Pregnant Cooking: Frugal Takeout 101

Normally on a Wednesday I would be posting a great recipe with a smorgasbord of pictures.  I just had a baby, so today I’m going easy on myself.  This is part of a series called Pregnant Cooking – a humorous look back over my two pregnancies and the food adventures they contained. 

Takeout meals are part of virtually every pregnant woman’s menu at some point, whether she likes it or not.  I thrive on making healthy, homecooked, inexpensive meals for my family.  But on the days when I’m just TOO TIRED to make anything (or too nauseous, or too swollen or achy or cranky) I give in with very little complaint to the takeout menu.

Our favorites:

  • local Italian and Chinese places
  • mall food (believe it or not)
  • Subway
  • Panera Bread

Out of these, the healthiest and most frugal options are probably Subway and Panera Bread.  If you know someone who’s expecting and are looking for a slightly unusual gift to give them, why not spring for a gift card to one of these places?  Get a few people to go in on it if your pregnant friend has a large family. 

I’m telling you – no matter how health or budget-conscious a woman is, there are days when she does NOT want to be on her feet cooking, especially if she’s pregnant or newly recovering.

I have to say a big “thaaaaaaaaank yyyyyooouuuuu!” (sung in opera voice) to my husband Jon for offering takeout as an option here and there during my pregnancies.  It was a relief knowing I didn’t have to ask and didn’t have to feel guilty about it. 

Takeout does get expensive though, and if you’re on a tight budget and no one is raining down gift cards on you, what can you do?  A few ideas, if I may:

  • Do all of your grocery shopping and gas pumping on the credit card that earns you the best reward $$$.  Use those rewards for restaurant gift cards that you know your family will enjoy.
  • Now and then, splurge on a rotisserie chicken.  It takes the burden of making the entrée off of you, and most men seem to love them!  You can pick them up at the deli counter with your regular shopping, and add a simple side of baby carrots and garlic toast

…or salad and biscuits.  That way you’re not paying for a whole takeout meal for every member of the family.  Just part of it.

  • Search online for printable coupons to your favorite restaurants.  You may have to join newsletters, etc., but I believe there are some good deals out there.  Might not hurt to call the restaurant also and see if they have any deals coming up in the next couple months.
  • If “takeout” is not in your vocabulary, here’s a suggestion: Save leftover meat and veggies by freezing them.  Over time you can build up quite a stash!  Thaw them all at once and make an easy, all-in-one meal by baking them in a pie dish or cast iron skillet, topped with left over mashed potatoes or biscuits.  Voila!  Shepherd’s Pie that you “took out” of your freezer.  Chances are you’ll save some money, since most people’s leftovers end up in the trash.  I’m guessing you’ll spend exactly…nothing extra on this dish.

  • One final suggestion: Try Once-a-Month Cooking!  Freezer meals have made my life SO MUCH EASIER postpartum that I am hooked forever.  I can hardly wait until the next cooking day!  Check out that link for a glimpse at one of our family Cooking Days!

If you know someone who’s pregnant or convalescing in some way and would like to get takeout or make a meal for them, here’s a tip:

Find out secretly what they like and which foods might make their digestion react poorly – maybe avoid cheese sauces and spicy food, for instance.  Make a LOT of whatever yummy food they would make for themselves, and save some out for your family.  Two birds with one stone, right?  Or if you can give the gift of takeout, God bless you.  I’m so grateful for the meals people made and bought for me over the last couple of years.  You guys are AWESOME!

And I couldn’t resist this…  My favorite takeout:

…ANYTHING “taken out” out of the garden.  But that’s totally stretching it, I realize.

If you have any suggestions for frugal takeout during pregnancy, please share them by posting a comment!  I’d love to hear (hoping to be pregnant again someday!) and I’m sure some Full Vine readers would appreciate it too.  🙂


2 thoughts on “Pregnant Cooking: Frugal Takeout 101

  1. Dave’s Market now has a whole “take-out” section. I find it kind of pricey, but a lot of times they will have special sales on particular pre-made items or their hot meals to go.

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