Snack and meal ideas when pregnant and breastfeeding

Snack and meal ideas when pregnant and breastfeeding

Feeling extra hungry?

You may be surprised at how hungry you get in the later stages of pregnancy and when you're breastfeeding. Breastfeeding especially can burn up a lot of calories as your body needs extra fuel to produce a constant supply of precious breast milk to feed your little one.

Eating regular healthy meals and snacks is essential to supply you and baby with the energy you need, so it's important to stay well fed and hydrated.  Try to avoid filling up on high sugar, salt or fat foods and snacks - these typically are nutrient poor foods with lots of 'empty' calories which can lead to too much weight gain during pregnancy. This can make it difficult to get back to your normal weight once baby is born and you are busy being a mum.

You can expect your appetite to change from day to day. Aim to fill up on fruit, vegetables and wholegrains when you are hungry, just make sure you wash fresh fruit and vegetables well, especially if you are pregnant.

Remember to drink plenty of water to keep well hydrated, aim for nine cups of fluids (including plain water and milk) when pregnant, and ten cups of fluids per day when breastfeeding.


It may be easy to skip breakfast, but it means you miss out on that energy boost to start the day. Experts also believe it helps to kick start your metabolism after being asleep. Here are some wholesome suggestions:

  • Wholegrain cereal e.g. wheat biscuits, porridge or natural muesli with low fat milk, yoghurt and fruit
  • Toast with a fruit spread, or an avocado, or a hardboiled egg. Wholemeal or wholegrain bread is good because it’s higher in fibre and B vitamins
  • Add in a piece of fruit – this can count towards the recommended 2+ serves of fruit a day


Being organised with healthy snacks is often the key to eating well. Here are a few food suggestions and tips to make it easier for you:

  • Small handful of dried fruit – sultanas, apricots, dates
  • Sandwiches or toast
  • Vegetable sticks with guacamole to dip
  • Fresh fruit or canned fruit (with no added sugar)
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Popcorn
  • Low-fat yoghurt
  • Fruit and yoghurt smoothies
  • Low-fat crackers with cheese, tomato or avocado
  • Small handful of nuts e.g. raw almonds or homemade trail mix


Lunch time, especially for those working away from home throughout their pregnancy, can be a tricky time for making healthy and safe food choices. Avoid high risk foods from buffets, delis and pre-prepared sushi, sandwiches and salads. Here are some lunch ideas:

  • Freshly made wraps, pitas, sandwiches or toast using wholegrain options with the following toppings or fillings:
  • Peanut or other nut butter
  • Canned salmon or tuna
  • Lettuce, grated carrot, avocado, tomato, beetroot (wash salad ingredients)
  • Baked beans and low-fat cheese
  • Cheese and tomato relish
  • Sliced banana
  • Mashed egg (make sure they are well cooked)
  • Canned, pouch or home-made soups, with wholegrain toast
  • Baked potato - microwaved and topped with cheese, beans or tuna
  • Canned, pouch or frozen prepared meals to be heated at work (heat until piping hot)

If you’re grabbing takeaways, choose piping hot food and well-done meats which have been freshly cooked immediately before eating. Try to choose baked foods (e.g. lasagna, pizza) or grilled or stir-fried meals, as a lower fat option than deep fried or battered takeaways. Thai or Chinese takeaways along with plenty of cooked vegetables are also better choices, especially if served with piping hot steamed rice.


Ministry of Health.  2020.  Eating and Activity Guidelines for New Zealand Adults. Updated 2020. Wellington: Ministry of Health.

The materials published on this website are of a general nature and have been provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your medical practitioner or a qualified health provider for any further advice in relation to the topics discussed.


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