- 15 Tips for Better Weekly Meal Planning
- Meal Planning for Beginners
- Step-by-Step Instructions for Simple Meal Planning for Beginners
- The 6 meal types that we use to master simple meal planning for beginners.
- List the recipe source and time to thaw on your meal plan.
- Limit Sides
- Limit your trips to the store.
- Grab your free simple meal planning for beginners printable!
- Establish a routine.
- Thinking Outside the Box…
- Keep a few pantry meals in the house.
- Action steps: Meal Planning for beginners.
- Next Steps:
- What’s your best advice for meal planning for beginners?
- Reference Intakes (RI)
- Perfect portions
- Mid-morning snack
- Like this? Now try…
- The Happy Diet
- Three tips for boosting energy levels
- Enjoyed this? Get more health tips
- The No-Diet Diet: Your New Healthy-Eating Plan
- A month of healthy meal plans
- 7-day kickstart plan
- Week 2
- Week 3
- Week 4
- Steps to success
- Easy weekly meal plan
- Make cooking easier and more enjoyable
- 10 minutes or less to make your day great again
15 Tips for Better Weekly Meal Planning
- Getting Inspired
- Spend time each week looking for recipes.
This may feel like an indulgence, but just let yourself do it. Browse blogs and websites for recipes that look delicious. Hang out on Tasteologie. Pile up some cookbooks and reach fo the sticky notes. Get inspired! In terms of figuring out what to make we have a list of meals that we love and are easy to cook hanging on our fridge. Those staples make it into the rotation frequently and then I go through my pinterest boards as well as cookbooks and magazines to find 1-2 new recipes to add into the rotation. Our staples list is getting longer and longer. – Shelf81
- Create a place to save recipes, and keep it SIMPLE.
Do whatever works for you. Don’t get caught up in a system, just use whatever works best and most easily. Personally, I like Pinterest because it’s easy to visually browse what I’ve saved. (Watch for another post coming soon with a rundown of our readers’ favorite places to save recipes.) I use Springpad (kind of like Evernote), to store my recipes. I add them to a Board view, so I can create a visual display of what I’m making when, and with the way they have recipes set up, you can easily add ingredients to a shopping list. – Riddles
- Ask your partner, family, and roommates what they like to eat.
This might sound obvious, but it’s easy to get caught up in our weeks and forget to ask our households what they would like to eat. I get extra inspired, too, when I feel like I’m cooking a meal as a gift — trying to please and delight the palate of someone I love. Meal planning can be daunting and to get my husband involved I had to take several steps back by asking simply what foods he liked. I wrote a post on the process. – KMarie
- Check the weather.
Again, you may say, duh, but seriously. Right now, the weather is changeable in many parts of the country. Look at the weather forecast, and try to predict if you’re going to be in the mood for soup (or grilled shrimp salad!) on Friday. Maybe this is weird but am i the only one who checks the weather forecast before i meal plan? – Adamwa
- Keep a meal journal.
One of my best inspirations is my own record of things I’ve cooked in the past. Take a look at what you were cooking a year ago, two years ago. It’s a good way to remember things you used to cook, and still love. I use a blank monthly calendar and plan the week’s meals on the weekend, basing my grocery list on only those items. I now have a year and a half worth of meals to look back on – especially handy for ideas and to see what we were eating the same time a year ago. – JenniferJulia
- Start a calendar.
Now that you’re getting inspired in what to eat, start a calendar of what you’d like to cook over the next few days or few weeks. It can be as organized as a Google Calendar, with notes on each day for that day’s menu. Or you can just jot notes to yourself in the corner of your laptop screen. The important thing is to write it down. We have a shared Google calendar and I’ve created a sub-calendar just for meal-planning. We’ll take an evening (after dinner, so our cravings are lessened slightly) and dig through all of our cookbooks and printed recipes for what looks good, putting them on the calendar as we go. – Knitasha
- Go with theme nights (soup night, pasta night, beans).
Some readers found it really helpful to have a theme night each week. Monday is pasta, Tuesday is fish, Wednesday is tacos. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it may be especially helpful for those with kids. See if they want to get involved with planning their favorite tacos one week, or suggesting soups for the next month. Keeping the focus narrow will help you and your household make quick recipe decisions. I use general guides like Soup Night, Pasta Night, Beans to make it easier. I use Fresh Direct, and you can store shopping lists in there. I can simply dump the Tomato Soup Week list into my cart and I’ll get everything I need for a typical week. – CMCINNYC
- Choose a shopping day and make a shopping list.
A lot of the readers who seemed to have success in meal planning shopped very purposefully. They looked at their recipes and made a shopping list. Some of the meal planning and recipe-saving services let you do this easily, extracting ingredients from the recipes you have saved. I start with a blank index card. I list at least 7 meals that I will be interested in cooking for the next week. Usually this includes a composed salad of some sort, a soup, something with beans, a fish dish, a pasta dish or two, and what we call a “thunder-bowl”, which is usually whole grain+greens and veggies+eggs on top. Tonight it’s bulger, kale and broccoli, eggs, and maybe a bit of chorizo. The shopping list goes on the reverse of the index card. This goes to the store with me, and the meals are crossed off when eaten. – PAMELA AT CLOCKWORKCROW
- Check what’s on sale.
Some folks really like to organize their meals around sales. Is organic chicken a dollar off this week? Or canned chickpeas? Check out your grocery store circular and adjust your meal plan or shopping list a bit. I look online at grocery circulars to see what’s on sale for the week and plan meals around that so I can save a little money. Then I go to that grocery store on Sunday to get non perishables and any veg or fruit I’ll use within a few days. – Kristen44
- Plan for leftovers.
Most of us have at least some tolerance for leftovers. I regularly cook one or two big healthy casseroles at the beginning of the week and eat off them all week long for lunch. Some people can only eat leftovers for a single night. Either way, try to make your cooking always do double duty. Make a little extra of everything, and if you don’t want it right away, freeze it. A big time saver for me (since I live alone) is that I usually make more than one serving for dinner so I have leftovers for lunch the next day (or multiple days). – Peachy44
- Prep food as soon as you get back from the store.
