Reinventing Date Nights After Baby
My husband and I used to go out to eat all the time. Or we would make a day of hitting up the farmer’s market and bringing home loads of fresh ingredients to prepare elaborate meals with. We both just love the art of dining; the excitement of new flavors and good conversation over a quality meal.
I suppose you could call us foodies.
But then… we had a baby. And we quickly learned that everything we had ever been told about parenthood was right. Having a baby really does change everything.
It wasn’t that we no longer enjoyed those nights out. Of course we still love to dine out when we get the chance. But now, it’s harder to bring our little sidekick along. She is nowhere near ready to sit through the long meals we used to enjoy, and it’s not like we can post her up at the bar for pre-dinner cocktails.
Dining out with our almost toddler usually involves ordering as soon as we sit down, coloring with her while we wait, eating as quickly as we can, and racing to get out of there before she has the chance to melt down.
Dining at home isn’t much better. Even with two sets of hands, it can be hard to entertain her and cook at the same time. And who has the energy to go through the effort of shopping for and preparing an elaborate meal, when there is a tiny little terrorist (I mean, adorable child) dictating your every move?
So, yeah… our date nights are fewer and farther between these days. But we have found a way to maintain our love of dining, even with the little one at home.
For us, one of the best tricks we’ve found is a meal subscription service. We happen to use Hello Fresh.
I’m sure by now most of you have heard of these meal prep subscription boxes. You sign up online and order a set number of meals for each week, choosing from their rotating menus. Then, a box is delivered to you with all the ingredients you’ll need to cook a delicious meal, and recipe cards to guide you through the process.
Of course, you do still need to prep and cook that food—an endeavor that can take up to an hour depending on the meal. But so much of the guesswork is taken out, and you really do save time by not having to plan and shop for the meal ahead.
Basically, it just streamlines the process—which is absolutely welcome when it comes to cooking for three.
My other go-to involves pulling from a cookbook or two that I already love and know I’ll use. Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless, and Everyday Super Food by Jamie Oliver are two I love and turn to regularly.
The trick to cookbook cooking is to find one with recipes you feel comfortable preparing, and to then challenge yourself to actually use that cookbook—pulling one or two recipes a week from its pages. The more you do this, the more secondhand it becomes. And you can begin meal planning in advance, which can make shopping a little easier to get through.
The truth is, as new parents, we’re still just so often too tired to do anything elaborate. So, yeah… sometimes there are takeout nights too. Or rushed meals we eat out, because even that sounds easier than trying to prepare anything.
But Hello Fresh and the use of cookbooks we already trust and like has helped.
And eventually, our girl will be interested in cooking alongside us, right?
Or maybe even cooking for us? One can dream….