During pregnancy it’s essential to eat a balanced diet rich in vitamins and nutrients, both to keep you healthy and energized during a demanding time for your body, and to help your baby form vital organs and brain power. These meal ideas all incorporate those essential elements for good health, and are also delicious for those ladies suffering from food aversions.
As a bonus, at the bottom of this article I have provided you with a sample 7 day meal plan for pregnancy, complete with recipes, that you can download and print.
These meals all contain these all-important nutrients for you and baby:
- Protein – the building block of life, it’s important to get at least 80g of protein each day to help form your developing baby.
- Complex Carbohydrates – whole grains, fruits, and vegetables provide lots of fiber to not only carry the nutrients through your body but to help keep your digestive system, which can be finnicky during pregnancy, running smoothly 🙂 These foods also provide your body with the all-important vitamins and minerals needed for bone development, prevention of birth defects, prevention of anemia, provide energy, and even to ease morning sickness.
- Healthy Fats (DHA and EPA) – make your baby smarter and help form their brain and eyes, reduce inflammation in your aching body, may prevent prenatal and post-partum depression, may help prevent pre-term labor and pre-eclampsia, increases breast milk production, and new studies even show that these fats may help lower allergies in infants.
- Don’t forget to supplement with a high quality cod liver oil and prenatal vitamins to cover your bases. (See comments section for a debate and references on cod liver oil use during pregnancy)
MAKING TIME FOR HEALTHY EATING
For the busy moms with tight schedules, I find the best way to make sure I’m eating healthy meals is to take 1 day a week for food prep. On Sundays, I buy groceries, bring them home and don’t even put them up until they are prepped and in high-quality food storage containers and ready for the week. For example, if I’m having chicken sandwiches for lunch everyday this week, I marinate my chicken in the fridge while chopping up onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes. After the chicken is marinated I grill it, slice it, and store everything in its own container in the fridge. That way, when I’m ready to eat, I can throw everything together. If I were going to an office daily, I could easily put this sandwich together the night before or first thing in the morning. Breakfasts can also be prepped ahead, and entire dinners can be made and frozen.
Breakfast is an important meal for us pregnant mamas, because it sets our energy level for the day. That’s why I like to incorporate whole grains and fruits at breakfast time, for that added boost of energy and also to help keep morning sickness at bay.
- Spinach Smoothie – Mix 1/2 cup of plain, non-fat greek yogurt, a handful of spinach, 1 cup of frozen fruit (the fruit covers the flavor of the spinach), 2 tablespoons of chia seed, and a little water in a blender. This one is fast and easy, covers every essential nutrient, and is ideal for mamas with morning sickness because it’s easy on the tummy.
- PB&J Oatmeal – Make 1/2 cup of organic old fashioned rolled oats as directed with 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries. Add 1 tablespoon of peanut butter (peanuts only-no sugar, salt, or oils added) and mix.
- Egg Muffins – Add chopped veggies and lean meat of your choice to a non-stick muffin pan, pour whisked egg over the top, bake at 350 until browned, about 20 minutes. You can prepare a large batch of these and refrigerate, then reheat and eat each morning.
- Sweet Potato Hash – cook scrambled eggs, turkey sausage or leftover lean meat, chopped veggies of your choice (I like spinach and onion), and diced sweet potato together in a skillet.
- Breakfast Tacos – scramble eggs, add lean meat like turkey sausage, sprinkle a little organic shredded cheese on top and serve in a warm corn tortilla (make sure the only ingredient in your tortilla is corn, available at Whole Foods). I eat this with a side of sliced bell peppers. Make a big batch of these, freeze and reheat.
- Cookie Dough Cereal – 1/2 cup organic old fashioned rolled oats, 2T nut butter, 1t organic raw honey, and a sprinkle of unsweetened cocoa powder mixed together until crumbly. Add 1/2 cup milk and enjoy.
- Blueberry Waffles or Pancakes – recipe here
- Veggie Omelet – make an omelet with any chopped veggies you like, I prefer spinach, tomatoes, onion, with a sprinkle of pasteurized goat cheese, or go with broccoli, sun dried tomatoes, bell peppers, kale, asparagus, the possibilities are endless. Add fresh herbs like basil, oregano and chives for more flavor.
- Southwestern Scramble – 2 eggs, hatch chiles, onion, shredded chicken, and avocado scrambled together
- Greek Yogurt and Berries – use organic, plain greek yogurt, mix in fresh berries, cinnamon, and vanilla. For some crunch add sliced almonds. Quick and easy.
