- During pregnancy, you will experience significant physical changes, and your energy levels can fluctuate, which can make cooking less appealing.
- Having an easy-to-follow meal plan for pregnant women can be a lifesaver on nights when you feel too tired to cook.
- Preparing batch recipes in advance, leaning on friends and family for support, or using a meal-prep service can help make it easier to meet your nutritional needs while pregnant.
Your pregnancy is an exciting time that comes with significant physical transformations. As your baby grows, your nutritional requirements expand, and your daily vitamin and mineral needs increase.
It can be hard to find the energy to cook while pregnant, but there are solutions to ensure you spend little time on your feet cooking while still satisfying your nutrition goals.
This article shares prep tips to help keep cooking simple, and we’ve also added a 7-day meal plan to help you get started. The best part is that you can easily modify these meal plans to suit your taste preferences, which helps keep meals exciting and appealing.
Pregnancy Basics: Getting Started
While pregnant, your diet should be rich in essential nutrients to help you and your growing baby thrive. These include iron, calcium, vitamin D, folic acid, magnesium, and other relevant micronutrients. Most people can get enough nutrients through a well-balanced diet.
A daily prenatal supplement is also recommended while trying to conceive and throughout your pregnancy. Taking these oral supplements helps your baby get enough vitamins and minerals to grow healthy during essential parts of development.
What to Eat During Pregnancy
The USDA 2020-2025 nutrition guidelines offer nutrition suggestions for foods to eat during pregnancy.
- A variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Mix up the produce by choosing various colors and lean into seasonal options for fresher flavors.
- Whole grains, including oats, bulgar, quinoa, farro, and other high-fiber options.
- Calcium and vitamin-D-rich dairy products, including milk and yogurts.
- You can also choose fortified plant-based foods like soy or almond milk.
- Lean protein options include cooked fish, meat, and plant-based options such as legumes, tofu, nuts, and seeds.
- Drink water throughout the day. You can add more flavor to your water by adding fresh fruits, ginger, or herbs.
Recommended Portion Sizes
While pregnant, you should include many of the same foods from pre-pregnancy, but you may need slightly larger portion sizes as you move through the trimesters. The USDA suggests:
- First trimester - You are not required to add additional calories if you are within a healthy weight range.
- Your doctor or dietitian can tell you whether you need more calories.
- Second trimester - Add approximately 340 calories to your day.
- This can be two additional snacks or one additional small meal.
- Third trimester - Add approximately 450 calories to your day.
- This can be two larger snacks or one additional meal.
Meal Plan for Pregnancy
Below is an example of a 7-day meal plan you can follow during pregnancy. The serving sizes may vary depending on your trimester, and a registered dietitian can help you build an eating plan that satisfies your needs.
- Breakfast - Whole grain toast with cottage cheese, fresh tomato slices, and chives.
- Lunch - Mixed bean salad with diced carrot, celery, bell pepper, and avocado. Mix in your favorite tinned fish for protein, and serve whole grain crackers on the side (optional.)
- Dinner - BBQ chicken thighs with corn on the cob, grilled onion, and a Mediterranean-inspired quinoa salad (add sundried tomatoes, cubed cucumber, and tomato, and dress with olive oil, lemon juice, fresh garlic, and basil.)
- Snacks - Hard-boiled eggs on whole wheat pita; Greek yogurt with fresh fruits and nuts.
- Breakfast - Baked oatmeal with Greek yogurt, banana, blueberries, whisked eggs, cinnamon, and a drizzle of honey.
- Lunch - Chicken noodle soup with a side of green salad. Add fresh herbs to your soup to add additional flavor to your dish.
- Dinner - Extra-lean ground beef meatloaf with baked asparagus, broccoli with garlic, and sweet potatoes.
- Snacks - Tuna fish and whole grain crackers; cottage cheese with fresh fruits and nuts.
- Breakfast - A high-fiber cold cereal (minimum 8g per serving) with fresh fruits, a handful of mixed nuts, milk, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.
