One of the greatest gifts I get from this blog (and from writing on Babble), is the ability to connect to people going through similar life stages and changes. When I was pregnant, so many of you found me and we virtually high fived over things like good ultrasounds and popsicle cravings.
And now as a new mom, I feel so lucky to have a huge network of other moms out there to help answer my questions and tell me to calm the heck down when I worry too much or obsess over things that are silly. With nine months under my belt, it is nice to feel like I can finally offer some words of wisdom to those who are still in the trenches too.
One of the questions I hear most from other new moms – particularly those in the early months when babies are at their most needy – is how and what to eat for lunch? It took me quite a few months to work through this myself, and for a while I was eating far more granola and cereal than I’m proud of.
I hesitate to say that things have gotten easier, when actually I feel more ragged than ever before. But that’s more to do with having a baby that literally will not stop moving – except for when he sleeps. But when he does sleep, it’s relatively predictable and for much longer stretches than before. I’m drifting…
Back to lunch – I’m really making an effort to have more nutritious and dense lunches these days. Less snacking, more sitting down with an actual plate. More protein and fat – less sugar. A lot less sugar.
One of my main lunchtime staples is eggs.
I typically buy two dozen each week – one to reserve for cooking and baking, and another to hard boil and keep in the fridge. Hard boiled eggs take about 20 minutes total to make, and it’s a great healthy snack option that lasts all week. Casey snacks on them too – either packs them in his lunches or grabs one at the end of the day.
I’m trying to be more aware of getting a good nutritional balance in my meals these days, and I’m usually looking to maximize my calories. I can elaborate on this more in a separate post, but it’s worth mentioning now that I’m still eating quite a bit to support breastfeeding. It’s pretty physically demanding to fuel both my own activity as well as my incredibly active child. Drifting again…
My favorite lunch is an egg and avocado sandwich. It takes little prep – hot pan on the stove, crack two eggs inside. While the eggs cook, toast bread and slice avocado. Smear the toast with my favorite coconut spread…
And then top with 1/2 an avocado (sometimes I’ll eat the whole thing – depends) and both eggs. Sprinkle of salt and it’s ready to go. So delicious.
If I’m eating during Cullen’s nap, I’ll throw the other avocado half in a baggie with some lime juice, and have it ready in the fridge for his dinner.
I’d say half of the week I eat while Cullen naps – my afternoon break. On those days he eats while were out and about – either at mom’s group or some food I’ve packed for on the go. The other half of the week, Cullen and I sit down and eat together.
The easiest way for me to make lunch while he is awake is to strap him into the high chair, distract him with toys or a water bottle, and quickly throw something together that we can both eat.
Mama bear, baby bear.
Olive oil tortilla from Trader Joe’s (obsessed) topped with hummus, half an avocado, and about 3/4 cup black beans for me.
The other half of the avocado, 1/2 cup black beans, and tortilla strips topped with hummus for Cullen.
And then we race to see who can finish first. Cullen almost always wins, and I am left dancing and singing in between bites.
Now this isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but another frequent lunch option is simple leftovers. When I cook at night, I try to cook big quantities – far more than we can eat in two servings. Hopefully there is enough for me to keep a portion at home, and Casey to pack the rest for lunch.
Yesterday’s lunch was about 1.5 cups of cooked wild rice blend, along with a mix of vegetables that looked scary but tasted delicious – purple cabbage, green beans, broccoli, mushrooms, and edamame.
The other main source of lunches and snacks is our pantry. I’m going to show some of our food prep coming up this weekend, but I’m trying to start prepping more cooked grains and things each Sunday. That way we go into the week with a fridge full of things like quinoa salads, cooked vegetables, and rinsed beans. It’s nice for Casey to have some packable options as well.
And of course there are days when there just isn’t time to spend 15 minutes assembling lunch. Enter my favorite soup…
We have about 20 cans of this in our pantry (no exaggeration), and Casey and I both eat them for lunch here and there. It’s a good blend of protein and vegetables, and while not perfect, it does the trick when I’m in a rush. I usually eat it with a few slices of toast slathered with coconut butter – delish. I think it’s important to note that while I’d always prefer to have time to make a wonderful prepared meal three times a day, sometimes convenience foods – like canned soup – win, and that’s okay. We do our best.
For snacks – I make sure to keep our pantry full of things like nuts and seeds. Easy to grab a few handfuls of while I’m running laps around the kitchen with Cullen, and more healthy than the granola or chocolate chips I was in the habit of munching on.
And when I do need a sugar fix, I have dried fruits like apricots and figs in there. I won’t pretend they are as satisfying as Ghirardelli, but they are still delicious and usually do the trick.
And since it is summer, I also keep the fridge stocked with easy grab n go fruit – like berries. I take a handful every time I open the doors.
So that’s what I’m lunching and snacking on these days. Nothing too crazy, but it’s a definitely step up from how heavily I was relying on convenience foods for a while. Do you guys have any favorite lunch trips or tricks? I’m always happy to hear new ideas!