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Fourth Trimester Food Preparation

To say that my hubs is cooking-challenged would the understatement of the century. I truly do not know how he lived on his own for so many years! Actually, I do, he ate some grilled chicken that he made on a George Foreman grill. Every. Single. Night. 

So we have an agreement, I do all of the cooking, grocery shopping, and food prep. While he does all of the dishes, garbage, and recycling. I think it works out nicely as the control freak in me doesn’t have to share the kitchen when I’m cooking! Plus, I hate washing dishes!

So, what’s a gal to do with a newborn and a toddler when she wants to eat somewhat healthy food and not break the bank ordering take out every night? Cook and freeze all of the food, that’s what. 

Side note for my mamas who plan to breastfeed. You need more extra calories a day (about 500) when lactating than you did during pregnancy! This is so important to keep up your energy levels and your milk supply. Now is not the time to slack on your nutritional intake. I also recommend continuing to take your prenatal vitamins during the fourth trimester as your body is recovering from some serious trauma!

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Here’s a little recap of what I have done to prepare for those first few months when my hands will quite literally be full but I need to get dinner on the table. This is my Fourth Trimester Preparation Guide. 

FOURTH TRIMESTER PREPARATION GUIDE IN THREE EASY STEPS

Mamas (and moms to be) please understand that I started this prep at the end of my second trimester, so I have had about 8 weeks already to work on this. Do not wait until you are 36 weeks pregnant, huge and tired, to try to get this all done. It’s a lot of work and I don’t want you overdoing it! Do just a little every weekend or when you have some spare time and you will amass a great collection of ready to eat foods. I should also mention that I have an extra freezer at my house because I like to freeze foods year round, and it’s also great to have extra frozen storage when building your breast milk supply!

  1. First step: Think about what you like, what you eat on a solid rotation, and what your comfort foods are. You may also want to consider the weather (I don’t recommend making chili and soup if you will be eating these foods in the middle of the summer). What I will say is, this isn’t the time to explore with new recipes. Make what you know and will be happy to eat after a long day. 
  2. Step two: Think about different times of day. It’s great to make meatballs and sauce but do you want to eat that for breakfast? Also think about how many people you need to serve. First time moms, you only need enough for two, but some may be prepping for a larger family. 
  3. Step three: Make a list of your recipes and the ingredients you will need (as well as quantities) and make sure you are considering if you will be doubling or even tripling a recipe. What I liked to do was double every recipe I made for dinner so we had a fresh hot meal and enough to freeze for another future meal. Plan out when you will make these recipes, group them together so you only have to prep certain ingredients once. For instance, I spent one weekend making five different types of muffins.
THE BEST FOURTH TRIMESTER FOODS

Here are my go to foods for that fourth trimester. Keep in mind, I tried to do this for my first and only had enough food for about 2 weeks, primarily only dinners. This time around my goal was to be able to eat for a whole month, not including dinners brought to us by friends and family or fresh produce and dairy.

ITEMS TO PURCHASE AND KEEP HANDY IN FREEZER
  • Cauliflower crust pizza – I like Caulipower and Newman’s Own
  • Burritos – Trader Joe’s makes some awesome varieties (with meat or vegetarian)
  • Multigrain Waffles – try Kodiak cakes for a higher protein/fiber option
  • Frozen fruit (no sugar added) for smoothies 
  • Frozen Veggies like peas, chopped onions 
  • Raw, cleaned shrimp
  • Trimmed skinless, boneless chicken breast 
  • Ground turkey 
  • Butter
MUFFINS

As mentioned before, I made five different types of muffins. The reason for this is that muffins freeze well and you can take just a few out of the freezer and let them thaw in the fridge or pop one in the microwave for a quick thaw.  I’m no baker, so I used recipes from popular bloggers and used those, with maybe one or two modifications. *Breads like zucchini and banana bread will work well here too, you just have to thaw the whole thing at once. With the muffins you can have a different flavor every day!

PANCAKES

Have you ever frozen pancakes? It’s a serious game changer. They defrost so well after just a minute or so in the microwave and taste like they are fresh! I have a go to pancake recipe that I use and make different tweaks to every time. The original recipe is amazing so check it out! Sometimes I use whole wheat flour or even add in flax meal to replace some of the flour. However I make them, they always come out delicious!

