Have you heard of the 3-2-3-2-3 plan? Get back on track with this balanced meal plan for a day

  • 2 Minutes Read

Balanced meal plan for a day

Looking for a balanced meal plan for a day?

Tired of complicated meal plans to lose weight? Here is a template to use for a balanced meal plan for a day. If you can count to three and know your food groups, you will quickly be able to follow this 3-2-3-2-3 meal plan which I developed for my weight loss clients. Of course, portion control is important. You simply choose foods from all food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, meat and meat alternatives, and dairy) each day and you can lose weight without developing any vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

Think of the 3-2-3-2-3 meal plan as a game with a few basic rules and many choices of foods you like.

3-2-3-2-3 Meal plan with menu planning examples

  1. Include at least three food groups at each meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner).
  2. Eat at least two food groups together for a snack.
  3. Each time you eat, one food group must be a fruit or vegetable.

Step 1: Print out this 3-2-3-2-3 Meal Plan Sheet.

Use this sheet to help you brainstorm your own meal planning examples.

Step 2: Start with breakfast (3).

If you do not eat breakfast because of time, ask yourself this question. How long does it take you to consume an 8 oz. glass of low-fat milk and 1/2 banana? Less than 5 minutes? You have time!

78% of people who lost weight and kept it off for one year ate breakfast

Write down what you ate and drank for breakfast. How many food groups do these foods represent?

If you ate peanut butter on whole grain bread, you have included two food groups. Tomorrow challenge yourself to add a cut up apple on the side so you have three food groups. If you need to trim the calories, use 1/2 slice of bread to allow for apple.

Step 3: Morning Snack (2)

Pair a fruit or a vegetable with a food that contains protein. I like to eat red peppers and carrots dipped in hummus (great protein source!) or the delicious combination of a small apple with a low-fat mozzarella cheese stick.

Step 4: Lunch (3)

Again, try to include at least three food groups, with one food group being a fruit or a vegetable.

Step 5: Afternoon Snack (2)

Matching a fruit or a vegetable with a food that contains protein helps manage blood sugars and gives you longer lasting energy. Try a low fat Greek yogurt with blueberries on top!

Step 6: Dinner (3)

For dinner, most people easily eat at least three food groups. Look at your proportions of foods. Fill half the plate with vegetables. With my family, I try to divide the vegetable section so that 1/4 of the plate is raw vegetables (for example, a colorful salad, carrots sticks, cucumbers) and 1/4 of the plate is a cooked vegetable (such as roasted broccoli, kale chips, Swiss chard).


  1. Try the 3-2-3-2-3 meal plan for a few days and then make changes that fit your busy lifestyle. Keep an on-going list of menu planning examples to build on.

  2. If you are not hungry for a morning snack, then skip it. One of my weight loss clients added the number of calories she ate at dinner plus the calories from her afternoon snack. When she compared these total calories to the calories she ate one day at dinner without the afternoon snack, the number of calories for just that meal was greater. She said, "My planned healthy snack helped me make wiser choices of foods and portions at my next meal."

One of my weight loss clients said last week,

"The 3-2-3-2-3 meal plan is easy to follow using every day foods that I like.
The snacks prevent me from overeating at meals."

Looking for articles on getting more fruits and veggies in your diet?

Be your own sous chef, Increase fruit and vegetable intake
Healthy vegetable recipes for weight loss
Here is the key to roasted vegetables made easy

Still new to MyNetDiary? Learn more today by downloading the app for FREE.

Updated: March 13, 2020

Mar 13, 2020
Martha M. Henze
Martha M. Henze, MPH, MS, RDN - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Global Public Health Epidemiologist

Start Your Free
Food Diary Today

Sign up Devices