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Can I Meal Prep While Pregnant? What You Need To Know

Updated May 8, 2023

If you’re pregnant, you know how important it is to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.

But you may be wondering “Can I meal prep while pregnant?”

The answer is Yes! You can meal prep during pregnancy. 

It can help you make sure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need and that you’re not overeating or undereating.


pregnancy-friendly meal planning tips


When planning your meals during pregnancy, it’s important to choose foods that are rich in nutrients like protein, calcium, iron, and folic acid.

These nutrients are essential for your baby’s growth and development.


Can I meal Prep While Pregnant?

According to Dr. Doug Penta, OB/GYN it is safe to meal prep during pregnancy.

Meal prep during pregnancy is all about planning and preparing meals in advance, which is particularly beneficial during pregnancy for several reasons:

  1. Ensures you consume a balanced diet: Having meals prepared in advance makes it easier to maintain a healthy, nutrient-dense diet, providing the best nourishment for your growing baby.
  2. Saves time and energy: Pregnancy can be exhausting, and having meals prepped in advance can help conserve your energy and reduce stress.
  3. Reduces the temptation for unhealthy choices: When healthy meals are ready to go, it’s less tempting to reach for unhealthy snacks or takeout.
  4. Helps manage pregnancy symptoms: Preparing meals in advance can help you accommodate food aversions


Can I meal prep while pregnant?



10 Pregnancy-Friendly Meal Prep Tips

  1. Plan your meals: Start by planning your meals for the week, considering the key nutrients you need during pregnancy, such as protein, iron, calcium, folic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids. Create a grocery list based on your meal plan to streamline shopping.
  2. Set aside time for meal prep: Dedicate a specific day or time for meal prep, such as Sunday afternoons or evenings. This will help you establish a routine and ensure you have meals ready for the week ahead.
  3. Cook in batches: Cooking larger quantities of staple items like whole grains, proteins, and veggies can save time and provide the basis for several meals. For example, cook a large batch of quinoa or brown rice and use it in various dishes throughout the week.
  4. Use freezer-friendly recipes: Prepare and freeze meals in advance to have a stash of ready-to-go dinners. This is especially helpful as you approach your due date, so you’ll have nutritious meals on hand during those first few weeks postpartum.
  5. Organize your refrigerator and pantry: Keep healthy snacks and meal components within easy reach. Store pre-chopped fruits and veggies, yogurt, and nuts in clear containers, so you’re more likely to grab them when you’re hungry.
  6. Invest in good-quality food storage containers: Having a variety of leak-proof, BPA-free containers in different sizes can make portioning and storing meals much easier. Glass containers are an eco-friendly and safe option.
  7. Label containers with the date to ensure freshness: Label containers with the date to ensure freshness: Use a marker or a label maker to add the date on which the meal was prepared, so you can easily keep track of freshness and consume the meals within a safe time frame
  8. Choose recipes that can be easily reheated: Opt for dishes that can be quickly and easily reheated in the microwave or oven, making mealtime more convenient and efficient.
  9. Adapt your favorite recipes: Modify your go-to recipes to include pregnancy-friendly ingredients and portion sizes. This will make meal prep more enjoyable and familiar.
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help: Enlist the support of your partner, family, or friends, especially if you’re experiencing pregnancy symptoms that make meal prep challenging.


pregnancy meal planning tips


Basic Guidelines for Pregnancy Meal Planning

Caloric Intake

During pregnancy, your body needs extra energy to support your growing baby.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that most pregnant women need an additional 300-450 calories per day during the second and third trimesters.

However, this can vary depending on your pre-pregnancy weight, activity level, and other factors.

Talk to your doctor or midwife about how many calories you need.

Macronutrient Balance

Focus on the quality of the foods you eat.

A balanced diet during pregnancy should include a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.

Aim to get most of your carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Choose lean sources of protein, such as chicken, fish, beans, and tofu. And include healthy fats, such as avocado, nuts, and olive oil.

Micronutrient Needs

Pregnancy increases your need for certain vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid, iron, and calcium.

Make sure to include plenty of foods that are rich in these nutrients in your diet.

Good sources of folic acid include leafy greens, beans, and fortified cereals.

Iron-rich foods include red meat, poultry, and beans.

And dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods are good sources of calcium.


