Pregnancy Grocery List: Healthy Meal Plan During Pregnancy

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Cravings, mom-to-be? Yes, of course — after all, you’re pregnant! Cravings are a part of the whole pregnancy journey. And as many an expectant mom knows, the key is navigating your cravings while keeping a nutritious, balanced diet. 

Sounds challenging? Well, yes, it can be. But with the right information and mindset, you’ll be able to eat healthily and still be able to enjoy yummy food that can satisfy your pregnancy cravings!

Now that you’re pregnant, you’re eating for not one, but two. Know that phrase, “You are what you eat”? That’s even more important now that you have a precious bundle of joy growing inside you. So it’s very important to be mindful of what you put in your mouth and your body. And a great way to do that is to prepare a healthy meal plan. 

This all starts with a healthy, solid pregnancy grocery list. Armed with this, you’re sure to be able to surround yourself with good food options that will keep you both healthy and satisfied.

Check out our Pregnancy Grocery List Guide for more tips and guidance to healthy, mindful eating for two.

5 Key Nutrients For Expectant Moms

Take note – and take stock! – of these essential nutrients

1. Calcium

Healthy Meal Plan During Pregnancy
Food rich in calcium

Calcium is a nutrient that builds strong bones and teeth. It helps maintain muscle action, nerve function, and regular circulation. Calcium can be found in dairy products like cheese, milk, and yogurt. Leafy green veggies, soy products, and nuts are also good options. 

Pregnancy grocery list must-haves: Cheese, collard greens, spinach, almonds, baked beans, tofu, yogurt, kale, raisins, leeks

2. Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbs contain starch and fiber and are a great source of energy. As your body digests food, these complex carbohydrates are slowly converted to sugar, which becomes a source of energy for many hours. What makes them healthier than simple carbs is that simple carbs are primarily sugar (bread and white rice, for example) and, during digestion, are quickly converted, giving you a spark of energy that quickly fades out, leaving you hungrier. 

Pregnancy grocery list must-haves: Brown or whole grain rice pasta, brown rice, bread that is whole-wheat, rye, pumpernickel, or multigrain.

3. Fats

pregnancy grocery list

Not all fats are bad. Healthy fats, which have omega-3 essential fatty acids and monounsaturated fats, aid in maintaining maternal and fetal cells’ pliability. This makes these cells transmit and receive information more easily. Very critical to your baby’s eye development and brain growth are Omega-3s, which contain DHA. You can find Omega-3s in salmon as well as other oily fish and also algae.

Pregnancy grocery list must-haves: Seeds, avocados, canola oil, olives, olive oil, salmon, nuts

4. Protein

pregnancy grocery list
Sources of healthy protein – meat, fish, dairy products, nuts, legumes, and grains.

Proteins have amino acids, which are basic building blocks for many important things like muscle mass and brain cells. When you are pregnant, you should get around 60 to 80 grams of protein each day. Plus, a complex carb coupled with a protein can help keep you feeling full for a longer time. 

Pregnancy grocery list must-haves: Lean meats, fish (such as salmon, cod, or flounder), seeds, cottage cheese, tofu, eggs, nuts, and beans (such as lentils, black, or pinto).

5. Iron

Healthy Meal Plan During Pregnancy

Iron is a very important mineral because it lets blood carry oxygen throughout your body. You need about double the average amount of iron during pregnancy because, by the end of pregnancy, blood volume will have nearly doubled. Add to that the fact that your little one is also producing their red blood cells. Having extra iron in your body will also support you should you have any blood loss during labor. An iron supplement may also be given to you by your doctor.

Pregnancy grocery list must-haves: Chicken, eggs, beans, artichokes, almonds, beans, dried fruit, lean red meats

6 Kitchen Mainstays To Have During Pregnancy

Eating healthy for two is a breeze when you stock up with essential food choices.

1. Dairy

Various dairy products
Various dairy products. Milk, cheese, cottage, sour cream. In front of blue background

Dairy is rich in calcium, and calcium is something you’ll need for stronger bones for both you and your baby. Low fat cottage cheese and yogurt are two options which are loaded with calcium. But don’t skip on drinking milk — milk is still the most optimal way for you to have vitamin D, which your body needs to absorb calcium.

How to incorporate in meals: Turn cottage cheese or yogurt into a tasty treat by adding a bit of granola, all-fruit jam, or even chopped fruit.

