Between cravings, aversions, morning sickness, the off-limits eats, and the extra calories needed to build a baby, mealtime can feel complicated during pregnancy! The good news is it doesn’t have to. For help getting the nutrients you and your baby need without the stress, consider following our healthy pregnancy meal plan and recipes. It not only takes guesswork out of pregnancy nutrition, it’s downright delicious!

Why is a meal plan important during pregnancy?

Folks who engage in some sort of meal prep or menu planning enjoy a wider variety of higher quality foods than those who don’t, according to research in the Journal of Behavioral Nutritional and Physical Activity. This can be especially helpful during pregnancy when what you eat takes on a new level of importance. A healthy pregnancy diet promotes your baby’s growth and development—and likely helps reduce your risk of several common pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes and preterm birth. Of course, “moms-to-be are busy and meal plans can sometimes feel like one more thing to do,” admits registered dietitian Dana Angelo White, MS, RDN, ATC, co-author of The Whole 9 Months. But it’s likely worth it. “While I’m not a huge believer in strictly structured meal plans, meal plans with quick and healthy recipes can help make a sensible diet easier to achieve while pregnant and after delivery,” says White.

What is a good meal plan for a pregnancy?

The best pregnancy meal plan is one that’s doable! That means, don’t pepper your healthy pregnancy meal plan with complicated recipes you normally would shy away from. Remember, “healthy eating in pregnancy doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated,” says White. Instead, focus on the following:

  • Lead with whole foods. “One of your primary goals should include eating whole foods frequently throughout the day with a balance of lean protein, healthy fats, and fiber-rich carbs,” says White.

  • Prioritize drinking water. It’s important to drink water throughout the day, not just when you’re thirsty, notes The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist. Aim for 8 to 12 cups a day during pregnancy. (Water aids digestion, helps form amniotic fluid, and helps nutrients circulate throughout your body.)

  • Keep it simple. Curating an arsenal of simple meals and snack recipes can make a huge difference in you actually sticking to your healthy-eating goals, notes White.

  • Prep meals early. White suggests making some recipes ahead of time, called batch cooking, so that you can have a freezer full of healthy eats for months. (Here’s some freezer meal inspiration!)

Healthy Pregnancy Meal Plan: How to Plan Your Week

Every Sunday—or whatever day is your designated grocery shopping day—lay out your healthy eating a roadmap for the week by following White’s expert advice:

  • Step 1: Give each day a dinnertime theme. Take a page out of the Taco Tuesday and Meatless Monday handbook and give each day of the week a dinner theme, which’ll help with “recipe block.” For example, Wednesdays can always be a pregnancy-safe fish. Maybe you designate Thursday as slow cooker day, while Fridays are always a healthy take on pizza.

  • Step 2: Think about snacks. While you don’t need to map out every morsel of your week, it’s smart to keep a stash of healthy grab-and-go snacks. White suggests focusing on high-fiber fruit (raspberries, pears, apples), veggies and hummus, rice cakes with peanut butter, trail mix, Greek yogurt, popcorn, hard boiled eggs, and edamame.

  • Step 3: Stock up on “add ins.” White suggests keeping items like nuts, dried fruit, and chia seeds on hand, so you’ll always be able to sprinkle in a little more nutrition into your meals. For example, “chia seeds are an effortless addition to smoothies, oatmeal, and even salad dressings, adding protein, fiber, and all-important omega-3 fats to every bite,” says White. (Learn what else can boost nutrition in pregnancy smoothies.)

  • Step 4: Don’t forget breakfast. A balanced breakfast not only fuels—and fills—you up, it helps ensure you get the nutrients you need. Research shows that pregnant breakfast-skippers have lower circulating levels of important nutrients, like beta-carotene, potassium, plus EPA and DHA, which are essential for fetal brain development, than those who eat breakfast. So even if you’re not super into eating a morning meal, it’s a good idea to keep a deep bench of breakfast staples, like whole grain bread, oats, yogurt, eggs, plus your favorite fruits and veggies.

