Parenting 101: New Baby Meal Planning

Becoming a parent is one of… well, hey, let’s go ahead and say THE most intense, amazing and overwhelming experience of a lifetime. I’ve had a lot of people ask me lately for some advice on how to transition into this new phase, so I thought I’d put together a list of some of the best tips and advice I’ve heard and learned in my five-time dad experience! We’ll cover my first tip in today’s post.

Plan Ahead

Unless your experience is crazy different from everyone else’s, you’ll have a good nine months at least to prepare, so use it well! Throw a potluck party (or a few!) and have everyone bring a freeze-able meal. This way you can stock up on ready-made meals with half the work – and this will really come in handy for those first few months with a new baby. Not having to worry about cooking will save you a ton of stress – and all that time you would’ve spent cooking meals you can now spend with the little one! Here’s a great ready-to-freeze meal idea to get you started – it’s healthy, gourmet and awesome comfort food to boot!

Spinach Mushroom Lasagna

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Ingredients:

For the ragu:

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes 
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 

For the lasagna:

  • 3 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 pounds part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces asiago cheese, shredded
  • 2 pounds ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 12 ounces dried lasagna noodles

Instructions:

Ragu: Soak the porcini mushrooms in 1 cup hot water until soft, about 15 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl. Chop; reserve the liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes. Add the portobello and shiitake mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are soft, 5 more minutes.

Add the porcini mushrooms; cook 2 minutes. Add the reserved porcini liquid, bring to a boil and cook until reduced slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice, 2 cups water and the bay leaves; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium low, add the parsley and 1 teaspoon salt and simmer, stirring a few times, until thick, about 1 hour, 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.

Lasagna filling: Mix the parmesan, mozzarella and asiago; set 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mixture aside. Combine the remaining cheese mixture in a large bowl with the ricotta, eggs, spinach, nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook as the label directs. Drain and rinse under cold water; shake off the excess water.

Spread 1 cup of the ragu in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Add a layer of noodles, then half of the spinach mixture and 2 cups ragu. Repeat with another layer of noodles, spinach mixture and ragu. Top with the remaining noodles and ragu and sprinkle with the reserved cheese. Cover with foil, place on a baking sheet and bake 50 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden, about 25 more minutes. Let rest before serving.

For all you new, or about to be new, parents – share your questions and experiences below! 

-Dean

 

Photo Credit: GoodStuffGuidePink-Parsley.
Family
  • Jenny Jenny

    Sounds really good! My kids are fussy extreme I don’t think they will eat it ;)
    Can you sub in regular mushrooms if you don’t have the “fancy” ones? Sometimes in Canada we can’t always have access to some of these.

  • Dean McDermott

    Oh don’t I know it! I survived on canned veggies growing up in Canada :)

    Sure, you can sub regular button or cremini mushrooms – which may make it easier for the kiddos to get on board with, too!

  • litlredneck

    Would you completely bake this off before you freeze it?

  • Mom of 5 little girls

    For the most part my 5 girls love lasagna,and even like spinach, but they won’t eat any type of mushrooms at all. What would you suggest I could replace it with for my them to eat it and it still have a great taste?
    Thanks a bunch!

  • Jun Alapag

    i wish i had kids of my own and a girlfriend (instead of marriage) i don’t mind making food for them. and Dean believe me it will be on me and on the house. lol.

  • Jun Alapag

    …and what is rule number two?

  • tetelle

    ca ma l’air delicieux,je ne suis pas tres dou

  • Dean McDermott

    Wow, 5 girls?! You’ve got your hands full, huh? This is a great question – you can sub any kind of lean protein for the mushrooms to get that same rich, meaty texture and flavor – and feel free to throw in any veggies your kids do enjoy! :)

  • Dean McDermott

    I recommend it because it makes for a faster meal when you’re ready to eat it :)

  • Dean McDermott

    Stay tuned for next week’s follow up!

  • Dean McDermott

    Je suis desole, ma francais et mal!! Pratique rend parfait, alors continuez

  • NathouFranckLiam

    Very good recipe! I am fortunate to have a little boy who loves to eat spinach and mushrooms! (His favorite veal ragout with spinach and chickpeas)
    My husband and I each prepare our turn stews.
    Is that with all these ingredients, it will make it nice meal.
    Impossible for me to buy ready-made meals!

  • Simplysandi

    I’m not a new parent.. my son is 27 who likes his lasagna very meaty. I’m always looking for a good vegetable version. This looks delish.

  • Dean McDermott

    Haha, 2 or 27, they’re always our kiddos! Hope you guys enjoy this one :)

  • Dean McDermott

    Oh wow, you guys are lucky parents! Good for you for introducing him to all that good for ya stuff!