Wash and dry lettuce. Chop onions. Roast vegetables. Brown sausage for pizza. Shred zucchini for quick stir-fries. Stack up glass containers of prepped ingredients in the refrigerator and bask in your own awesome preparedness. I’m trying to get more in the habit of prepping all of the food as soon as we’re back from the grocery store (i.e. shredding blocks of cheese if I know we’re making tacos, slicing veggies and bagging them, etc), which makes cooking the night of a lot quicker. – Knitasha
- Cook components of your meals.
Going beyond prep, cook components of the meals. For instance, start a batch of tomato sauce while you wash greens and prep squash. The sauce can go on pizza one night, and in lasagna the next. Or roast a chicken right then that you can eat that night and use for sandwiches and pasta the rest of the week. I cook large batches of components on the weekend, then mix-and-match them according to what I’m craving during the week. Grilled chicken thighs, browned ground beef, and blanched veggies like broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower get turned into Italian Saute, Thai curries, stir-fries, and more with the addition of spices and sauces. We call them “Hot Plates.” – MELICIOUS11
- Be strategic about freezing.
The freezer is your friend. Actually, it’s the friend of future you. Make a double batch of that sauce mentioned above and freeze half for later. Make a double batch of soup, stew, chicken cacciatore, cooked beans — throw it in the freezer. Let a month go by, and those leftovers will look fresh and tasty! Be strategic about freezing dishes and components of dishes. It’s surprising how many things can be frozen with good results. (Shredded cheese, citrus zest, peeled ginger, breadcrumbs, cooked beans, etc…) – – APK_101
- Don’t overstuff the refrigerator.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when your fridge is over-full. Also, things get hidden in the back, lost behind the mustard. Don’t let things go bad. Keep your fridge airy and light, with a sensible, realistic amount of food in it. Keep a list nearby of everything in the fridge, especially leftovers, as a visual reminder of what remains to be eaten. Don’t stuff the fridge to the point that you can’t see what’s in it. I can see how this point wouldn’t work for someone who lives a long way from the grocery store, but for many people it is pretty easy to stop at the store on a weekly or semi-weekly basis. Bonus: You’ll have fresher ingredients! – APK_101
- Keep a well-stocked pantry.
Meals are easier and quicker to prepare if you keep your pantry well-stocked. Don’t run out of olive oil at inconvenient moments. Have spices ready to dress up chicken and beans quickly. Keep a lemon and a sheaf of fresh herbs in the fridge at all times. It helps to have a well-stocked pantry. – JANET @ THE TASTE SPACE
Getting It Done
1/15/20: If you’re looking to get out of debt and get your finances in order, then you have to get the 90 Day Budget Bootcamp! This FREE program has transformed the lives of over 65,000 families and walks you step by step through the proven techniques that let you reduce your expenses without sacrificing, create a budget that’s realistic, and a fail proof strategy to actually stick to your budget.
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This simple system of meal planning for beginners walks you through the easiest way to start meal planning. No skills to master, and it uses where you are now to set reasonable goals. You can’t fail at this.
Meal Planning for Beginners
Do you love the idea of saving a boatload of money through meal planning, but every time you try, it seems to cost you more money? You’ve come to the right place! No complicated coupon cutting here. You don’t even need to shop the ads! This is a very basic, step by step instructional on how to start menu planning for beginners.
After years of trying and failing to stick to a meal plan, we realized that the only way we would ever see results is if we started where we were (because seriously, no one goes from eating Mcdonalds 4x a week to eating kale smoothies for breakfast) and worked with our personality instead of against it (because I’m not the girl to drive past Chick-fil-A when I’m hungry).
We started making 15 minute meals for every single dinner when we reduced our spending by over $23,000 a year and then paid off all our debt so I can stay home with the kids. We went through the 90 Day Budget Bootcamp and it was absolutely life changing. It stepped out the only meal plan I’ve ever been able to stick to consistently. You can get instant access to the program for free here (and the meal planning was just one fo the smaller sections!)
Like in all of the “Budgeting Basics” posts, the last paragraph breaks down the action steps you need to take to master menu planning.
Your grocery budget has the most potential to reduce your monthly spending. Unfortunately, it’s also the hardest to reduce because it takes an enormous amount of preparation. If you do it wrong, you’ll spend $120/week for 21 meals and then spend another $400 per week eating out every day because you didn’t plan accordingly. It doesn’t have to be hard though!
Follow these steps to meal plan for beginners and you’ll do it the right way to make a significant cut in your budget:
Step-by-Step Instructions for Simple Meal Planning for Beginners
- Grab a meal planning sheet with the days of the week on it. (You can print my free one by clicking here).
- Look at your weekly schedule- what’s going on this week? Do you have to work late, do you have plans for dinner with friends, or a party?
- Mark the days that meals will be difficult with a small “X” in the corner.
- Put breakfast and lunches on autopilot until you get used to meal planning for a few weeks. Write down 2 or 3 options for breakfast and lunch (bagels or cereal for breakfast, leftovers or sandwiches for lunch). Plan mostly for dinners.
- Choose easy dinners (check out the 6 types of dinners I serve below for ideas).
- On a separate sheet of paper, list the items that you would need to create those meals.
- Make sure that meals that need fresh ingredients are being eaten in the beginning of the week.
Want to take it a step further? Check out our FREE Home Rescue Challenge here…
The 6 meal types that we use to master simple meal planning for beginners.
1. 15 Minute Meals:
Best for: When the week is extremely hectic. When you’ll be frequently working late and out of the house and tempted to eat fast food – 15 Minute meals uses convenience foods sold in stores to make super quick and easy dinners. This may not be the healthiest food, but it’s crazy quick and easy, and costs less than the drive-thru.
I love these because it tastes better than eating out, is quicker to make than it is to go through a drive-thru and if needed, we can use paper plates to minimize dishes. You can find my favorite 15 minute meals here.
This is the usually the easiest type to get into meal planning for beginners. You don’t need to prep them ahead, remember to defrost and there are no cooking skills involved.
Examples: Pepperoni Pizza Bagels, Chicken Parmesan Pasta, Broiler Steaks and Greek Salad.
2. Slow Cooker Meals:
Best for: When I won’t be out of the house for more than 10 hours but want to take a break from making dinner. Slow cooker meals use a slow cooker to cook dinner slowly (in about 8 hours but you can also warm for an additional 2 hours) so you can throw something into the crock pot and come back 10 hours later to dinner being done.
