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Mini-meal/ balanced snack ideas for full-time working breastfeeding mom

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I'm a 32 yo mom of three (2 y/o, 6 month, 6 month) about to start my first Whole30 on March 17.


I'm writing to ask about ideas for balanced snacks/mini-meals.  I could eat Larabars or handfuls of cashews all day, but it seems that I'm really supposed to make my meals match the model (protein, veggie, fat) and not sure how to do that while working full-time.


I'm doing the Whole 30 in an effort to clean up my family's diet (replacing our unhealthy carbs with healthy plant-based carbs) and to gain control of the sugar cravings.  I wouldn't hate it if I lost 5-10 lbs, too!  I'm currently breastfeeding my 6 month-old twins.  They have started some solids, but have never had formula.  I'm not totally opposed to supplementing with formula now that they are past 6 months, but would obviously like to avoid it if possible.  


I exercise about 5 times a week (2-3 crossfit, 2-3 cardio - running, swimming, or stationary biking) and I work full time as a physician.  Walking around the clinic it's pretty easy to throw down a protein or larabar, but pulling out a tupperware with a fork, or prying open a can of sardines before going in to see a patient is more frowned upon.


One idea I had is to pack some tupperware with the balanced mini-meal (fat, protein, veggie) with my breast pump and eat a mini-meal while pumping using my hands-free pumping bra.  The timing would line up, since I should probably be eating and pumping about every 3 hours while at work.


Anyhow, I'd appreciate any thoughts on fast, easy, mini meals to eat while on the go.  I'm finding this takes a tremendous about of planning and forethought, between the several meals a day, and protein+fat before workout, protein after workout, but no short-cuts allowed (i.e. rack of Slimfast in the trunk of my car, etc).  


Wish me luck and if you're starting March 17 and want to be accountability buddies, let me know!




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I read your post and was amazed-- I could have written that post 2 weeks ago! Although I only have one 6 month old to breastfeed and contend with! I am also a physcian, and workout almost everyday. Typically I do weight lifting/crossfit 2-3/week, swim 2/week, bike or run or row 3-4/week.


I must warn you that I found the first couple of weeks to be pretty challenging in terms of reserve energy/muscle endurance. Where before I could bike or run 30-60 minutes easily, for the first 10 days or so I felt completely awful for 20 minutes before throwing in the towel. I am now on day 16 and am feeling much better. I definitely have more endurance, but legs still feel heavy.


I do eat 1-2 larabars a day, probably because I still crave the carb/sweet. I am trying to cut down to 1 a day. I also eat handfuls of nuts (cashews, pecans, almonds). I don't bring the nuts to work since I would be tempted to scarf down a pound or two.


Sooo, onto your post question. Initially (first 10 days or so) I probably "snacked" more because of the breastfeeding. Snacking would mean (for me) fresh veggies and homemade baba ganoush or sunshine sauce (from recipe book Well Fed 1), or an apple with some almond butter, or even a spoonful of almond butter. Sometimes I will mash half a sweet potato with some of the ground beef mixture I make every Sunday and have on hand. I had a hard time wrapping my head around eating a "mini-meal" for a snack, with veggies, protein and fat so I did the best I could. As the days go on, I find I need/crave snacks less and less. I probably still eat more nuts overall than my husband does, and I will attribute that to the breast feeding! I think I eat enough at my meals to give me energy to last through the day and for my workouts. I do eat 1/2 to 1 sweet potato/day as well.


I drink tons of tea (black, herbal) and have now traded my diet coke addiction for Good Earth's Sweet and Spicy tea addiction. I also drink my fair share of seltzer water to give me that feeling of opening up a can, hearing the "whoosh" and feeling the carbonation.


I will also warn you that I have NEVER spent so much time cooking, prepping, cleaning, storing food than I have these last 2 weeks!! We had to buy an extra fridge just to store all of our food and contianers of food (thank-you Costco!). It is pretty labor intensive, especially with 4 kids, a full time job, workouts, etc. We are still newbies, but have gotten a little bit better about planning. I will grill up several pounds of chicken (thigh, breast) that I marinated, make 1-2 pounds of ground bison with onions, and grill 2-3 steaks on Sunday as an idea of the protein. I will also make a big Sunday dinner, like whole chicken, pot roast, or pork loin.  I will also bake a ton of sweet potatoes, roast a spaghetti squash, make cauliflower "rice" and get bags and bags of "snack" veggies (snap peas, carrots, small peppers, etc). We go through 2 dozen eggs at least a week.


Buuuuut, I think it is worth it. I feel better, clearer and am starting to feel thinner (I had a nagging 7 extra pounds that refused to budge from baby). My husband also feels better, lighter, and he has definitely lost weight. Our older kids are on board, reading labels, making healthier choices. It has been an overall very positive experience.


I don't feel my breast milk supply has dropped at all. Baby also seems to be sleeping better at night-- maybe just a fluke. Knock on wood!


Hope this helps!!

