Saturday, 21 December 2013

The best Christmas present ever!

It just goes to show that everything can change in the blink of an eye with babies - as of Thursday, Rosie hasn't needed any more bottled milk!

Last week, I was giving her about 13 oz of bottled expressed milk each day, but starting from last Sunday her intake started reducing. She had 9 oz on Sunday and Monday, 8.5 oz on Tuesday, 4 oz on Wednesday and then nothing from then on! I tried to give her more, but she just wasn't interested. Usually, she would need a bottle of milk before 8am in the morning, but by 10.30am on Thursday she was still completely satisfied after her breastfeeds.

I've been keeping a close eye on her wet and dirty nappies, and her output has been completely normal. Rosie is doing great!

I spoke to a lactation consultant yesterday and she mentioned something about the "magic 10 weeks". Apparently a lot of infants with latch issues turn a corner at 10 weeks. Whatever it is, I'm happy about it!

Seriously. This is an amazing turn of events for me - I had accepted the possibility that I would be pumping and bottle feeding for the next four months, until she started solids. Even in my secret hopes, I didn't expect her to be strong enough to move off the bottles until the beginning of January.

So suddenly, without any of my input, Rosie is feeding straight from me all of the time. I am free to go out with her without planning for pumping sessions and bottles. I don't have to stress about my milk supply anymore either - I have plenty of it, especially now that the baby is driving my supply! I seem to have more than ever now.

Life is good.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Making mistakes

Feeding my baby is not a simple process. To help keep my milk production going, I try to eat oatmeal/porridge every day (usually with a boost of brewer's yeast in the mix) and take a dose of herbal supplements - fenugreek, blessed thistle, and marshmallow root. I also need to express milk several times a day in order to keep up supply for the bottles she needs.

I aim to give the baby between 13-16 oz of expressed milk each day. The rest of her intake is "straight from the tap" as it were. Due to her tongue tie issues, she really can't take in all the milk from that she needs; she gets tired out after a while and can't seem to suckle strong enough to get the second milk let-down. The first one is easy and she copes fine, but after the initial flow slows down, she can't seem to manage it. This is, apparently, typical behaviour for a tongue tied baby.

She can't cope very well with a bottle feed,either. We do the best we can for her - keep her sitting upright, limit the flow of milk into the teat to just a trickle so she can regulate the flow herself, let her take breaks to get her breath back and ensure that she only takes in the amount she wants for herself (not what I've decided). She still coughs, splutters, and gets overwhelmed at the bottle during every feed. Her little eyes bug out and her nostrils flex in utter concentration as she tries to protect her airflow and drink at the same time.

So it's not all roses over here. I mean, it is what it is, and there isn't anything much we can do about it aside from wait it out and hope she gets better as she gets bigger and stronger. She's gaining weight nicely now, and is definitely looking pudgy, so that's good news! Eventually, I will try to reduce the amount of bottled milk we give her, but only in tiny increments to encourage her to work harder at breastfeeding. If we reduce the supplements too quickly, she will lose the progress we have made so far. To be honest, I'm nervous about it - I probably won't start reducing until her weight gain puts her onto the 75th centile or so. When she was born, she was at the 98th centile, and she dropped to the 25th at her lowest. She's on the 50th centile now, which is fantastic! We are getting there, slowly but surely.

As you can imagine, this feeding regime sort of takes over my life. I've gotten into the swing of things now, and it's becoming habit, but I've become an obsessive reader/researcher on baby feeding topics. I plan to attend a conference next year that discusses tongue tie, even. I recently read a book entitled The Politics of Breastfeeding, and it was a real eye-opener. The fact is, infant formula companies have systematically destroyed cultural and societal knowledge of breastfeeding to the point that it is completely out of the norm to breastfeed a child in many parts of the world. My experiences are not unique - a baby that is losing weight, with a seemingly good latch, and a decreasing milk supply - but the fact that I've received support and knowledge from people who know what they are talking about is pretty rare. I am in a privileged position to be able to stay at home with my baby, have the time and resources to express and store milk, and am able to seek out the knowledge and expertise I need to achieve breastfeeding my infant.

