If you are trying to lose a few pounds or are concentrating on feeding your family lower calorie meals, you may be concerned that a low-calorie meal plan will be boring, tasteless and hard to implement. Fortunately, making low-calorie meals using the right seasonings and ingredients is simple, economical and a process your whole family can enjoy.
The simplest way to get your low-calorie meals ready to serve is to plan ahead. When you and your family are together one evening, ask everyone to share their favorite main dishes, vegetables and what types of breads or grains they enjoy. Using their ideas will give you a chance to make the next month's meals enjoyable and appealing for everyone. When following a low-calorie diet, remember that adult women should not drop below 1,200 calories per day and the lowest level for grown men is 1,500 calories daily. Young children should not reduce their caloric intake without a doctor's approval.
As a busy woman, keep your morning meals simple and quick-to-prepare. Your family will appreciate the option of choosing between two or three varieties of healthy cereals such as shredded wheat, whole-grain puffed cereal or crunchy bran and fruit cereal. Cut-up peaches, bananas or strawberries add a burst of flavor and just a few calories. Warm yourself up in the morning with oatmeal sweetened with honey and cinnamon, a whole-grain waffle or an egg-white omelet with sliced green peppers, onions and fat-free cheddar cheese. Add flavor without adding too many calories by scrambling a tablespoon of light creamy dressing into the egg whites. Eating whole grains or protein for breakfast will help you stay full and satisfied until it is time for lunch.
Your lunch menus will vary depending on your family's lifestyle, the ages of your children and how often you dine out. Packable low-calorie lunches include reduced-calorie bread spread with mustard, light dressing or hummus. Add your favorite sandwich fillings such as lean turkey, an assortment of sliced raw vegetables or 3 oz. of sliced, grilled chicken. Make large salads on Monday, and give each of your family members a salad for lunch. For kids, add croutons, cheese and a boiled egg for added nutrition. Keep your salad calories low by adding 0.5 oz. of sunflower seeds, your favorite light dressing and the whites from a boiled egg. Be sure to add a fruit with each person's lunch, and drink milk or eat a small container of fat-free Greek yogurt to make sure you get enough dairy each day.
Make planning your dinner meals easy by designating each week night as a different type of meal. Choose from vegetarian, pasta, Mexican, breakfast-for-dinner, Asian, Thai, southern food or add your family's preferences. Fill up half of your plate with a salad or other vegetable, one-quarter of your plate with a grain and the other quarter with a protein in order to keep your calories low, yet meet your food requirements. For Mexican, put black beans on a corn tortilla, top with cheese and bake in the oven. When serving pasta or brown rice, watch your serving size to avoid eating too many calories. Use oils sparingly, but season your food with herbs from your kitchen garden, marinate your meat in light creamy dressing and add flavorful garlic or onion to your foods.