Recently, I wrote a column highlighting a sample 2000 calorie meal plan. The plan was for one or two days, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Since meal ideas and meal planning are some of the hottest topics in nutrition today, I would like to offer another day’s worth of menu ideas on the same 2000 calorie meal plan level.
Variety is important to optimal wellness, so it is vital that you change up your eating routine regularly. This will help improve absorption of all the different nutrients and ensure that you are not deficient in any, either. Plus, if you eat the same thing day after day, you are likely to get burned out on certain flavors and then may even lose interest in eating healthfully.
So, here is another’s day’s worth of meal and snack ideas. Since there were a few alternatives offered already, you can now mix up the choices offered in my previous post with these selections and spread it out across several days.
Breakfast: 2 scrambled egg whites with 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese on top, a whole grain English muffin with 1 tablespoon of fruit preserves or honey (or 2 tsp peanut butter), ½ cup of fresh fruit (such as a tangerine or plum) and water.
Snack: Chocolate or regular milk box (you can buy multipacks of organic cows or soy milk at the grocery store) with 5 natural animal crackers (i.e. Harris Teeter Naturals Organic Vanilla Animal Crackers)
Lunch: Mixed greens salad with 1 cup fresh vegetables on top (i.e. carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.), ½ cup black beans or chick peas, 1.5 oz feta cheese (try the Athenos Reduced Fat Crumbled Feta), 4-5 medium boiled or grilled shrimp or estimate about 2 ounces (adding the shrimp is optional, but helps to add more protein; alternative=chicken/deli meat/tofu), 2 tbsp light vinaigrette and whole grain roll (such as Alexia whole wheat frozen rolls). Drink ½ cup 100% juice mixed with water, seltzer or unsweetened decaf iced tea.
Snack: 1 cup strawberries or 1 peach. Drink water.
Dinner: 1 cup whole grain pasta, ½ cup tomato sauce, ½ cup cooked vegetables in the sauce (such as onions, mushrooms, peppers), 3 oz sautéed chicken, 2 tbsp mozzarella cheese on top, ½ cup cooked broccoli or a side salad on the side with 1 tsp olive oil, slice of whole grain garlic toast and milk or water to drink.
Dessert: 1/2 oz dark chocolate (such as Dagoba or Green & Black’s) or ¾ cup lowfat ice cream or a lowfat frozen ice cream bar or frozen fruit bar
The menu options above promote natural, whole foods, rather than a lot of processed, pre-packaged foods. However, if you have trouble finding time to prepare the options above, there are some pre-cooked meals at your grocery store or at local restaurants that could serve as alternatives to home cooked meals. For instance, if you prefer not to make your own chicken & pasta meal, you could purchase a frozen dinner. Watch out for added sodium, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and added artificial ingredients. Kashi or Amy’s Organic frozen meals are two healthy brand choices. Several others exist, too. At lunchtime, you could purchase a fast food salad such as Wendy’s oriental chicken salad or Chick fil A’s chargrilled chicken salad. Both come with healthy toppings such as nuts – be sure to include those on your salad and select a lowfat dressing. Try not to forget the carbohydrate source at lunch if you select a salad to-go. Examples include a crouton packet, small roll or fruit.
You can make mealtime healthful and balanced. It just takes learning the ingredients and a little practice!