- Lunch - Baked flatbread pizza with whole grain pita bread, feta cheese, roasted chicken breast, tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers.
- Dinner - Grilled pork skewers with pineapple and onions. Serve with brown rice, a fresh green salad, and your favorite dressing.
- Snacks - Fresh vegetables with dip and a portion of cheese; Greek yogurt with fresh fruits and nuts.
- Breakfast - Overnight oats with chia seeds, banana slices, crushed peanuts (you can swap in any nut if you don’t like peanuts), and a spoonful of dark chocolate nibs.
- Lunch - Chickpea curried stew with canned tomatoes, potato, carrots, cauliflower, onion, and garlic. Serve with whole-grain naan.
- Dinner - Baked salmon crusted with panko crumbs and honey mustard. Serve with boiled potatoes and a fresh salad with your favorite greens and dressing.
- Snacks - Avocado dip with whole grain crackers, fresh apple with nut butter.
- Breakfast - Savory egg omelet with cooked bell peppers, black beans, and avocado mash. Season with your favorite herbs and serve with whole-grain toast.
- Lunch - Vegetarian sandwich with whole grain bread. Add lettuce, cucumber slices, red onion, tomato, and hummus. Serve with fresh fruit on the side.
- Dinner - Baked sesame crispy tofu served over brown rice. Add sweet onion, cooked eggplant, zucchini, shredded cabbage, and garnish with sesame seeds.
- Snacks - Homemade blueberry muffins made with whole wheat flour, walnuts, and ground flax seed; fresh cut vegetables and hummus.
- Breakfast - Whole grain English muffins with egg, avocado, slices of cheese, and baby arugula for greens. Add mustard for extra flavor.
- Lunch - Large shredded salad with kale, Brussels sprouts, sweet onion, blueberries, almonds, feta cheese, almonds, and roasted chicken. Dress with your favorite salad dressing.
- Dinner - Stir fry with cabbage, red peppers, onion, fresh mango slices, peanuts, and cilantro. Add cooked shrimp for protein and fresh chili as tolerated. Serve over brown rice.
- Snacks - Greek yogurt with fresh fruits and nuts; whole-grain crackers with tinned salmon and cucumber slices.
- Breakfast - Oatmeal with mixed nuts, berries, a dash of cinnamon, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.
- Lunch - Egg salad pita wraps with spinach and sundried tomato. Serve with a small vegetable soup on the side.
- Dinner - Whole grain penne pasta with red sauce, ground turkey, and bell peppers. Serve with a green salad on the side.
- Snacks - Cottage cheese with fruits and nuts; vegetable sticks with hummus.
Tips for Meal Preparation
Your energy levels will likely change as you move through your pregnancy. 2021 research completed on over 605 pregnant women showed that fatigue becomes more prevalent in the second and third trimesters. Taking advantage of high-energy days and preparing meals and snacks for the future can help you prepare for low-energy days.
Freezing food is a great way to store home-prepared meals and leftovers that require minimal work. You can safely freeze cooked rice meals, pasta dishes, soups, cooked meats, and even vegetables (although the texture will soften after being frozen.)
Buying pre-cut fruits and vegetables can sometimes cost more, but they can help you eat more produce. These small changes can make a huge difference when you feel exhausted and too tired to cook, and having cut-up vegetables can make it much easier to eat them.
Leaning on family, friends, and meal-prep services are also great options to support your eating while pregnant.
Your nutritional requirements will increase during your pregnancy, specifically your vitamin and mineral needs. Our 7-day meal plan for pregnant women is a great tool to help you satisfy your requirements. If you want more support, you may want to work with a registered dietitian specializing in prenatal health.
Work With a Prenatal Dietitian
With Nourish, you can see a prenatal dietitian covered by insurance. All appointments are virtual and personalized to your unique experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
See a Registered Dietitian with Nourish
- Covered by insurance
- Virtual sessions
- Personalized care