3rd Trimester Meal Prep
Your due date is looming right around the corner, but I don't need to tell you that.
Have you thought of anything else?!?!
I remember so clearly how all-consuming that was... the thought that my baby could come any moment filled my head so entirely, there was barely room for anything else.
Whether it can't come fast enough or it's coming too fast, the reality is, you feel swollen like a balloon, exhausted but can't sleep, surging with emotions, and wishing you could just skip clothes all together.
You are not alone. This is a transition stage and you're going to make it through. Because you are a tough cookie. You were made for this.
Survival strategy: focus on meal prep
I would not recommend planning to do much cooking once babe arrives. Instead, build yourself an arsenal of nutrient dense meals and snacks, ready to go. Keeping focused on a tangible project, like batch cooking, is going to keep you sane during this angsty, in-between time. It is also going to make your postpartum period WORLDS easier.
Staying well fueled is the most powerful move you can make to keep your energy up.
No matter what route your baby takes to get here, you're going to need A LOT of protein, extra antioxidants and wound-healing nutrients like zinc (best source: meat/poultry/fish), vitamin-C (snack on bell peppers), and collagen (join the bone broth craze) for a speedy recovery. Your sleep, your schedule, even your mood, it's all out of your hands.
You CAN take charge of what you eat, if you plan ahead.
3 tips for postpartum eats:
Fuel frequently & forget meals. Sitting down to breakfast, lunch and dinner is not likely, at least not at first. Your schedule will be all over the place - sleeping at 2 p.m. (hopefully!) and snacking 2 a.m. I recommend focusing your prep on easy, nourishing snack-like foods, think veggie & egg-muffins, lactation cookies, power bars and smoothies.
Focus on finger foods. For the first month (or three) plan on foods you can eat with one hand while bouncing on a yoga ball (if you don't have one yet, get one of these on your registry stat.) Again, think fewer meals with lots of parts and pieces, like tacos, and more foods that give you multiple food groups in each bite, like Protein-Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (yes, chocolate is a food group) or Pumpkin Spice Energy Balls.
Prep proteins, get fruits & veggies fresh. Prep ahead proteins that you can easily layer onto a salad or a whole grain bowl, like turkey meatballs, salmon cakes, slow cooked pork or roasted chicken. After baby arrives, pull these lifesavers out of the freezer, send your person to the store for greens while you put a pot of quinoa on the stove or pop a sweet potato in the oven. Layer it all in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil & lemon juice and voila!
It's time to fuel-up, mama!
batch cook, baby!
Ideally, prep at least 3-4 nourishing eats per day, for at least the first month. Yes, this is a lot, but you'll be HUNGRY, and pouring cereal and milk into a bowl might be too much of a to do. Take your mind off your swollen ankles and focus on batch cooking absurd amounts of food. Fill your freezer as follows:
2 dozen egg muffins
16 Breakfast bean burritos for the freezer (I recommend adding a few handfuls of spinach or other leafy green to this recipe)
2 dozen Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
4 entrees in the freezer (things you can reheat & serve without much fuss)
1 dozen salmon cakes,
1 dozen turkey meatballs
As many jars of green smoothie as you still have room for in your freezer (you won't want to run the blender and risk waking the baby!)
(Yes, we broke down and purchased a freezer chest because after the batch-cooking came breastmilk storage. We had zero regrets about that purchase!)
Most importantly, Don't stress about not getting ALL of this done.
Getting even one nourishing meal/snack ready to go in your freezer is a win!
Jump on the meal train.
Having a project like meal prep is great for focusing on something other than the 1,000s of things you could worry about, but let's be real reals, you're tired and your back aches.
The solution? Ask for help!
The people in your life want a way to help, so let them cook for you! Ask a bestie to set up a meal train for you. I know, I know, it's hard to ask for favors, but it's a skill worth practicing. You're growing another human and you deserve some help!
Outlined above was my goal... but even as someone who loves to cook, I was also trying to finish up projects at work and take to heart everyone's advice to relax, eat out and go to the movies while still possible. That means batch-cooking happened, but not as extensively as I had intended. (Thankfully, my hubby makes a mean kale salad.)
The most important thing is that you take care of yourself by eating well. What's not important is who cooks the food.
Do what you can, mama, and let others help with the rest!