10 Great Recipe ideas (and tips) for pregnant women!

10 Meals for a Future Momma

Betsy just crossed over into the third trimester of pregnancy (read the Nugget announcement) and, as you might have guessed, the first two trimesters weren’t always a walk in the park.

One huge area that I was positive (like, absolutely) that I would be able to nail is providing her with meals. After all, feeding people is kind of what I do. If I can’t feed my own wife during cravings, sickness, and other strange pregnancy states, I should probably just hang up my blogging boots.

Four months ago I was ready and, I thought, armed with the following theories about feeding a pregnant momma:

– How hard could it be? She’s going to be hungry all the time. (NOT TRUE)

– She’s growing a human. She needs to eat a lot. (NOT TRUE)

– Just find out her cravings and then it will be easy to satisfy them. (NOT EVEN REMOTELY TRUE)

Aversion to Food Stuffs

Betsy and I were somewhat mentally ready for the dreaded morning sickness of pregnancy. Bets was ready to feel gross on occasion and I was ready to play around with different recipes to find something she could enjoy.

What we weren’t exactly ready for was a lingering four month slog where Bets couldn’t eat a shifting field of foods. Some days it was almost hour to hour. Some days it would be super specific (no eggs allowed) and some days it would drift into the vague abyss (no cooked vegetables… like none at all).

Try to find a recipe on my site that doesn’t include any cooked vegetables. It’s pretty damn tough. I struggled with that one.

Betsy and I weren’t really ready to go public with the news so I wasn’t writing much about this issue, but now that it’s out there and most of the sickness issues are behind us, I thought it would be fun to share some of the recipes (and tips) that actually worked for us.

Maybe this list of Meals for pregnant Women will help you now, or in the future.

And, by all means, if you happen to have some recipes that helped you or your significant other get through the first few months of baby growing, please leave a comment!

Tip 1: Think Smells

One big rule I learned is to not just think about how a food tastes, but how it smells. This not only includes the finished version but in all of the food states.

One of Betsy’s biggest aversions was to cooked onions. Or more specifically, her aversion was to the smell of onions cooking.

Smells are very different than flavors and it helps to be aware of strong smells that might be off-putting.

Tip 2: Think Textures

This is actually a good rule for cooking in general, but many times I think Betsy wasn’t against the food exactly, but the texture of the dish.

She tended to do well with super-crunchy dishes or creamy things. So a really fresh crunchy salad was totally fine or a big bowl of creamy potato soup.

Of course, not every person will be the same, but it’s helpful to try to identify what textures work and then find other dishes that have those textures.


Here’s an example of 10 of the recipe types that worked really well for Betsy, after much trial and error.

Chicken Wraps

Meals for pregnant Women

After many weeks of struggle, we finally landed on this as a lunch that Betsy could easily eat (and enjoy). The wrap would change a bit each week, but her favorite was basically this marinated chicken, grilled, and wrapped with really crunchy lettuce, crunchy bacon, tomato and avocado.

Oatmeal Bowls

Meals for pregnant Women

It seems like it’s very common to struggle with breakfast if you are pregnant. I feel like Betsy didn’t have more sickness in the morning. It was more of a constant annoyance, but breakfasts definitely were an issue. We landed on oats as a cure. The good thing about oats is they are completely bland and you can change them up depending on the food aversion of the day.

We would tend to go with some sort of berry and a nut butter most days of the week.

All of the Pizza

Meals for pregnant Women

Okay. Ignore the Brussels sprouts on the above photo because that was a big NO GO in our house. But, pizza was generally something Betsy could eat as long as didn’t have a ton of vegetables on it.

Crispy crust and gooey cheese was very doable for her. I did not complain.

 Serious Steak

Meals for pregnant Women

Our meal plans would be day to day, but on many days it seemed like meat was the answer. To be honest, we aren’t enormous meat eaters. Sure, we are far from vegetarian, but we eat a pretty wide spectrum of things including veggies, meats, legumes, tofu, etc. You know this if you’ve read Macheesmo for a while.

But, some days over the last few months, meat was the only thing that Betsy craved. Luckily, I can make a pretty mean steak so WE MADE IT THROUGH.

