Meal Makeovers: Healthy Menus for a Week

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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


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

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

4 oz vegetable juice
1 tablespoon cashews

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

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

4 oz yogurt mixed with 1/2 cup fresh pineapple


2 scrambled eggs mixed with 1 oz low-fat cheese and sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup grapefruit juice
2 slices whole-grain bread with 2 teaspoons light margarine

Grilled chicken Caesar salad with 2 teaspoons light Caesar dressing
1/4 cup croutons
Cherry tomatoes
2 whole grain bread sticks
Chocolate-mocha angel food cake
8 oz skim milk

Diet gelatin with 1 tablespoon lite whipped topping

Fajitas with 4 oz lean grilled meat
2 soft whole-wheat tortillas
1 oz low-fat shredded cheese
1/2 cup black beans
Shredded lettuce
Chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons salsa (free)
Diet soda
Strawberry or raspberry sherbet

8 oz yogurt mixed with 1 teaspoon diet lemonade mix and 1 teaspoon slivered almonds


1 cup plain unsweetened oatmeal with 3/4 cup fresh raspberries
Cafe au lait made with strong coffee and 1/2 cup skim milk

Lean burger with lettuce, tomato, onion on whole-grain bun
Fresh fruit salad
Sparkling water with lemon
Root beer float: diet root beer with 1 scoop nonfat frozen yogurt

Quick GuidePortion Control Tips: Lose Weight and Stick to Your Diet

Portion Control Tips: Lose Weight and Stick to Your Diet

Baby carrots, jicama, and celery with 'free' ranch dip
Vegetable juice

Roasted pecan salmon
Roasted beets and onions
Roasted sweet potato
Spinach salad with shredded carrots, chopped broccoli, chopped cauliflower, and sliced mushroom and light vinaigrette
4 oz white table wine

Marble mousse (vanilla and chocolate)


1 cup whole-grain cereal
1/2 cup chopped mango
1/2 cup orange juice
Cafe au lait: strong coffee and 1/2 cup skim milk

Entree salad with grilled fish, veggies, and light dressing
1 whole-wheat tortilla
Bowl of cherries
Iced tea with artificial sweetener

4 oz pork tenderloin
Veggie pasta with marinara sauce
Side salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, and light dressing
Fruited diet gelatin with 2 tablespoons whipped topping
Sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice and fresh lime


2 egg spinach omelet
1/2 whole grain bagel with 1 teaspoon fat
1/2 fresh grapefruit
Cafe au lait made with 1/2 cup skim milk

Entree salad with grilled zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and shrimp on a bed of fresh spinach leaves and light dressing
Fruit kabobs
Vegetable juice

Oven sea bass
Broccoli marinara
Steamed green beans
1 whole-grain dinner roll
4 oz table wine

Fruit and yogurt parfait


1 waffle with 1 tablespoon chopped pecans and light syrup
3 small clementines
Hot tea

Chicken broth with chopped veggies
Chef entree salad with 1 oz low-fat cheese, turkey, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes and light dressing
4 low-fat whole-grain crackers
Iced tea with artificial sweetener

Boneless chicken breast with barbecue sauce
1/3 cup baked beans
Coleslaw made with fat-free dressing
1 cup vegetable juice
Dill pickles (free)

1/2 cup lemon or vanilla low-fat yogurt with artificial sweetener and 1/2 cup raspberries

Menu Planning Is the Key

When you take the time to plan out menus, you can creatively use leftovers, buy only the food you need, and save time and money. Meal planning also makes you think about foods that will satisfy your needs. Stock up on foods that are "free," veggies, vegetable juice, and light desserts so it is easy to find healthy options in your kitchen. Bon appetite!

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Reviewed on 8/23/2005 4:57:22 PM

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