5 Tips for Safe, Healthy Lunches while Pregnant

Plus 20 quick, healthy, easy lunch ideas for the rest of us.

Lunch tips for pregnant women

I first met Jules Clancy on stage at a conference a couple of years ago, when we were chatting about how we both grew our blogs. Since then I’ve been an avid follower of her blog The Stone Soup as it’s full of tasty recipes with easy tutorials that this self-confessed non-foodie can create quickly and without my mind exploding.

Her new recipe book 5 ingredients in 10 minutes is the only one I’ve actually ever used regularly and has enabled me to whip up healthy meals for the family – fast – that are also delicious. 
Now, Jules is pregnant with her first child – whoo hoo! –  and like many of us was bamboozled by the ‘food rules’ imposed on her while with child. I remember being so overwhelmed by the list of things that you can/can’t/should/must eat while pregnant that I created an elaborate spreadsheet to try to nut it all out. Jules’s approach is a lot less complex and far less nerdy than mine.
I only wish I had this as a reference throughout my pregnancies.

Enjoy! x Andrea

 

5 Tips for Safe, Healthy Lunches for Pregnant Ladies

I knew getting pregnant was going to require some sacrifices on my part. Like giving up champagne and oysters and soft cheeses. But I wasn’t quite prepared for just how long the list of ‘foods to avoid while pregnant’ was going to be.

Like most expectant mothers I’ve found lunch time to be the most difficult meal to adapt to. So today I wanted to share with you my top tips for keeping lunch time safe and still delicious…

1. Make your own.
No matter how good the safety practices are at your favourite lunch spot, there’s no way it can be as safe as when you’re preparing food for yourself. They just can’t care as much as you do. Take this as an opportunity to save some money AND eat healthier by developing the habit of making your own lunch.

And don’t feel like you need to be super organised, you don’t necessarily need to be. I’m a big fan of ‘cooking’ your lunch at work during your lunch break. For ideas of how to do this see 3 uber-simple lunches you can make at work in less time than it takes to go out and buy something.

 

2. Invest in some good quality lunch containers.

Crappy plastic containers that spill your lunch in your bag aren’t going to inspire you to make your own lunch. Years ago, my Irishman bought me a collection of Pyrex glass containers with plastic lids. I can’t tell you how much of a change it made to how I felt about my work lunches. Plus microwaving plastic isn’t the healthiest for you or your little one.

 

3. Keep it chilled.
Temperature is one of the biggest factors of food safety. Chilling your food asap and making sure it stays chilled is the biggest thing you can do to keep food is as safe as possible.

If you have a short commute and a fridge at work then you’re laughing. If you have a long commute, and /or you don’t have fridge access, it’s best to invest in a cooler bag and some ‘ice bricks’. Or freeze a bottle of water the night before to use.

 

4. Serve hot things hot.
The other part of the food safety / temperature spectrum is making sure hot food is reheated properly before serving. Microwaves can be problematic because you get uneven heating – make sure you take the time to stop and stir and keep going until everything is piping hot, even if there’s a queue of people waiting.

 

5. Try and focus on what you can eat.
On one of my first visits to my obstetrician, he gave me a booklet on safe food during pregnancy. Even though I have a First Class Honours degree in Food Science, majoring in Microbiology, I found the whole thing a bit overwhelming. And depressing. Sure I knew the whole motherhood thing was going to require some sacrifices, like curbing my champagne and sashimi intake. But seeing all the things you ‘can’t’ eat during pregnancy was a bit too much. So I’ve been focusing on what I can safely enjoy. And that’s made life a lot easier (and more fun!). Here are a few ideas so you know what I mean…

 

No soft cheese = Hard cheeses and feta.
No champagne = Sparkling water (and yes, it’s definitely no substitute… but better than nothing).
No salami or prosciutto = Crispy grilled or pan fried salami and prosciutto.
No soft poached eggs = Hard eggs with commercial hollandaise.

Looking for more healthy lunch recipe ideas?

Then check out these 16 Easy, Healthy Lunch Ideas that Don’t Involve Sandwiches. Apart from the ‘mixed sprout and avocado salad’ the list is suitable for pregnant ladies too. And if you are pregnant I’d recommend swapping the canned tuna for wild canned salmon or sardines as these are less likely to have high mercury levels but still provide plenty of omega-3s. Although I still have tuna from time to time, just not as often.