  • Step 5: Bring your lunch. One of the best ways to make sure you always have a healthy lunch is to pack your own! Since leftovers make great midday meals, cook a little extra at dinnertime. Since leftovers aren’t always an option, be sure to sketch out a rough lunch plan before you hit the market.

Healthy Pregnancy Meal Plan: 7 Days of Recipes

“A healthy pregnancy needs fuel!” says White. “Demand for nutrients, such as iron, omega-3 fats, and folic acid, increases to support the growth and development needs of the baby and to protect Mom’s health as well, which means balance, variety, and diversity is essential.”

To help get all you need, here are some of White’s favorite healthy pregnancy recipes and meal ideas.

Healthy Pregnancy Breakfast Ideas

Shuffle these healthy pregnancy breakfast recipes throughout your 9 months and beyond! Feel free to tweak as you wish according to your personal taste.

  • Breakfast Burrito: Scramble 1 large egg and 1 large egg white, then place in a warmed whole-grain tortilla and top with 1/4 cup each chopped cherry tomatoes and diced avocado for a filling start to your day.

  • Chia-Berry Smoothie: Want an omega-3 and potassium-packed morning meal that’s also great on-the-go? Blend 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt, 1 cup frozen berries, 1/2 frozen banana (sliced), 1 tablespoon chia seeds, and 4 ounces coconut water.

  • High-Protein Oatmeal: Instead of making your old fashioned oats with water, use skim milk. (For 1 cup old fashioned oats use 16 ounces of skim milk.) Once thick and creamy, add in 1 cup plain Greek yogurt and top with berries for a high-protein breakfast.

  • Yogurt Parfait: Layer 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt, 1 cup chopped fresh fruit, 1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut chips, and 1/4 cup of granola in a glass. Drizzle with honey and—voila!—a filling and probiotic-packed breakfast.

  • Avocado Toast: Mash 1/2 an avocado and spread on a piece of 100% whole-grain toast. Add a pinch of coarse kosher salt and a squeeze of lemon for a high-fiber and healthy-fat-filled meal. Complement with a tasty fruit salad side.

  • Scrambled Toast and Eggs: For a new take on eggs and toast, tear up 1 slice of 100% whole-grain bread and warm it in a skillet. Add 1 beaten egg and 1/2 cup chopped spinach, plus salt and pepper and scramble, then dig in!

  • Overnight Oats: Wake up to this fiber- omega- and calcium-rich breakfast: Mix 1/2 cup of old fashioned oats, 2 teaspoons chia seeds, 8 ounces almond milk, and 1/4 teaspoon orange zest in an air-tight jar. Store in the fridge and, the next morning, top with fresh fruit and chopped nuts, and enjoy!

Healthy Pregnancy Lunch Ideas

Whether you’re eating lunch at home or packing one to devour at work, here are a week’s worth of delicious and healthy pregnancy lunch recipes to choose from. And don’t forget: Dinner leftovers are perfect for lunch, too!

  • Sesame Chicken Salad: This healthy lunch satisfies your sweet, savory, and crunchy pregnancy cravings! Toss slivered almonds, sliced cucumbers, chopped scallions, 1 cup of orange segments, and 4 ounces of shredded chicken into mixed greens and top with a homemade sesame ginger dressing. Yum!

  • Cobb Pasta Salad: Combine cooked whole-grain pasta with chopped romaine, a chopped hard-boiled egg, sliced cucumber, chopped tomato, and diced avocado. Add low-fat dressing and some marinated tempeh (for a bacon alternative) to this satisfying classic.

  • Basil Chicken Salad Sandwich: For a make-ahead lunch that yields several servings, chop 4 baked and cooled chicken breasts into bite-size pieces. Mix with 2 tablespoons each of mayo and plain Greek yogurt, 3/4 cup chopped celery, and 1/2 cup chopped basil. Spread your desired amount between 2 pieces of 100% whole-grain toast, add lettuce and tomato for a lip-smacking and baby-nourishing sandwich.

  • Grilled Tomato Basil Pizza: Roll out and grill store-bought pizza dough. Flip with tongs and top with 8 ounces goat cheese and sliced tomato. Cook for another 5 to 8 minutes until the cheese is melted. Top with a sprinkle of parm and basil for a healthy take on a fast-food fave.