Quinoa Salad

Meals for pregnant Women

After we exhausted the chicken wrap situation for lunch, we learned that Betsy could handle a very simple quinoa salad. The one we landed on was actually much simpler than the one in the above recipe. Essentially, I would just cook quinoa and toss it with crunchy snap peas, pumpkin seeds, and a very light dressing.

This worked well and I felt good for feeding her something I could generally qualify as healthy.

 Shake Time

Meals for pregnant Women

After four months of pregnancy, Betsy had actually lost weight. The doctor was very quick to inform us that this was not a good situation.

She prescribed daily milkshakes. Betsy had no problem housing some milkshakes. When she couldn’t overcome, I helped.

Crunchy Tex-Mex

Meals for pregnant Women

Betsy has always been a Tex-Mex fiend and that didn’t really change during her pregnancy (luckily). But, again with the texture thing, she preferred crunchy Tex-mex dishes.

Thinks like tacos and nachos were generally preferred to stuff like enchiladas.

Salty Popcorn

Meals for pregnant Women

While some days were sweets focused, most days for Betsy involved a salty craving. Good seasoned popcorn was something she could always eat for her entire pregnancy.

It was bland, but salty and had a good texture. That combo seemed to work for her.

Bland Pastas

Meals for pregnant Women

I really pride myself on making good pasta sauces and interesting pasta combinations. This was not to time to do this. Betsy craved pasta, but it had to have almost nothing on it. Maybe a super light tomato sauce or butter sauce was fine, but simple was the rule for sure.

Whitish Carby Junk

Meals for pregnant Women

For at least a month, the joke in our house was that we were growing a baby with only white foods. Starchy, carby things were all Betsy wanted. Tater tots, fries, pastas, etc. It was a surefire way to make sure she would eat something.

Have any Tips!?

Luckily, we are through the worst of this, but I’m sure there are many out there that are going through this now or will in the future. It’s always good to have a list of ideas of tips and tricks, like this list of Meals for pregnant Women,  that might work.

If you have a favorite recipe that was all you (or your sig. other) craved while pregnant, leave a comment!

Let’s feed pregnant mommas!

32 comments on “10 Meals for a Future Momma

  1. Oh man, the ONLY things I wanted to eat in the first trimester were beige/white. Bagels, toast, mashed potatoes… and yet I didn’t gain an ounce. Also all the brassicas were off the list for the entire pregnancy – I still haven’t had a brussels sprout and my kiddo is nearly four months old. Once I had to sit on the back porch and wait while Adam set up a bunch of fans to move the smell out after he had roasted some broccoli while he thought I was gone for a few hours. I’m glad to hear Betsy’s feeling better!

    1. yea… The open window fan situation happened in our house also one day… so it goes! And yea… Bets still can’t do the brassica family so that sounds about right.

  2. I remember morning sickness that lasted all day and it was 50 years ago! Not fun. But Betsey is in good company with Duchess Kate, for whatever that’s worth.

  3. My little one is 7 months old, so all of this is very fresh in our household’s history. My most ridiculous aversion was raw tomatoes: I called my husband on the way home from work so that he could hide some tomatoes that I knew were on the counter so that I didn’t have to even look at them when I got home. In my normal not pregnant state I had always (and do again) loved snacking on grape tomatoes.

    I had morning (well… all-day) sickness for about 5-6 months, and I too ate a LOT of white starchy foods. A bowl of egg noodles with butter topped with some from-the-freezer chicken nuggets drizzled with honey was my go-to meal for probably 3 of those months. I also love to cook so I felt bad that my husband (and anyone unlucky enough to be visiting) was pretty much on their own food-wise for a long time.

    Betsy: Stay on the prenatal vitamin train and keep those calories coming in however you can stand it (Carnation Instant Breakfast!) Babies are sneaky ninjas and will take whatever they need regardless of what you’re eating (for better or for worse) hopefully now you’re back to having an appetite – which is all well and good until the baby takes up your whole torso :/ The end is near- Take a NAP!

