J.C. Wiatt (Diane Keaton) is a driven Manhattan career woman (nicknamed the “Tiger Lady”) typical of the 1980s whose fast-paced life leaves her with no time for romance or relaxation (or as the narrator in the beginning puts it she works “5 to 9″), though she derives pleasure from her frantic schedule and demanding job. She works as a management consultant and lives with an investment banker (Harold Ramis), whose job and life are likewise hectic. Her life is thrown into turmoil when she inherits a toddler, Elizabeth (twins Kristina and Michelle Kennedy), from a deceased cousin whom she hadn’t seen in over 30 years.
Caring for the child soon occupies much of her time and her career begins to suffer, culminating in the loss of her boyfriend and job. Wiatt tries to give Elizabeth up for adoption but finds that she has grown too attached to the child, forcing a reevaluation of her priorities. She moves into a house in the country in Vermont. Purchasing the home without first having seen it in person or having it inspected she finds it is riddled with problems (failing plumbing and heating, lack of water, bad roof).
Suffering a nervous breakdown and on the brink of financial collapse, she sees an opportunity to sell baby food applesauce she had concocted for Elizabeth from fresh ingredients. Amid the clamor for her new products she develops a relationship with local veterinarian Jeff Cooper (Sam Shepard). At first annoyed by him, she is opposed to Jeff’s overtures and is focused now on returning to New York as fast as possible. Finding a buyer for the house proves almost impossible.
After a rough start she succeeds in selling “Country Baby”, her gourmet baby food, and soon business is booming. Finally, her old boss (Sam Wanamaker) and his client (Pat Hingle) take notice. They offer to buy her company for millions, take her product nationwide, and give her back her career and high-prestige life. On the brink of accepting, she decides that she can grow her enterprise on her own without having to sacrifice her personal life. She returns to Vermont, to her new lover and adopted daughter.