I love this because slow cooker meals tend to be comfort food (read: delicious!) and I can pair it with a simple side to have dinner ready to go. You can see my Slow Cooker- Lazy Dinners Pinterest Board for my favorite Slow Cooker Meals.
Examples: BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Chili, Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Salisbury Steak, Beef Stew, Cranberry Chicken.
You can check out my Pinterest slow cooker recipe board here.
3. Freezer Cooking:
Best for: When I have time on the weekend or an extra day off (and my husband is willing to watch the kids patiently!). Freezer cooking allows you to make large batches of your favorites foods to create your own convenience foods! So instead of buying convenience foods filled with preservatives at a high cost, you cook them yourself and freeze them for super easy meals later. I love freezer cooking! I love being able to cook without distraction when I batch cook, I love how when we eat our freezer meals we can avoid kitchen clean up (my least favorite job!) and how easy dinner is.
Examples: BBQ Beef Cups, Quesadillas, Hamburgers, Tater Tot Casserole, Chicken and Broccoli Casserole.
HINT: We use this system now for both freezer cooking and the freezer dump cooking below because it’s cheaper and makes planning meals and prepping quick and crazy easy. You can make 10 meals in an hour! You can get Freezeasy here.
4. Freezer Dump Cooking (Freezer to Slow Cooker):
(My husband is convinced I’m the only one that calls this dump cooking. It just means you “dump” the ingredients in a bag and freeze it. Then thaw and “dump” it in the slow cooker when you’re ready to cook.)
I do this all the time! This is probably my favorite way to get into meal planning for beginners. It combines freezer cooking and slow cooker meals to make super easy effortless meals with very little work. In about 2 hours, you can prep 20 dinners this way. You freeze them in gallon Ziploc bags, thaw them overnight and dump the ingredients from the bag into the crock pot in the morning. Then you come home to dinner already made!
I love how crazy easy this is, the healthy ingredients, and how much time this frees up for other things. You also have the added convenience of no kitchen clean up. We even invest in slow cooker bags so we don’t even have to clean out the slow cooker. We use Freezeasy already prepped meal planning packs to do this.
Examples: Beef and Broccoli, Beef Stroganoff, and Orange Pork Chops.
5. Backward Meal Planning:
When I have time and I’m in the mood to cook from scratch, I hunt through my fridge, freezer and pantry and make a list of what I have that I want to use up. I then list meal ideas based on those items. If you have a freezer full of meat that you bought on sale, this is a great time to save a ton of money.
With a few simple sides and extra ingredients, I can often buy groceries for the week for about $20, leaving the extra money that we budgeted for groceries towards our longer term goals like debt reduction or savings.
This is one of the hardest ways to get into meal planning for beginners, but it’s definitley gives you the most savings! Reserve this for weekends.
Examples: Homemade Bread, Muffins, Chicken Noodle Soup, Grilled Meats.
6. Plan to Eat Out:
There are totally situations that happen in life where it makes more sense to eat out than to cook at home. Eating out is not bad in itself. The problem is mindlessly eating out and not understanding the sacrifice we make when we spend money on that. One example of a time when we chose to eat out was when our little girl was born. My husband had just returned to work and we were really overwhelmed by our new responsibilities, lack of sleep and losing our familiar routine.
We just budgeted for him to grab a sub every day at Subway for about $4. The high cost of eating out usually isn’t with the Subway sandwich, it’s when you buy a foot long, add a drink, chips and a cookie. Suddenly you have a $10 meal. Do that for 5 days a week and you’ve spent $50. If you grab a case of water (or just pack some from home in a Nalgene bottle) and a large sack of chips and a chip clip to keep in your car, you’ll spend less than half of that.
Over a month that adds up to a $100 savings a month and you’re eating the same thing. I’m not saying that trips to Subway should be an everyday event for you, I’m saying that you shouldn’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to your schedule. If you’re going to have a hectic day and will likely give in to the temptation of fast food anyway, planning ahead to minimize the damage is a smart move.
List the recipe source and time to thaw on your meal plan.
As you fill in dinners, list the recipe source and page, and how long you need to plan to cook dinner (i.e. 15 minutes versus 12 hours for a slow cooker). Adding the time needed to cook is a huge time saver and prevents you from going to make dinner at 5pm and realizing that the ribs you bought take 4 hours to cook. When you can tell at a glance when to make dinner, it helps minimize the times that you abandon your menu plan.
You get one “recipe” per meal. That’s it. Unless it’s a holiday. Until you get better at meal planning, stick to steamed veggies and salads and leave the loaded baked potato salads.
Limit your trips to the store.
You’re busy. I’m busy.
We all have way too much stuff to do. Let’s not add in extra grocery trips to make the situation worse. Plan to only go to the grocery store once a week. This helps you manage your time better and can help you stick to your meal plan and use up all of the food that you bought.
Go through your menu plan. Are there meals at the end of the week that need fresh ingredients? If so, move the meals around so that those meals get eaten first. By the last day of the week, we’re usually eating out of our freezer. Some foods just don’t keep for a week no matter how hard you try. Plan to have those dishes first so the ingredients don’t spoil.
On that note- serve what you have planned. Even if there’s something else you like better. If you don’t do this, then you’ll end the week with a pantry of veggies and not a snack food or bowl of ice cream in site. Serving the healthy stuff increases the chances that it actually gets consumed and helps you stretch your grocery budget.
Grab your free simple meal planning for beginners printable!
You can grab your free PDF copy of this simple meal planning for beginners by clicking here.
Establish a routine.
You need to make grocery shopping easy. Establishing a routine is the only way that I know to do that. It’s going to suck for the first few weeks. In the end though, this is the smartest thing you can do to set yourself up for successful meal planning.
Choose a day of the week that you can spend an hour meal planning and making a shopping list, and choose another day of the week that you’re going to go grocery shopping. Put it in your calendar and make absolutely sure that it’s done every week at the same time. After a few weeks, this will be easy and you won’t have to force yourself to make time for it.
Thinking Outside the Box…
One of the things I like to address on this site is that the cheapest alternative isn’t always the right alternative. If you’ve been eating fast food 4 times a week for the past few years and have no idea how to bake a chicken, then trying to immediately switch to making all of your meals from home and packing a lunch is likely going to fail miserably. Plus, you’ll double your grocery bill as you buy food for the week, then eat out anyway because you can’t find the time and motivation to cook.
