Growing a baby is tough work. There are endless worries and to-dos from researching the safest car seat to filtering through all your face creams, lotions and soaps that may contain harmful ingredients. What’s crucial though is caring for your body during a time when you are needing nourishment for more than yourself.
Meal planning makes most people groan and meal planning while pregnant can seem down right daunting. Complicated recipes, finding the time to shop for ingredients, and then educating yourself and basic nutrition while completely avoiding certain foods…it’s exhausting! Pregnancy Plate is here to help you plan your meals to not only make life easier, but make sure you are taking care of you and babe.
We talked to Shannon Irving about her startup to learn a little bit more about the story and how she manages building a business and growing family.
Tell us about yourself.
Hi, I’m Shannon Irving! I have an amazing husband, Frank, an awesome 2 year old daughter, Evelyn, a baby girl due in June, and a rescued German Shepherd, Butter. I grew up in the Fingerlakes region of New York, went to college at Notre Dame (where I met my husband), and have lived in Los Angeles for the past 12 years. I worked corporate jobs in insights, marketing and e-commerce for my career until I recently started a new company called Pregnancy Plate, LLC.
How did you come up with Pregnancy Plate?
Last year my company moved headquarters across the country, leaving me without a job since we declined to move. I had many months of advance notice before my job ended, which gave me the opportunity to think about my passions, problems I could solve, and value that I could provide based on my experience and skills.
I landed on the idea for Pregnancy Plate – meal plans customized for each week of pregnancy that make it easier to cook delicious, simple meals while getting the variety that mom and baby need during pregnancy. I’m passionate about cooking, and love how much better I feel when I eat a home-cooked meal vs. going out. But I also remember how hard it was to learn how to cook and how tedious it is to plan meals for the week. Couple that with a pivotal point in any woman’s life, when you’re pressured about what to eat or not eat and have a ton of other decisions to make, and it’s a lot!
I knew that I could create a service that makes women’s lives easier during pregnancy and helps them develop healthy eating habits (or continue established habits). While creating Pregnancy Plate I became pregnant with my second daughter, which has given me a unique perspective. I’m not just remembering what it was like to be pregnant, and developing a service based on memories…I am my core target consumer, pregnant now, in the moment!
Where do you find your inspiration behind Pregnancy Plate?
From the mission/values perspective of Pregnancy Plate, for one, I can look down at my belly, which is expanding by the day with the little one in there! I know how much she is going to benefit from my focus on nutrition during pregnancy.
I’m also inspired by talking to other pregnant moms who struggle with eating or learning to cook, because I know that I can help them and I know that they can do it! There’s so much research that correlates a healthy diet during pregnancy with both short and long-term benefits for babies and mamas.
My goal is to make healthy eating throughout pregnancy realistic and attainable, not intimidating or stressful. If I can help one woman learn how to cook and develop healthy habits during her pregnancy, I’ll be happy. Or, if I can add variety and excitement to a confident cook’s repertoire during pregnancy, that’s awesome.
From the business side of things, I am inspired and motivated by my husband’s amazing ideas, strategic thinking, and his unwavering faith in me.
What is your dream job?
My dream job is one where I can impact decisions, make a difference in people’s lives, and be consistently challenged. For something to be worthwhile enough to take my time away from my children, I need those criteria to be satisfied. Luckily, since I started my own business, I can check the boxes on all three!
What is your guilty pleasure?
Ice cream sodas – chocolate ice cream with pepsi or coke in a very large glass. And soft-serve chocolate ice cream but luckily (and sadly at the same time) there is not much of that in LA!
Biggest mom guilt confession?
Before I became pregnant with my second, my husband and I would enjoy occasional weekend lunches at local gastropubs with our daughter, particularly to watch Dodger games. We would prolong our visits by giving her Cheerios and chicken wings to occupy her, while we enjoyed a microbrew.
How do you balance work and play?
I’m still figuring that out! Each day I plan a few specific tasks to complete. At the end of the day if I accomplished those tasks, it is easier for me to disconnect and switch to “play” mode vs. feeling guilty about spinning my wheels all day and getting stuck in my own head. No matter what, after work when I pick up my daughter, I lose my phone so I can completely connect with her during the time that we have.
Any books you are currently reading, publications you read daily or podcasts you can’t get enough of?
I keep track of the latest research on pregnancy nutrition and healthy eating in general, so I read a variety of publications on those. I also read a lot about creating a successful startup – marketing plans, social media strategy, UI/UX improvements, analytics…but not from one specific source.
From a personal perspective, I like to read sci-fi, and am currently reading The Fifth Season from the Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemison.
What are some mom hacks you want to share.
When my daughter was a newborn, we would use disposable underpads on her changing table below her butt…so when she inevitably pooped or peed in the middle of a change, we could just throw away the pad instead of having to change out everything and wash it. It was a huge time and frustration saver because in the beginning babies are so unpredictable when you’re changing them!
What do you wish you would have known then, that you know now?
I wish I knew that it was all going to work out and be okay. I spent so much time worrying about everything when my daughter was born, it added another layer of exhaustion.