Staying hydrated is important during pregnancy, as it helps to support your baby’s growth and development.

Aim to drink at least 8-10 cups of water per day, and more if you are active or in a hot climate.

You can also get fluids from other sources, such as milk, 100% fruit juice, and soup.


pregnancy meal planning tips


Quick and Easy Meal Recipes For Pregnancy Dinners

During pregnancy, you may experience fatigue and nausea, making it difficult to prepare meals.

Here are some quick and easy meal recipes that are also nutritious:

Meal Ingredients Instructions
Quinoa Salad Quinoa, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese, olive oil, lemon juice Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Mix all ingredients together and serve.
Chicken Stir-Fry Chicken breast, mixed vegetables, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame oil Cut chicken into small pieces and stir-fry with mixed vegetables. Add soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil to taste.
Salmon and Sweet Potato Salmon fillet, sweet potato, butter, salt, pepper Bake salmon and sweet potato in the oven with butter, salt, and pepper.


Get your FREE 56-page printable pregnancy meal planner!pregnancymealplanner

Importance of Proper Nutrition During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body undergoes numerous changes to support the growth and development of your baby.

Proper nutrition is essential to ensure that you and your baby receive all the necessary nutrients to stay healthy and strong.

Eating a balanced diet during pregnancy can help prevent complications such as pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and premature birth.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, pregnant women should consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including:

Nutrient Recommended Daily Amount Food Sources
Protein 75-100 grams Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, tofu
Calcium 1,000-1,300 milligrams Milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu, almonds, leafy greens
Folate/Folic Acid 600-800 micrograms Leafy greens, citrus fruits, beans, fortified cereals
Iron 27 milligrams Red meat, poultry, fish, beans, fortified cereals
Vitamin D 600-800 IU Fatty fish, fortified milk, egg yolks, mushrooms
Omega-3 Fatty Acids 200-300 milligrams Fatty fish, walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds

It’s also important to avoid certain foods and beverages during pregnancy, such as alcohol, raw or undercooked meat and eggs, unpasteurized dairy products, and fish high in mercury.


Recipes for a Healthy Pregnancy Diet

When you’re pregnant, it’s important to eat a healthy and balanced diet to support your growing baby’s needs.

Here are some recipe ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even dessert that are nutritious and delicious.

Breakfast Ideas

Starting your day with a healthy breakfast can help you maintain your energy levels throughout the day. Here are some ideas:

Meal Recipe Nutrition Information
Breakfast Avocado Toast with Egg Calories: 300, Protein: 15g, Fat: 18g, Carbohydrates: 25g
Breakfast Yogurt Parfait with Berries and Granola Calories: 350, Protein: 20g, Fat: 10g, Carbohydrates: 50g


Pregnancy-safe Lunch and Dinner Recipes 

For lunch and dinner, aim for a balance of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. Here are some recipes to try:

  • Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos: This vegetarian dish is packed with protein, fiber, and vitamins. Serve with a side of brown rice for a complete meal.
  • Grilled Chicken with Farro and Roasted Cauliflower: This dish is full of flavor and nutrients, including protein, fiber, and vitamin C.
  • Salmon Salad Niçoise: This classic French salad is a great way to get omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vegetables into your diet.


pregnancy-friendly meal prep tips


20 Pregnancy Meal Ideas First trimester

During the first trimester of pregnancy, your body is working tirelessly to nurture your future little one, and it’s in need of essential nutrients more than ever.

These 20 recipes are the culinary superstars perfect for a first trimester meal plan, ready to nourish you and your tiny miracle with the vital nutrients necessary for a healthy start.

Each meal is brimming with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to ensure you’re fueling up like a top-notch athlete preparing for the marathon of pregnancy.

We’ve lovingly curated these recipes with your unique nutritional requirements and taste buds in mind.

Carefully chosen ingredients, including colorful fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains, will help your baby flourish and keep you feeling energized.

But we haven’t forgotten about your cravings, either!

These recipes are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and calcium, creating a delightful trifecta of taste, nutrition, and baby-boosting benefits.

So, embrace your inner chef, whip up these mouthwatering meals, and relish the flavorful journey that comes with being an expectant mom.