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You are right that there is a lot of planning involved, but that planning can go a long way when you do it correctly. My advice would be to focus on simple things. On the weekend hard boil a couple dozen eggs for per-workout and mini meal options. Reduce your need for the mini meals by eating at the upper end of the meal template if you can or just have 4 regular meals a day (in addition to your pre/post workout nutrition). For post workout maybe make up a bunch of tupperware containers of chicken breast and mashed sweet potato. As much as you can make more food than you need at meals so you have lots of leftover options.

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5-10 pounds while breastfeeding would be a lofty goal--so just focus on the more important benefits. People often get so bogged down by weight goals and it can be discouraging if they feel like their clothes aren't getting looser or they don't look different. 


Tuna salad

Egg salad

Chicken salad

Hardboiled eggs

Burger patties

Tuna/Crab Cakes

Egg muffins


All are excellent. you can also get compliant hot dogs or sausages and just eat them cold with some raw veggies--shouldn't take more than 7-8 minutes to eat that and freshen up.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to my post.  Appreciated the concrete examples of things to try and loved hearing about how my doppleganger (poweke) is doing 2 weeks in front of me!  


Poweke, what day are you on?  Are you finding you have more energy?


I'm thinking 4 regular meals might just be easiest: breakfast, early lunch, late lunch, and dinner with a Herculean effort to cut out all snacking.  That's really the whole reason I'm doing this in the first place.  My snacking, especially on sweets, is out of control.


While weight loss isn't my express goal, I've lost the 50 lbs I gained with the pregnancy while breastfeeding, so not sure why losing another 5 lbs while breast feeding and eating healthy is overly lofty?  I'd be fine if the scale stayed the same if I could just lose the little "pooch"  "bloat belly"  You know the one I mean ;)


Thanks again!

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Hi Delnora!

I am on day 17 (woot woot!)! First off, congratulations on losing that 50 lbs!!! Way to go mama! And to breast feed twins!! I am in awe :)


So my reasons for starting this journey were few-fold-- maybe our reasons overlap. 1. to lose my baby belly (yep, I know the one!). Prior to this pregnancy I was the fittest and most competitive (road bike racing and triathlon) that I have been in my life. We had 2 miscarraiges before Vivian, so I was essentially pregnant for the last 2 years which has taken it's toll on my body. 2. I felt like doodoo. I was downing diet cokes, eating chocolate, baked goods, etc. until the cows came home. I wasn't necessarily gaining weight, but I wasn't making any headway in my energy levels, fitness levels, and I felt crappy most of the time. I wanted to feel "energized" again. 3. I looked at what my kids were eating (their packed lunches mostly) and I felt like I was failing them. So many processed foods, and crazy ingredients that have nothing to do with FOOD. What was I teaching them (we have a 12 yo, 9 yo, 5 yo and of course 6 month old!).



Like I said before, the first 2 weeks were a drag. Both my husband and I felt pretty crummy, grouchy, and low energy. Kind of like the first trimester! I made a point to do "something" every day though, whether it was walk the dogs, do a slow spin on the bike, or whatever. The energy has improved over the last few days. I swam with my masters swim team yesterday and last Saturday, and my endurance was back up to par with my team-mates. I still feel my legs a bit heavy. . . I will keep you updated on how that goes. My husband and I are sleeping better, and baby is sleeping better. This may have to do with me cutting out diet coke, I don't know. (I was a serious DC addict-- I even *gasp* drank it throughout my pregnancy! So to give it up was a big deal, but honestly, I don't miss it and didn't really crave it!) What I did crave, which was torture, was chocolate and a glass of red wine! Some days it was overpowering, but this too has vastly improved. My husband craved diet coke, bread, pasta, cheese and beer, so he has had a worse time of it than me! his cravings have improved as well. Its really true, just get through the first hard bit and it does get easier.


I have been 100% compliant on my food choices, but maybe not so compliant on the eating template (protein, veggie, fat). Like I said in my prior post, the food prep and storage and planning has probably been the most consuming part of the whole 30, but I love seeing my fridge packed with actual FOOD instead of a bunch of boxes and bottles of crap.


I have tried quite a few recipes from Well Fed. They are adventurous, and some a bit time consuming. Our favorite meals have been classics, though, like roast chicken with spaghetti squash mixed with garlic and olive oil, roast rosemary pork tenderloin with cauliflower rice pilaf, grilled steaks, etc. The whole family is in love with the cauliflower rice, so definintely add that to your repetoire.


Good luck and keep me updated!

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I'm loving hearing your experience and your tips.  Thanks so much for sharing!  And congrats on making it past the halfway point. Can't wait to here your wrap up, of what you've learned and how you've benefited from the full 30 days.


I have Well Fed, so will be trying some recipes from there, for sure.  I've already started switching over, just in getting the household ready.  I typically spend most of the weekend cooking and pre-packing meals in single serving size tupperwares.  I think that is going to be our ticket to success.  I imagine you're cooking tons of food with big kids to feed, too!  Hoping our new good habits will rub off on our 2 yr old who would be perfectly happy having gold fish for dinner every night, lol.