Is she sleeping too much? Too little? When should she get on a “schedule?” Have I played with her enough, stimulated her enough, or too much? It detracted from being in the moment with her. And guess what? She is fine, and amazing. And all of that worry? Unnecessary. She was always going to be amazing. Because the depth of my love was always going to make her okay, no matter what. I channeled too much of that love into worry, and I try to recognize that now and focus it on positive activities that benefit us and that we enjoy.
What’s a picture-perfect day look like for you?
A picture perfect weekend…. Wake up, have breakfast with my daughter and husband. Enjoy 15 minutes by myself to savor a hot cup of coffee outside, in quiet. Make cookies or muffins with my daughter (and she wouldn’t just eat handfuls of flour!). Go to the park as a family. Feed my daughter lunch outside. Nap while she naps (I am pregnant, after all!). Take my daughter to a local restaurant and enjoy an adult lunch with my husband while she has a snack. Maybe catch a few innings of a Dodger game at the restaurant. Do another fun activity as a family, then eat dinner all together. Relax with my husband after our daughter goes to bed.. Oh, and of course have an ice-cream soda.
My non-pregnant self would probably have a glass of wine or a beer. It’s actually somewhat similar to a typical weekend day, which is awesome, except there’s a mysterious lack of housework and errands, lol. Apparently in my picture perfect world there’s a dishes and vacuuming fairy.
What are your go-to recipes as a busy mom to one and another on the way?
Honestly, I’m enjoying the benefits of Pregnancy Plate! Every week all of my meals are planned so I just need to do the shopping and cook them! It’s such a relief every night knowing that dinner is already decided and we are making a great variety of meals that I wouldn’t usually eat. But if I don’t use my meal plan, homemade pizza is perfect because it’s inexpensive, you control the ingredients, and it’s fast. I also like fish or beef tacos as quick go-tos.
What are some of your go-to beauty products?
I have a disconcerting dependency on Blistex. I’ve been using it for 20+ years (eek!), every night before bed. I like the Botanics line of products for my face because I have sensitive skin and the products feel very light. I love Blithe & Bonny bath salts for baths when I’m not pregnant.
What is your go-to outfit?
I really lack style, so I typically wear jeans and a t-shirt (likely from Target, lol). With my first pregnancy, I took it as an opportunity to experiment with colors, styles and patterns and I loved it. I plan to do the same with this one and cannot wait to get Borrow for Your Bump boxes!
Where do you love to shop?
I love shopping on Amazon, even for my groceries. I’m devastated that Amazon Fresh (grocery delivery service) was discontinued in my zip code last December, it’s completely disrupted my life (I’m very dramatic about it).
I also like to “window” shop on home sites like Wayfair, Joss & Main and Overstock, dreaming about redecorating my home or buying a new coffee table. With the baby coming I’ve had a reason to buy a few things, which is exciting.
Favorite local place to eat?
“Local” in LA is about 2 miles away unless you want to sit in traffic for an hour. But I’ll extend my radius to mention Umami Burger in Santa Monica. I don’t get there often because of the distance but it’s amazing. The best sweet potato fries with a hint of sugar. The ketchup has some serious umami factor included. My favorite is the standard Umami burger with a portobello substitute for the beef patty.
Yes, it’s weird to go to a burger joint and order a mushroom, and I’m not a vegetarian, but I just can’t break away from it…it’s too good! There’s a parmesan crisp on top that gives a little crunch with each bite, a roasted tomato, and that tasty ketchup I already mentioned. Uh oh, now you’ve got me thinking about it!
Favorite meal to cook?
A seared rib-eye steak with parmesan butter and a balsamic shallot glaze over a bed of arugula with parmesan shavings and a squeeze of lemon. It’s super easy (all in one pan), but elegant enough to serve to company, and delicious! You can split one steak between 2 people so it’s cost-effective even though it’s an expensive cut of steak.
How do you manage being a mom and a wife or partner?
I’m extremely fortunate that my husband is very involved with our daughter, so we do a lot as a family, which strengthens our bond as a family and as partners. He also always knows when I need a little break, and steps in, which helps me be a better mom. My daughter is a great sleeper, so my husband and I have our evenings together. We have dinner together and talk, or sometimes zone out with a favorite show.
We even still play video games occasionally (not as often as we should) – this was a favorite activity of ours when we were dating and early in our marriage. If I’m feeling the need to connect more, we go on a date night which always works.
What is your least favorite responsibility around the house?
Vacuuming. Specifically, emptying the dirt bin on the vacuum. Our dog is constantly shedding and her hair gets stuck in the bin, then I have to dig it out. It’s dirty and annoying. To get the whole house I have to empty the vacuum lots of times and by then I’m too exhausted to do anything else, lol!
What is one thing you have had to sacrifice for the sake of motherhood?
Before my daughter was born, I always walked my dog twice a day, for up to 1.5 hours total. A long morning walk, and a walk when I got home from work. That is unfortunately something I haven’t been able to work back into my routine. I walk her when I can and try to not feel guilty about it (she has a great life!). One tradeoff is that since I work from home, I’m with her all day, which she loves, because I’m her favorite pack member. And my daughter certainly tires her out.
If you could give one piece of advice to another mama?
Trust yourself. Everyone has well-meaning advice, but you’re the mom and you know what’s best for you and your baby.
What is one question you have for other mamas out there?
What are your biggest pain points when it comes to planning or cooking dinners at your house?