Meal Making Basics
I get asked almost daily, can you make me a meal plan to follow? This is a hard question to answer as each of us has our own set of taste preferences, budgets and schedules. In general, most of us know the types of food we should be eating. Yes, fruits and vegetables are wonderful for us and sweets should be limited. Another tip is to make half your plate fruits and vegetables, with the other half protein and grains. Yet most of us still struggle to compile a balanced and healthful meal. With some planning, you can make a properly portioned (and tasty) meal in no time!
Meal Making Basics: Choose one from each column
|Protein||Non-starchy Vegetable||Grain or Starchy Vegetable||Optional: Fruit or Dairy|
|3 oz meat or 4 oz seafood||1 cup cooked||1-2 slices 100% whole grain bread or tortillas||1 cup low-fat milk|
|1 egg||2 cups raw||½ cup -3/4 cup cooked brown rice or 100% whole grain pasta||1 cup light Greek yogurt|
|¾ cup cooked beans||2-4 cups leafy greens||1 medium potato, 1 cup corn or peas||½ cup-1 cup fruit or small piece of fruit|
|1 Tbsp. nut butter||1 – 1 ½ cups 100% whole grain cereal||1 oz. cheese|
Now that we know what types of foods can make up a meal, let’s put a few ideas together.
|Meal||Protein||Non-starchy Vegetables||Grain or Starchy Vegetable||Optional: Fruit or Dairy||Extras||Totals|
|3 ounces lean ground turkey||1 cup shredded lettuce, ½ cup diced tomatoes||Two, 6” whole grain corn or flour tortillas||1/3 cup Low fat shredded cheddar cheese||¼ sliced avocado, 2 Tbsp hot sauce||Calories: 442
Carbs: 39 g
Protein: 29 g
Fat: 20 g
|Veggie bowl||¾ cup cooked black beans||½ cup bell peppers, ½ cup chunky salsa||½ cup cooked quinoa||1/4 cup Low fat shredded cheddar cheese||¼ sliced avocado, chopped cilantro||Calories: 473
Carbs: 67 g
Protein: 25 g
Fat: 14 g
|Morning Blend Omelets||2 eggs||½ cup cooked spinach and ½ cup bell peppers and onions||2 pieces whole grain rye toast||1 cup berries||1 Tbsp Sugar-free jelly||Calories: 510
Carbs: 66 g
Protein: 22 g
Fat: 17 g
|Steakhouse Dinner||3 oz sirloin steak||1 cup roasted broccoli and 3 cup spinach salad||1 medium baked potato||2 Tbsp Plain, low-fat Greek yogurt (potato topping)||2 Tbsp Italian vinaigrette||Calories: 455
Carbs: 51 g
Protein: 29 g
Fat: 20 g
|Sandwich||3 oz low sodium deli turkey||2 slices romaine lettuce and tomato slices
1 cup carrot sticks
|2 slices whole wheat bread||1 slice low-fat provolone cheese, 1 small apple||2 tsp honey mustard
2 Tbsp low fat ranch for dipping
Carbs: 59 g
Protein: 28 g
Fat: 7 g
Hopefully, these ideas show that you can still have the foods you normally enjoy, perhaps balanced a bit differently. Remember, planning is key. To enjoy these dishes, you must keep the ingredients on hand or make a list to purchase them in advance. Utilize friends, cookbooks and the internet for meal inspiration.
Be creative and let the meal planning begin!
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health, working in Oncology and Functional nutrition. Ellen helps patients improve nutrition habits during cancer treatment and beyond. She is a group fitness instructor at the CHI Health Lakeside Wellness Center and enjoys helping people of all fitness abilities be active. Ellen is passionate about helping patients improve their lives through nutrition, activity and stress management.