This shouldn't be a privilege, it should be the norm. It is not acceptable to me that women are faced with untenable situations where they don't have anywhere to turn or anyone to help them overcome breastfeeding difficulties. The use of formula has had terrible repercussions on the health of mothers and babies worldwide, for many years. Reading about these affects in the book I mentioned above has filled me with such sadness for our world.

I am lucky that my body responds well to a pump and galactagogues. I am lucky that my breastfeeding troubles happened with my fifth child, after my body already had the chance to create milk production cells in my breasts with previous babies. I do not expect other people's experiences to be the same, and I certainly can't say "If I could do it, then so can you!" because it's blatantly not true.

Unfortunately, I have made mistakes in trying to convey this information to other people. I recently started a discussion about formula feeding on a chat forum and it (obviously) blew up in my face. I have thought about what I said, and I am sorry that people felt attacked by my words. I don't know how to bring up this topic without hurting others -- how can you discuss the negative affects of formula feeding with other people when the majority of the population has either fed their babies formula or been formula fed themselves (like me)? This is a genuine question; I didn't handle the on-line forum situation well, and want to do better. But I also feel like there needs to be more awareness of the negative impact formula companies have had on our world. It is no accident that breastfeeding rates are low in every country that allows the sale of infant formula - the companies have systematically destroyed breastfeeding knowledge over the past fifty years. Lack of maternity leave, hospitals that don't allow for "rooming-in", doctors who are courted by the formula companies .... all of these elements and more create an environment that makes formula use an easier, or perhaps only, option in the face of breastfeeding difficulties.

People accused me of preferring a child die than be fed formula. That stings. I am not an extremist - I think it's possible to recognise the need for formula while at the same time point out that much of that need is manufactured and orchestrated by the formula companies themselves. They are not manufacturing their product out of the goodness of their hearts.

I don't know if anyone on that forum reads my blog, but if they do, please accept my sincere apologies for any hurt I caused. It was not intended - more of a clumsy effort to open a dialogue based upon new information I have recently learned. It was the wrong way to do it, and trust me when I say I will keep my mouth shut unless specifically asked to discuss it in the future. I do not judge other mothers for how they feed their babies. If anything, I point a finger of blame and accusation at the governments and business that have not valued breastfeeding and allowed it to be eroded out from under us.

As it stands, I am too emotionally attached to this issue to go back to that internet forum. I walked away a couple of days ago when I was being ripped apart by some very angry mothers, and the accusations they were making genuinely hurt my feelings. I don't feel up to dealing with that, and I probably won't go back. My life is full of stress and worry over feeding my baby every single day (will I have enough milk? have I pumped enough to make milk tomorrow? etc) and I can't willingly take on more stress. I sometimes think this is the coward's way out of it, and I should log back into the forum and wade through the vitriol to make my point, but I just can't face it. I'm done there. But I'm sorry for it.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

This is my life now

I should probably update all 4 of my readers on how things are going with me and baby Rosie. :)

As it turns out, I have low milk supply. This is not a surprise, considering her tongue tie prevented her from sucking effectively from the very beginning. I have never had any engorgement issues, I barely leak, and I rarely feel that tingly, let-down reflex that happens before or at the beginning of a feed. All of this happened regularly with my previous children, so I know it isn't my fault! (poor baby gets all the blame)

Getting the tongue tie fixed was an important step in rectifying the situation, but it wasn't a magic panacea that I had secretly hoped it would be. She was gaining weight, but far too slowly; in a four day stretch, she had gained 9 grams, when babies should be gaining 20 grams per day, at minimum.

This wasn't good, and was a clear indicator that my supply is low. The next step was procuring an electric pump, pumping milk at least 8 times a day, and feeding her the expressed milk afterwards. After a weekend of the new regime, Rosie gained 60 grams! What a huge difference. We're still not at her birth weight, and she's not gaining the minimum of 20g/day, but we're close to both.

Unfortunately this is kind of a long-term arrangement. She needs a good 4-6 weeks of this treatment before we can start considering ourselves out of the woods, weight-gain wise, and for my supply to be enough for her to take 100% straight from the tap, as it were.