Every change I’ve made on this journey was in small measurable baby steps in the right direction. If you’re currently spending a ton on groceries (if you’re not sure how much your spending, go into your online banking system and add all food purchases up), then don’t be shy about substituting one of these alternatives to traditional planning.
This is our current favorite. They have a database of super easy to make freezer meals where you can make 10 of any of their recipes within an hour to freeze. They’re healthy and delicious. They have allergy friendly options and they do all of the planning for you. We switched to these a few months ago and haven’t looked back since!
You can get more information on Freezeasy here.
They offer you fresh food that you pick up twice a week from a local pick up spot (usually a gym). The food is delicious, and it’s meant to help you lose weight so the combinations are chosen by a nutritionist. We’ve tried this service and loved it.
If you have kids, you’ll still need to make something for them since it’s too pricey to get them their own plan. However, for singles and couples struggling to get into the routine of just not eating fast food, I think this is a solid option. It’s pricey at $900 a month for a couple, but if you’re spending more than that right now in groceries then it will save you money.
You can get info on Diet to Go here.
My favorite app to help with meal planning is Menuboard. You can search recipe websites (like All Recipes, The Food Network etc), and download recipes directly into the app from the website. Then you can just drag meals to each day and the app populates a shopping list for you automatically. It organizes your shopping list by area in your store, tracks prices and you can tap the item to remove it from the list when you throw it in your cart. $3.99, iOS.
You can get Mealboard here.
Emeals has weekly menus that they choose, gives you shopping lists, you just follow along and cook what they tell you to. We tried this, and honestly it wasn’t my favorite. That being said, I like the planning much, much more than cooking. This eliminates the planning, but you still have to cook. My husband absolutely loved it and ended up making most of our meals. (Which worked out well for me!)
You can get more info on eMeals here.
Many grocery stores are jumping on the grocery delivery bandwagon. We have Peapod by Giant here in Virginia which delivers your groceries to your door for $7.95. If you don’t mind the cooking, but struggle with grocery shopping, try this.
With Peapod by Giant, the prices are on par with their brick and mortar stores, the food is fresh, they accept coupons and I save money by not grabbing impulse purchases.
You can find out more about Peapod by Giant Delivery here (and get $15 off your first order to try it!)
Keep a few pantry meals in the house.
Finally, you should always keep at least one pantry meal in the house. I would suggest several, but definitely one. Pantry meals are your “If all else fails” meals. When you forgot to thaw the meat, when you forgot to go grocery shopping etc. This is your backup plan before you order pizza.
The ingredients can stay in your kitchen without going bad for a few months until their needed. It can be as simple as peanut butter and jelly, or something more advanced like rodeo cowboy burgers. You can read more about pantry meals and my favorite pantry meal recipes here.
Action steps: Meal Planning for beginners.
- Look at your schedule for the next week.
- Decide what days will need very simple solutions (15 minute meals, freezer cooking meals).
- Choose simple recipes with few ingredients to fill in the dinners.
- Choose two or 3 options for easy lunches and breakfasts.
- Create a shopping list of ingredients you will need for your menu.
- Fill out your menu, indicating a recipe source and a time needed to cook.
- Post your menu plan on your fridge, or in a schedule book that’s accessible to you every day.
- Refer to it daily to make sure that you’re following it and that food is thawed from the freezer at the right time (about 2 days before use).
- Choose pantry meals and post them on the fridge in case you need them.
Do you spend too much on groceries? Do you end up calling for pizza or going through the drive-thru line more nights than you care to admit? I’ve totally been there! But the 90 Day Budget Bootcamp changed my entire life. You can now get immediate access to the 90 Day Budget Bootcamp for FREE (limited time only!). You’ll learn how to create a *realistic* budget that you can actually stick to, create a meal plan of simple 15 minute meals (like this one!) that take less time than the drive-thru, and even get your spouse on board with the budget. Grab it here for free before it’s gone!
What’s your best advice for meal planning for beginners?
P.S. If you’re trying to get your home under control along with your budget, and are sick of spending all day “catching up”, only to have it trashed again in a few days, then you should then you should check out our free training here…
It’s a comprehensive step by step course that teaches you how to manage all aspects of your home no matter how bad your situation is now. It only opens for enrollment once a year, and while it’s not open right now, it will be soon.
The course works with your personality (and your specific situation) to create a custom plan to manage your dishes, laundry, schedule book, meal planning, budgeting, and cleaning routine in less than one hour a day. But before we do that, we teach you how to automate a ton of stuff in your home (without paying for it) to give you hours of your day back.
And this is a proven system that’s been field tested by thousands of people. People that have tried everything and could never keep their house clean or stick to a budget.
Like Jenn, who said “I used to struggle with absolutely everything. I married a man with 4 amazing kids and suddenly found myself drowning in dishes, laundry, and cleaning. There was NEVER enough money to cover everything and cooking meals that everyone would eat was impossible. Then my dad got cancer and I also became his caregiver. The house and my stress level went from bad to worse overnight. I got this course (Hot Mess to Home Success) in desperation sitting in an ER waiting room at 3 am. I thought there was no way it could really help me since my situation was so unique with 4 step kids and being a caregiver for my Dad. I had probably always been a hot mess, but this was a whole new low for me. Fast forward three months into the course and I meal plan regularly and stick to it (that’s never happened before), I use a planner every day, I have no dishes and laundry backed up (!) and I have significantly more time to do the things that matter (like help my family battle cancer). You don’t even realize how much of a difference this stuff makes until it becomes your lifeline. I can’t imagine going back to how I used to live and I’m glad I never have to. I’m really grateful for that 3 am purchase!”
You can learn more about Hot Mess to Home Success here…
Women have different daily nutritional requirements to men and, below, our nutritionist has offered guidance and recipe ideas for women seeking a balanced diet for good health. But what exactly is meant by a ‘balanced diet’?
The Eatwell Guide defines different types of foods we should be eating and in what proportions. These include some simple rules to follow like getting a minimum of five fruit and veg a day, including wholegrains and choosing more fish, poultry, beans and pulses, less red meat and opting for lower fat, lower sugar dairy (or dairy-free alternatives). But that’s not the whole story. How much should you be eating and is there an ideal time to eat protein, carbs or fats? Read on for our guide to healthy eating around the clock.
