Healthy Postpartum Meal Prep
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!
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:
- 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.
- Transfer to whatever size Souper Cubes silicone mold you’re using and press down to firmly pack.
- Freeze overnight.
- 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.
Bacon Beef Stew from Juli Bauer’s Paleo Cookbook
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!
Soups & Stews:
Sheet Pan Meals:
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!
Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.
DON’T MISS A BITE
discounts, and stories straight to your inbox for FREE!