ACT Nutrition Support Service » Meal planning during pregnancy

Meal planning during pregnancy

ACT Nutrition Support Service » Meal planning during pregnancy

Meal planning during pregnancy

Healthy eating for pregnancy is best started while planning pregnancy. Eating well before and during pregnancy is important for both mum and baby. It sets you both up for health, not only just in this important time, but for life!

Pregnancy does not equate to “eating for two” as is commonly stated. In fact, during the first trimester, the body requires no additional kilojoules, a mere 1400 kJ during the second trimester and 1900 kJ in the third trimester. This is equivalent to an extra glass of reduced-fat milk, a sandwich and half an orange.  

While the amount of kilojoules you need during this stage of your life may not increase too heavily, the quality of your diet is highly important during this time. Not only does it aid in the development of your baby whilst in the womb, but studies indicate it sets baby up with taste preference for later in life, and can even affect their risk for certain chronic diseases in the future.  

7 tips to eating well for your growing baby
  1. Ensure you eat especially well during the pre-conception phase (minimum three months prior to conception) to ensure you have adequate intake of folate, iodine and iron. These are essential nutrients to your babies’ early development.
  2.  Avoid eating fish that contains high levels of mercury, particularly large predatory fish such as shark, orange roughy, baramundi, swordfish and ling. 
  3. Pregnant women are at higher risk of food-borne illness due to hormonal changes which affect their immune system during pregnancy. Therefore, there are certain foods that should be avoided (i.e. cold cut processed meats, unpasteurised dairy products). For more information on this, see our ‘foods of concern’ factsheet.
  4. There is no known safe limit of alcohol during pregnancy. Current (2019) guidelines recommend that women who are pregnant, or planning a pregnancy avoid alcohol completely. 
  5. Dietary protein needs increase slightly during pregnancy, and then again during lactation. There is no need for meals to become protein heavy, following the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating will ensure you meet these extra needs without any fuss.
  6. Limit caffeine to no more than 300mg per day. This is equivalent to roughly 3 cups of coffee or 6 cups of tea. Caffeine increases a person’s heart rate and can lead to dehydration in excessive amounts, neither of which is desirable for a pregnant woman.
  7. Pregnant woman need an additional 750 -1000ml (3-4 cups water per day) of fluid due to the needs of the foetus and amniotic fluid. Water is the best source of fluid during pregnancy.

Food group                      

Number of daily serves  during pregnancy

Number of daily serves  during breastfeeding

Sample serve sizes                                                                                                  

Vegetables and legumes/beans  



½ cup non-starchy vegetables (e.g. broccoli, spinach, pumpkin, or carrot)

½ cup cooked, dried, or canned beans, peas or lentils (no added salt options are best)

½ cup sweet corn

1 cup leafy green or raw salad vegetables

½ medium potato or other starchy vegetables (sweet potato, taro or cassava)
Fruit 2 2

1 medium apple, banana, orange or pear

2 small apricots, kiwi fruit or plums

1 cup diced or canned fruit with no added sugar

Or only occasionally

½ cup (125ml) fruit juice (with no added sugar)

30g dried fruit (e.g. 4 dried apricot halves, 1 ½ tablespoons of sultanas)
Grain (cereal) foods; aim for wholegrain and high fibre varieties 6 9

1 slice (40g) of bread

½ medium roll or flatbread

½ cup cooked pasta, rice, noodles, barley, semonlina, buckwheat, bulgur, quinoa or polenta

½ cup cooked porridge

2/3 cup flaked breakfast cereal

¼ cup museli

3 crispbreads

1 crumpet

1 small English muffin
Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes and beans 3.5 2.5

65g cooked lean meat (e.g. beef, lamb, veal, pork, goat or kangaroo)

80g cooked lean poultry (e.g. chicken or turkey)

100g cooked fish fillet or one small can of fish

2 large eggs

1 cup cooked or canned legumes/beans (e.g. lentils, chickpeas or split peas)

170g tofu

30g nuts, seeds, peanut or almond butter, tahini or other nut of seed paste
Milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives 2.5 2.5

1 cup of fresh, UHT long life, reconstituted powdered milk or buttermilk

½ cup evaporated milk

2 slices or a 40g cube or hard cheese (e.g. cheddar)

¾ up (200ml) yoghurt

1 cup soy, rice or other cereal drink fortified with calcium
Fats and oils

Women, including those whom are pregnant and breastfeeding are recommended to consume two serves per day of unsaturated spreads and oils.

Standard serve sizes for unsaturated fats/oils/spreads are:

  • 10g polyunsaturated or monounsaturated spread (e.g. olive oil spread, avocado oil spread)
  • 7g monounsaturated or polyunsaturated oil (e.g. olive, canola or sunflower oil)
  • 10g tree nuts, peanuts, nut pastes/butters
Sample meal plan for pregnancy
Breakfast         2 slices of wholegrain bread with 30g peanut butter/nut & seed paste OR two well-cooked eggs

1 cup reduced fat milk OR 200g (3/4 cup) yoghurt

Morning tea 

30 nuts/seeds and 1 piece of medium fruit (apple/banana) or two small pieces of fruit (kiwi/apricot)

65g cooked lean red meat OR 80g cooked lean poultry OR 100g cooked fish


2 slices of wholegrain bread with 10g mono or polyunsaturated spread

2 slices of cheese OR one small can of unsalted fish OR protein of your choosing

1 cup of leafy/salad type vegetables (lettuce, spinach, carrot, cucumber, capsicum etc)

1 cup of diced or canned fruit with no added sugar OR one cup of berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries)

Afternoon tea

¼ cup hummus with ½ cup vegetable sticks (carrot, celery, cucumber)

3 wholegrain crispbreads


65g cooked lean red meat OR 80g cooked lean poultry OR 100g cooked fish

1 cup cooked vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin, carrot)

1 small corn cob OR ½ medium potato

½ cup cooked rice/pasta/barley/bulgur/quinoa


1 slice raisin toast with mono or polyunsaturated spread

1 cup reduced fat milk