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Weekly 1,600-Calorie Meal Plans

by Michelle Powell-Smith

Losing weight requires that you consume fewer calories than you burn. Unfortunately, counting calories takes time and making separate meals for you and your family is inconvenient. This 1600-calorie meal plan keeps your diet on track, and you can easily serve many of these dishes to the whole family, saving you time and trouble. Mix and match meals and snacks to keep variety in your meals throughout the week.

Breakfast

Aim for 300 to 400 calories at breakfast, counting creamer in your coffee or your morning juice. Choose a breakfast that includes whole grains, protein, and fruits or vegetables. Top two slices of whole wheat toast or two whole grain waffles with a mixture of fruit and nuts, such as 1/2 cup fresh mashed berries and 1 oz. of walnuts or 1 tbsp. of almond butter and a thinly sliced pear. Layer 6 oz. of nonfat yogurt, 3/4 cup of berries and 1 oz. of granola for a tasty parfait. If you have more time, top one whole wheat English muffin with two scrambled eggs and 1/2 cup of spinach along with a cup of fresh fruit or cook a two egg omelet with fresh vegetables, 1/4 cup of feta cheese and 1 tsp. of olive oil with fresh fruit on the side. If you need breakfast on the go, try a breakfast sandwich on an English muffin or oatmeal with fruit and nuts. A small nonfat latte is a wise addition if you're getting breakfast to go.

Lunch

If you're consuming 1600 calories a day, choose lunches with 400 to 500 calories. You can pack lunch or grab lunch on the go and stick to your diet. Make a sandwich on whole grain bread, a whole-wheat tortilla or in a whole wheat pita with lean meat, a slice of low fat cheese, and plenty of vegetables. Have a piece of fruit along with your sandwich. As an alternative, toss greens with 1 cup of chopped chicken breast or water-packed tofu, fresh vegetables and 2 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar or fat-free salad dressing and enjoy it with a whole-grain roll. Add fiber to your diet by combining 3/4 cup seasoned black beans, salsa, fresh vegetables, and 1/5 of an avocado. Spread on two small whole wheat tortillas. If you enjoy frozen diet meals, round out these low-calorie options with fresh vegetables and hummus, yogurt, or a piece of fruit. A bean or broth-based soup and side salad are a healthy choice, either brought from home or picked up at a deli. If you're eating out, look for calorie-controlled menus or opt for a salad with fat-free or low-fat dressing.

Dinner

You can opt for soup, salad, pasta or a classic meat and potatoes meal for dinner, but portion control matters. Dinner should be around 500 calories to allow room for healthy snacks during the day and evening, but it can still be a meal the whole family will enjoy. Soup and sandwiches will appeal to the kids, but can fit your diet if you keep the sandwich light or replace it with a salad and fat-free dressing. Have whole wheat spaghetti with the family, but limit yourself to one cup and add extra vegetables. You can also opt for 2/3 cup of whole grains, a 4 oz. portion of fish or chicken, and 1 1/2 cups of fresh vegetables, served traditionally or arranged in a bowl with salsa or a light or fat-free dressing. Top a tortilla or a thin whole grain pizza crust with sauce, lean protein or beans, vegetables, and a light sprinkle of low-fat cheese and grill or broil. Season chicken, beans, or fish and wrap up in tortillas with fresh vegetables and fat-free dressing. If the family wants burgers, opt for turkey or vegetarian burgers on whole grain rolls. Have yours with a light slaw or salad in place of fries. Serve your meals to everyone, allowing extra condiments, side dishes or additional cheese for the rest of the family.

Snacks and Dessert

You can have two to three 100 to 150 calorie snacks a day on a 1600-calorie diet. Look for snacks with some protein to help you stay full and energized throughout the day. Try a piece of fruit and an ounce of nuts or 6 oz. of nonfat Greek yogurt, a small serving of whole grain crackers and a stick of string cheese, or 1/4 cup of hummus with fresh vegetables. Packaged 100-calorie snacks are an easy option for your desk at work. If you want a sweet treat, you'll find some reduced calorie, low-fat ice cream, pudding and other snacks in your grocery store.

About the Author

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.

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