Everyone's dietary needs are a little different, but eating well and sticking to a balanced diet is something from which all people can benefit. If you're trying to lose weight, maintain your current weight or just pay more attention to what you're serving your family, a daily meal plan with plenty of natural healthy foods can help you get on track and stay there.
Weight-Loss Meal Plan
You don't have to make your whole family suffer through flavorless meals if you're trying to lose the pounds. Start your day off with a hearty bang -- wrap a whole-wheat tortilla around scrambled egg whites, black beans and fat-free tomato salsa. Give this breakfast wrap some extra oomph by mixing some ranch-flavored dry mix into the eggs. Wash it down with a small cup of orange juice. If mornings are too hectic to cook, go with wheat toast, peanut butter and a piece of fruit; cold cereal, milk and a piece of fruit; or a strawberry smoothie with low-fat yogurt and wheat germ. At lunch, try extra-lean roast beef or turkey on wheat toast with lettuce, tomato, mushrooms and low-fat mozzarella or light creamy dressing. Try a small baked sweet potato on the side. For dinner, enjoy broiled salmon covered with bread crumbs and chopped onion and celery or a small (5-oz.) serving of grilled sirloin. Serve with a side of brown rice sprinkled with almond slivers and chopped steamed broccoli or homemade mashed potatoes. Season the meat with a ranch seasoning mix, and turn the rice dish into a kid-friendly treat by mixing it together with a creamy dressing.
Weight-Maintenance Meal Plan
If you're at a healthy weight, maintaining it is all you need to do. Start your day with a healthy dose of protein -- an egg-white omelet with ranch-flavored dry mix, low-fat shredded cheese and chopped veggies with a slice of rye toast will set you up for the morning. At lunch, try to go light -- try a grilled chicken breast with lettuce, tomato and light Italian or creamy dressing on a wheat bun with a side salad topped with raw veggies and a light ranch dressing; or opt for broiled fish over brown rice and broccoli. Keep the rice moist and the broccoli flavorful with a light creamy dressing. Fight afternoon hunger pangs with peanut butter and a few wheat crackers or a banana and a cup of Greek yogurt. In the evening, keep it lean; mix extra-lean ground beef with chopped veggies and mold it into a burger patty. Grill it and enjoy it as a steak. For the kids, serve it as a hamburger, on a bun with lettuce, tomato, and ketchup or ranch dressing. Add raw baby carrots with light creamy dressing for dipping, roasted corn on the cob and parboiled white rice or a small baked potato.
Active Meal Plan
If you're extra active, you need more complex carbs, fat and protein to keep your energy up. Have a scoop of whey protein in the morning with two whole eggs and a small bowl of plain oatmeal (add 1/2 cup of berries if you need extra flavor). Keep your strength up mid-morning with low-fat mozzarella string cheese and a cup of plain fat-free yogurt. At noon, combine canned drained tuna with chopped lettuce, whole-wheat cooked macaroni noodles and light creamy dressing for a lean, filling lunch. If you need an afternoon snack, have 1/2 cup of shredded white-meat chicken atop a piece of rye toast spread with a light creamy dressing. Go with grouper or tilapia in the evening. Pair it with pinto beans and a cup of strawberry halves. Or season it with ranch-flavored dry mix and make fish tacos. Provide tortillas, lettuce, tomato, avocado, grated cheese and salsa.
Vegetarian Meal Plan
If you've cut out meat, you'll need to find other sources of lean protein. For breakfast, go with flavored oatmeal and berries, cold cereal with a banana or an omelet made with chopped veggies. Have 1 oz. of your favorite cheese or a little hummus with a large lettuce leaf for a snack. When lunchtime arrives, have a large mixed-green salad topped with grilled tofu and creamy dressing, or a soy burger and a cup of baked potato wedges. Baby carrots and cucumber strips with ranch dressing will make your afternoon munchies go away until dinner. In the evening, have black beans seasoned with ranch-flavored dry mix. Pair the beans with a bowl of miso soup and vegetable sushi rolls.