My husband gave him coconut milk in a sippy cup today b/c we are just out of cows milk (we'll buy more, not really trying to put him on a strict paleo diet or anything).  He took and sip and promptly spit it out on the floor, lol.


Sitting down to make our grocery list now for the big trip tomorrow am!


Keep me updated on your progress and I'll do the same, 

 thanks so much!

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I am in awe of both you ladies who work out 5 times a week while having a full time job and a 6 month old! When do you find the time?? Seriously? I have hard time getting to the gym 2-3 times a week... usually b/c either my baby or toddler is up at least once a night...

As for snacks... I second the nuts, larabar if you can't open a tupperware (although I have found the nuts to be a bit of a trigger for me at times), mini quiches packed with veggies, hardboiled eggs, crudite with dip... Tea with a little coconut milk can do wonders too...

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So we are on day 22 now! Baby was up for part of the night last night, so hard to gauge my tired level based on diet vs. no sleep! I slept for close to 10 hours Saturday night (baby fed at 6 am then went back down for another hour and a half!). I haven't done that in awhile, and it felt good. A lot of my "leg malaise" I think may be due to lack of sleep. I don't know. You know how it is-- even if baby is sleeping fine, we are up every hour or two "expecting" to hear her, or my boobs are aching or I just can't sleep!


Saturday I did a big masters swim in the morning, then the kids and hubby and I did a big hike (abuot 1.5 miles, elevation gain 1500 ft). I carried baby in a front (ERGO) carrier. We made it to the top and back, and although I was tired, I did fine. This is a mountain I used to *run* up pre-baby!


Yesterday I did a jog/walk up the hill by our house (we live on a side of a mountain so its either run up then down, or run down then up!). My legs still felt heavy, icky but it may have been all the activity the day before. I guess I am waiting for that bliss/joy energy that I keep reading about. Not so much.


I am tired of the diet right now-- my husband feels like he can keep going. I dreamt about diet coke and sneaking a piece of bread last night! I just want a cookie really bad.


Schick13-- I definitely think I have relied on nuts and larabars too much in terms of weight loss (and slaying my snack dragon). I am going to try to make a conscious effort to stop them. I feel a bit deprived, though, honestly. Hopefully these negative emotions will turn around in a few days.


Overall we are definitely going to keep a lot of the lessons learned during these weeks. Hello cauliflower rice, zoodles, spaghetti squash! Goodbye regular rice, (most) pasta, bread at meals!


Let me know how you all are doing!

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For anyone wanting stuff on the go, I really like the tiny dips containers for fat serves. You can make up a bunch of them and keep them in the fridge (things like mayo, guac), ready to grab to add to salads or other meals. http://www.lunchbots.com/products/leak-proof-containers/dips-leak-proof-stainless-steel-condiment-container/


Kids like them too, but some can't open them.

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So starting whole 30 tomorrow. Got my $15 emails starting tomorrow, a fridge full of healthy food to cook in prep for my busy work week ahead. Buy instead of prepping, I'm in the ED with what looks like mastitis, feeling lousy (fever, malaise, pain, etc). This does not bode well :(

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Delnora-- how are you feeling? did you start yet?


I finished, kept compliant the WHOLE 30 days! I almost broke down and had a glass of wine on day 30, but my daughter reminded me how bad I would feel!


Since we have finished, both hubby and I have stuck mainly to the eating plan. I don't really want to eat grains, sugar, etc. I have had plenty of glasses of wine, and quite a bit of chocolate (my 2 craves). But certainly no more than before the whole 30.


I did have pizza (no cheese, but on a wheat crust) without problem.


I don't really care to reintroduce dairy or legumes.


I am happily broken of my diet coke habit, which was a big deal for me (ever since medical school!). I switched to teas and seltzer waters.


I lost about 4 lbs total (goal was 7). I think I ate too many nuts, and still do. But, I fit in my prepregnancy clothes, so that is a win for me.


Yeah! Good luck Delnora!

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Hi!  thanks so much for posting your progress.  I find this to be very encouraging.  I'm on day 9.  I've kept on plan but struggling with self-control regarding nuts.  Esp the last 2-3 days.  a couple of nut binges, yowza.  Otherwise, I'm feeling very good.  Exercising regularly, very regular BMs, lots of veggies, meals are sticking to plan.  The food I've been making is delicious, but time consuming to prepare.  Need to get faster, more efficient.  Husband is doing whole30 with me and my 2 yr old is definitely eating healthier as a result of us eating healthier.


Haven't gotten on a scale, but I seem to be slimmer in my legs and butt.  But my belly is still kind of sticking out.  Ugh.  Twins!  I had hoped this was a "grain bloat" and would go away with removing grain from my diet, but, alas, tis still there.  Maybe I just need to do more core work to firm things up?  Not quite ready to give up and just have an old lady pooch forever, although that may be where I'm headed!


Milk production has been pretty lousy.  boo.  


only 21 more days!

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