As a registered dietitian and mom expecting my second daughter, I know just how much good nutrition during pregnancy can play into your health and your baby-to-be’s health. I also know how hard that can be some days. I know I’m not alone acknowledging that some days the food that goes down easily doesn’t always win the A+ nutrition award. But I’m cool with that. Why? Because our health is not judged by one meal. Also, pregnancy is hard enough, we don’t need that extra side of guilt from the food police. It’s all about balance and doing the best you can especially when you’re feeling good!
If you’re looking for some simple and easy food ideas with known benefits for mom and baby, I got you covered. I have a thriving business and 16-month-old. I barely have time to brush my teeth, let alone cook from scratch three times a day. But I have quite the collection of healthful, make-ahead ideas. I’m all about efficiency.
Make the most of your time and your nutrition during pregnancy with these seven make-ahead timesaving tips for a healthy pregnancy.
1. Start the day right
Start your morning off right or curb your afternoon hunger with a yogurt parfait. Combine roughly 1 cup of full-fat yogurt with fresh fruit, nuts, chia seeds, and some candied ginger if you are feeling nauseous. These can easily be assembled the night before or you can prep several at a time to eat throughout the week.
2. Freeze it
Craving ice cream? Tame your sweet cravings with this easy-to-make Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream. With only two ingredients, bananas and peanut butter, this combo delivers lasting energy and key vitamins and minerals essential to your baby’s development.
Drinking enough water can be a simple solution to preventing constipation during your pregnancy. Try making infused waters and spritzers to ensure you are meeting your hydration needs. Using a large pitcher, place approximately 2 cups of fresh fruit and 2-3 sprigs of herbs or ginger slices and fill with 1-2 liters of flat or fizzy water (both work great). Ginger and orange infused water is packed full of vitamin C and ginger to help settle an upset tummy. For a refreshing herbal infusion, try combining watermelon and rosemary or basil. Or if you’re in the mood for something fizzy, try making an infused spritzer using 1 cup whole strawberries and one sliced lime. Refill your pitchers 3-5 times before replacing fruit and herbs.
4. Power up on eggs
The yolk of an egg delivers is an excellent source of choline, a nutrient essential to fetal brain development and birth defect prevention. Two eggs provide about half the recommended daily intake of choline for pregnant women. Hard boil a dozen eggs at the beginning of the week and peel them in advance. These make easy grab ‘n go snacks or a perfect protein to use as a salad topper.
5. Stock up on cans
Try this brain boosting healthy salmon salad recipe. Canned salmon is a great timesaving alternative to fresh or frozen fish and is just as nutritious. Try this healthy version of salmon salad that uses hummus. The salad offers a healthy dose of both omega-3 and vitamin B6, which has shown to help ease pregnancy-associated nausea and is vital to your baby-to-be’s developing brain and nervous system.
6. Make your own
Build an energy-filled trail mix with almonds, dried tart cherries, coconut flakes, and dark chocolate chips—store in airtight container and add to your morning oatmeal, or keep in your desk drawer to reach for a quick snack instead of the work vending machine.
7. Look to mason jars
Make use of your mason jars and pack them with salads. Using pint or quart-sized jars, layer your favorite salad goodies to assemble colorful and nutritious meals that are easy to transport. To prevent soggy salad, put the dressing on the bottom, then pile your veggies and greens on top. These salads will last for days so you can make a week’s worth ahead of time.
Registered dietitian Rebecca Scritchfield is the founder of Capitol Nutrition Group, a Washington, DC private practice committed to helping people live healthy lives on their own terms. An expert on the connection between happiness and health, Rebecca advocates for self-care as the foundation for long-term health. Follow her on Twitter @ScritchfieldRD