    1. Thanks for the great comment Laura. Babies do appear to be sneaky ninjas. I’m assuming that continues well into their teens…

  4. “Morning sickness” or for some it can be off and on all day sickness. I majored in nutrition in college and had learned then that the nausea that can accompany pregnancy is due to low protein intake. Not pregnant at the time I made a mental note for later and during both my pregnancies, at the first signs of nausea, I upped my protein especially right before bed. Having hard boiled eggs and yogurt at the ready just before bed made pregnancy a breeze. Third trimester is were grouchy hunger pains can start. Be sure to have middle if the night high protein snacks in the fridge because when the baby wakes her up hungry her belly won’t let her sleep until it’s satisfied. I also had a high protein breakfast smoothly every morning with hemp powder, coconut milk, cacao powder and whatever fruit I wanted at the time, mmmmm :). Also, carb cravings are very much in her near futur because thats what the baby wants to grow. Fortunately she has you to make sure they are good and quality carbs!

    1. Great tip Victoria! Cashew nuts were a bit hit for Betsy. A handful as a snack seemed to help level her out during the hunger pains.

  5. I am so glad that pizza made the list. I’m in my second trimester now and during the first trimester, I was sick all day. The one thing that would look good no matter what I was feeling was pizza. We ordered pizza, made pizza, got frozen pizzas, had pizza variations like calzones, the whole shebang. We still eat a lot of it – Pepperoni with olives and mushrooms. Yum.
    The only thing that helped morning sickness/all-day sickness was to eat early and regularly, otherwise I was feeling sick and so I didn’t want to eat even if I was hungry! I had oatmeal in the morning, right when I woke up and tried to lightly and regularly snack (protein as much as possible).
    I loved your ideas about what you thought you knew before…I felt the same way. We have a popcorn machine and I used to be able to eat it all the time, now, the smell of it makes me nauseous. I hope I enjoy it post pregnancy because I do not enjoy it now.

    1. You have like, a real popcorn machine? Movie Theater style??? That’s awesome. It would be constantly running in my house.

  6. My first pregnancy was bad with the morning sickness. I worked in a Mexican restaurant and the very strong smells of Mexican food were really hard to stomach. I was sick until about 5-6 months.

    My second pregnancy was worse. I couldn’t look at any meat, I couldn’t stand the smell of coffee or tea, the texture or look of anything slimy like cucumber or pasta with oil. I basically ended up just forcing myself to eat food to get something in my stomach, and I still ended up losing 38 pounds in the first 4 months. I didn’t stop having “morning” (all day every day oh my god when is this going to stop for the love of god) sickness until the 7th month, then I finally started being able to eat and gaining back what I had lost.

    Luckily, I had some extra padding to lose so I wasn’t ever in any danger and was staying super well hydrated. Thing 1 and 2 are both HUGE eaters. They just have, uh, big personalities.

    1. Oh wow… that’s some intense weight loss! Glad to hear it normalized though and that thing 1 and 2 are healthy and happy! :)

    2. That’s how I am right now. Nothing stays down, sometines yogurt and fruit, but not even that stays down on all of the day. I’ve tried crackers, ginger and 7up, some days they help, but they din’t work entirely. Im trying to eat other things too, but only the above and bean and cheese burritos sometimes work, but it gets boring. I keep trying to broaden the food items, but anything cooked is out of the question and nuts for the most parts disgust me and oils do too. Even raw vegetables have become hard to eat. As each day passes, my options get more and more limited. At least though Im toward the end of my 3rd trimester, but my WIC counselor said I’m loosing weight too fast, but my ob/gyn said its in the 2nd and 3rd trimester I’ll need to gain weight.

  7. I had the opposite reaction. I became almost vegetarian during pregnancies and liked milk products for the first time since I was a kid. And morning sickness was actually evening sickness for me. I remember one particular dinner out when I ate French fries and a strawberry milkshake because I knew it would be gentle to throw up. Good call on textures and smells. I could eat some cooked meat, but couldn’t handle the smell of it cooking. We ate out a lot since I’m usually the cook in our house.