Reference Intakes (RI)
Nutritional needs vary depending on sex, size, age and activity levels so use this chart as a general guide only. The chart shows the Reference Intakes (RI) or daily amounts recommended for an average, moderately active adult to achieve a healthy, balanced diet for maintaining rather than losing or gaining weight.
The RIs for fat, saturates, sugars and salt are all maximum amounts, while those for carbs and protein are figures you should aim to meet each day. There is no RI for fibre, although health experts suggest we have 30g a day.
Numbers and figures are all very well but how does this relate to you? Keeping the Eatwell Guide in mind, you can personalise your portion sizes with our handy guide.
|Carbs like cereal/rice/pasta/potato (include 1 portion at each main meal and ensure it fills no more than ¼ of your plate)||Your clenched fist|
|Protein like meat/poultry/fish/tofu/pulses (aim to have a portion at each meal)||Palm of your hand|
|Cheese (as a snack or part of a meal)||2 of your thumbs|
|Nuts/seeds (as a snack or part of a meal)||1 of your cupped hands|
|Butter/spreads/nut butter (no more than 2 or 3 times a day)||The tip of your thumb|
|Savouries like popcorn/crisps (as a snack/treat)||2 of your cupped hands|
|Bakes like brownies/flapjacks (as an occasional treat)||2 of your fingers|
Don’t forget, as set out in the Eatwell Guide, we should all be aiming for a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Discover what counts as one portion using our five-a-day infographic.
Kick-start your metabolism by including protein at breakfast, choose from eggs, salmon, lean ham or dairy. We burn more calories digesting protein rather than carbs so, by making your breakfast a protein one, you’ll be revving up your metabolism and because protein keeps you fuller for longer, you’ll eat fewer calories the rest of the day.
A protein breakfast needn’t take any longer to prepare. Top your morning toast with a scrambled egg, a slice of smoked salmon or some lean ham and when you do have a little more time, enjoy an omelette or frittata.
Whatever you do, don’t skip breakfast as this sets your blood sugar off on a roller-coaster that means you’ll end up choosing the wrong foods later in the day. Remember breakfast makes an important contribution towards your daily intake and it plays a key role in maintaining a healthy weight.
Protein breakfast recipes:
Spinach protein pancakes
Mushroom baked eggs with squished tomatoes
One-pan summer eggs
Smoked salmon & mascarpone tortilla
Pear & blueberry breakfast bowl
Dippy eggs with Marmite soldiers
Egg & tomato baps
Many people find eating little and often helps them manage their blood sugar levels. This doesn’t mean they eat more but instead spread their day’s intake evenly throughout the day. Make every snack count with nourishing options that supply both the ‘pick me up’ you need while topping up your five-a-day.
Swap your morning biscuits for oatcakes spread with peanut or almond nut butter and a banana, or have a tasty dip with veggie sticks.
Bean, feta & herb dip
Make lunch a mix of lean protein and starchy carbs. Carb-rich foods supply energy and without them you’re more likely to suffer that classic mid-afternoon slump. The key is to choose carbs that produce a steady rise in blood sugar, which means passing on the sugary ‘white’ foods and going for high-fibre wholegrains that help you manage those afternoon munchies.
Opt for an open rye-bread sandwich topped with salmon, chicken or lower fat dairy as well as plenty of salad, or choose wholegrain toast topped with baked beans.
Protein and carb lunch recipes:
Open chicken Caesar sandwich
Open cottage cheese & pepper sandwich
Salmon & chive bagel topper
Veggie wholewheat pot noodle
Smoked salmon, quinoa & dill lunch pot
Spicy tuna quinoa salad
Indian chicken protein pots
Tuna Niçoise protein pot
Steak & broccoli protein pots
Satisfy that sweet craving and the need for energy with fruit. A handful of dried fruit combined with unsalted nuts or seeds provides protein and healthy fats to keep you satisfied till supper.
Swap your chocolate or cereal bar for a handful of dried apple rings with a few almonds or walnuts. Dried fruit is four times as sweet as its fresh equivalent, which is great if you’ve got an exercise class or a gym session planned for the afternoon. Combining dried fruit with nuts helps stabilise the release of their sugars keeping you energised for longer. Alternatively stock your fridge with plenty of low-calorie nibbles like cherry tomatoes, apples and vegetable crudités that will prevent you reaching for the biscuit tin when you fancy something sweet or crunchy.
Date & walnut cinnamon bites
Iced grapes with cheddar cubes & celery
Almond, raisin & popcorn trail mix
Don’t curfew carbs. They’re low in fat, fibre-rich and help you relax in the evening. Combine them with some healthy essential fats, the ones you find in oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines as well as nuts, seeds and their oils. Your body can use these healthy fats along with protein overnight for regeneration and repair, important for maintaining healthy skin and hair.
Fill half your plate with a colourful variety of vegetables or salad, drizzle with a dressing made from cold-pressed flaxseed, olive or rapeseed oil and add meat, fish or beans with brown rice, quinoa or wholemeal pasta.
Nutritious dinner recipes:
Wild salmon veggie bowl
Mexican chicken stew with quinoa & beans
Miso prawn skewers with veggie rice salad
Nutty crusted fish
Tomato & crispy crumb chicken
Spicy root & lentil casserole
Lamb & squash biryani with cucumber raita
Mexican penne with avocado
Lamb dopiaza with broccoli rice
Like this? Now try…
More balanced diet guides
All our healthy recipe collections
More health & nutrition tips
This article was last reviewed on 4 July 2019 by Kerry Torrens.
Kerry Torrens is a qualified Nutritionist (MBANT) with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.
The Happy Diet
You Are What You Eat
According to the experts, the familiar saying is true. “There’s an incredibly strong correlation between the food you consume and how you feel,” says FITNESS advisory board member Ashley Koff, RD, a nutritionist in Los Angeles. “When you balance healthy carbs, protein, and fats, you get exactly what your body needs for long-lasting energy and a good mood.” At FITNESS, we call this The Happy Diet.
Here are a few get-happy rules to eat by:
Nothing is off-limits.