Meal Idea Main Ingredients Key Nutrients
1. Greek yogurt parfait Greek yogurt, berries, granola, honey, nuts/seeds Protein, calcium, fiber
2. Spinach and cheese omelet Eggs, spinach, cheese, bell peppers, onions Protein, iron, calcium
3. Avocado toast with smoked salmon Whole-grain toast, avocado, smoked salmon, sesame seeds Healthy fats, protein, fiber
4. Lentil soup Lentils, carrots, tomatoes, celery, whole-grain bread Fiber, protein, iron
5. Quinoa salad Quinoa, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, feta cheese, lemon vinaigrette Protein, fiber, antioxidants
6. Chicken and vegetable stir-fry Chicken breast, bell peppers, broccoli, snap peas, brown rice Protein, fiber, vitamins
7. Whole-grain pasta with marinara sauce and lean protein Whole-grain pasta, marinara sauce, ground turkey, Parmesan cheese Fiber, iron, protein
8. Baked sweet potato with black beans and salsa Sweet potato, black beans, salsa, Greek yogurt Fiber, potassium, protein
9. Chia seed pudding Chia seeds, milk/milk alternative, honey/maple syrup, fruit, nuts Nutrient-dense, vitamins, minerals
10. Cottage cheese and fruit bowl Low-fat cottage cheese, fresh fruits, cinnamon, honey Protein, calcium, vitamins


11. Tropical smoothie Spinach, mango, banana, Greek yogurt, chia seeds, almond milk Vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber
12. Mediterranean chickpea salad Chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, olives, feta cheese, lemon-tahini dressing Protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins
13. Veggie-packed frittata Eggs, zucchini, bell peppers, onion, mushrooms, cheese Protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber
14. Turkey and avocado wrap Whole-grain tortilla, turkey breast, avocado, lettuce, tomato Protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins
15. Broccoli and cheese stuffed baked potato Baked potato, steamed broccoli, cheddar cheese, Greek yogurt Fiber, protein, calcium, vitamins
16. Almond butter and banana toast Whole-grain toast, almond butter, banana, chia seeds Healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins
17. Salmon and quinoa bowl Grilled salmon, quinoa, mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, lemon-dill dressing Protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamins
18. Veggie stir-fried rice Brown rice, edamame, bell peppers, carrots, peas, scrambled egg Protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals
19. Berry and spinach salad Spinach, mixed berries, walnuts, goat cheese, balsamic vinaigrette Antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats
20. Hummus and veggie pita Whole-grain pita, hummus, cucumber, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, lettuce Protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals


can I meal prep while pregnant-folic acid


10 Pregnancy Lunch Ideas For Work

These are easy and fast pregnancy-friendly lunch ideas for work that you can prep in advance.

Remember to keep your lunch cold and use ice packs if you can’t put it in a refrigerator.

Lunch Idea Main Ingredients Key Nutrients
1. Grilled chicken salad Grilled chicken, mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, avocado, balsamic vinaigrette Protein, vitamins, healthy fats
2. Quinoa and roasted vegetable bowl Quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, red onion, pumpkin seeds, feta cheese, lemon-tahini dressing Protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals
3. Turkey and veggie sandwich Whole-grain bread, turkey breast, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado, mustard Protein, fiber, vitamins, healthy fats
4. Caprese salad with whole-grain pita Fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, balsamic glaze, whole-grain pita, mixed greens Calcium, vitamins, fiber
5. Lentil and vegetable salad Lentils, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, bell pepper, baby spinach, lemon vinaigrette Protein, fiber, iron, vitamins
6. Cold sesame noodle salad Whole-grain noodles, shredded carrots, cucumber, edamame, sesame seeds, sesame-ginger dressing Protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals
7. Veggie and hummus wrap Whole-grain tortilla, hummus, lettuce, shredded carrots, bell pepper, cucumber, sprouts Protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals
8. Greek salad with pita and tzatziki  Mixed greens, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, cheddar cheese, whole-grain pita, tzatziki sauce Protein, fiber, vitamins, calcium
9. Egg salad sandwich Whole-grain bread, egg salad (made with Greek yogurt), lettuce, tomato Protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals
10. Southwestern quinoa salad Quinoa, black beans, corn, cherry tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, lime vinaigrette Protein, fiber, vitamins, iron

Another great lunch option is to have a rotisserie chicken for dinner and use the leftover chicken to make your own homemade chicken salad sandwich.

