This guide is written to help the many, many people who struggle every Sunday with thinking up meal plans for the next week.
Perhaps you are single and cook only for yourself, so making elaborate meals feels like too much work when you are home from a busy day at the office, and it's just you you are feeding. Or perhaps you want to make sure you don't end up just eating the same chicken nuggets and carrots that you feed your little ones each night. Maybe you are trying to save money but find you always end up dropping by the deli on your way home or getting takeout because you don't have anything planned for dinner?
I always think planning meals is the hardest part. Once you have a plan, it's easy to shop for the ingredients - and if you don't have time to do that, most grocery stores offer a delivery service now if you know what to order - and then if you can find one day in your week where you have a little extra time, you just need to do a little meal prep and it's easier than ever to enjoy nutritious, filling and delicious meals.
One problem I continue to experience in my life (and I know I am not alone, thanks to the numerous friends, family and clients who tell me the same), is making sure I get enough protein (especially as a pescetarian) and veggies on my plate.
Here is my formula for a healthy meal - I try to ensure I eat at least two meals a day that follow this formula:
- 1/2 of my plate = veggies
- 1/4 of my plate = protein
- 1/4 of my plate = a higher-carb food such as starches, grains, etc.
- Final touches = fibre and healthy fat
Following this formula, what I have done is listed suggestions for each component below, and then you can just mix and match!
If you find you want to supplement with snacks and treats that are healthy, too, I have listed those at the end.
Each Sunday, just pick a few items from each of these lists, prepare and store in the fridge. Easy to enjoy healthy meals are at your fingertips, every night of the week. (I actually wrote out each item on the list below onto slips of paper and stashed them in jars called VEGGIES | PROTEIN | CARBS and draw from them when I am feeling inspired.)
Happy, healthy eating!
- Sauteed onions and peppers
- Sauteed mushrooms (add a touch of garlic powder or goat cheese to really wow with these)
- Marinated Portobello mushrooms
- Roasted brussels sprouts
- Roasted broccoli and cauliflower
- Roasted carrots and parsnips
- Roasted or marinated beets
- Frozen peas, flash boiled
- Sauteed or roasted green beans
- Sliced avocado
- Sliced cucumber
- Halved grape or cherry tomatoes
- Chopped salad kit
- Kale massaged with a citrus dressing made up of olive oil, lemon juice and seasonings
- Zucchini chips (slice a zucchini thinly, sprinkle with seasoning salt, bake for 20-30 minutes at 375 F)
- Roasted butternut squash, cubed
- Roast pumpkin
- Roasted tomato or butternut squash soup
- Vegetable stew - carrots, peas, cauliflower, broccoli, onion, peppers in sauce of your choice (here are a couple of options - you can add more veggies to these as you wish: Riso alla Orientale, chickpea, carrot and date tajine, Oh She Glows' sweet potato, chickpea and spinach coconut curry)
- Cauliflower crust pizza
Proteins (all vegetarian):
- Lentil patties
- Black beans, pan-fried with seasoning, in veggie burgers, or however you prefer!
- Hummus chickpea burgers or other frozen veggie burgers
- Eggs - hard-boiled, scrambled, poached, fried
- Swiss cheese slices
- Halloumi cheese, grilled
- Extra-firm tofu, pressed and marinated then stir fried or roasted
- Silken tofu, blended into smoothies or desserts
- Protein powder, used in baking recipes or smoothies
- High-protein pasta, such as chickpea pastas (these offer up to 15g protein a serving! Prepare them with your favourite sauce or as a simple pasta salad)
- Chickpeas in a stew, such as my chickpea, carrot and date tajine
- Lentils in a stew, such as my vegan lentil dahl
- Greek yogurt (full fat)
- Mixed nuts
- Baked sweet potato
- Baked or pan-fried plantain slices
- Brown, black or wild rice
- Whole grain, gluten-free or high-protein pastas
- Boiled, mashed or baked potatoes
- Whole grain, gluten-free or sourdough bread
- Seed bread
- Roasted pumpkin, butternut squash or other root vegetable
- Nut butter
- Coconut oil
- Grass-fed, organic butter
- Avocado oil
- Hemp hearts
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Olive oil
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Psyllium husk powder
*Note: You may not need to add fibre if you are loading your plate with veggies, consuming pulses like beans and lentils, or choosing whole grains high in fibre. This is more if you feel you need a little extra, as they are easy to sprinkle on top of foods or mix in with foods.
If you are still struggling to keep your protein count high, consider how you snack or treat yourself. This is a good place to sneak in some extra protein. If you snack on fruit, put your berries on top of a bowl of Greek yogurt for that extra protein hit. Or try whipping up one of the options below - most keep well in the freezer!
- Lemon poppyseed protein muffins
- No-bake chocolate nut butter protein balls, vegan and GF
- Better-than-ice-cream chocolate protein shake
- Protein chocolate banana bread
- Iced protein carrot loaf
If you are interested in more tips on how to simplify meal planning and grocery shopping, I have a blog post all the way back from January 2012 about my meal planning method, and it's the same one I follow today! It helps make it so that once you have listed out your meals, your grocery list is basically done. For more on that, click here.