The good news is that all this pumping is doing good things for my supply. I am able to pump a bit more milk each day, but I can't always get the milk into her tummy! She prefers milk from me, which is good of course, but she also needs extra calories that she can't always drink on her own. She sometimes will take a bottle of expressed milk, but it's not reliable. I have a tube for an SNS system, and I've heard that you can make your own out of a regular bottle, so I'm going to look into doing that. When I'm not tired and overwhelmed, maybe? Ha haha!

I've read a book about making more milk, and the suggested mathematical equation to work out how much supplements a baby needs gives me a figure of 10oz a day for my baby.

I honestly don't know how I'm going to manage that! I am almost able to pump that amount, but if she won't drink it, then what? More questions to ask my health professionals, I guess.

As for galactogogues, I am eating oats like crazy. Porridge, granola, flapjacks, etc. I add brewer's yeast to my porridge, and I was taking fenugreek over the weekend, but it made the baby constipated. Woops. I'm going to try again with the fenugreek, but with the addition of blessed thistle. Taking them both together helps with effectiveness, apparently. Fingers crossed.

I have 14 oz of expressed breastmilk in the freezer, as well. This is my "back-up" supply, in case something happens like yesterday when I was heating a container of milk for the baby and it tipped over in the jug of water and the lid wasn't on tight enough... nightmare! Water got into the milk, making it watery and unpalatable for baby. She absolutely refused to drink it so 2 oz went down the drain. Sigh.

This is a huge learning curve for me. I sometimes feel like my head is going to spin, with all the rules of safely handling breastmilk, juggling containers in the fridge and freezer, remembering to pump and desperately trying to get that milk into her tummy, and counting out ounces of breastmilk as though I am handling fluid gold. I am grateful I've never had to struggle with breastfeeding before now, and that I've been surrounded by so much positive support during these past few weeks.

So yeah. Feed, pump, supplement. Wash, rinse, sterilise. Feed, pump, supplement....

It's working, though! She's gaining weight and growing.

Also, she's smiling. *heart melts* She's worth it, for sure.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Baby update! Posterior Tongue Tie Edition.

It looks like my sweet little baby has a posterior tongue tie. A tongue tie is when the frenulum (the skin that attaches the bottom of your tongue to the floor of your mouth) is too tight and inhibits tongue movement. It's strange, because there were a few warning signs but because I'm not in pain when I feed her, I never really considered it.

But, here we are, at 4+ weeks, and she still hasn't achieved her birthweight. She gained a bit last week (hurray!), but didn't put any weight on at all this week. In a growing baby, this is not good at all!

I've done all that I can to get milk into her belly, aside from using a funnel (no, I wouldn't do that!), and we're treading water. Thankfully, even though the signs of a posterior tongue tie are subtle, we've been able to catch it. Warning signs include:

  • A flat tongue. When she cries, her tongue doesn't/can't reach the roof of her mouth, and it stays pretty much completely horizontal. It can't curl up on the edges like a hot-dog bun, either. In essence, her tongue can't flex and grip the breast tissue effectively, so there just isn't as much milk flowing.
  • Bevelled nipple shape. After a feed, the end of my nipple is shaped like a new tube of lipstick. My older children even noticed this one, but I had no idea it was a sign of problems!
  • Bubbly spit/drool. When I read this elsewhere on the internet, I was dumbfounded. We had all noticed that she had bubbles in the corner of her mouth sometimes, but I just wrote it off as a baby drool thing. Nope - another possible warning sign.
  • Losing weight/poor weight gain. This one is kind of obvious, because she just isn't getting enough milk to grow properly. I've been pumping and assisting her feeds by using breast compression techniques each time, but baby is usually better at getting the milk out than any other method. The poor dear just can't manage it with her tongue as it is.
There are other signs/symptoms, but they relate more to the fact that baby isn't taking in enough milk - frequent feeds, not enough dirty or wet nappies, and so on. 

The funny thing is, that once I started with compressions during feeds, her poo-and-pee count went up. From the outside, she really seems fine. But now that I know there is a problem with her tongue, I've realised that her latch isn't the best at all. I can feel her tongue sort of losing its grip during a feed, and she often makes clicking noises during a feed, when she loses suction. She is trying terribly hard to get enough milk, but her tongue just isn't cooperating! 

