Stocking Your Kitchen Before Your Baby’s Arrival

Pregnancy kitchen

As the pregnancy countdown reaches the final few weeks, many expectant parents are eager to get last preparations in place. Get your kitchen baby-ready now, and you’ll thank yourself in the early newborn days. These are the items I was most thankful to have on hand postpartum.

Freezer Meals

When my third-trimester nesting urge hit, I was overwhelmed with a desire to cook. Stocking the freezer with pre-cooked meals you can easily reheat in the oven is one way to make postpartum life easier.

It may surprise you, but I actually don’t recommend making lasagna in advance. This dish is delicious, but it takes up a lot of freezer space. Lasagna was also a popular choice for my family and friends to bring in early days. Here are some other options that make delicious, healthy freezer meals:

  • Chili and cornbread
  • Cooked chicken in enchilada sauce
  • Cooked meatballs (use in pasta sauce, meatball subs, or even plain with rice and vegetables)
  • Chicken pot pie
  • Baked macaroni and cheese

You may also want to stock up on protein options like lean ground beef, chicken, and frozen shrimp to minimize grocery runs.

Pantry Staples

When the meal train ends and you or your partner have to start cooking again, having easy meals on hand will help you avoid living on takeout. Many ingredients are shelf-stable. Add fresh produce for extra nutrients and flavor. A well-stocked pantry includes the following:

  • Pasta (preferably whole-grain)
  • Quick-cook brown rice (you can even buy some pre-cooked rice packages for nights when boiling water feels like too much work)
  • Couscous, quinoa, grits, or other grains you like
  • Pasta sauce
  • Canned or bottled tomatoes, corn, artichokes, and other vegetables you like
  • Chicken stock
  • Lentils
  • Canned beans
  • Cooking oil
  • Salsa
  • Salad dressing (or oil and vinegar if you mix your own)

Thinking Beyond Dinner

Don’t forget about breakfast and lunch in your advance meal prep. Breastfeeding moms may be even hungrier than when they were pregnant! Plenty of nutritious options are a must. Stock your freezer with:

  • Breakfast burritos
  • Muffins (zucchini-carrot muffins add some extra veggies)
  • Zucchini or banana bread
  • Whole wheat waffles
  • Breakfast meats (look for lower-fat and nitrate-free options)

Make sure your pantry has:

  • Oatmeal
  • Cereal
  • Canned tuna or chicken
  • Condiments (mustard, soy sauce, barbecue sauce)
  • Peanut butter

Treats

Healthy (and maybe a few not-perfectly-healthy) snack options are also important. In the first days and weeks, you’ll be up around the clock. You may not always be in the mood for a meal, but you’ll need food to recover well and maintain milk supply. A few good options to pick up in advance are:

  • Crackers (whole-grain if possible)
  • Individually wrapped cheese sticks
  • Baking supplies (flour, butter, white and brown sugar, baking powder, chocolate chips)
  • Granola
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Frozen yogurt or frozen fruit bars

Lactation-Friendly Foods

Generally speaking, your body doesn’t need special foods to produce milk. Just eat a healthy diet, don’t restrict calories severely to lose “baby weight,” and drink plenty of water. If you’ll feel better prepared with lactogenic (“milk-inducing”) food on hand, some mothers swear by these favorites:

  • Tea containing fennel or fenugreek
  • Oats
  • Flaxseed
  • Chickpeas
  • Almonds
  • Garlic
  • Ginger

One final kitchen tip: Label your cabinets so helpful guests can easily find their way around.

Jessica Sillers
Jessica Sillers is a parenting and finance writer whose work has been featured in Pregnancy & Newborn, Headspace, and more. As a new mom herself, she’s passionate about helping other parents find the community and support they need. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family, reading, and hiking.

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