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Examples of Heathy Balanced Meals with 6 Simple Planning Hacks

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Disclaimer: I like leftovers. When I plan my general meals for the week I like to make larger quantities and eat what I make for dinner for lunch or dinner the next day. Meal planning doesn’t have to be difficult. Finding different ways to use prepped food makes it easy to shop simply and still make a variety of meals.

6 tips to follow for balanced meal planning 

1) Buy Your Staples First

There are some items I like to keep on hand for quick easy meals. Some are shelf stable or frozen which makes it easy to have ready when needed. Some of my pantry staples are

  • canned beans,
  • canned chicken/tuna,
  • quinoa/rice,
  • oats and
  • pasta.

Some of my fridge and freezer staples are

  • eggs,
  • plain Greek yogurt,
  • ground turkey,
  • frozen fruit and
  • frozen mixed veggies.

2. Plan to Use Ingredients in More Than One Dish

When meal planning I like to have ingredients I can use for more than one meal. For example. If I am making Spaghetti with steamed broccoli, I won’t cook all the broccoli, I can use the rest to have with dip as a snack or sautéed for a side with chicken. 

3. Plan Ahead When Cooking Meat

The majority of the time defrosting, marinating and cooking meat is the most time consuming part of cooking a meal. Because of this I like to start my meal plans with the meat I want to cook that week. Repurpose meat for the week, use half of the chicken you bake or grill with one meal and use the other half to add to salads, soup or a casserole. (my list of prepped proteins here)

You can do this with other meats too:

  • Use ground turkey for spaghetti, tacos, meatloaf or chili
  • Bake fish and have with steamed veggies and then use it for fish tacos the next night

4. You Don’t have to Buy Every Vegetable Every Week

Once you have a basic idea of at least three meals you want to make that week you can piece together the other items needed. I like to use veggies that I can make into multiple dishes or have as different seasoned sides. Some examples of my favorites include zucchini, bell pepper, potatoes, broccoli, spinach, carrots and onions.

  • Roast potatoes, have some as a side to meatloaf and use the leftovers as a side to eggs
  • Add spinach to salads, pasta sauces, omelets and to smoothies
  • Sauté peppers and zucchini to go on chicken fajitas, as a side to fish or make into a chicken quinoa salad

5. Don’t Make Extra of Everything

Grains are easier to make without having extras. I try and only make the amount needed for the meal. Storing grains well can help you not worry about using only part of the package of pasta or other grains.

6. Fresh, Frozen, Canned or Dried Work

I like to use a combination of fresh and frozen or canned fruit during the week. I like to try and buy fruit that is in season, it’s normally cheaper and has great flavor. If I have fresh fruit that is going bad like bananas I will freeze them to use later. 

  • Frozen mango make a great treat
  • Dried berries are great on oatmeal
  • Applesauce is tasty with peanut butter on pancakes

Here’s a sample 7 day meal outlines to eat and use leftovers

I find the best way to plan balanced meals is to plan ways to have items prepared ahead of time. You may not cook veggies for every meal, but you can reheat them to use for your next meal.

Monday

  • Oatmeal with berries and nuts
  • Eggs with onion and bell pepper
  • Rotisserie chicken with steamed veggies and rice
example of balanced meals day 1

Tuesday

  • Toast with peanut butter and a banana
  • Chicken and Veggie soup with toast
  • Yogurt and fruit
day two example of balanced meals

Wednesday

  • Protein Smoothie and toast
  • Bean and Chicken burrito with veggies and dip
  • Taco salad with ground turkey, beans, rice and veggies
Day 3 balanced meal examples

Thursday

I think eating what sounds good even if it’s not the stereotypical breakfast of dinner is a great way to eat balanced.

For example, under Thursday on the list I out down having a salad and a protein smoothie. It may sound like an odd combination, but for me I like having a lighter salad and having a protein smoothie as a dessert that is also adding to my protein intake and helping the day be balanced.

So, for Thursday, I have:

  • Yogurt and granola with fruit
  • Taco salad with ground turkey
  • Protein Smoothie and salad with fruit and nuts
day 4 meal plan example

Friday

  • Oatmeal with fruit and protein powder
  • Bean and Chicken burrito with veggies and dip
  • Spaghetti and salad
day 5 healthy balanced meals

Saturday

Not everyday has to be perfect, you can see Saturday I plan on having spaghetti for both lunch and dinner, and that’s fine. The days will balance themselves out when there is a variety of foods eaten.

  • Pancakes with fruit and yogurt
  • Spaghetti and salad 
  • Spaghetti and salad and toast
day 6 balanced meal examples

Sunday

  • Toast with nut butter and apple
  • Grilled chicken with quinoa and roasted veggies
  • Eggs with roasted veggies and quinoa
day 7 eggs quinoa and roasted veggie

You may have also noticed that there are about five main meals for the 14 lunches and dinners. Keeping it simple and using/eating leftovers is a great way to plan and eat balanced meals. 

Planning balanced meals can be a combination of simple quick meals, leftover and even combined snacks. Having a plan helps you have enough of the right ingredients without wasting food.

For more meal ideas check out these recipes and meal plans.

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7 day example of balanced meals

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