Planning menus for optimum health involves eating whole foods for the wide variety of vitamins and minerals, and eating all three macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat) in appropriate portions for steady blood sugar. We refer to the main meal components as protein, whole grains, vegetables and fruits.
We have provided some menus, but also want to give you the tools to plan your own. In this section you will find guidelines including specific ideas for meals and snacks. Use the links for more information about these components, specific food choices and preparation methods for foods used less commonly.
- That you understand enough about the food categories so you can easily make substitutions to fit your preferences (i.e. we may list broccoli in a suggested meal, but you might choose to substitute cauliflower or green beans).
- That you get a sense of what a balanced plate looks like at each meal. Lunch without a vegetable? Something's missing. No fruit today? Add it after dinner. The HSPH Healthy Eating Plate is also a good guideline for what foods you should be putting on your plate.
- That you learn how to prepare foods that are commonly avoided because many people don't know what to do with them (for example, Tofu, Tempeh, Greens, Fish).
Here are some meal ideas, for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. We've also included suggestions of foods you can use to alternate, to satisfy your personal preferences.
Breakfast: (Protein + Whole Grain + Fruit )
- Scrambled egg, whole wheat toast, orange
- Peanut butter on whole wheat toast, cantaloupe
- Omelette with cheese, whole wheat toast, strawberries
- Rolled oats (cooked in soy milk), topped with raisins and 1/4 cup of nuts
- Cottage cheese, fresh blueberries, 1/4 cup of granola
Lunch: ( Protein + Whole Grain + Vegetable )
- Grilled chicken sandwich, made with whole wheat bread, tomato, lettuce and onion with a side of greens.
- Chef salad (fresh spinach, red leaf lettuce, tofu, tomato, broccoli, cheese), olive oil & vinaigrette, whole grain roll
- Hummus, whole wheat pita bread, tomato, red pepper, salad greens
- Tuna with celery, salad greens, whole wheat pita
- Minestrone soup, turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread
- Pita pizza (use whole wheat pita as crust, top with marinara sauce, mozzarella) topped with red, yellow & green peppers
- Black beans and salsa on a corn tortilla, broccoli
- Chicken or fish curry, brown rice and side salad
- Egg salad sandwich on whole grain bread, carrots
- Sliced steak or pork, soba noodles, stir-fried vegetables
Snack: ( Protein + Whole Grain + Fruit )
- Cheese & whole crackers
- Peanut butter & apple
- Almonds & pear
- Cottage cheese & whole grain crackers with pineapple
- Hummus & pita chips or carrots
- Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup of granola
- Banana and almond butter
- Pistachios & orange
- Guacamole and sliced peppers
Dinner: (Protein + Whole Grain + Vegetable )
- Tofu stir-fry (chicken, carrots, snow peas, broccoli) and brown rice
- Vegetable lasagna, made with tempeh, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, onions, tomato sauce and cheese
- Pizza (whole wheat crust, fresh or sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, chicken pieces), mixed greens salad
- Dinner salad: mixed greens, tomatoes, broccoli, tuna, chickpeas, cheese, balsamic vinegar and oil for dressing
- Black bean burger, whole wheat roll, cheese, tomato, mixed greens, avocado
- Whole wheat pasta with chicken, garlic, fresh tomato, chopped spinach
- Tortilla with beans, cheese, salsa, pepper, red onion, avocado
- Salmon, baked sweet potato, steamed asparagus