  8. I am currently finishing up trimester #1, and finally starting to eat more normally (except: NO raw tomatoes or dill.) I never had full-on morning sickness, but I stopped cooking almost entirely and my husband took over. That was difficult, but he put up with my ever-changing likes and dislikes. It’s good that you point out how often food aversions and cravings shift during pregnancy. I was totally unprepared for that. The food that got me through the worst times was baked potatoes. With a little salt, a little butter, and maybe a few bites of veggies or meat on the side, I was a happy camper. I also have enjoyed comfort food like Annie’s mac & cheese and peanut butter and honey sandwiches on soft bread.
    As my aversions are subsiding and my appetite is growing, I’m pretty excited for the coming holidays and in general delicious fall comfort food.

  9. Pregnancy is different for each woman, that is certainly true when reading the previous comments! The first trimester I couldn’t eat any sausage and generally smells just bothered me. Never got sick, though. The rest of the pregnancy I was constantly thirsty and the only appetizing things were juice, chocolate milk, and any fruits or veggies that were juicy. I did eat more than that of course, but those were the big hits! Good luck with your new addition!
    P.S. Your Swedish Meatball recipe is a huge hit with our now two-year-old. She’ll eat 3 toddler sized servings!

    1. Awesome! So glad they like the recipe. That’s a great reminder. I need to bring that recipe back from the archives… it’s way buried now. :)

  10. Oh man. I feel her, I lost quite a bit of weight with the first and even more with the second. At least she’s getting past that stage, sometimes it can last the whole pregnancy, I’ll bet you can guess how I know! With my first, all I could eat was yogurt and string cheese–literally! I actually made my hubby cook his own food in the garage because the smell made me so sick. He’s a trooper though and got through it. With my second, it was all about the greasy fried stuff, canned peaches, and BEEF!! OMG, I probably ate a whole steer while I was pregnant with my second. Cheeseburgers, steaks, brisket, I NEEDED red meat, chicken just didn’t cut it (and the smell of raw chicken has turned my stomach ever since).

    The one thing I learned about feeding a pregnant woman is that flexibility is an absolute MUST. Don’t even bother trying to make up a weekly meal plan until she’s past that stage, and don’t expect every pregnancy to come with the same food aversions. Try to eat as healthy as you can, but if you haven’t kept anything down in three days, and you think that you might be able to keep that cheeseburger down, do it. I think the carb-fest is probably a desperate bid for energy–I know that I struggled with exhaustion the second time around, and it seemed like I felt a bit more “alive” after eating them. Also, some of those food aversions are permanent (or at least semi-permanent), so don’t get too upset if she never can choke down a cooked onion again. Likewise, some of the things that she craved she may not be able to eat again–I gag on yogurt now unless it’s mixed in something, and that pregnancy was 8 years ago!

  11. As you can tell…. most women have some story about morning sickness! Betsy is so luck to have someone that is able to cook “around” her morning sickness. I, too, was very sick with my little one until about 6.5 months. It was pretty rough and believe me, she will be happy when she no longer has to run to the bathroom after every meal! I’m glad that I’m not the only one that could always stomach pizza! It didn’t matter what time of day, it always tasted good and stayed in! Good luck with the rest of the pregnancy and congratulations on the new little one!

  12. Our son is just four months old, so this is all VERY fresh in my mind! Just a word of warning as you enter the home stretch: I wasn’t sick at all until the third trimester and then the sickness and aversions caught up with a vengeance. Every pregnancy is different, so be on guard for very late-pregnancy morning/afternoon/all day sickness. My only advice is that when I was having a carby day and couldn’t stomach the thought of meat or fish, one of the ways I could get protein into me was to make rice pudding without a lot of sugar and “hide” an egg or two in it. No eggy texture or flavor, just creaminess and sweet carbs, and the protein helped with the nausea sometimes. Good luck as you near the end! Congratulations!

  13. I can’t help but laugh at this post. You and Betsy went through SO much struggle when it came to eating during her first half of pregnancy. WOW! I admire that you kept persevering and trying to find the perfect meal for her and your little nugget. I am currently 35 weeks pregnant and I was VERY lucky not to have any morning sickness. I also didn’t have any food aversions or cravings. Eating for this pregnancy has basically been the same as any other 9 months out of my life. However, I do like most of your suggestions. The Quinoa salad sounds fantastic. I will also have to try crunch chicken wraps because you can’t go wrong there!