  • Salmon Salad Collard Wraps: Craving a gluten-free sammie that’s brimming with healthy fats? Combine 3 ounces cooked salmon (canned is fine), 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and 2 tablespoons each of chopped celery and chopped dill. Wrap the salmon salad in a collard leaf and enjoy. (Learn how to prep the collard wrap.)

  • Red and Green Frittata: Up your antioxidant, healthy fat, and protein intake by whisking 4 large eggs and then stirring in 1 cup of a variety of green and red veggies (spinach, pepper, tomato, green onion), 2 tablespoons each of fresh basil and part-skim shredded mozzarella. Scramble in a heated, oven-safe skillet. While eggs are still a bit runny, add 2 more tablespoons of mozzarella and broil for up to 2 minutes.

  • Chicken Quesadillas: Top a whole-wheat tortilla with 2 ounces cooked and sliced chicken, 1/4 cup shredded cheddar, and 2 tablespoons sliced jalapeno. Fold and cook on a warmed skillet. Garnish with salsa and sour cream. It’s easy-peasy and super-filling!

Healthy Pregnancy Dinner Ideas

Stumped about what to eat once dinner time rolls around? Having these easy recipes in your back pocket can help get you through your evening meal with ease—and tons of nutrient-packed flavor!

  • Fish Taco With Mango Salsa: For some pregnancy-safe, low-mercury fish tacos, bake 1 pound of wild cod then cut it into 16 strips. Then, in a bowl, mix 1/2 cup diced red onion, 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, and 1 cup each diced tomato and mango. Split the fish between 4 warmed corn tortillas and top each with homemade salsa. Enjoy with a side of cowboy caviar.

  • Coconut-Crusted Chicken Fingers: Looking for a healthier spin on fried chicken? Pulse 3 cups crushed whole-grain cereal, 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a blender, then pour into a resealable plastic bag. Next, whisk 2 egg whites until frothy in a shallow bowl and dredge 1 pound of chicken strips through. Put the chicken in the bag and shake to coat. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 14 minutes, flipping halfway through. (Try a chopped salad as a side.)

  • Stuffed Sweet Potato Bar: For a meat-free meal that’s also a beta-carotene powerhouse try baked sweet potatoes. Fill each with 1 cup of cooked veggies (like mushrooms, spinach, or broccoli), plus 4 ounces cooked tofu or beans. Finish with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

  • Baked Turkey Meatballs: Combine 1 pound ground turkey, 1 egg, 4 tablespoons ground almonds, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1 teaspoon each of chopped basil and salt. Form 16 meatballs and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Serve with whole-grain pasta, your favorite low-sodium/no-sugar-added marinara, and roasted broccoli for a super-satisfying dinner.

  • Tofu Rice Bowl: Meatless Monday inspo ahead! Cook brown rice and shelled edamame. Gently toss drained and diced extra-firm tofu in a mix of 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon honey. Bake in a preheated oven (425 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 20 minutes, turning halfway through. Fill your bowl with rice, tofu, edamame, shredded carrots, some chopped cashews, and a bit of cilantro for a filling, vegetarian meal.

  • Balsamic Chicken: Don’t be afraid of flavorful chicken thighs! Their unsaturated fat is heart-healthy. Place 1 cup each of sliced onions and diced tomatoes into your slow cooker. Top with 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook on low for 6 hours, shred, and serve with cauliflower rice.

  • Minestrone Soup: For a comforting and a nutrient-dense supper, sauté 1/2 cup finely chopped onions and 1 large, chopped carrot over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups of low-sodium chicken or veggie broth, salt and pepper to taste, 1 can of diced tomatoes, and 1 can of kidney beans (drained and rinsed). Bring to a simmer, then add 1/2 cup of whole-grain ditalini noodles, stir frequently, and reduce heat once simmering. Cook for roughly 15 minutes. Before serving, stir in 2 cups baby spinach and top with parmesan. Serve with whole-grain bread.


More on Pregnancy Nutrition:

View more posts tagged, nutrition

Have questions about a Happiest Baby product? Our consultants would be happy to help! Submit your questions here.

Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.