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Let's face it, most of us are busy, busy, busy. And if you're trying to meal plan for yourself, plus a partner and a few kids — the task can become even more challenging! You probably put little-to-no thought into your own nutrient needs and just grab whatever is convenient (i.e., cheese, pastries, pretzels, etc).
Well, now is the time to change your ways and start eating superfoods to boost your immune system. With this plan, you'll learn to make quick, delicious meals the whole family can enjoy. Plus you can spend some extra time on the weekends prepping healthy options for the coming week. You can even double (and triple) up on recipes to create a stash of home-cooked meals in your freezer.
Your week at a glance:
Here's everything you need to know for this plan:
- Don’t skip meals. Each night, review the next day’s schedule and pre-plan your menu so you’re armed with a realistic guide.
- Stay hydrated. Fill up a water bottle in the morning and start sipping. Aim to refill (and finish) it a few times during the day. If you’d like a specific amount to consume, divide your weight in half and that’s the approximate amount of fluid ounces you should drink in a day. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds aim for 70 ounces each day.
- Organize family dinners by appointing a “theme” to each night. For example: Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, "Breakfast for Dinner” Wednesdays, Burger Thursdays , "Pizza, Please!" Fridays, Stir-Fry Saturdays and Slow Cooker Sundays
- Embrace your slow cooker. Use it twice each week for family meals.
- Create a stash of home-cooked meals in your freezer. Over the weekend, cook at least 1 recipe that can be doubled or tripled, and then portion leftovers into containers and freeze for future meals.
- Keep emergency snacks in your bag at all times.
- Enjoy unlimited amounts of non-starchy vegetables: Like carrots, tomatoes, peppers, celery, cucumbers, etc.) at any point in the day.
- Eat immune-boosting foods. Include at least one of the following immune boosters every day: bell peppers, citrus fruits, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, sweet potato, carrots, spinach and kale, beans (all varieties).
- Limit alcohol to three drinks per week.
1. Mug scrambled eggs
Make scrambled eggs using the recipe found here. Serve with 1 slice of whole grain toast and 1 tablespoon whipped butter, jam or 1 piece of fruit.
2. Yogurt-granola parfait
Make yogurt-granola parfait using the recipe found here.
3. Sweet potato toast with peanut butter and banana
Make sweet potato toast with peanut butter and banana using the recipe found here.
4. Greens-in-a-glass smoothie + eggs
Make smoothie using the recipe found here. Serve with 1 hard-boiled egg or 4 egg whites.
5. Oatmeal with fruit and nuts
Prepare 1/2 cup dry oats with water. Top with 1/2 cup chopped fruit and 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts. Add an optional sprinkle of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, honey or sugar.
6. Joy's protein pancakes
Prepare Joy's protein pancakes using the recipe found here. Serve with 1 optional teaspoon of maple syrup or 1 dollop of low-fat Greek yogurt.
7. Breakfast pizza with fruit
Make breakfast pizza using the recipe found here. Serve with 1/2 pink grapefruit or 1 orange.
1. Chicken or fish with veggies
For this restaurant option, order 1 house salad appetizer with 1 tablespoon vinaigrette (or substitute for shrimp cocktail, grilled calamari, or a cup of soup.) Order fish or skinless chicken prepared grilled, roasted, broiled or poached for a main dish. Add a side of steamed, grilled or roasted veggies.
2. Dinner leftovers
Eat leftovers from dinner on day one.
3. Kitchen sink salad
Top mixed greens with 5 ounces of protein (chicken, turkey, salmon, shrimp or tofu). Add 1/2 cup beans and unlimited non-starchy vegetables. Dress with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette.
4. Chicken and veggie wrap
Wrap 4 ounces grilled chicken breast, spinach leaves and preferred veggies in a whole grain tortilla. Serve with a side of red pepper sticks or other crunchy, plain veggies.
5. Japanese sushi lunch
Order or make 5 pieces of maki roll or 4 pieces of sushi (bonus points for brown rice). Serve with a side of miso soup and 1 cup edamame.
6. Open-faced turkey and Swiss sandwich
Make an open faced sandwich using the recipe found here. Serve with unlimited veggies.
7. Lentil soup and salad
Enjoy 2 cups lentil soup. On the side, serve a salad with unlimited veggies and 2 tablespoons vinaigrette.
1. Apple and peanut butter
Serve apple with 1 tablespoon peanut butter.
2. Sunflower seeds
Enjoy 1/4 cup sunflower seeds.
3. String cheese and pear
Enjoy 1 stick of string cheese and 1 pear.
4. DIY trail mix
Combine 1/2 cup whole grain cereal, 2 tablespoons almonds or peanuts and 1 tablespoon raisins or dried cranberries.
5. Skim latte and banana
Order or make 1 skim latte and enjoy a banana on the side.
6. Hummus and veggies
Serve 1/4 cup hummus with veggies.
7. Celery sticks with peanut butter
Serve celery sticks with 2 tablespoons peanut butter.
8. Greek yogurt
Enjoy 1 single container of low-fat plain or flavored Greek yogurt.
9. Banana and almonds
Enjoy a banana with 10 almonds.
10. Roasted pumpkin seeds
Serve 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds.
11. Light popcorn
Enjoy 4 cups light popcorn or 150 calories worth of any light brand.
Serve 1/4 cup or 1 handful of nuts.
13. Rice cakes
Top 2 rice cakes, each topped with 1/2 ounce slice reduced fat cheese and sliced tomato.
14. Turkey-bell pepper roll ups
Roll 5 slices of turkey with unlimited red bell pepper sticks.
1. Pesto pasta and salad
Serve 1 portion of pesto pasta using the recipe found here. You can increase the portion size to 2 servings of the same recipe if you substitute zucchini noodles for traditional pasta. On the side, enjoy a salad with unlimited non-starchy veggies dressed with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette.
2. Turkey tacos
Make 2 tacos using the recipe found here.
3. Slow cooker oatmeal and side of scrambled eggs
Make 1 serving of slow cooker oatmeal using the recipe found here. Top with 1/2 chopped apple, 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts and 1 teaspoon maple syrup. On the side enjoy 1 scrambled egg and 3 egg whites combined with preferred veggies and 2 tablespoons shredded cheese.
4. Turkey black-bean burgers and sweet potato fries
Make turkey burgers using the recipe found here. Serve on a whole grain bun with 1 tablespoon ketchup, 1 teaspoon optional mayo, lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles. Serve sweet potato fries on the side using the recipe found here.
5. Thin-crust veggie pizza
Enjoy 2 slices of any thin-crust veggie pizza (frozen, restaurant or homemade). For a homemade version with a sweet potato crust use the recipe found here or this version with a cauliflower crust. On the side, serve a salad with non-starchy vegetables and 2 tablespoons vinaigrette.
6. Chinese takeout
Order chicken and broccoli with 1/2 cup brown rice. For an extra healthy option, order steamed chicken and broccoli with sauce on the side. Use just 1 to 2 tablespoons of sauce and a few dashes of reduced-sodium soy sauce.
7. Slow cooker chicken and black bean chili
Make 1 serving of chili using the recipe found here. Serve with an optional dollop of Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese. On the side, enjoy 1/2 cup brown rice. If you're looking to add a little extra spice, you can also try Joy's Slow Cooker Chicken and Vegetable Curry recipe which can be found here.