Eating plans that cut out entire food groups leave you feeling hungry, sluggish, and grumpy. “When your body isn’t getting the nutrients or pleasure it needs from food, you’re more likely to overeat,” says Leslie Bonci, RD, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a FITNESS advisory board member. “Feeling satisfied isn’t just about portion size — it’s also about taste and variety.”
You can eat carbs and fat.
Really! You need a healthy mix of protein, fat, and fiber at every meal, and snacks for stamina.
You get to eat more often.
“Some women go for long periods of time between meals because they think it’s going to help them lose weight,” says Susan Bowerman, RD, assistant director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. “But in truth, after a long stretch without eating, your blood sugar plummets-which makes you irritable and less productive and more likely to sabotage your diet by grabbing the wrong foods.” You can have a small meal or snack every three to four hours.
Now that you’re deliriously psyched, prepare to dig in to our food plan.
Eat for Energy
- Choose whole foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Think: a baked potato with the skin, an orange instead of juice. Foods that have not been processed are rich in vitamins and minerals. Refined or processed products have had many of their nutrients stripped away.
- Try fish, shellfish, eggs, poultry, lean cuts of beef or pork, and low-fat dairy products. Include a small serving of lean protein with all your meals and snacks, Bonci advises. “It takes longer to empty from your stomach, so you’ll feel fuller.”
- Go for wild salmon, avocados, olive oil, and canola oil. Healthy unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids boost brain health and keep the immune system strong.
- Buy whole-grain breads and pastas, brown rice, beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. “Fiber is essential for keeping your energy level consistent throughout the day,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, RD, author of The F-Factor Diet. It helps slow the digestion of food, so your blood sugar remains stable, and it adds bulk, so you feel satisfied longer. “When you munch on refined carbs, you’re more likely to overeat during the rest of the day, because you’re constantly looking for food to get your energy up after it crashes,” explains Zuckerbrot.
Eat for a Good Mood
- Tap into the tapas (small-plate) trend. At restaurants, skip the supersize portions. Choose two appetizers instead of one big main course, or order small plates or tapas. “This gives you a chance to sample lots of different flavors without eating too much of any one thing,” says Bonci.
- Sit at the table. Stop eating on the run! “Meals should not be another thing to check off your to-do list,” Bowerman says. Even if you’re just having a snack, sit down with a plate, utensils, and a napkin. Making a ritual out of eating will give your brain time to register the food, so you’ll feel like you enjoyed a good meal.
- Try new foods. Eating a varied diet means you’ll be more likely to get the wide range of nutrients your body needs — and you’ll be more excited about your meals. “Think outside the box. Have a mango instead of the same old apple. Roast your vegetables instead of steaming them,” suggests Bonci.
- Shop smarter. Being able to touch and choose fresh produce gives people pleasure. Go to farmers’ markets whenever possible, and buy foods that are in season.
- Make your meals good-looking and good-tasting. Think like a chef: Choose foods of different colors and textures. “If a meal feels special, you’ll enjoy it more,” says Bonci.
Your Happy Diet Meal Plan
This three-day, 1,500-calorie program, created for FITNESS by Leslie Bonci, RD, proves that healthy eating isn’t about deprivation. Use it to jump-start your success.
- 1 slice whole-grain toast with 2 teaspoons almond or peanut butter
- Smoothie: Blend 6 ounces low-fat lemon- or vanilla-flavored yogurt, 1/2 cup unsweetened fresh or frozen fruit, such as mixed berries, sliced peaches or a banana, and 1 cup skim milk.
- 1 pear
- 1 piece reduced-fat string cheese
- Turkey Tapenade Wrap: Spread a whole-grain tortilla with 1 tablespoon olive tapenade; top with 3 slices smoked turkey, 1 slice Muenster cheese, romaine lettuce, and roasted peppers; roll up.
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 8 ounces vegetable juice (such as V8 Light)
- Ginger Beef Vegetable Stir-Fry: Saute 4 ounces thinly sliced eye of round in a nonstick skillet with 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger; cook about 5 minutes per side (until just pink in the middle). Remove from skillet and add 2 cups frozen Oriental vegetables to the remaining liquid; saute until crisp-tender. Serve over 1 cup cooked brown rice.
- 1 slice whole-grain toast
- 1 teaspoon each whipped butter and preserves
- Vegetable Omelet: Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a nonstick pan and saute 1/2 cup mushrooms, onions, and peppers; remove from skillet. Pour 2 eggs, lightly beaten, into skillet and cook over medium-high heat, until the bottom of the omelet is firm. Top with vegetable mixture and 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until cheese melts.
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 orange
- 1 cup minestrone soup
- 5 whole-grain crackers
- Spinach Salad: 2 cups spinach leaves, 10 green olives, grape tomatoes, 2 tablespoons blue cheese, 3 ounces chicken or turkey breast, purple grapes, and 2 tablespoons vinaigrette dressing
- 14 large baked tortilla chips
- 1/4 cup guacamole and salsa
- 4-ounce tuna or salmon steak grilled with Old Bay Seasoning and fresh lemon
- 1 cup green beans sauteed in 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 baked sweet potato (4 inches long), with a splash of orange juice and a sprinkle of cinnamon
- 1 hard-cooked egg
- Cherry Almond Oatmeal: Cook 1/2 cup dry oatmeal with low-fat milk according to package directions. Add 2 tablespoons dried cherries, 2 tablespoons almonds, and 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup.
100-calorie bag of light popcorn mixed with 1/4 cup peanuts
- Vegetable Quesadillas: Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a nonstick pan; saute 1 minced garlic clove, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 6 chopped olives, and 1/4 cup each chopped mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, and cauliflower. Add 1/2 cup chopped, seasoned canned tomatoes, drained. Cook until crisp-tender. Spoon vegetables onto two 6-inch whole-grain tortillas. Top each with a slice of part-skim mozzarella or provolone; broil until cheese melts.
- 2 ounces hummus and 10 baby carrots
- Rosemary Chicken: Brush half a chicken breast with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary. Cover with foil; bake at 350 degrees F. for about 20 minutes. Season 3 cooked red potatoes with 1 teaspoon olive oil, plus garlic powder and rosemary to taste. Roast 10 spears of asparagus with 1 teaspoon olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper at 450 degrees F. for 5 minutes.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, May 2008.
