Fatigue. Nausea. Swollen body parts. And now you’ve got to put together a pregnancy grocery list? Okay. We’ll make a deal with you. We can’t do the nausea on your behalf, so we thought we’d at least help you out in the grocery department. So, without further ado, let’s ask the age-old question:
What should I buy at the grocery store when pregnant?
First things first, there’s no one-size-fits-all pregnancy shopping list, so don’t stress about getting this “right.” Different cultures, different tastes, different cravings—no shopping list for pregnant mothers is going to work for everyone. Sure, there are nutrients that are highly beneficial to you while you’re pregnant, but there are all sorts of ways to include them in your diet.
So what do you need to keep your tank filled for the task ahead? Let’s take a look.
In this article: 📝
- What is the most important food to eat while pregnant?
- What are good snacks for pregnancy?
- Your pregnancy shopping list
What is the most important food to eat while pregnant?
Basically, it’s important to get a good, balanced, nutrient-rich diet to help you complete this whopper of a task called growing a baby. Certain nutrients really help you do this:
1. Folic acid.
This one is somewhat of a celeb in the world of pregnancy nutrients. You may have heard the name uttered in all sorts of mama-to-be circles. Some fast facts? Folic acid is the synthetic version of folate, the B9 vitamin that occurs naturally in food. This vitamin is an essential worker in our bodies, helping us convert food into energy. It’s especially important during pregnancy because it helps with your baby’s brain and spinal development.
Food sources include asparagus, okra, spinach, peas, broccoli, strawberries, oranges, and lentils. There are also various kinds of pasta, bread, and breakfast cereals that are fortified with folic acid.
Protein is one of the key ingredients when it comes to growing a baby. Muscle tissue, bones, cell generation—yup, protein has its finger in a whole lot of important pies. It’s so vital, in fact, that when you’re pregnant, protein should account for as much as 25% of your calorie intake.
Fish and lean meats are a good option here if they fit into your diet. (Just make sure that everything is well cooked to avoid any dangerous bacteria getting into your system.) Eggs are also great.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, chat with your healthcare provider about getting enough protein in your diet. There are various sources that may work for you, such as peas, nuts, beans, some soy, and yogurt.
Both you and your baby need calcium for healthy bones and teeth. It’s essential for their growing muscles, organs, and nervous system. Pasteurized dairy products are great. As are dark, leafy greens.
The idea is to get approximately 1000 mg a day, so a prenatal vitamin is not a bad idea when it comes to meeting that quota. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Getting about 600 IU a day should do the trick.
This handy mineral helps to get oxygen around your body. When you’re pregnant, you need around 27 mg of iron a day. It’s pretty tricky to get that from your food—think meats, pumpkin seeds, vegetables, legumes, and anything iron-enriched—so you may need some form of supplement.
It’s common to have some degree of iron deficiency when you’re pregnant (as in one-in-four kind of common), so if you’re feeling particularly pooped, it’s worth chatting with your doctor about this. An iron deficiency can have an impact on the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system, so best to check.
Vitamin C helps you absorb iron—and it assists with all sorts of other functions too, like tissue repair and immune function. Also, it has a hand in making your baby’s bones and teeth. Think of getting about 85 mg a day. Peppers, citrus, and broccoli all help you meet this need.
5. Omega 3s.
These help with the development of your baby’s brain and eyes. The best source is fish—but fish and pregnancy have a complicated relationship. (It has to be cooked, and it has to be low in mercury.) Supplements are not a bad idea to help you up your omega 3 intake.
What are good snacks for pregnancy?
Because you have to increase your calorie intake during pregnancy, snacks matter.
Calorie-wise, the NIH recommends that you aim for, on average:
- 1,800 calories a day in the first trimester.
- 2,200 calories a day in the second trimester.
- 2,400 calories a day in the third trimester.
And don’t stress, you don’t have to obsessively count calories. Adding some healthy snacks to your daily menu is all you need to do.
Here are some good snacking options that are roughly 400 calories:
- Whole wheat bagel with cream cheese
- About 100g of high protein trail mix with pumpkin seeds, nuts and dried berries
- Chicken salad sandwich on whole wheat bread
And here are some good snacking options that are roughly 200 calories:
- Sliced apple or banana with some peanut butter on it
- Two hard-boiled eggs with a cut apple
- Plain greek yogurt with half a cup of berries
Your pregnancy shopping list
Now let’s put that all together on a ready-to-go grocery list for pregnant mamas-to-be. Customize as needed.
- Brussel sprouts
- Butternut squash
- Sweet potatoes
- Dairy (All pasteurized)
- Hard cheese
- Cottage cheese
- Fortified dairy substitutes (cashew, oat, almond)
- Chocolate—because it’s its own food group and can be consumed in moderation during pregnancy
- Lean beef
- Tofu (in moderation)
- Kidney beans
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
- Fortified bread
- Whole grain bagels
- Whole grain tortillas
- Fortified cereals
- Brown rice
Head here for some more ideas on how to put it all together.
And here for the foods to avoid.
Happy shopping. 🛍️