Just today I noticed that when I feed her at a certain angle, she manages to take in the milk much more easily. It seems like our reclining couch is the best place, with my feet up and my torso slightly leaning back. She is more on top of me rather than in front of me, and I guess her tongue doesn't slip and slide so much in that position.

Hopefully this challenge will pass quickly, however; we have an appointment tomorrow to get it officially assessed and hopefully snip the tight bit of skin to release the tongue. I am very excited about the prospect! I really look forward to watching those scales increase in numbers while her legs get chub rolls and my milk starts flowing faster. It isn't a magic cure; she will have to re-learn how to breastfeed essentially, since she's never used her muscles in that way before. But we'll get there!

I'm so relieved to have a cause for her struggles. The idea of a mystery ailment bothered me greatly, and made me worried for the future. Now, so long as everything goes well tomorrow, we can expect positive changes and turn things around for her.

As much as I love having a little baby and don't want her to grow up too fast, I really do want to grow bigger! 

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Good news!

My little Rosie gained 10 grams in less than 48 hours! Hurray! It's the first time she's gained weight since birth, so it's definitely something to celebrate.

I still plan to post her birth story and some pictures, but I'm busy fattening up my baby right now. Soon, though!

Thanks for the kind words and thoughts.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

...but right now, I fret.

It's been three weeks and two hours since I had my baby. I want to write up a birth story, that talks about how she was born in water (finally, a water birth!) and how I sang through my contractions, but now I feel worried and need to write about it.

Her name is Rosabel, and she was 9lbs, 9oz at birth. Three weeks later, she weighs 8lbs, 15oz. This is not a good thing, this weight loss. She is very nearly at a 10% loss, which is veering into Very Bad territory.

The signs of problems were there all along, but I didn't see them. I felt that I knew what I was doing, after breastfeeding four other children successfully. Her latch is good, she seemed content, if insistent on feeding regularly (every hour? maybe more?). I am not a scheduler with my babies, and I co-sleep with her, so feeding her in the sling as I went about my day or laying down next to her at night for however long she wanted has been no real hardship.

I saw her, but I didn't notice the signs. She hasn't been drinking enough, and it hurts my heart to think that she is basically always a little bit hungry. Why hasn't she complained at me? I guess she didn't really know any different. She is three weeks old and has always felt this way.

So we are trying new techniques, like breast compression and hand expressing into a bottle so she can gulp down those last few millilitres without putting much effort into it. Every calorie counts. Even after only 12 hours of changing tactics, I've seen a difference in her.

I have a mental list of all the ways I've gone wrong. I have one for every child, but I didn't think I would start Rosabel's list so soon. I thought I had babies all worked out. But instead, I realise that I know very little indeed.

Everyone says I shouldn't beat myself up, I shouldn't feel guilty, but it's too late. She depends on me for food, and she's not getting enough. How can I not feel guilty, I ask you? How can I not feel responsible?

But I'm hopeful that we'll see an improvement over the next few days. She has another weigh-in on Wednesday morning, and I'm aiming for no more weight loss, if not any weight gain. One step at a time; but right now, I fret.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Week Two: 7-Layer Taco Dip

7-Layer Taco Dip

  • ·         4 cups shredded lettuce
  • ·         3 avocadoes, mashed and mixed with 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • ·         1 ½ cups greek yogurt, mixed with taco seasoning (1 packet, or equivalent home-made)
  • ·         1 tin black beans, drained
  • ·         3 medium diced tomatoes
  • ·         2 cans sliced black olives
  • ·         Grated cheese

  1. Starting with lettuce on the bottom of your dish, add each layer on top of the next, ending with cheese on top. Serve with corn chips.
This was delicious! I altered it a bit, to work with what we had or could find in the store. I didn't prepare my black beans the night before, so grabbed a couple of tins of re-fried beans that I like to keep in my cupboard. We also used green olives instead of black; they were de-stoned at least, but not pre-sliced! So that took me a while....
I'll probably look harder for black olives next time, because they have a mellower flavour. This recipe made a LOT of dip, which was a perfect relaxed meal for our family.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Week Two: Jacket Potatoes

Jacket Potatoes
·        6-8 medium large white potatoes
·        Butter
·        Baked beans
·        Grated cheese
·        Salt, to taste

1.     Pierce potatoes with knife or fork.
2.     Microwave for 15 minutes, or until all are soft.
Serve with butter, beans, cheese and a salad (or mixed vegetables).