If you find yourself reaching for a super-strength coffee to get you through the afternoon slump, you’re not alone. Low-level fatigue that lasts all day is so common in our society that many doctors use an acronym to describe the symptom – TATT (‘Tired All The Time’). While it’s always worth visiting your GP to rule out any medical conditions, paying close attention to your diet and lifestyle can really help you feel more alert and energetic throughout the day.
Our Healthy Diet Plans are designed to help maintain energy levels, as they’re packed with healthy fats, lean protein and slow-release carbs. If you haven’t already, sign up today for free online access to the plan.
We asked nutritionist Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT for her three top tips to boost your energy throughout the day, plus how the recipes from our latest Healthy Diet Plan can help you achieve your goal.
Three tips for boosting energy levels
1. Eat slow-release carbs
Choose slow-release carbs such as oats, as well as wholegrain versions of bread, rice and pasta – these supply a steady source of fuel for the body so you don’t end up running on empty. In our Healthy Diet Plan, we’ve focused on slow-release carbs in wholegrain pasta dishes and some of the breakfasts, which include fruity muesli and savoury oatcakes with mushrooms. Sign up to get all the recipes.
2. Balance your macros
‘Macros’ or ‘macronutrients’ refer to carbs, protein and fat. Even if you choose slow-release carbs, such as wholegrain varieties, eating too much of them can make you feel lethargic. All the recipes in our Healthy Diet Plan are designed to provide a good balance between complex carbs and healthy fats – such as those in nuts, seeds and avocado – as well as lean protein, such as beans, fish and leaner cuts of red meat like pork (pictured above).
3. Get enough quality sleep
This one may be obvious, but it’s easy to forget about! Don’t attempt to burn the candle at both ends – adequate rest is crucial for supporting energy levels. Try our top tips for a good night’s sleep.
Enjoyed this? Get more health tips
Sign up for our free Healthy Diet Plan for January 2020
How to eat for more energy
What does low-GI mean?
All our free Healthy Diet Plans
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. Any healthy diet plan featured by BBC Good Food is provided as a suggestion of a general balanced diet and should not be relied upon to meet specific dietary requirements. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.
The No-Diet Diet: Your New Healthy-Eating Plan
First things first: To start eating a more nutritious diet (and stay with it), you need the right mind-set. And as anyone who has abandoned a meal plan after day three can attest, that’s no easy trick. How do you get yourself to choose virtue over comfort—a side of roasted cauliflower over French fries, or a bowl of berries over cheesecake? Real Simple posed that question to the leaders in healthy eating (the scientists, the authors, and the chefs who walk the walk every day), who came up with these six smart, totally doable strategies.
Make your plate pretty. “Presentation is important,” says Alice Waters, the owner of Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, California, and the author of In the Green Kitchen ($28, amazon.com). “Think of a farmers’ market: The way that vendors put produce in boxes and arrange the radishes is enticing. It’s an artistic experience.” Waters suggests trying to create that same visual seduction when putting together your own dishes at home. That way, eating dinner will be a sensory treat in more ways than one.
Try to remember exactly how bad you felt after the last time you ordered onion rings. To thwart unfortunate cravings, Michael Pollan, author of the every-bite-you-eat-counts bible Food Rules ($11, amazon.com), summons a memory of his last foray into junk food. “When I don’t eat well, I don’t feel good, so it’s a self-reinforcing process,” he says. Case in point: “The last time I ate a highly processed meal, I was up all night, thirsty from the salt and vaguely nauseated by the fillers and additives. On the other hand, when I eat real food, I feel good and get plenty of sleep.”
Make meaningful associations with healthy food. “Training yourself to stop craving salty, sugary, and fatty foods can’t be a cognitive process alone,” says David Kessler, a former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the author of The End of Overeating ($16, amazon.com). “It has to be emotional, too.” That’s where your imagination comes in. Many of us connect positive, nostalgic feelings with unhealthy foods. (A corn dog might conjure a childhood memory of a summer day at a carnival.) Try to make equally affirmative connotations with good-for-you dishes. (Think of your grandmother’s legendary vegetable soup.) “Once you activate that circuitry, you’ll be able to recognize that this desire for junk is simply your brain playing a trick on you. That realization allows you to move on to better things to eat,” says Kessler.
Always have fresh—and long-lasting—stuff in your refrigerator. “I get nervous if I don’t have a vegetable available to put on my plate,” says Martha Rose Shulman, author of The Very Best of Recipes for Health ($35, amazon.com). “So I make sure to keep the sturdiest produce on hand: Carrots, red cabbage, bell peppers, and romaine lettuce all last for up to a week.”
Got to have steak? Save it for dinner. If reducing the amount of meat you eat is your goal, treat the protein like a side dish. Or, says Mark Bittman, author of The Food Matters Cookbook ($35, amazon.com), skip the bacon at breakfast and chicken salad at lunch in order to enjoy a juicy fillet at night—guilt-free. “I eat a vegan diet until 6 p.m. and then whatever I want for dinner,” says Bittman. “That can be an elaborate restaurant feast or a simple meal at home. There’s nothing wrong with eating steak or other rich dishes, as long as you’re eating plants most of the time.”
Always eat dessert. (Tough advice, we know.) Marlene Schwartz, the deputy director of the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, in New Haven, Connecticut, says it’s a rule in her family. “My kids can have one dessert every day,” she says. “This is how we teach balance and moderation.” So go ahead and have that (small) dish of ice cream. Everyone needs a little decadence now and then.
Anatomy of a Healthy Meal
Once, we were told that eating nutritiously simply required choosing from four basic groups (meat, fish, and legumes; dairy; grains; vegetables and fruits). Today the model is different, but the math is just as easy to remember: Half your plate should contain vegetables and fruits; one-quarter should be lean protein; and the last quarter, whole grains.
Why the shift? “We consume way more protein than our bodies need and get less than half the vegetables and fruits we should,” says Marissa Lippert, a registered dietitian and the author of The Cheater’s Diet ($17, amazon.com). Produce is loaded with essential vitamins and antioxidants. It also has lots of fiber, which prevents blood-sugar spikes (so you don’t get hungry again right away), says Lisa Drayer, a registered dietitian, a nutritionist, and the author of The Beauty Diet ($23, amazon.com). Lean protein (salmon, chicken) makes you feel full longer. And whole grains, like barley and bulgur, are nutrient-packed alternatives to processed carbs. The final component: healthy plant-based fats, found in olive oil and avocados, which are unsaturated and cholesterol-free, unlike the old animal fats.