Quinoa & Feta Salad from The Stone Soup

Quinoa, Feta & Avocado Salad
I’ve really been getting into feta lately. It’s become my go to cheese when I would have normally reached for a soft cheese like ricotta or goats cheese.
If you’re making this in advance, leave out the avocado and toss it in just before you’re ready to eat. Otherwise you’ll have icky brown chunks of avocado in your salad. And just refrigerate as soon as the salad is made so no bugs get a chance to grow.
I normally cook up a big batch of quinoa and then use it for different things throughout the week.
Enough for 2
100g (3.5oz) quinoa
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
200g (7oz) packet feta, I like Greek style best
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 avocado
1. Bring a medium pot of water to the boil. Rinse quinoa and add to the pot simmer for 12-15 minutes or until quinoa is tender. Drain well.
2. Whisk vinegar with 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Toss in quinoa and parsley.
3. Crumble over feta and scoop chunks of avocado on top. Season mostly with pepper and leave the feta to provide the salt.
VARIATIONS

dairy-free / vegan – replace the feta with roasted almonds

paleo – replace the feta with 3-4 hard boiled eggs. And replace the quinoa with a big bunch of kale – no need to cook the kale, just wash well and chop into super fine ribbons before tossing in the dressing.

cooked quinoa – if you’ve cooked up a big batch of quinoa in advance you’ll need about 300g (10oz) cooked quinoa for the recipe

no quinoa? – replace with 300g (10oz) cooked lentils or brown rice or see the ‘paleo’ variation above

no rice wine vinegar – use lemon juice, sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar instead.

different cheese – If you’re not pregnant, go nuts with your favourite goats cheese or even a creamy blue.

video version of the recipe.

For more fast, healthy meal ideas, check out Jules’s eCookbooks, $27 each here.
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Jules Clancy loves food especially veggies. She has a degree in Food Science and blogs about helping you become the best cook you can be, without spending hours in the kitchen over at www.thestonesoup.com.

Jules Clancy The Stone Soup

You can buy Jules’s eCookbooks and her book here including How to Love Your Waistline and Your Food, The Tired and Hungry Cook’s Companion, 30 Dinners in 30 Days, The 2 Minute Meal Plan, And the Love is Free, and my fave 5 ingredients in 10 minutes.

What’s your go-to lunch while pregnant?  

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Comments

  • clare

    It’s NOT actually safe to have feta during pregnancy, if you check the government safe eating guidelines, as it’s a semi-soft cheese.

    • Jules Clancy

      Wow I didn’t know that Clare… I’m wondering if that’s more about softer ‘marinated’ styles?

      Personally I’m happy to eat packaged feta. Seriously there’s enough salt in there to keep it safe.

      Of course if you’re worried about feta you could always follow the ‘dairy-free’ option in the recipe above.

      • Clare

        Just noticed my first comment looks a bit rude- sorry about that, got to be more careful about my caps use! Feta is one of those foods that different countries have different guidelines on for pregnant women, and it’s because of the differences in moisture content you get with different styles of feta, like you said. A really hard feta would probably be safe (although many are packaged with a lot of liquid) but I still pulled it out of my pregnancy diet because of the guidelines, or I’d ask for it to be cooked if it was part of a dish at a restaurant/cafe.

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    I love these lunch ideas I am not fussed on sandwiches they are very boring so I am going to try some of these recipes,thanks Andrea for the link to these,I get so bored of thinking what to have for lunch.

    • FoxInFlats

      Pleasure (I do too!)

  • Bexi

    Thanks for including a paleo option! I was admiring the beautiful photography and drooling over the salad but resigned myself that it would a “look but don’t eat” recipe and then! Paleo substitutions! While kale will never replace quinoa in my heart, I appreciate that you put some thought into what other dietary groups could do to enjoy the recipe.

    • FoxInFlats

      That’s one of the key things I love about Jules’s recipes – she makes it easy for us to substitute to our needs & likes. Awesome.

  • http://healthyfitnessaustralia.com.au/ James Hoops

    Good tips for a pregnant woman . It is really the time period of women they have to more take care about their health and diet plan . They need well balanced meal with all minerals and nutrition.

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