Everyone loves to tell you how you should be eating during pregnancy.
But what they don’t say is that it isn’t easy for everyone. If cooking isn’t your normal, it can be hard to find an hour or two every night to prep and clean. Since this requires you to change your nightly habit, it also takes a major priority shift.
Actually, not so major.
That’s because, in this post, we’re sharing 9 hacks you can use to speed-up mealtime—even if you really hate cooking.
9 Healthy Pregnancy Meal Hacks
#1 Get Friendly with Your Slow Cooker
A slow cooker is an amazing tool for anyone that doesn’t have time to cook—whether it be a busy professional, parent or pregnant lady.
If you don’t have a Crock-Pot or Instant Pot, the best way to describe it is “set it and forget it” cooking. You can dump in the ingredients a recipe calls for, turn it on low for 8 hours and come home to a delicious meal. If you don’t have time in the morning, prepare the ingredients at night so you can quickly put it in the slow cooker before heading out the door. Here’s 25 Quick and Easy Slow Cooker Recipes to get you started.
#2 Make “T.V. Dinners”
If you’re someone who frequently turns to T.V. dinners or easy premade food, make a healthy version instead. Choose a day on the weekend and make a couple of meals in bulk. Store what you’ll eat that week in the fridge, then the rest in the freezer. Whenever there’s nothing to cook or you’re simply too lazy, just pop your pre-made T.V. dinner in the microwave. As opposed to store-bought meals, it’s likely cheaper and definitely healthier!
#3 Prep, Freeze and Blend
If coffee is your breakfast and you’re trying to change that to benefit your baby, this tip is for you. In less the time it takes to brew coffee, you can have a delicious and nutritious smoothie. Choose your favorite smoothie recipe and prep the ingredients for multiple servings. Freeze each serving in an individual bag. In the morning, simply pop the ingredients into your blender, add milk and drink.
Bonus hack: If you hate this idea because you hate cleaning blenders, we have a trick. Add hot water and a few drops of dish soap into the blender and blend. Rinse and it’s ready for tomorrow again!
#4 Take Meal Offers
Do you have a neighbor or friend that hasn’t stopped offering help since you’ve announced your pregnancy? If you know they’re a good cook, take them up on that offer! Although you may feel like a burden at first, remember that doing a good deed will make them feel good—especially if you frequently remind them how much you appreciated it.
If you’re too shy to ask, next time they offer, you can say something like, “I can’t think of anything specific but I’m trying to eat right and I’m struggling to make healthy food every night. If you have any suggestions on premade food, it would be helpful.” Without outright stating your request, many will get the hint and whip you up a nice ready-to-eat meal. Of course, asking them is okay too because they offered for a reason!
#5 Meal Kit Boxes with Healthy Pregnancy Dinner Recipes
Plenty of meal kit services have popped up over the past few years. Although this won’t necessarily save you time cooking or prepping, it will save you time grocery shopping and deciding on recipes. Many services also include the nutritional value of each meal, so there’s no guessing, either. Here’s how meal kits generally work:
- You choose a package of the number of meals you’d like each week and how many servings you need for each meal (think about leftovers, too!)
- You can choose the meals you’d like out of a set “menu” each week
- Your kit is delivered to your home or office in an ice-packed box
- Each meal you choose comes with the measured ingredients needed and a recipe card
- You can use the ingredients and recipe to make meals throughout the week without needing to buy anything extra.
You can Google “meal kit boxes” to see which ones are available in your state. The most popular services are Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Sun Basket, Daily Harvest and Home Chef.
#6 Make a Menu/Meal Kit for Yourself
If you find that meal kit boxes are above your budget, you can opt to make your own. This is similar to meal prep, only without actually prepping the meals. This way, you decide on your meals for the week beforehand, saving you time throughout the week (or last-minute trips for fast food). Then, you can write an ingredient list and grocery shop. To save you a little headache on weeknights, store everything you need for each meal together and have the recipes on-hand. When you’re ready to eat dinner, everything you need is in front of you with very little thinking needed.
#7 Stick to Easy Pregnancy Meals
There’s no kidding yourself that eating healthy takes a bit of extra effort. However, it doesn’t require you become a chef and spend hours in the kitchen. If you’re choosing recipes that have many steps and require a lot of time, you’re less likely to make it. Set yourself up for success by sticking to easy pregnancy meals only. When choosing recipes, keep in mind:
- If you’re already familiar with the cooking technique, you’ll likely save time
- Recipes with fewer ingredients generally take less time to prep
- Choosing ingredients you’re familiar with means less hunting around the grocery store and questioning “did I make that right?”
- Each time you make the same recipe, it will probably become quicker
Here’s 29 Healthy 15-Minute Meals for inspiration.
#8 Pregnancy Meal Groups
If you have 1 or a couple of friends that are pregnant, this idea can save you both a lot of time. If you don’t, you may consider bringing the idea up in a prenatal class or try to meet other local expecting women who are interested. Another option is to ask in a local Facebook group for pregnant women.
The idea is that everyone makes 1 or 2 meals in bulk. They then divvy it up and swap meals so everyone has a variety to eat throughout the week. As opposed to meal prepping 5 different meals per person, this saves everyone a lot of time. Of course, you’ll want the meals agreed upon ahead of time so everyone enjoys them. You may also wish to set a price limit on each meal to ensure it’s fair and no one feels cheated.
#9 Fill Your Cooking Silence
Finally, even if it’s just 15 minutes, it’s likely you’ll be spending some time in the kitchen. If prepping, cooking and cleaning feel like a waste of time to you, find a way to make it more enjoyable. Instead of listening to silence (making your annoyance over cooking multiply), consider these ideas:
- Listen to a podcast— It could be something fun, inspirational, hobby-related or work-related.
- Listen to an audiobook— Fiction or non-fiction. Audiblehas many options when you sign up for a membership. If you have a library card, you can use the audiobook app Libby for free!
- Put on music— Have a little fun and get your groove on, if you’re feeling’ it!
- Watch a show or movie— If you’re cooking a longer recipe, bring your laptop or tablet into the kitchen and turn on something interesting (just keep it out of your cooking area to prevent accidents).
- Talk on the phone— Catch up with an old friend or family member so you’re doing 2 productive things at once.
More Pregnancy Eating Tips
To make the most out of your food and time, check out our other guides on eating during pregnancy:
- 33 Satisfying Pregnancy Snacks Perfect for Morning Sickness
- Can Pregnant Women Eat or Drink This? 27 Common Questions
- Pregnancy Smoothies: 8 Overly Delicious Recipes
- What to Eat When You Have Gestational Diabetes: The Complete Guide
- Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
- Intuitive Eating During Pregnancy: What It Is & Why You Should Do It
- Vegan Pregnancy: Is It Safe?
Summary of Easy Pregnancy Meal Hacks
Eating healthy is always important, but doubly so when you’re looking after a baby inside your womb. If you’re having trouble squeezing in the time to make meals, the hacks shared in this post can help you save time and effort. Remember: The easier it is to do, the more likely you are to do it. And, once you build a habit of cooking, it will become even more mindless.
P.S. Have you tried a fetal heartbeat monitor yet? This handheld device allows you to hear your baby while she’s still inside the womb. Many mothers find the experience calming and say it helps them bond better.
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