My husband found it hilarious when he saw this recipe in my book. Yes, it's easy to throw together and really, a recipe isn't required to make it, but my goal is to get my children more involved in cooking, and hopefully they'll become more independent in the kitchen, so a "recipe" like this is perfect to get them started.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Week Two: Black Bean Wraps with Mexican Rice and Pico de gallo

Black Bean Avocado Mash
·        2 whole avocadoes, mashed
·        2-3 cups black beans, mashed
·        1 green bell pepper, chopped
·        1 tsp cumin
·        ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
·        Salt, to taste
1.     Mash/mix all ingredients together.
Mexican Rice
·        1 or 2 cloves garlic, crushed
·        Oil
·        ½ red onion, chopped
·        2 tomatoes, diced
·        Steamed rice
·        Salt, to taste

2.     Sauté garlic and onion in oil, add tomatoes, then rice. Season to taste.

Pico de gallo
·        2 tomatoes, diced
·        Fresh coriander, chopped
·        Dash of lime juice
·        Dash of venigar
·        ¼ red onion, chopped
·        1 clove minced garlic
·        Salt and pepper to taste

3.     Mix together
Pile all 3 elements onto wraps. EAT.

I couldn't find any avocados in the shops when I tried to make this recipe, which made me very sad (I love avocados!). As an alternative, I settled for cream cheese, thinking that it would give a similar texture, at least. My children enjoyed the rice and bean mixture in their wraps, but were not fans of the pico de gallo. It has raw onion and coriander in it, which makes the flavour really strong - it's more of a relish than anything - but I loved it! It's very easy to throw together and really gave the meal a bit of zing.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Week Two: Red Lentil Dahl with Pulao Rice

Red Lentil Dahl
·        8 cups water
·        2 cups red lentils
·        6 cloves minced garlic
·        2 Tbs freshly ground ginger
·        2 tsp ground cumin
·        1 tsp cumin seeds
·        1 tsp ground coriander
·        1 tsp garam masala
·        1 tsp sea salt
·        Lemon juice, to taste
·        Pepper and salt to taste

1.     Boil lentils with spices. Reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes.
2.     Stir frequently towards end of cooking time, adding more water if it gets too thick.
3.     Stir in lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Pulao Rice
·        2 cups basmati rice
·        2 cinnamon sticks
·        6 whole cloves
·        3 bay leaves
·        5 cardamom pods
·        1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
·        3 cups water
·        ¼ tsp salt
·        ½ cup frozen peas
·        ½ tsp saffron

1.     Cook rice with spices. Add frozen peas toward end of cooking time.
Add saffron 5 minutes before rice is fully cooked.

Don't be put off by this dish if you don't have all the spices; I have frequently made it without saffron, cardamom pods, cumin seeds and fresh ginger. It still turns out wonderfully, and it's so CHEAP once you have the spices in your cupboard. It's worth checking out the world foods section of your local supermarket to get hold of these spices, rather than the actual spice section. They tend to be cheaper there.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Week Two: Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup
·        Oil
·        Onion, chopped
·        3 carrots, peeled and  finely chopped
·        2 celery stalks, finely chopped
·        2 cups potatoes, peeled and chopped
·        2 zucchini (courgette), cut into half-circles or triangles
·        2 cloves garlic, crushed
·        1 cup green beans, cut into 1” lengths
·        1 bunch chard, finely chopped
·        1 tin tomatoes
·        3 cups water
·        2 cups cooked beans (navy, flageolet, or other)
·        1 bay leaf
·        Parmesan cheese, grated
·        Salt and pepper, to taste
·        2 cups SMALL pasta shapes (or broken pieces of spaghetti), pre-cooked
1.     In a large pot, heat oil. Add onions and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add other vegetables, one at a time, cooking 2-3 minutes each.
2.     After chard is cooked, add tomatoes, water, beans, bay leaf and cheese. Simmer until all vegetables are tender.
Season to taste. Add pasta and cook until it has warmed through.