For the super foods you should include in your meals, see The 30 Healthiest Foods. And for healthy recipes that incorporate a number of super foods, see Four Delicious, Balanced Meals.
A month of healthy meal plans
The new year is the time to start as you mean to go on, so our nutritionist Chrissy Freer has created a month of healthy meal plans especially for January. To reap instant rewards, she recommends you kickstart with a calorie-counted meal plan at 1200 calories a day – the magic number for safe weight loss. You don’t have to skip the snacks, because they provide you with daily nutrients and sustenance to keep you satisfied. After the month of calorie-controlled eating, we’ll have more meal plans to help you eat healthy food that’s still budget-friendly, quick, easy and delicious.
Like the look of the meal plan but want to mix it up? Go ahead, as long as you swap like for like, ie dinner for dinner, brekky for brekky and so on.
Be aware there may be a slight variance in overall daily calorie counts (around
100 or so calories).
7-day kickstart plan
Kickstart your month of healthy eating with this easy meal plan which features delicious crispy lemongrass fish, grilled beef salad and beautiful baked egg breakfast pots.
Healthy menu plan 1
Keep up your momentum with our second healthy menu plan. It includes a hearty spaghetti dinner, the much-loved sweet potato and zucchini slice as well as a banana pancake breakfast.
Healthy menu plan 2
This week includes a colourful frittata, spicy chilli pasta and a healthy smoked salmon pizza.
Health menu plan 3
Our final week features family favourites like toasted tortillas, chilli chicken stir-fry and juicy lamb cutlets.
Healthy menu plan 4
Steps to success
Here’s how to really ramp up the results.
Get moving: Increase your daily steps – aim for 10,000 steps or more per day.
Buddy up: Get support – invite a friend to do the meal plan with you
Stay hydrated: Aim for eight glasses of water per day. For flavour, add fresh lemon, lime, mint leaves or slices of ginger. Herbal teas also count.
Skip the sugary drinks and alcohol, as they’ll add extra calories. Or, swap your sweet treat for a small glass of wine.
Limit caffeinated drinks to just one coffee or tea per day with a dash of milk, and skip the sugar.
Relax! If you slip up, don’t give up. Just get back on track the next day or with the next meal.
Here at 8fit, we love hearing your feedback and learning how we can help you live a healthier, happier life. That’a where this one-week meal plan comes in — you asked for quick, easy meals and we delivered.
Many of the simple recipes in this plan require zero cooking and only 10 minutes of your time, meaning you can healthy eating into the busiest of schedules. Add these meals to your 8fit meal plan and you’ll reach your weight loss, muscle gain or fitness goals in a sustainable, healthy way.
Here’s how to add them to your plan:
Open the 8fit app
Go to your meal screen
Click on the meal you want to change and click “change”
Search for the recipe you love from the 10 minutes or less easy healthy meal plan
Select it… and that’s it!
Repeat for each meal
No time to input each meal into the app? No stress — just wing it! We show you the ingredients you need for each recipe and you can follow the serving size recommendations for the ones that come in packaging, then use your best judgment for others. What’s great is that this simple meal plan is full of nutritious, wholesome foods, so as long as you eat slowly and mindfully, you can still reach your wellness goals.
Fun note! These recipes weren’t chosen at random — in fact, this is based on data collected from people like you. We tracked which meals 8fitters cook most often and considered options for all different food preferences out there (i.e. standard, vegetarian and vegan alike). We hope you love every meal.
Easy weekly meal plan
This easy healthy meal plan was designed with Y-O-U in mind. After doing a little research on what meals 8fitters love most, we grouped recipes that, 1. Are ready in 10 minutes or less, and 2. Have reoccurring ingredients to make shopping and meal prep easy.
Soaked oats with orange
Banana & almond yogurt on bread
Creamy oats with apple
Broccoli, apple & walnut salad
Black bean salad with avocado & goat cheese
Smashed chickpea & avocado sandwich
Chicken & avocado burrito
Smashed white beans on bread
Avocado cucumber & chicken sandwich
Tuna hummus wrap
Mexican tofu & broccoli wrap
Cheese, apple & nuts
Carrot & cucumber with almond butter
Crackers with cheese & fruit
Hummus, carrots & walnuts
Save, print, pin, email — whatever! — the meal plan below.
You can repeat one breakfast, one lunch, one dinner, and one snack all week long to make things easy. Or, do what we like to do, and cook a few meals 2-3 days in a row and then switch meals out for fresh recipes. If you’re ambitious (or get bored easily) try a new combination daily.
Repeating meals — especially breakfast and lunch — day-to-day makes healthy eating easier. Our best advice is to prep a few portions of breakfast and lunch together to grab on-the-go in the mornings on the way to work, school, or your other daily obligations.
Make cooking easier and more enjoyable
Food doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious and nutritious. Adding seasoning and spices to your meals works wonders — plus they have incredible health benefits such as antioxidant properties and a plethora of vitamins and minerals. We highly suggest adding your favorite spices (i.e. basil, rosemary, oregano, turmeric, cinnamon, etc.) to the recipes on your 10 minutes or less meal plan. We also encourage seasonings such as vinegar, mustard, lime, lemon, and hot sauce, all of which are low in calories.
Here is some inspiration:
Banana & almond yogurt on bread topped with cinnamon and nutmeg
Broccoli, apple & walnut salad drizzled with apple cider vinegar, mixed herb, and mustard dressing
Hummus, carrots & walnuts improved with red pepper, garlic powder, and salt in the hummus (get a recipe)
Another pro tip: Reduce cost and food waste by using what’s already in your kitchen. Most vegetables can be replaced by others — and never be shy to add extra veggies they are low in calories and high in nutrients. Fresh fruits like apples, pears, citrus, and berries can also be swapped for one another. In addition to fresh produce, nuts and seeds can be interchanged with a 1:1. If you’re vegan, we have even more swaps for you here.
10 minutes or less to make your day great again
If you’re not able to commit to a whole new meal plan, no problem! Every step is a step in the right direction. Thank and congratulate yourself for taking the first steps and always remember to start with small goals such as introducing one meal per day. We recommend that you start with breakfasts and snacks.