Sample Menus

What am I going to eat? For some of you, this simple question brings up anxiety and dread. This is when you have to put everything together — a meal that tastes good, is nutritious, can be prepared quickly, and meets your budget and calories intake goal. This article will provide you with healthier meal ideas for three different levels of calories. The meal ideas presented here are just suggestions to get you going on meal planning.

The following meals are presented in a three-day progression so you can see how leftovers can be incorporated into following meals to save you both time and money. I have included three levels of calories: 1500, 1800, and 2100 calories. If you are curious as to how a diet is “built” from one caloric level to another, compare the 1500 and 1800 calories menus.

For the menus below, nutrient totals are summarized in the last row of each day’s column. MyNetDiary members can see meal details by viewing “SampleMeals” in the Community Forum and searching the reports for the dates listed. Recipes that have links have bold lettering.

Menus were designed to meet the following nutrient goals (please see “Customizing Your Nutrient Goals” for more information about customizing nutrient goals):

  • Fat: 20% — 35% of total calories.
  • Saturated fat: 7% or less of total calories.
  • Carbs: 45% - 65% of total calories.
  • Sugars: 25% or less of total calories.
  • Fiber: 25 grams or more.
  • Protein: 10 — 35% of total calories.
  • Cholesterol: 300 mg or less.
  • Sodium: 2300 mg or less.
  • Calcium: 1000 mg or more.

For more detail the rationale behind how I make meal choices, please see “Meal Planning Tips”, and “Foods to Meet Nutrient Needs.”

1500 Calories

SUNDAY 8/30 MONDAY 8/31 TUESDAY 9/1
Brunch Breakfast Breakfast
Ham & Veggie Omelet
Skillet Potatoes
½ cup cantaloupe
½ cup strawberries
1 cup coffee
1 tsp honey
1 cup Special K Protein Plus cereal
¾ cup skim milk
½ cup blueberries
1 cup green tea
1 packet Stevia
1 cup bran flakes
¼ cup pumpkin flax granola
1 cup skim milk
1 cup coffee
2 tbsp skim milk
1 packet Splenda
Snack Snack Snack
None 1 light string cheese
½ cup cantaloupe
¼ cup cottage cheese
5 celery sticks
Lunch Lunch Lunch
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 medium apple
1 cup skim milk
Kathy’s Pork Tenderloin
Sandwich (2oz pork)
½ medium banana
1 cup vanilla soy milk
1 large tossed salad
1/3 cup hummus
2 oz tuna (drained/water)
1 whole wheat pita
6 fl oz soy milk
Snack Snack Snack
2 crackers WASA light rye
¼ cup cottage cheese
10 baby carrots
½ medium banana
1 small pear
Dinner Dinner Dinner
CL Pork Tenderloin with Maple-
Chipotle Sauce (3oz pork)

1 medium baked sweet potato
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp light canola butter
1 cup steamed broccoli
1 garden salad
2 tbsp light ranch dressing
CL Pilaf with Chicken Spinach
and Walnuts (1 1/3 cup)

1 tossed salad
2 tbsp light balsamic dressing
Healthier Pork Burrito
Snack Snack Snack
½ cup blueberries
½ cup light vanilla ice cream
4 oz container of Activia yogurt ½ cup sliced strawberries
½ cup low fat Greek yogurt 2%
TOTAL
1510 calories
28% fat
48% carbs (31g fiber)
24% protein
TOTAL
1508 calories
23% fat
53% carbs (27g fiber)
24% protein
TOTAL
1503 calories
26% fat
52% carbs (50g fiber)
22% protein

1800 Calories

SUNDAY 9/6 MONDAY 9/7 TUESDAY 9/8
Brunch Breakfast Breakfast
CL Oatmeal-Raspberry Pancakes
with Berry Coulis
½ cup Egg Beaters scrambled
1 cup coffee
1 tsp honey
1 cup Special K Protein Plus cereal
¾ cup skim milk
½ cup blueberries
1 cup green tea
1 packet Stevia
1 cup bran flakes
¼ cup pumpkin flax granola
1 cup skim milk
1 cup coffee
2 tbsp skim milk
1 packet Splenda
Snack Snack Snack
None 1 light string cheese
½ cup cantaloupe
2 crackers WASA light rye
¼ cup cottage cheese
5 celery sticks
Lunch Lunch Lunch
2 tbsp almond butter
1 medium banana
1 cup vanilla soy milk
Kathy’s Pork Tenderloin
Sandwich (use 3oz pork)
1 medium banana
1 cup vanilla soy milk
1 garden salad
1/3 cup hummus
2 oz tuna (drained/water)
1 tsp olive oil
1 whole wheat pita
1 cup soy milk
Snack Snack Snack
6 oz container of low fat peach
yogurt
5 baby carrots
8 almonds
1 medium pear
Dinner Dinner Dinner
CL Pork Tenderloin with Maple-
Chipotle Sauce (use 4 oz pork)

