The first trimester of pregnancy can be a very challenging time for many women. Those early months slam many women with extreme fatigue and nausea or morning sickness. It’s difficult to stay on your food budget when all you have the energy and motivation to eat are pickles, but I have been trying to stay on track at least a little bit. Here are some of the solutions I have found to stay on budget while pregnant, exhausted, and nauseous.
These are just some examples of cravings and aversions some women may feel. The important take-away from these examples is that I was able to identify — usually by trial and error — what it was about the food that I craved or disliked, and found a cheaper alternative that satisfied the same craving or avoided the aversion. This is something I learned to do when we slashed our budget last summer, except instead of food, the subject was money: What outcome am I looking for when I spend this money, and can I get that outcome while spending less? It’s a profound change of perspective that I’m eternally grateful to have experienced, and I honestly had no idea that it would translate so well into other other areas of my life.
Craving: Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee. I know that West Coasters may not understand the D&D coffee fascination, but here in the Northeast it’s endemic. An iced coffee is about $2.50, so I’ve been getting myself into trouble with this craving. I’ve spent more at D&D this past month than all of last year.
Solution: Make Coffee Ahead of Time. One morning, when I couldn’t get my hands on any D&D iced coffee, I brewed coffee, poured it into my mug, and had zero desire to drink it. That’s when I realized that this craving has more to do with an aversion to hot coffee than something special about Dunkin’ Donuts’ coffee. To solve the $2.50 per day addiction, I keep a french press of coffee in the fridge. Sometimes I brew it the night before, but if I forget then I can pour the hot coffee into a glass full to the brim with ice, add cold milk, and it’ll get down to a much cooler temperature. Thankfully, my office has an ice machine, so that’s been my go-to solution at work.
Craving: Chinese Food. I love American Chinese food, but I couldn’t say that I’ve ever really craved it until now. I’ve only caved to this craving one or two times, thankfully, but still — at $10 a plate, it’s an expensive craving to have. Especially when I don’t want to make dinner, most nights I am tempted to order takeout.
Solution: Freezer Potstickers. After one particularly delicious lunch of sesame chicken with way too much rice, I realized that I had craved the starchy-ness of the rice to calm my stomach and the salty-ness that is the lore of the stereotypical pregnant woman craving pickles. I could satisfy that by digging into my freezer for some 3-minute microwave rice and the Trader Joe’s chicken potstickers that I picked up the other day on a whim. (or was it a craving?) I don’t usually rely on pre-made food, but they are much less expensive than going out to a restaurant or ordering takeout. (I also
have had 3 big jars of pickles in my stockpile, just in case I just want the salt!)
Aversion: Dinner. When I’m walking to my car in the afternoon, on my way home from work, one thought fills me with dread: Dinner. My nausea kicks into high gear in the afternoon, so even thinking about cooking turns my stomach. To make matters worse, sometimes I can’t stand the smell of meat cooking. So, each night that I drive home thinking “what should I make for dinner?” has the potential to make me really sad that I have zero motivation to cook a nutritious meal for my family and anxious at the same time, because dinnertime waits for no one when you have a preschooler.
Solution: Use the Freezer, Nix the meat, and Get It Done Quickly. One particularly ambitious morning, I set some beans to soak and some leftover veggies to cook into stock (recipe is here). When I came home, I was greeted by a delicious smell that didn’t turn my stomach. Hallelujah! I made a bean soup without meat and was in heaven. I ate two bowls. It clued me in to the fact that my aversion is not to an evening meal, but to meat. Now that I know, I either don’t use meat, or I try to cook it really quickly. The other night, I made a pilaf with stew beef that was perfect because I didn’t have to work with the meat or even smell it cooking — I just dumped it into a hot pot, covered it with rice and carrots, and put a lid on it. An hour later, we had a meal that even I could enjoy.
How about you: Did you have any strange cravings or aversions when you were pregnant? What did you do to satisfy them?
(Potstickers photo Source)