BREAKFAST BURRITOS

So easy to make and a nice, high protein option for your morning.

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen shredded potatoes
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ cup shredded cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • High heat oil for cooking
  • Cumin Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Cayenne (for additional spice, optional)
  • 8 wraps, low carb/high fiber if possible (try Tumaro’s brand)
  • Foil and wax paper

Method

  • Heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat.
  • When hot, add the potatoes and onions. Season with the spices to your liking. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy, about 8 minutes.
  • While potatoes are cooking, scramble the eggs in a bowl, add in half the cheese and the milk.
  • In a small pot, add the beans and season with the spices to your liking. Simmer until warmed through.
  • Remove the potato and onion mixture from the pan, place in a bowl lined with paper towel (this will collect the oil to prevent the wrap from getting soggy).
  • In the same pan, lower the heat to low and add the eggs. Cook until congealed, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • For each wrap, add eggs, beans, potatoes and onions, and an extra sprinkle of cheese. Roll up into a burrito, and wrap in wax paper then foil.
  • Place in refrigerator for a few hours to cool and then freeze.
  • When ready to eat, remove the wrap from the foil and microwave for 60-90 seconds, then heat on a non-stick pan over medium high-heat until heated throughout.

*You can replace the beans with your choice of meat, crumbled sausage, bacon, or even swap out the eggs for ground chicken or turkey for an easy pre-made dinner.

LASAGNA

I made one with meat and one with veggies. This is a great option for something you can thaw that provides multiple meals. If you have family coming over to visit baby, I recommend popping one of these in the oven. Your in-laws will think you are a real life superhero. 

MEATBALLS & TOMATO SAUCE

All you have to do is make the pasta! So easy and one of my favorite comfort foods!

As you can see, I made A LOT of sauce, my belly is almost as big as the pot! (Made at 36 weeks) Maybe one day I’ll give you my recipe… one day.

VEGGIE BURGERS

These were inspired by a vegetarian friend who made them for her fourth trimester. I pieced together a few different recipes to create one amazing burger. Perfect consistency, awesome flavor, and healthy too! This recipe makes 20 patties. I found these burgers were just delicious paired with avocado and a little hot sauce on a whole wheat bun!

Ingredients

  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, grated (use a microplane for best results)
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup quinoa cooked with 2 cups of chicken bone broth
  • 6 small sweet potatoes, roasted
  • 4 cups quick cook oats
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, will add some heat)
  • 1 teaspoon salt 

Method

  • After cooking the quinoa and roasting the potatoes, remove the skin from the potatoes and let them cool completely.
  • Preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or Silpat mat).
  • Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and combine well. I used the paddle mixer. 
  • Use a half cup measure to scoop out even sized portions and form into patties. Brush each side with your preferred oil (I used olive oil) and bake on each side for 18-20 minutes. 

*Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container or ziploc bag to freeze. No need to thaw, just pop one in a heated skillet over medium-high heat with a little oil and cook until heated through. 

CHILI

See my go to Turkey Lentil Chili recipe here. Freezing sauces and soups in ziploc bags is a huge space saver as they freeze flat!

BEEF STEW

America’s Test Kitchen has hands down the BEST beef stew I’ve ever made. Check out their Make Ahead Cook book, it’s packed with tons of recipes that are perfect for this type of prep. 

BONE BROTH & HERB CUBES 

Not exactly recipes, but major flavor enhancers that are great to have on hand. I make bone broth using my Instapot every time I make a whole chicken. Place remaining chicken, bones, and skin in Instapot and cover fill to max line with water. Set on high pressure for 2 hours and then strain out the golden broth. As for the herb cubes, whenever I have left over fresh herbs, I chop them up and put them in an ice cube tray with olive oil. Freeze and use whenever you need to infuse some flavor to a recipe – so easy!

PESTO & GREMOLATA 

Another way to utilize extra herbs. I had a really bountiful herb garden this year (thanks quarantine?) and I didn’t want to waste anything. 

See my recipes here.



I hope this guide helps you stay healthy and happy when bonding with your new bundle of joy! Be sure to tag @ashleyshawnutrition and @preg_appetit on Instagram with pics if you make any of the recipes so I can cheer you on!

This post can also be found on Ashley Shaw’s website https://www.babyfoodforthought.com/ – please visit her site for more great recipes and diet advice.

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