(As you may have guessed by my announcement yesterday, this series is so much fun for me to write right now, and oh-so-relevant!)
It's simply a reality of life, that our husband and children would like to eat even when we want to run from the kitchen. I wonder, though, how many of us have at some point thought something along these lines? "You mean, you still think you're getting supper tonight? Mommy's taking a sick day. There's a box of Cheerios in the cupboard. Help yourself."
Despite the ickiness, difficulty and even repulsion to food and cooking that we may feel during those early weeks and months, somehow, someway, we still need to put food on the table. Decent food would be nice. Healthy food would be a real bonus!
So how do we do it?
Here are the things that have worked for me while coping with my lack of desire/ability to cook during both this pregnancy and my previous ones, while still making sure that my family is fed to the very best of my ability:
** Start cooking up a storm the moment you see that second line appear. Cook and put away in the freezer as many meals or meal components as you possibly can in those early days and weeks. Last pregnancy, I managed to do a day of Once-a-Month-Cooking, and had my freezer stocked up with over 20 meals. This time, I only had just over a week after I found out, which happened to be a very, very busy week, right before we left for the Christmas holidays. I did my best to make 1 or 2 extra meals each day, and managed to put away 10 meals and a dozen muffins before we left town and the sickness hit.
With these frozen meals, you can add things like steamed veggies (use frozen if it's easier), a bagged salad mix or one of those organic spring mixes, some raw veggies with dip, or simply a loaf of bread and some butter. They might not be the most amazing meals you've ever made, but they will be decent, homemade meals, providing solid nutrition for you and everyone else, and they will save much time, money and nausea.
For some excellent resources and recipes for making freezer meals, check out the Nutritious Freezer Meal Carnival at Passionate Homemaking!
** Buy foods that make for very simple, but healthy, throw together meals. For us, this is usually something like sandwiches or wraps of some sort, or taco salad. It's cold, so I don't have to cook it or smell it (except for the ground beef in taco salad, though cold beans can be substituted), I simply have to lay the ingredients out on the counter and cut up some cheese or rip some lettuce, etc.
It helps to have a variety of bread items, such as bagels, tortillas, pitas or simply bread on hand, as well as things like deli meat (especially if you can get it nitrate-free), canned salmon (tuna is unfortunately a no-no during pregnancy), hard boiled eggs, plus all the other sandwich or salad makings your family enjoys.
** Buy some simple convenience foods. Even if it's not something you would usually buy. My reasoning is this: there are always those nights when I have nothing else I can serve and I simply can't pull a real meal together, but eating out would be far more expensive and even less nutritious. In these circumstances, I fall back on a few convenience foods, that either I (or my sweet husband, if I really just can't do it) can quickly prepare.
This time around, the items I chose (actually, my husband chose while grocery shopping for me, darling man that he is!) were: a case of Annie's Macaroni and Cheese (it's a bit more "real" than Kraft Dinner), jars of organic tomato pasta sauce to go over rice noodles, and a pack of 4 frozen pizzas from Costco (gosh, I must love you all to admit that we ate frozen pizzas!). Our toddler can't have wheat, so in those instances, he was served yogurt and applesauce, scrambled eggs and wheat-free toast, etc.
** Use your crock pot. It can be such a good friend to you, if you let it. Last week, I used mine to put in a roast, plus veggies (potatoes, onions, celery, carrots). I did it in the morning, which is my best time of the day (you'll need to do this at whatever time of day you feel best- maybe for you that's in the afternoon, or right before bed). That night, all that we (Ryan and I) had to do was team up to slice the roast and use the drippings to make gravy, and we had a really nice meal. I then used the leftover veggies and gravy for lunches, and the leftover roast beef to make simple fajitas, with very little extra effort. You could easily do this with a roasting chicken and then freeze baggies of the extra cooked meat. Soups and stews are also a breeze this way, or sauces to pour over rice. If the smell of the crock-pot is too much for you, choose a room of the house where it won't bother you, and put it in there (it might help to crack a window open, too).
For a ton of amazing crock pot recipes, visit A Year of Crockpotting. Me and my new crock pot can't wait to try some more of them out!
** Don't expect the unrealistic. Normally, I bake all of the bread that my family eats, as well as make things like tortillas. I knew that this was absolutely not feasible, and so I stocked up on the highest quality breads that I could get (organic sprouted wheat breads and tortillas, and sourdough spelt and rye breads), and kept them in the freezer. It was so good to just go down and grab a loaf, and not feel the pressure to make something.
** Let others help you. If someone asks how they can help or what would serve your family, don't be afraid to say that a meal would be a real blessing. If you are invited over for dinner somewhere, say yes! Even if you don't each much, at least your family will enjoy the meal. In the very beginning, see if you can find a friend who will join you for a morning of cooking, to help you stock up your freezer. If you are really, really struggling and are one of those who women whose morning sickness is quite severe or extended, let your need be known. It's hard for anyone to help if they don't know that you are struggling. Others are often more than happy to help, so let them!
Above all, remember that this is a short season. This too will pass! And please, don't feel guilty for not being able to make the kinds of nutritious, homemade meals that you would prefer to serve your family. Simply do the best that you can, and know that it is enough (though I will try to offer some tips on getting in that nutrition in a later post). Your efforts and desire to serve your family honor God, and He is rich and abounding in grace for each and every season of life that we find ourselves in.
How do you get through morning sickness and make sure your family is still as well-fed as possible (and yourself, for that matter)? What are your tips and techniques? Do share!