Smart Eating: How to Design a Balanced Weekly Menu
In the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, nutrition plays a key role. However, for many, meal planning can be overwhelming and confusing. How can we ensure we get all the nutrients we need and maintain a proper balance in our daily diet? The answer lies in designing a balanced weekly menu.
Making a smart menu plan not only gives us the peace of mind of knowing what we’ll eat during the week, but also allows us to make more conscious choices about our food, avoid temptations, and maximize our nutritional intake. But it’s essential to keep certain key points in mind.
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5 tips for creating a balanced weekly menu
When organizing your meals and snacks, you should do your best to get a variety of essential nutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. And, as it can be a complex task, there are now companies that help you plan a balanced weekly menu and send you fresh ingredients for preparation.
Here are some recommendations for designing your weekly menu.
1. Assess your individual needs
Everyone is unique and has different dietary requirements. Factors such as age, gender, level of physical activity, and health conditions influence individual nutritional needs. So, consider consulting a health professional, such as a registered dietitian, for a personalized assessment and recipe recommendations.
According to a Harvard School of Public Health publication, for a healthy plate of food to have all the daily nutrients needed, it should consist of:
- 50% vegetables and fruits: Such as tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, arugula, spinach, broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, lettuce, avocados, apples, mangoes, etc. French fries don’t count as vegetables!
- 25% protein: Such as chicken, turkey, rabbit, fish, eggs, dairy, and its derivatives, or, if you prefer, chickpeas, soybeans, lentils, beans, and kidney beans. Limit red meat and cheese and avoid bacon and sausages.
- 25% whole grains: Such as barley, wheat, quinoa, oats, and brown rice. Avoid white bread, white rice, and other refined grains that have effects on blood sugar and insulin.
2. Design your weekly balanced menu
Having a balanced and healthy diet doesn’t mean that delicious recipes and occasional snacks will be left out. It means being aware of the way we eat and how we can make the most of it to have excellent nutrition. So, when creating your menu, be sure to include foods from the major food groups at every meal.
According to experts, all healthy diets include fruits, vegetables, milk and dairy products, meats, fish and seafood, eggs, legumes, cereals and nuts.
3. Plan and organize the recipes for the week
After you have designed your balanced weekly menu with the recipes you want to make, plan a trip to the supermarket to buy all the necessary ingredients. Remember that if you have a busy schedule, you can purchase the services of companies that offer a wide variety of weekly recipes and send you all the food to your home to make them.
Also, try to adapt your menu to your lifestyle and specific schedules. If your time is limited during the week, consider dedicating one day to batch cooking. Cook in large quantities and divide portions into individual containers to refrigerate or freeze. This will allow you to have meals ready to eat and save you time in the kitchen.
4. Get inspired with delicious recipes online
Having a healthy diet isn’t synonymous with boring meals. Online, you can find many recipes with the right balance of food groups. Below, you’ll find examples of recipes and snacks that you can incorporate into your weekly planning:
- Coffee with milk, avocado, toast, and egg
- Greek yogurt bowl with fresh fruit and granola
- Oatmeal with nuts, chia seeds, and sliced banana
- Fruit juice, egg white omelet with spinach and cherry tomatoes.
- Green smoothie (a blend of spinach, banana, milk, and almond butter).
- Quinoa salad with grilled chicken, spinach, cucumber, and lemon dressing
- Lentil soup with mixed vegetables and toasted whole wheat bread
- Smoked salmon wrap with avocado, greens and tomato
- Mashed potatoes and carrots with pork tenderloin and artichokes
- Neapolitan spaghetti and baked chicken with roasted eggplant
- Fruits and juices
- Milk with sponge cake
- Yogurt with wholemeal cookies
- Curd with jam and nuts
- Carrot sticks with homemade hummus
- Baked chicken breast with steamed broccoli and baked potatoes.
- Grilled salmon fillet with asparagus and quinoa.
- Turkey tacos with corn tortillas, homemade guacamole, and coleslaw.
- Tomato and queso fresco salad and potato, onion, and zucchini tortilla.
- Vegetable cream and grouper fillet with steamed potatoes.
5. Listen to your body and adjust the menu to your needs
Avoid extreme restrictions so as not to fall into dietary imbalances. Listening to your body means recognizing and respecting cravings and desires, as long as you maintain a solid nutritional foundation. Allowing yourself to enjoy pleasurable foods from time to time can be part of a healthy relationship with food and promote emotional well-being.
Rather than adhering to rigid eating plans, the focus should be on mindfulness and self-regulation. This encourages greater flexibility and enjoyment when making food choices, reducing the guilt and stress sometimes associated with eating.
Eat smart and create a balanced weekly menu
Now that you know some of the best tips to start planning your balanced weekly menu and become more mindful of your eating habits, it’s time to start looking for some healthy recipes that will motivate you to reach your goals. Remember that having a good relationship with food is essential for a fulfilling life.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Dapcich, V. (2004). Guía de alimentación saludable. Sociedad Española de nutrición comunitaria. http://repositorio.uasb.edu.bo:8080/bitstream/54000/1249/1/Dapcich-nutrici%C3%B3n.pdf
- FAROS Sant Joan de Déu. Recomendaciones para diseñar un menú equilibrado. (Recuperado el 18/05/2023). https://faros.hsjdbcn.org/es/articulo/recomendaciones-disenar-menu-equilibrado
- Harvard Medical School. El Plato para Comer Saludable (Spanish). (Recuperado el 18/05/2023). https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/translations/spanish/