Just be sure to use a store-bought commercially made mayonnaise so you’ll know it was made with pasteurized eggs.


3 Easy Pregnancy Meal Recipes For Dinner

During pregnancy, you may experience fatigue and nausea, making it difficult to prepare meals.

Here are some quick and easy meal recipes that are also nutritious:

Meal Ingredients Instructions
Quinoa Salad Quinoa, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese, olive oil, lemon juice Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Mix all ingredients together and serve.
Chicken Stir-Fry Chicken breast, mixed vegetables, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame oil Cut chicken into small pieces and stir-fry with mixed vegetables. Add soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil to taste.
Salmon and Sweet Potato Salmon fillet, sweet potato, butter, salt, pepper Bake salmon and sweet potato in the oven with butter, salt, and pepper.


Healthy Snack Ideas For Pregnancy

Snacking is an important part of pregnancy nutrition, but it’s important to choose healthy snacks.

Some healthy snack ideas include:

  • Fruit and yogurt parfait
  • Cut-up veggies with hummus
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Whole-grain crackers with cheese
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Bagel with cream cheese


Can I meal prep chicken when pregnant?

The short answer is – yes, you can absolutely meal prep chicken while pregnant, but you’ll want to be extra cautious with food safety to keep you and your tiny bun in the oven happy and healthy.

Channel your inner culinary ninja and make sure to cook the chicken thoroughly (165°F or 74°C – no pink, please!), avoid cross-contamination with other ingredients, and store those prepped meals in airtight containers in the refrigerator.

You can refrigerate the cooked chicken for up to 3-4 days, so be mindful of the clock, and if you’re feeling extra ambitious, go ahead and freeze some portions for later!

Embrace your inner meal prep warrior and conquer the kitchen like the queen of meal planning you are.

Just remember, food safety first, and then enjoy the fruits (or, in this case, the chicken) of your labor!


Is it safe to eat pre-made salads when pregnant?

Well, my fellow salad lover, it’s a bit of a mixed bowl. 

Our OB/GYN Dr.Doug Penta says to skip premade salads while you are pregnant.

While the idea of grabbing a pre-made salad from the store or a restaurant might sound like a dream come true when you’re too tired to even look at a cutting board, there’s a catch.

Pre-made salads can pose a risk of foodborne illness from bacteria like listeria, which isn’t something you want to invite to your baby-growing party.

So, what’s a veggie-craving mama-to-be to do? If you’re hankering for a leafy green delight, consider making your own salads at home, where you can ensure the ingredients are fresh and properly washed.

If you absolutely must satisfy your craving with a store-bought salad, check the expiry date, inspect the packaging for any damage, and ensure it’s been stored at the proper temperature.

When in doubt, up a salad masterpiece in your own kitchen.

That way, you can enjoy your greens worry-free and keep the focus on nurturing that precious little sprout of yours!



Remember to drink plenty of water and adjust portion sizes to meet your individual needs and appetite. 

You are now armed with the knowledge and tools to plan and prepare healthy and delicious meals during your pregnancy.

Prioritize nutrient-dense foods, including lean protein, whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Stay hydrated and incorporate healthy fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds, and avocados, into your diet.

Don’t forget to limit your intake of caffeine and avoid alcohol entirely.

Meal planning can seem overwhelming, but with a little preparation and creativity, you can easily meet your nutritional needs while satisfying your cravings.

Use the recipes and meal plans provided in this article as a starting point, but don’t be afraid to experiment with your own favorite ingredients and flavors.




  • Doug Penta MD OB/GYN

    Dr. Doug Penta, MD - Co-Founder of Maternity Comfort Solutions Dr. Doug Penta, is a seasoned Obstetrician and Gynecologist with over 38 years of practice, co-founded Maternity Comfort Solutions to provide evidence-based pregnancy and parenting information. A Boston University alum and former Clinical Professor at Harvard, his articles on Maternity Comfort Solutions offer expectant mothers invaluable nutritional insights.

  • Sue Winters RN

    Sue Winters, RN - Co-Founder of Maternity Comfort Solutions Sue combines 20 years of nursing with a rich background in early childhood education. Co-founder of Maternity Comfort Solutions, her articles provide creative toddler activities and practical tips on pregnancy nutrition and baby shower planning, embodying her commitment to supporting families through early parenthood.

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