6 Simple Steps to Getting Back into the Kitchen After Baby

Cooking is so important to me. Not only do I like to feed my family meals that I have prepared, but I also truly enjoy following a good recipe or creating my own one of a kind dish. Getting back in the kitchen was important to me after we welcomed our second baby, Cecilia. Not only because I love cooking but I am also living in a new country, filled with endless new ideas to add to my recipe book. If I'm being honest, it took me about a month until I really had the energy to spend grocery shopping and cooking a solid meal,  but once I got back into the swing of things it felt so good to be chopping and cooking again. Here are some of my foolproof hacks to make getting back into the kitchen an easy transition.

1. Don't set your expectations too high.
I aim for three good home cooked meals each week. The days where Ryan has to work 12 hour shifts, or we have two doctor appointments during the day, I go ahead and dip into my freezer stash. The last thing I want is to be stressed out and in a horrible mood when I sit down to eat the dinner that I planned, prepped and cooked. 

2. Set yourself up for success.
In the old days when there was just one kid involved, I was really good at getting everything prepped right after I went to the grocery store. But, now that I have a little one that nurses, she always wants to eat as soon as we get home from the store. So I have had to kind of change my routine of prepping. I try to prep all of my vegetables and ingredients before I actually get in the kitchen to cook dinner. If I have a down moment during the day while my oldest is at preschool, I go ahead and cut the vegetables. If the baby is napping and I have already had my power nap, I prep. One of those days where the baby takes a 4 hour nap? Prep all of your meals for the week, trust me you will thank yourself later. It is so much simpler to cook if you have everything prepped and ready. 

3. Distract, distract, distract! 
Luckily, our island in the kitchen is big enough for Luke to sit and color or paint while I cook. He is really good at doing an activity if I sit with him for a few minutes and walk him through what to do and then get dinner ready. Aren't bouncers a gift from God? As long as CC is fed, changed and happy, she will sit in that for a few minutes while I get everything ready. I occasionally wear her, but I am still learning to love that process! 

4. Use a grocery delivery service. 
For those of you that are in the states, the curbside grocery is really taking off. Take advantage of it! I hate grocery shopping, but love cooking. I would rather use my energy to cook in the kitchen than to push a stroller around and try to keep a baby happy while we are shopping. I love the service, The Set Table, they are available out here in Okinawa as well as Leavenworth Kansas, so check them out if you are local. They give you everything pre-measured, all you have to do is read the recipe and prepare the vegetables. It has saved me SO much time you would not believe it. I try to order one or two meals from them a week, which is one or two meals less that I have to worry about. Not in those two areas? Try another meal delivery service.

5. Keep your recipe expectations low! 
As much as I love cooking Rachael Ray dishes, those are just not doable at this point in our routine. Maybe in a few years I'll have the time and the patience to go to three different stores finding all of the ingredients, but for now I love the 3 to 5 ingredient recipes. I also stick to the dinners that I am very familiar with. You know the ones that your husband got sick of a few weeks into your marriage? Those are perfect for right now! 

6. As always, double up those recipes. 
You all know by now that I love having a freezer stash! If I am able to cook one night then why not go ahead and double that recipe so I can freeze the dinner and use it at a later date? It just makes so much sense and has made my life so much easier! I made my Lasagna recipe a few weeks ago (which yields FOUR lasagnas), so yesterday when I was sick all day, I threw in the extra one that I had frozen and dinner was done.  Most recipes can either be cooked and frozen or prepped and frozen.

Happy Cooking,

Our Favorite Personalized Big Brother Book

Welcoming Cecilia into the family has gone exceptionally well. Cue the eye rolls, now. But, seriously it has been a joy with very little growing pains. Sure, she is a bit fussier than Lucas was at her age and yes, as always, nursing took a few weeks to get the hang of. But, Lucas has been a champ through the process and he is such a good big brother. I think some of the reason that it is going well, is because he was so prepared for this huge event. 

While searching for big brother gifts, I came across the personalized books made by MarbleSpark. Lucas is currently learning how to write his name and he is obsessed with finding "L" all over and loves when he sees his name on paperwork and letters. So, naturally,  I had a feeling that he would love reading a book starring himself. MarbleSpark had just launched a Superhero book, Every Superhero Needs a Sidekick, and I knew it was PERFECT for Lucas. 

Personalization is super simple and quick, just a few minutes really. And the best part? You can customize the character to look like your little one. After you personalize, you can see how the book will look through  preview feature. When it arrived at the post office, Lucas could not have been more excited to open his package. He couldn't believe it actually said his name. And, yes, he did notice that the Lucas in the book looked eerily similar to himself. Since he has received it we have read it no less than 100 times and every time he has a HUGE smile on his face.

MarbleSpark is currently running a giveaway to celebrate the launch of Every Superhero Needs a Sidekick, so make sure to enter for your chance to win here (giveaway has ended).. While you are there make sure to visit their blog to read about the inspiration for this wonderful book. 
I am also super excited to offer my readers 15% of ALL books on MarbleSpark. Personalize your very own book and use code Q5SUK2DP at checkout (offer good until 2/10/2017). They even have a cute Christmas book that you can personalize. We are currently waiting on Cecilia's book to arrive, God Whispered Your Name. 

MarbleSpark is a wonderful little company that not only makes great books, but also has superb customer service. This book will be with us for years to come and it will always help us to remember this special time. Thank you, MarbleSpark! 

Happy Reading, 

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are completely my own.