Use lunchtime to get in 2-3 servings of veggies and some protein, and make sure one of those is a leafy green. Leafy greens are vital during pregnancy because of the high folic acid content, which is essential in helping baby to form properly. If it’s easier, make extra big portions of your healthy dinner and eat the leftovers for lunch. Important note – avoid lunch meats, not only are they unsafe during pregnancy but they have fillers and preservatives that are terrible for you and baby. A better option would be to smoke your own meat and thin-slice or shred it yourself.
- Whole Wheat Pita Sandwich – stuff it with greens like baby spinach, chopped veggies, and lean meat. Add a little pasteurized goat cheese or spicy mustard.
- Super Food Salad – start with a leafy green like spinach or kale, add a chopped veggie of every color (red/yellow/orange bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, celery, carrots, etc.), add high omega-3 nuts or seeds for crunch (walnuts, pumpkin seeds) and a super fruit like pomegranate seeds or berries. Dress with a little extra virgin olive oil and vinegar, like balsamic or apple cider. Top with grilled chicken, hardboiled eggs, smoked turkey breast, or another lean meat. Prep all your veggies and meat on the day you buy them so all you have to do is assemble the salad at mealtime.
- Healthy Chicken Salad – instead of mayo, use a combination of avocado and plain, non-fat organic greek yogurt to make a chicken salad (I like to add celery, green and red onions, cilantro, lime juice). Serve on a bed of leafy greens, lettuce cups, or use a collard green leaf as a wrap.
- Quinoa Salad – Prepare quinoa (you can do this ahead of time and store in fridge), season with your favorite spices and fresh herbs, add chopped veggies (asparagus, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, artichokes for example), lean meat, and avocado for a healthy fat, mix together. You could also add garbanzo beans for extra protein and fiber, or sub for the lean meat. Here’s a recipe.
- Chili or Soup – Make a large batch of turkey chili or vegetable soup, store in the fridge to reheat and eat. Here’s my favorite Turkey Chili recipe and my favorite stew recipe.
- Burrito Bowl – Heat up cooked brown rice (or you can make a batch of cauliflower rice to get in an extra veggie) , add roasted red peppers, black beans, lean meat (I like shrimp), and mix with a little salsa or fire roasted tomatoes. Top with avocado and a splash of lime juice.
- Turkey Burger – mix together ground turkey breast with hatch chiles and seasoning, form into a patty and grill. Serve in a collard green wrap or on a bed of spinach. Top with tomato, onion, and sliced avocado. If you’re craving fries with your burger, cut up a sweet potato into fries, coat with a teaspoon of grapeseed oil, season and bake until crispy. You can also make these ahead of time, freeze and reheat.
- Veggie Pizza – Layer wilted spinach, fresh basil, minced garlic, carmelized onions, thin-sliced roma tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes, fire roasted red peppers, and cubed chicken on a piece of whole wheat naan. Optional – sprinkle with skim mozzarella or parmesan. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Beef and Broccoli – Take leftover or prepared beef (I like flank steak, grass-fed if you can find it), toss with baked spaghetti squash (or wilted bean sprouts), steamed broccoli, sesame seeds, sesame oil, white wine vinegar, fish sauce, chopped green onion and chopped peanuts. You could also add shredded carrots.
- Taco Salad – make your own taco shells by rubbing whole wheat tortillas with a little olive oil and sea salt, press onto an oven safe bowl, and bake at 400 degrees (tortilla side up) for 10 minutes or until crispy. Add shredded greens like romaine, chopped veggies of your choice and/or pico de gallo, sliced avocado, mexican-seasoned cooked ground beef (grass-fed and lean), and a sprinkle of colby-jack cheese if desired. Top with a dollop of plain greek yogurt mixed with fresh salsa.
Dinner is another chance to get a couple of servings of those all-important vegetables and a lean protein. I make dinner for my family each night, but if you work or find it difficult to make a home-cooked meal every day, you can prepare dinners on the weekends or make double batches every time you cook, and freeze for quick prep.
- Baked Salmon and Veggies – an easy meal, place a wild-caught salmon filet in a foil packet, top with sliced tomatoes and onions, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Bake in the oven or grill until fish is tender and flaky, and serve with a side of roasted broccoli and garlic.