1 large baked sweet potato
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp light canola butter
1 cup steamed broccoli
1 garden salad
2 tbsp light ranch dressing
1 cup rice milk
CL Pilaf with Chicken Spinach
and Walnuts (use 1 ½ cup)

1 tossed salad
2 tbsp light balsamic dressing
1 cup skim milk
Healthier Pork Burrito
(use 3 oz pork)
Snack Snack Snack
¾ cup pineapple chunks 4 oz container Activia yogurt 1 Nonni’s Limone Biscotti
½ cup light vanilla ice cream
TOTAL
1802 calories
26% fat
56% carbs (26g fiber)
18% protein
TOTAL
1803 calories
24% fat
52% carbs (31g fiber)
24% protein
TOTAL
1796 calories
29% fat
50% carbs (52g fiber)
21% protein

2100 Calories

SUNDAY 9/13 MONDAY 9/14 TUESDAY 9/15
Brunch Breakfast Breakfast
1 cup cooked buckwheat
1 tbsp light canola butter
2 tbsp maple syrup
½ cup egg beaters scrambled
1 oz low fat cheddar cheese
1 cup coffee
2 tbsp skim milk
1 tsp sugar
1 cup Nature’s Path Banana
Almond cereal
¾ cup soy milk
1 slice whole grain bread
1 tbsp almond butter
1 medium banana
1 cup green tea
1 cup bran flakes
¼ cup pumpkin flax granola
1 cup skim milk
½ medium banana
Snack Snack Snack
None None 1 tbsp peanut butter
½ medium banana
Lunch Lunch Lunch
1.5 tbsp peanut butter
2 tsp fruit spread (jam)
2 slices hearty whole grain bread
10 baby carrots
1 medium apple
Kathy’s Curried Chicken Salad
1 garden salad
1 whole wheat pita toasted
½ cup raspberries
½ cup blue berries
1 cup skim milk
2 oz salmon
2 tbsp light canola mayo
¼ cup chopped sweet peppers
¼ cup sliced avocado
1 cup baby spinach
4 crackers WASA light rye
1 medium pear
Snack Snack Snack
½ cup raspberries
6 oz container of low fat yogurt
None 1 container Activia yogurt
1 oz nuts
Dinner Dinner Dinner
1 cup cooked whole wheat
spaghetti
2 tbsp pesto sauce
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
3 oz roasted skinless chicken thigh
1 garden salad
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar
1 small whole wheat dinner roll
1 tsp light canola butter
CL Tofu Fried Rice (1.5 cup)
2 cups baby spinach greens
2 tbsp Light Asian Vinaigrette
1 serving Whole Foods Peach Tart
½ cup Blue Bunny No Sugar
Added, Fat Free vanilla ice cream
CL Cincinnati Chili
1 cup cooked noodles
1 garden salad
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup skim milk
Snack Snack Snack
1 smart pop mini bag
1 cup skim milk
None ½ cup blueberries
½ cup light vanilla ice cream
TOTAL
2093 calories
29% fat
52% carbs (37g fiber)
19% protein
TOTAL
2095 calories
24% fat
62% carbs (41g fiber)
14% protein
TOTAL
2088 calories
30% fat
53% carbs (48g fiber)
17% protein

Menu Notes

You might have noticed that these menus have a lot of non fat dairy and dairy substitutes. I put these in the menus to insure that I meet 1000 mg of calcium (the DRI for adults up to 50 years of age, thereafter, the DRI increases to 1200 mg).

Almost all of my menus contain snacks. You do not have to eat snacks if you do not want to, but your calorie and carb load per meal is quite a bit higher if you only eat three meals a day. This might be a problem for some of you with Type 2 diabetes who are not taking meal time insulin.

I tried to use a combination of convenience and scratch ingredients. For instance, the skinless chicken comes from the rotisserie chicken you can buy pre-prepared at your local grocery store. However, it is very difficult to limit intake of sodium to 2300 mg or less if too many convenience products are eaten on the same day.

I tried to mix up the meals and types of foods.

Vegetarians, I will be writing an article for you in the near future.

Remember that you can ask questions about this topic in the Community Forum!

Best,

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE

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Disclaimer: Please note that we cannot provide personalized advice and that the information provided does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit a medical professional.

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