    Congratulations on your upcoming arrival :D

  14. I found this post after Googling “easy meals for pregnancy sickness”. I’m 9 week along and sick of feeling sick! My “morning sickness” hits anytime BUT the morning, and it’s usually the worse in the evenings. Things that you, and others, mentioned definitely ring true for me right now: carbs are a must. Dairy is also sitting pretty well with me, so your pizza is going on the grocery list! (The quinoa salad too.) I can eat meat if I don’t smell it cooking, but the thought of eggs, smelling them cooking, seeing them on a plate… UGH. Nausea city. My husband has had to fend for himself more often, as I sit on the couch with my bowl of granola. I take comfort in knowing others have been in the same boat, and hopefully it will be over SOON!

    1. I am just about 10 weeks and this post made me feel justified in my crazy eating habits. It’s been toast, potatoes, yogurt, and crackers. I too have lost weight, but I cannot wait until (hopefully) I get my appetite back! Thank you for sharing these ideas–I used them to make my grocery list this week :)

      1. Hi Megan,
        At what point did your appetite come back? I’m in week 10 now and haven’t been able to eat meat for weeks now…even eggs make me want to gag. It is so inconvenient and my poor husband-I can’t even bring myself to just cook meat, either!

  15. Thank you for these!!!! I couldn’t find anything on pregnancy/nausea related recipes or meals, rather just old wives tales about what helps the nausea – ginger, soda crackers, eating small meals throughout the day. I am in month 6 of pregnancy and still vomiting daily, looking forward to trying some of these much needed bland texture-oriented meals!

  16. My first pregnancy was so bad that I had to vomit atleast 3 times a day! And because I was working it made it worse!! Now I am 7 weeks pregnant with my 2nd one and I am fine in the mornings (i still feel the morning sicknes but I dont throw up) but late at night is when the nausea strikes. Anything I eat for dinner just has to go down the drain even after 5 hours. I am so confused! I am guessing it could be that my dinners are usually much more flavored and spiced up than breakfast or lunch. So will try milder foods n I REALLY HOPE IT HELPS because I hate night times now because of this terrible nausea.
    If anyone has recipies for mild or bland foods please share

    1. Hey Sarah! Thanks for the comment! One thing on the list that is helping my wife on her second go-round is just plain PB&J! She’s eating like one a day. Bland enough, but also has some good protein and stuff! Good luck!

  17. I’m at 12 weeks now.
    Nauseous all day everyday to varying degrees! Terrible indigestion/acidity in the evening if I eat too much dinner. A constant supply of quinoa crackers are in my pocket, and 50/50 clear apple juice/spring water is my go-to drink. Banana berry smoothies with a little LSA are great as a meal replacement occasionally, and very chilled milk can work well to settle/line a strung out tummy before eating.
    GF toast with butter and raw tomatoes on top at lunch works a treat at the mo’ (with maybe a VERY thin layer of cheese). I loved a Hawaiian pizza a month a go, but paid for it the next day. Too greasy, got very sick.
    Breakfast: cornflakes, cold milk, LSA, sliced banana. If I’m going out and away from cooking facilities, I’ll make sure I have a slice of toast with one scrambled egg. Keeps tummy happier for longer.
    Things I could eat early on (even with morning sickness) included home made spinach dhal. Also refried bean taco. Wouldn’t touch it now! The onions got to me, now I can’t stand the smell/sight of them.
    I’m also finding BAKED salmon with a few capers, sliced lemon on top, with steamed carrots and green beans has become my go-to for dinner every 3 days or so. Smoked salmon had way too much flavour – avoid!
    My husband made a lovely light chicken casserole with lemon and simple veg (no cooked toms). Have been eating this on and off all week. Agree on the brassicas comment. Asparagus, carrots, greenbeans, peas all ok.
    Finger crossed this doesn’t last too much longer!!! Good luck all…

  18. Great read, except for the times the ideas made me nauseous! Hahaha. I’m currently in week 11 and sick all day every day. Thanks for the ideas, I’m going to try some potato soup later.
    My husband is not the cook in our house so he’s been suffering a lack of any real food. He got a recipe for quesadillas together the other night and made them, and it smelled so bad I was sick all night! Oh well.

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