Ladies Who Lunch: A Week of Meals for Moms-to-Be

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Planning, prepping and packing a thoughtful lunch with essential nutrients that you’ll actually look forward to eating is a tall order for anyone to tackle. But it’s especially difficult for busy moms-to-be, who are fighting fatigue and carefully considering ingredients to ensure that they’re noshing on healthy foods that are helpful for baby’s development. It’s enough to make any pregnant mama throw up her hands, spread some tuna salad on two slices of whole-wheat bread and call it a day.

To step up your pregnancy meal plan, we chatted with dietitian Shannan Monson, RDN, mom and founder of Nutrition Simply in Augusta, Georgia, who put together a week’s worth of healthy pregnancy meals made with the expectant crowd in mind, whether in early pregnancy or late in the third trimester—and there isn’t a soggy sandwich in sight. Pull out your lunchboxes, and get packin’ with this healthy-eating pregnancy nutrition plan!

salmon-grain-bowl-2MONDAY: Salmon Grain Bowl

What you need:
1 cup quinoa, cooked
1⁄4  cup mango, chopped
1⁄4  cup cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons cashews, chopped
1 wild-caught salmon filet, grilled or steamed
Balsamic vinegar and olive oil to dress

Combine first four ingredients, top with salmon, and toss with balsamic vinegar and olive oil to taste. The sweet flavors will get stronger and more delicious as they set in your fridge, making this a perfect make-ahead lunch to take to the office.

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Contain it: Three plastic-free and leak-proof storage options in one. ECOlunchbox container trio, $33

Monson says: You might be hesitant to eat fish during your pregnancy for fear of mercury toxicity, but most fish are actually strongly encouraged as part of a healthy diet because they provide omega-3 fatty acids and DHA to help your growing baby’s brain develop. Fish like wild-caught salmon and tuna are rich in healthy fats and vitamin D, low in mercury and safe to consume while expecting.

If you’re not keen on quinoa, try swapping it out with brown rice for a hearty dose of whole grains and a smart complex carbohydrate.

chickpeas-2TUESDAY: Lemon Chickpea Salad

What you need:
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1⁄4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
2-3 radishes, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1⁄2 tablespoon lemon juice
1⁄2 cup greens (romaine, spinach, kale, leafy greens, etc.)

Toss all ingredients together, and chill until you’re ready to enjoy.

Contain it: The lid boasts a built-in ice pack that stays cool for hours. Bento&Co Gel-Cool lunchbox, $25

Monson says: Chickpeas (used to make hummus) are packed with nutrients, including folate, magnesium and protein, that boost your health and your wee one’s growth and development. Plus, the fresh herbs and garlic enhance the body’s natural detoxification process, keeping mama healthy and energized as well.

kimchiWEDNESDAY: Kimchi Jjigae (Stew)

What you need:
2 cups kimchi, chopped
1⁄2 pound tofu,cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon gochujang (hot pepper paste), optional
1 teaspoon honey
5 cups water
2 stalks green onion, chopped

Boil all ingredients—except the green onion—together for 30 minutes. Let cool, and garnish with onion.

Contain it: A watertight locking seal makes this tiffin terrific for liquid eats. black+blum lunch pot, $25

Monson says: Fermented foods like kimchi are a great source of probiotics that help prepare the body for birth. Probiotics promote good bacteria growth in mom that is passed on to baby for better immunity and health throughout life. (They are sometimes also included in your prenatal vitamin.) This is a simple one-pot soup that you can prepare ahead of time for plenty of leftovers that are easy to transport.

sausage-and-cheeseTHURSDAY: Sausage and Veggie Bento Box

What you need:
2-3 ounces chicken apple sausage, chopped or rolled into meatballs
1-2 ounces cheddar and mozzarella cheese, cubed
1⁄2 cup raspberries
1 packet of almond butter
Red and orange bell peppers, sliced
Peppermint protein bites (see below)

Contain it: Multiple compartments prioritize variety and versatility (while also catering to grown-ups who still prefer for fare not to touch). PlanetBox bento box, from $32

Monson says: Getting enough magnesium from fresh fruits and veggies can help with restless leg syndrome (RLS) and leg cramps that many women struggle with during pregnancy. Plus, because magnesium is a muscle relaxant, it might even help with the intensity of labor.

snacky-ballsPowerball

Looking for a way to satisfy your sweet tooth without loading up on empty carbs and calories? Monson suggests making a batch of peppermint protein bites—they’ll do a lot more for your hardworking body than any cookie. Peppermint is a commonly used herb to help combat nausea (and is also safe for a pregnancy diet), which makes these energy bites a perfect midmorning snack or lunchtime treat to ward off all-day queasiness.

What you need:
1 cup rolled oats or soft nuts (try cashews or walnuts)
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1⁄2 cup almond butter
3-4 dates
1 tablespoon honey
2 drops peppermint extract
1-3 tablespoons almond milk, optional

Mix in a food processor until soft dough forms. Roll into balls. If dough is too dry, add 1-3 tablespoons of milk as needed. (I recommend using almond milk instead if avoiding dairy products.)

Contain it: Ditch the plastic baggies for this clever alternative. Stasher reusable storage bag, from $10

salad-bowlFRIDAY: Chopped Cobb Salad

What you need:
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1⁄2 ripe avocado,diced
2 cups Tuscan kale, massaged and chopped
1 pear, chopped
2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon dried cranberries
1 small chicken breast, grilled and cut into thin strips
1 handful cherry tomatoes
Dressing of choice

Layer ingredients in a salad-friendly container with sturdier ingredients that can hold up to any juices at the bottom (think chicken, walnuts). Top with softer items (like avocado and pear), and finish it off with greens. Serve with creamy poppy seed dressing or red wine vinegar.

Contain it: There’s a separate compartment under the lid for dressing! Kilner salad jar, $16

Monson says: Natural fats like avocados, hard-boiled eggs and walnuts add the right kind of extra calories that are vital to the organ and brain development of your baby. Plus, they help you feel satiated throughout the day, which can keep morning sickness at bay, too.

Offers Page

Want free stuff?

(Not a trick question!) We’re sharing the love with top-brand giveaways and prizes, exclusive product offers, and over $500 in mom-approved free gifts! Find gear, sample boxes, online courses and much more up for grabs.

Learn More