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Help Wanted What's Cooking?

Excerpted from Feed Yourself, Feed Your Family

Help Wanted: turning offers of help into plates of food (and clean dishes)

Veteran moms will tell you: if someone offers to help—to hold the baby while you eat, to bring you a pizza, to unload the dishwasher—don’t say no. If you refuse these offers, they have a way of stopping, and that includes when your spouse or partner volunteers to diaper and dress your newborn or bring you some lemonade or your older child wants to make you a tray of food. So what if the diaper is crooked or he put the baby in the blue outfit instead of the yellow one? Big deal if the lemonade needs more sugar or your five-year-old used half a jar of peanut butter on one sandwich. Not only is it the thought that counts—it’s the fact that they are willing to help when you need it most, and when you’re really, really hungry. Friends and family will be willing to do just about anything to get a look at a new baby. When they say, “Oh, he’s adorable! Can I do anything while I’m here?” answer, “You sure can!” Besides the usual housekeeping chores, focus on food:

• Keep a shopping list for friends on the refrigerator door.

• If they offer to make you a meal, suggest a recipe.

• Let them take older kids out for lunch or dinner, or make them their favorite meal.

• Let them cook for you in your kitchen (and clean up).

• If they are cooking, ask them to make a double batch of something—one for now and one for the freezer. (See the list of freezer-friendly recipes on page 79 of Feed Yourself, Feed Your Family).

• When they’re over for a visit, ask them to help you prep some snacks and mini-meals—wash and chop fresh fruits and vegetables, make up sandwiches or wraps, whip up a batch of smoothies or low-fat yoghurt dips.

If you have other children, depending on their ages, let them help out with food, too—with the assistance and supervision of their dad or another adult, they can put together their own meals, and make food for you, too. If you discourage them from helping out now, they may not be so willing to offer down the road. By helping to prepare food for the family, they will feel good knowing they are contributing to the wellbeing of their new sibling (and Mom, too). So just say yes when someone wants to help. And someday soon you can return the favor. There’s a new mom out there who will really appreciate it.

Sample freezer-friendly recipe

Coriander Butternut Squash Soup

Lois Rowlands

Lois Rowlands

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 large butternut squash (2 and 3/4-pound), halved, peeled, seeded, and chopped, or 1 package (20 oz) fresh pre cut butternut squash
5 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or water
1⁄4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, optional
1⁄4 cup sour cream, optional

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the coriander seeds and cook, stirring, until golden brown and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the squash and stir well, then add the broth or water.

2. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cook until the squash is tender enough for a knife to easily pierce through, about 30 minutes.

3. Transfer the soup to a blender and carefully puree until smooth. Work in batches if necessary. Return the soup to the saucepan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm over low heat if you are not serving immediately.

4. Divide the soup among serving bowls. Top with cilantro and sour cream.


  1. […] After a long day with your baby, preparing a meal may feel like the last thing you want to do, especially if evenings are “fussy” for your baby, you have a tired toddler, or you just want some adult conversation. Again, if you have family and friends asking how they can help you, ask them to bring you dinners! […]

  2. […] help. When you receive an offer of help, take the offer seriously. You just had a baby, and there is no […]

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