Why meal plan? Meal planning is a great place to start improving your food choices. When we plan out our week and make healthy foods and recipes available and ready to eat when we are hungry, it can help us avoid the fast-food line, and it can improve our overall diet quality. It can also save us time, money and unneeded stress because you only need to ask “What’s for dinner” one time a week, not every night! No rushing to the store on the way home from work trying to figure out what you’re eating. You have planned those balanced healthy meals; grocery shopped and made your week go much smoother.
THE CHALLENGE: Meal Plan for a week and write it out. Plan every meal breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Tips to Consider:
1. Write out your plan. We might have it in our head but put it on paper and post it in your kitchen. It helps us remember any preparation we may need to do the day before, such as taking the frozen chicken out of the freezer to thaw, so it is ready to be cooked tomorrow. (Attached is a calendar to use for your meal plan)
2. Keep it simple to start. Consider even starting with what you would usually eat and just try to make it healthier, for example if you want tacos, use ground turkey instead of ground beef, reduced fat cheese instead of regular cheese, whole grains shells instead of white flour shells and load up on the veggies. Add balance to any meal by using MyPlate. Aim for 1/2 your plate to be veggies or fruit and veggies, ¼ of your plate grains and ¼ your plate protein.
3. You don’t have to cook every night. Thinks of your schedule. Many nights we don’t have time to cook. Plan crockpot meals those nights or eat leftovers that you made a different night. If you know Fridays you go out to dinner, put it on your meal plan. Then plan to eat half your meal at the restaurant and the other half for lunch on Saturday.
4. Start with dinner – Plan 3 different dinners for the week. For some dinner meals plan to make extra, so you can use leftovers for dinner a different night. Other dinners, you may take for lunch the next day. This will help you have to plan less lunches!! Then move to planning your lunches and lastly breakfasts. Pick 3 different lunch ideas and 3 different breakfast ideas and just rotate through the week. Add in new ideas as you get more comfortable.
Meal Ideas to Get Started
3 Breakfast ideas: • Greek yogurt, frozen berries (thawed) and nuts • • Oatmeal with canned, frozen or fresh fruit and milk, sprinkle with nuts, flaxseeds if desired • • Whole wheat English muffin with a cooked egg, low fat cheese slice and spinach/tomatoes slices and a piece of fruit
3 Lunch ideas: • Whole wheat bread with nut butter and sliced banana, side of raw veggies and low fat milk. • • Homemade bean soup with a leafy green salad and a piece of fruit • • Whole wheat pita stuffed with hummus and veggies (such as spinach, tomatoes, kalamata olives, red onion) with a piece of fruit
3 Dinner Ideas: • Black bean and reduced fat cheese quesadilla on whole wheat tortilla with salad • • Grilled fish with steamed broccoli and brown rice • • Chili with a side salad Need some recipe ideas for dinner?
Visit: https://www.myplate.gov/myplate-kitchen for free recipes!
Our thanks to Franciscan Dietician Kristal Twardy, RDN, CD, for writing this Challenge.