. Hi Julie! I’ve followed you for along time. I’m currently 19 weeks pregnant (yay!) so seeing all your posts before you had your baby girl really encouraged me to take a look further into all my other options! So, thank you for that.
    I’ll be cooking soon to start freezing my meals for postpartum. But, my question to you is did you date your meals and if so when did you start cooking to store in freezer? I’ve never cooked to freeze meals, so I’m definitely very nervous!

    1. hey brooke!! i did date my meals, but honestly, it hasn’t made much of a difference because I know I’m going to eat them within that 6 month mark. if you don’t think you’ll eat yours that fast, i would date them just you can start eating the meals sooner rather than later (if it’s a deep freezer, meals can last longer than 6 months, FYI). and for me, I started cooking them in April just because i was feeling good by then and had the energy to do it. no need to feel nervous, it’s seriously so freaking easy!!

  11. Hey Juli! Have you had any issues with the texture of the cassava noodles (in the Italian pasta soup and taco pasta soup) once you thaw them and reheat the soup? I’m worried they won’t hold up well 🙁

    1. more issues with the cauliflower gnocchi vs the noodles, but they definitely change texture a bit. I would recommend undercooking them so when you do reheat them, they keep more of the texture! but if you are super big with texture, you could always cook the noodles the day of and add them to your soup!

  12. Juli,

    First off… Congratulations!!!! This is so incredibly helpful. I travel a ton for work and we are going to do some food prep so we have easy meals when we don’t have the energy to cook.

    Do you use the souped cubes and vacuum seal whenever possible? I had been trying to freeze things in glass containers and it hasn’t worked great.

    1. i will now! i never did any freezer meal prep because this postpartum meal prep, but i find that it saves so much room in the freezer compared to glass dishware, which makes a huge difference for us since we don’t have much room to spare

  13. Kelly Binnendyk

    Congratulations! So happy for your family! A suggestion if you really want to up your souper cube/vacuum sealed meal game is to get a sous vide too and use that to thaw and heat your vacuum sealed meals. Game changer! It’s amazing for hands off cooking (especially meats) as well which I LOVE for meal prep especially with a toddler and 2 month old!

  14. I am 22 weeks pregnant with my 3rd baby and just made the chocolate collagen energy balls. I made a few minor changes, and think they will be great. I can’t wait to try them in 30 min as they are in the fridge. Looking forward to being more creative with recipes. When the cold weather hits maybe the nesting instict will hit and I will need to make more before I deliver the baby.

  15. I just want to echo what many other readers have said: At 30 weeks I am now planning meals out for postpartum and this has been such a helpful tool, especially the Souper Cubes! Such a great idea!
    Thank you for continuing to graciously share your journey all these years!

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