This soup takes a bit of work, with all the peeling and chopping. I will probably use my slow cooker next time.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Week Two: Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan
·        Chicken breast (enough to feed your family)
·        2 eggs
·        Bread crumbs
·        Pasta sauce
·        Parmesan cheese
·        Sliced mozzarella cheese
·        Oil
·        Salt & pepper to taste

1.     Dip chicken into beaten eggs (add salt & pepper to eggs), then dip in chicken in the breadcrumbs.
2.     Brown chicken in hot oil.
3.     Pour a thin layer of sauce in a casserole dish. Place chicken in dish and cover with more sauce.
4.     Sprinkle with cheese, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, at 175C.
5.     Remove foil, place slices of mozzarella cheese on chicken. Bake for 10 minutes more.
Serve with salad.

This seemed like more effort than it was worth, because I didn't notice the bread coating on the chicken once it had been cooked in the sauce - it all sort of fell off the "meat" into the sauce! However, we've only tried this recipe once, and it was with "quorn" rather than chicken (a vegetarian meat substitute). Maybe that was the reason why? Or perhaps it needed to be browned for longer... the jury is still out! But when we get to week 2 again, I'll try browning it for longer to see what happens. 

Monday, 9 September 2013

Week Two: Meals, Shopping List, Recipe

·         Minestrone Soup (with bread rolls)
·         Chicken Parmesan (with salad and bread)
·         Penne with Roasted Vegetables (and garlic bread)
·         Red Lentil Dahl with Pulao Rice
·         Black Bean Wraps, Mexican Rice and Pico de Gallo
·         Jacket Potatoes (with beans, cheese and salad)
·         7-Layer Taco Dip (with corn chips)

Shopping List

®   Bread rolls
®   Coriander (ground)
®   Cumin
®   Cumin seeds
®   Garam masala
®   Garlic
®   Ginger
®   Navy beans
®   Red lentils
®   Small pasta shapes
®   Pasta sauce
®   Avocadoes x 6
®   Mozzarella
®   Baked beans
®   Mushrooms
®   Basmati rice
®   Grated cheese
®   Black beans
®   Italian herbs
®   Cardamom pods
®   Grated parmesan
®   Cayenne pepper
®   Onions
®   Cinnamon sticks
®   Tinned tomatoes x 4
®   Corn chips x 2 bags
®   Eggs
®   Flour wraps
®   Carrots
®   Greek yogurt
®   Peas (frozen)
®   Green bell pepper x 1
®   Bread crumbs
®   Large potatoes x 10
®   Zucchini (Courgette) x 4
®   Lemon juice
®   Salad
®   Lettuce
®   Butter
®   Lime juice
®   Summer Squash x 2
®   Pepper
®   Penne
®   Saffron
®   Red Peppers x 2
®   Sea salt
®   Green beans (frozen)
®   Sliced olives x 2 jars
®   Celery
®   Taco seasoning
®   Potatoes
®   Tomatoes x 5
®   Chicken (or Quorn)
®   Vinegar
®   Oil (I usually use coconut oil)
®   Whole cloves

Penne with Roasted Vegetables
·        2 red peppers, cut into strips
·        2 zucchini (courgette), cut into cubes
·        2 summer squash, cut into cubes
·        Mushrooms, halved
·        1 onion, sliced into strips
·        Oil
·        Salt, pepper, Italian herb mix
·        1 lb penne pasta
·        3 cups pasta sauce
·        1 cup grated cheese
·        1 ½ cups frozen peas
·        Grated parmesan
·        2 Tbs butter, cut into small pieces                                

1.     Roast peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and onions with oil, salt pepper & herbs until tender at 230C; about 15 minutes. Stir if needed.
2.     Boil pasta about 6 minutes, until al dente.
3.     Toss pasta, vegetables, sauce, cheese, peas, salt & pepper (to taste) all in a large bowl. Mix until combined. (I just boiled the pasta in a too-large pot and added the veggies after the pasta was drained, to save on dishes)
4.     Pour mix into a large casserole dish. Top with parmesan and butter. Bake at 180C until top is golden and cheese melts, about 25 minutes.

This makes a LOT of food. We have four children, and usually manage to get through large meals easily, but this made enough for a huge lunch the next day! I found it completely delicious and I think it would be a perfect meal for a large crowd.