Easy Recipes to Include The 5 Food Groups for a Balanced Diet

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For optimal health, you’ll want to be eating food from the 5 food groups; Vegetables, fruit, protein, grains, and dairy. But sometimes, you just need ideas on what to eat to make that happen. Here are some easy recipes to eat from the 5 food groups!

A common question I get is, “how do I include more of this particular food group?”.

We all struggle having a balanced diet. It can be hard, and sometimes feels like you’re just adding extra food you wouldn’t normally include just to have all the groups such as an apple with your spaghetti.

If you are including the 5 food groups at each meal (veggies, fruit, protein, grains, and dairy), that’s great, and I’d like to know how you do it. For the rest of us, try to include every food group at least once or twice a day, this may mean you have multiple servings of vegetables at lunch and dinner since you didn’t have any at breakfast. It’s the average of the day and week that is important.

the 5 food groups veggies fruits protein grains and dairy

To help, I broke down the 5 food groups, with prep ideas and recipes to help. 

1) Vegetables

Food group number 1 the vegetable group
Food group number 1, the Vegetable Group

For many of us, we think of vegetables as the classic side to a protein in a meal, such as a chicken breast with broccoli. But vegetables can be swapped for a grain and even added to recipes. (click here for printable list of vegetables with calories)

Prepping vegetables is key for this. If I have veggies I want to include in other meals I’ll roast some to have on hand to add to things, or slice up raw veggies to have for a quick snack. 

My favorite meals to include more from the veggie food group include

2) Fruit

Food group number 2 the Fruit Group
Food group number 2: Fruits

Fruit can also be similar to vegetables in that we often think of them as a side, or even as a snack, but not with a meal. Here’s two ways I like to use the fruit group as part of a balanced meal. (click here for a printable list of fruit)

  • FRUIT WITH LUNCH Fall Grilled Chicken Peach Salad Recipe I love adding fruit to fall salads in the summer and fall. This recipe is a great way to include multiple food groups, veggies, fruit and protein. It makes a great meal to prepare for tomorrow’s lunch.
  • FRUIT FOR DESSERT 3 Ingredient Best Protein Berry Ice Cream Recipe I like using nature’s sweeteners for desserts. This recipe is a great way to include a whole cup of fruit in a dessert and can also make a filling snack with protein to help satisfy hunger. 

3) Protein

Food group number 3 the protein group
Food group 3, the Protein group

There are lots of ways to include protein, beans, meat, some dairy, and supplements such as protein power/bars. I included two recipes that can be prepped ahead of time and can be altered with different seasoning, veggies and sides. 

4) Grain

Food group number 4 the grains group
Food group number 4, Grains

There are so many options out there to include grains. Although many of these are not whole grains, which have more protein and are richer in nutrients such a B vitamins and fiber.

5) Dairy 

Food group number 5 the Dairy Group
Food group 5, the Dairy Group

Greek yogurt is one of my favorite ways to include dairy. It’s flexible to be used in different types of recipes, if you buy plain you can flavor it however you’d like and you don’t have to worry about it molding in your fridge if you don’t eat it within 3 days.  (click here for a printable list of protein foods)

Including each food group has to be a conscious effort, but doesn’t have to be hard. These recipes are quick and simple to prepare. Plus, most of these recipes can be prepared beforehand, helping you eat healthy throughout the day. 

Let me know! What’s your favorite way to include all the food groups in your day?

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the five food groups for easy meal ideas and recipes

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