2. Beans

pregnancy grocery list
multicolored, black, white, red beans on a black board. toning. selective Focus

Beans, or legumes, are full of folic acid (which aids in reducing the risk of your baby having a neural-tube defect) and fiber (which aids in keeping a healthy weight during pregnancy because it slows digestion and makes you feel full longer). They are also low in fat and high in protein. You can opt to grab a bag of beans from the grocery, but they will take some time to cook, so canned options are okay too! 

How to incorporate in meals: Add cannellini to pasta, put mashed black beans in tacos, mix in some garbanzos in a salad.

3. Frozen spinach

pregnancy grocery list
Frozen spinach in briquettes in a frying pan horizontal

Frozen spinach is a great variety of green and leafy power food, just like the new variant, frozen spinach, an excellent iron source, which can help you avoid anemia while you are pregnant. Plus, it’s in a compact block and is easy to whip up, making it nutritious and convenient. 

How to incorporate in meals: Thaw overnight by placing the opened spinach in a bowl in your refrigerator. The next day, you can layer it into pasta, mix in tomato sauce, or even put it into an omelet.

4. Eggs

pregnancy grocery list

Wanna know a secret about eggs? These little wonders pack a great healthy punch for pregnant moms! They’re full of minerals, protein, and choline, which helps in your little one’s brain development and growth. Bonus tip: Find eggs that have omega-3 on their label because they will provide the fatty acid DHA, which boosts babies’ brains AND helps prevent preterm labor. 

How to incorporate in meals: Fry an egg and top it on leftovers such as roasted potatoes, rice, or spaghetti, or hard-boil an egg for a quick snack or breakfast.

5. Nut Butter

nut butter with apple slices

Not only is nut butter a super yummy sandwich staple, but they’re also a great source of protein, which is an essential cell building block. From peanut, cashew to almond and beyond — these are scrumptious, easy to tote along, and won’t quickly spoil!

How to incorporate in meals: Spread onto waffles, apple slices, or whole-eat toast, or add a tablespoon into your oatmeal. 

6. Fruit

fruits and berries
fruits and berries on a dark wood background. the toning. selective focus

The fruit is a healthy dietary inclusion — and it’s a basic must-have kitchen staple. Fruits are chock-full of vitamins, low in calories, and high in fiber, which is essential for pregnant women because it eases constipation and aids in reducing diabetes risk. Be it fresh, dried, or frozen, and fruits are a no-brainer to have with you! 

How to incorporate in meals: Cut up fresh fruits and have a bowl handy, bring dried fruits with you for a great snack (make sure to check and follow serving size suggestions!), or indulge in canned fruits (make sure to pick the ones that are packed in water and not in syrup).

Caloric Guide For Pregnant Moms

Here are the recommended calories for pregnant moms who have a healthy BMI

  • First trimester – 1,800 calories per day (approximate)
  • Second trimester – 2,200 calories per day (approximate)
  • Third trimester – 2,400 calories per day (approximate)

Food Suggestions To Include On Your Pregnancy Grocery List

As you are growing a new life in your body, you will need around 300 more calories every day to support your pregnancy. Where you will get, these extra calories are very important. 

1. Vegetables:

  • Asparagus
  • Winter squash
  • Bell peppers
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beets
  • Tomatoes
  • Green peas
  • Summer squash
  • Parsley
  • Broccoli
  • Endives

2. Fruits:

  • Watermelon
  • Persimmons
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Tangerines
  • Avocados
  • Cantaloupe
  • Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries
  • Grapes
  • Grapefruits
  • Apricots
  • Cherries
  • Guava
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Kiwi
  • Tangerines

3. Whole grains:

  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • Whole wheat bread and pasta
  • Barley
  • Quinoa

4. Proteins:

  • Organic chicken
  • Turkey
  • Lean beef
  • Pork
  • Liver
  • Veal
  • Lamb
  • Tilapia
  • Wild salmon
  • Cod
  • Shrimp
  • Eggs
  • Soy milk
  • Shellfish

What To Avoid?

Keep these off your pregnancy grocery list!

  • Refrigerated pate and meat spreads
  • Cold cuts, luncheon meats, and hotdogs
  • Fish containing high mercury levels (Marin, swordfish, shark, king mackerel, tilefish, orange roughy)
  • Seafood, meat, and eggs that are undercooked or raw
  • The juice that has added sugars or sweeteners
  • Smoked seafood
  • Unpasteurized milk and food products that use unpasteurized milk

Remember, you are responsible for what your body takes in and what your baby takes in during pregnancy. A happy, healthy pregnancy is anchored on healthy, mindful habits — and that includes what you eat for you and your little one. Happy eating!

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