Meal Makeovers

Here's a week's worth of healthy menus to get you out of the diet doldrums

By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

In New Orleans, red beans and rice is on the menu every Monday because it used to be the official local laundry day when cooks found themselves at home able to stir the pot between loads. The tradition continues in New Orleans despite modern-day conveniences and personal laundry schedules. In many Italian homes, Sunday is the day for spaghetti sauce that simmers all day on the stove.

Most of us have our own patterns that help keep our lives organized and simple. Beyond designated days for laundry, cooking, or housekeeping, what we purchase at the grocery store and meals we prepare can become routine, automatic, and, dare I say it, boring.

Are you tired of the same meals over and over again? Are you ready to get out of the rut, switch gears, and change the look of your typical weekly meals?

To help you think outside the box and add some variety into your menus, I have put together some menu suggestions for a week's worth of meals. The sample meals are approximately 1,340 calories/day. If your eating plan is higher in calories, simply add foods or increase the portion sizes in the sample meals below. To make the standard 1,340 calorie eating plan more interesting, I moved foods around, used lots of equivalents to add variety, included some of our delicious recipes, and took great liberties with including plenty of non-starchy vegetables. The bottom line is to distribute the foods from your weekly eating plan somewhat evenly so that you have plenty to eat each day to keep you feeling full.

1340 Calorie Eating Plan Master

*Numbers in parenthesis indicate frequency of food item per week.

Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snacks
Coffee Side mixed salad - tuna (1) Side salad no fat (7) 4 oz plain yogurt or artificial sweetener (3)
1/2 cup fruit juice (4) Side salad, no fat (4) 4 oz lean meat, no fat (2) Fresh fruit (3)
1/2 cup skim milk (4) Sandwich or lean burger (1) 4 oz lean meat with 1/2 tsp fat (2) 1 tablespoon nuts (3)
1 cup unsweetened cereal (4) Entree salad with meat, fish, poultry + 2 tsp light dressing (5) 4 oz lean fish or seafood, no fat (2); 4 oz fatty fish (1) 4 oz Vegetable juice (7)
1 tsp regular fat (3) 1 oz low-fat cheese (3) 1/2 cup starches, no fat (2) Light dessert (7)
1 tsp light fat (3) 4 oz plain yogurt or artificial sweetener (3) 1/2 cup starches with 1 tsp fat (3)  
1 egg no fat (4) Fresh fruit (3) 1 cup vegetables no fat (4)  
  2 slices bread (6) 1 cup vegetables with 1 tsp fat (3)  
  1 tablespoon nuts (1) 1/2 cup skim milk (2)  
  1/2 cup skim milk (3) Fresh fruit (5)  
    2 slices bread (2)  
    1 glass wine (4)  

Sample Weekly Menu Planner

Monday

Breakfast:
Cafe au lait made with 1/2 cup skim and strong coffee and artificial sweetener
1 whole wheat pita bread stuffed with 1/2 banana and 1 teaspoon peanut butter

Lunch
4 rice cakes
Entree chopped salad with one chopped egg, cucumber, jicama, red pepper, tomatoes, carrots and 2 teaspoons light balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
Fruit smoothie made with 4 oz yogurt, 1 cup strawberries, 1/2 cup orange juice, and ice

Snack
4 oz vegetable juice
1 tablespoon cashews

Dinner
4 oz Filet mignon
Small baked potato with 1 tablespoon fat-free sour cream (free food)
Steamed broccoli and cauliflower with lemon
Tossed green salad with light vinaigrette
4 oz red table wine

Snack
One brownie ( One bowl (better for you) brownies)
1/2 cup skim milk

1 cup Kashi Go Lean whole-grain cereal
1 teaspoon slivered almonds
1/2 cup skim milk
Macadamia herbal tea

Tuna salad sandwich with lettuce, tomato
Dill pickles (free)
Carrots and celery sticks with fat free Ranch dip (free)
1 cup skim milk
Fresh peach

Trail mix - 1/4 cup raisins, 1 tablespoon M&Ms, and 1 tablespoon mixed nuts

4 oz grilled mahi mahi with mango salsa
1/2 cup brown rice pilaf
Broiled tomato half with 1 oz low-fat cheese
Side spinach salad with veggies and light raspberry salad dressing
Rye dinner roll
4 oz white table wine