- Grilled Chicken Tenders – marinate chicken tenderloin all day in the fridge with Worcestershire, olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt/pepper and minced garlic. Grill and serve with a side of baked sweet potato fries (see above) and cucumber salad (sliced cucumber, diced red onion, apple cider vinegar, plain greek yogurt)
- Spinach, Strawberry, and Chicken Salad – Baby spinach, sliced strawberries, sliced almonds, diced cucumber, grilled chicken tossed with homemade vinaigrette dressing (olive oil, touch of raw organic honey, lemon juice, white wine vinegar whisked together)
- Spaghetti and Spinach Meatballs – prepare whole wheat spaghetti or spaghetti squash, toss with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, pepper flakes, basil, and a pinch of salt. Make meatballs with ground turkey breast or grass-fed lean ground beef by mixing with chopped spinach, kale, or broccoli, minced garlic, onion, and egg, and baking in the oven. Serve with a small side salad.
- Stuffed Butternut or Acorn Squash – Stuff a roasted squash with cooked lean meat of your choice (seasoned lean grass-fed beef or ground turkey is my fave), black beans, chopped veggies, spinach. Bake in the oven until hot, sprinkle with cheese.
- Zucchini Boats – We love this recipe
- Salmon and Veggie Kabobs – Marinate Salmon, zucchini and/or summer squash, onion and bell peppers in the fridge (I use a marinade of hummus mixed with olive oil) for a few hours. Layer fish and veggies on skewer and grill until salmon is firm but flaky. Great with a giant slice of watermelon in the summertime!
- Greek Chicken Salad – chopped romaine, grilled chicken (marinated in lemon juice and olive oil), grape tomatoes, chopped cucumber, a sprinkle of crumbled (pasteurized) feta, olives, red onion, and homemade dressing with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic.
- Thai Meatballs, Broccoli and Noodles – Make a peanut thai sauce by whisking coconut milk (canned), peanut butter, curry paste, a touch of honey, soy sauce, fish sauce, and sesame oil. Make meatballs by combining lean grass-fed beef with soy sauce, egg, chopped spinach, and chopped green onion, bake or brown in skillet. Add broccoli and serve over baked spaghetti squash or wilted bean sprouts, add sauce and toss. Garnish with chopped peanuts and green onion.
- Roasted Shrimp and Veggies – Toss peeled and de-veined shrimp with cauliflower, broccoli, onion, minced garlic, chopped tomatoes and a little olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper. Roast until shrimp is pink and veggies are tender.
During pregnancy, snacks will be a lifesaver. Eating small meals with snacks can help prevent heartburn and ease morning sickness. They are also a great chance to get in more of the nutrients and additional calories you and baby both need.
- Apple slices and almond butter
- Steamed edamame (make sure any soy product you buy is organic, non-GMO)
- Baked Sweet Potato with cinnamon
- Toasted pumpkin seeds and sea salt
- Raw veggies (bell peppers, carrots, celery, cucumber) dipped in hummus or greek yogurt
- Baked Kale “chips” – toss kale leaves with a touch of olive oil and sea salt, bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until crispy
- Texas Caviar – pinto beans, lime juice, cilantro, and pico de gallo
- Frozen Blueberries or Grapes
- Celery Sticks and Almond Butter
- Endive Spears stuffed with chopped pear, (pasteurized) goat cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
- Greek yogurt with Strawberry slices, vanilla and cinnamon
- Watermelon Popsicle – puree watermelon, greek yogurt or coconut milk, raw organic honey, pour into popsicle molds and freeze
- Sugar Snap Peas dipped in warm goat cheese
- Crab Stuffed Avocado – slice an avocado in half and stuff with a mixture of seasoned wild-caught crab meat, cucumber, carrot, and a little plain greek yogurt. Tastes like a california roll
- Banana “Ice Cream” – Puree Bananas and walnuts with a splash of coconut milk (Or your choice of milk) in a food processor. Put in freezer until it has consistency of ice cream.
- Cherry Tomatoes (sliced) topped with pasteurized goat cheese
- A handful of roasted almonds sprinkled with sea salt with 2 squares of dark chocolate
- Whole wheat bagel, scooped out, with ricotta cheese and berries
- Clementine sprinkled with cinnamon
- Cucumber Salad – mix cucumber slices, greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, chopped red onion, dill, and a sprinkle of turbinado sugar
Bonus 7 Day Pregnancy Meal Plan
To give you a better idea of what these meals would look like in real life, I’ve put together a free bonus for you. Download your free 7 day sample pregnancy meal plan by clicking here!