What a Balanced Meal Plan Actually Looks Like

7 days worth of healthy meals

Food
Brian Macdonald / Getty Images

Planning a daily menu isn't difficult as long as each meal and snack have some protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates and a little bit of fat. 

Here's what you need to know about each meal.

  • Eating breakfast will help you start your day with plenty of energy. Don't ruin your breakfast with high-fat and high-calorie foods. Choose some protein and fiber for your breakfast, and it's a good time to eat some fresh fruit.
  • A mid-morning snack is totally optional. If you eat a larger breakfast, you may not feel hungry until lunchtime. However, if you're feeling a bit hungry and lunch is still two or three hours away, a light mid-morning snack will tide you over without adding a lot of calories.
  • Lunch is often something you eat at work or school, so it's a great time to pack a sandwich or leftovers that you can heat and heat. Or, if you buy your lunch, choose a healthy clear soup or fresh veggie salad.
  • A mid-afternoon snack is also optional. Keep it low in calories and eat just enough to keep you from feeling too hungry because dinner is just a couple of hours away.
  • Dinner is a time when it's easy to over-eat, especially if you haven't eaten much during the day, so watch your portion sizes. Mentally divide your plate into four quarters. One-quarter is for your meat or protein source, one-quarter is for a starch, and the last two-quarters are for green and colorful vegetables or a green salad.
  • A light complex carbohydrate-rich evening snack may help you sleep but avoid heavy, greasy foods or foods high in refined sugars.

A Week of Healthy Meal Plans

Studying a few examples may make this whole meal planning thing easier so here's a full week's worth. You don't need to follow the days in order; you can choose any meal plan, skip one or repeat as you like.

This week's meal plan was designed for a person who needs about 2,100 to 2,200 calories per day and doesn't have any dietary restrictions. Your daily calorie goal may vary. Learn what it is below, and you can make tweaks to the plan to fit your specific needs.

Each day includes three meals and three snacks and has a healthy balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. You'll also get plenty of fiber from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Every plan includes three meals and three snacks to keep you feeling satisfied all day long. ​Some days even include a glass of beer or wine. Feel free to add more water, coffee or herbal tea to any day, but keep in mind that adding cream or sugar also adds calories.

It's okay to swap out similar menu items, but keep cooking methods in mind - replacing a sirloin steak with grilled chicken is fine, but replacing it with chicken-fried steak isn't going to work because the breading changes the fat, carb and sodium counts—and the calories.

Finally, you can adjust your calorie intake by eliminating snacks if you want to lose weight or eating larger snacks if you want to gain weight.

Day One

Today's meal plan contains about 2,250 calories, with 55 percent of those calories coming from carbohydrates, 20 percent fat, and 25 percent from protein.

It also has about 34 grams fiber.

Breakfast

  • One grapefruit
  • Two poached eggs (or fried in a non-stick pan)
  • Two slices whole grain toast with one pat butter each
  • One cup low-fat milk
  • One cup black coffee or herbal tea

(Macronutrients: approximately 555 calories with 27 grams protein, 63 grams carbohydrates, and 23 grams fat)

Snack

  • One banana
  • One cup plain yogurt with two tablespoons honey
  • Glass of water

(Macronutrients: 360 calories, 14 grams protein, 78 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fat)

Lunch

  • Chicken breast (6-ounce portion), baked or roasted (not breaded or fried)
  • Large garden salad with tomato and onion with one cup croutons, topped with one tablespoon oil and vinegar (or salad dressing)
  • Glass of water or zero-calorie soft drink

(Macronutrients: 425 calories, 44 grams protein, 37 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fat)

Snack

  • One cup carrot slices
  • Three tablespoon hummus
  • One-half piece of pita bread
  • Glass of water or herbal tea

(Macronutrients: 157 calories, 6 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fat)

Dinner

(646 calories, 42 grams protein, 77 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fat)

Snack

  • One cup blueberries
  • Two tablespoons whipped cream (the real stuff -- whip your own or buy in a can)
  • Glass of water

(Approximately 100 calories, 1 gram protein, 22 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fat)

Day Two

If you eat this whole menu, you get about 2,150 calories, with 51 percent of those calories coming from carbohydrates, 21 percent from fat, and 28 percent from protein. The meal plan also has 30 grams fiber.

Breakfast

  • One whole wheat English muffin with two tablespoons peanut butter
  • One orange
  • Large glass (12 ounces) non-fat milk
  • One cup black coffee or herbal tea

(Macronutrients: approximately 521 calories with 27 grams protein, 69 grams carbohydrates, and 18 grams fat)

Snack

  • Two oatmeal cookies with raisins
  • Glass of water, hot tea or black coffee

(Macronutrients: 130 calories, 2 grams protein, 21 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fat)

Lunch

  • A turkey sandwich (six ounces of turkey breast meat, large tomato slice, green lettuce and mustard on two slices of whole wheat bread
  • One cup low-sodium vegetable soup
  • Glass of water or zero-calorie soft drink

(Macronutrients: 437 calories, 59 grams protein, 37 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fat)

Snack

  • One cup (about 30) grapes
  • Glass of water or herbal tea

(Macronutrients: 60 calories, 0.6 grams protein, 12 grams carbohydrates, 0 grams fat)

Dinner

  • Five-ounce sirloin steak
  • One cup mashed potatoes
  • One cup cooked spinach
  • One cup green beans
  • One glass beer (regular, lite or non-alcohol)
  • Sparkling water with lemon or lime slice

(671 calories, 44 grams protein, 63 grams carbohydrates, 18 grams fat)

Snack

  • Two slices whole wheat bread with two tablespoons jam (any variety of fruit)
  • One cup non-fat milk
  • Glass of water

(Approximately 337 calories, 14 grams protein, 66 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fat)

Day Three

Today's meal has about 2,260 calories, with 55 percent of those calories coming from carbohydrates, 20 percent from fat, and 25 percent from protein. It also has 50 grams fiber.

Breakfast

  • One medium bran muffin
  • One serving turkey breakfast sausage
  • One orange
  • One cup non-fat milk
  • One cup black coffee or herbal tea

(Macronutrients: approximately 543 calories with 26 grams protein, 84 grams carbohydrates, and 15 grams fat)

Snack

  • One fresh pear
  • One cup flavored soy milk
  • Glass of water, hot tea or black coffee

(Macronutrients: 171 calories, 6 grams protein, 34 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fat)

Lunch

  • Low sodium chicken noodle soup with six saltine crackers
  • One medium apple
  • Water or zero-calorie soft drink

(Macronutrients: 329 calories, 8 grams protein, 38 grams carbohydrates, 17 grams fat)

Snack

  • One apple
  • One slice Swiss cheese
  • Sparkling water with lemon or lime slice

(Macronutrients: 151 calories, 5 grams protein, 21 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fat)

Dinner

  • Eight-ounce serving of turkey breast meat
  • One cup baked beans
  • One cup cooked carrots
  • One cup cooked kale
  • One glass of wine

(784 calories, 84 grams protein, 76 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fat)

Snack

  • One cup ​of frozen yogurt
  • One cup fresh raspberries

(Approximately 285 calories, 7 grams protein, 52 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fat)

Day Four

By the end of today, you'll consume about 2,230 calories, with 54 percent of those calories coming from carbohydrates, 24 percent from fat, and 22 percent from protein. You'll also get about 27 grams fiber.

Breakfast

  • One cup whole wheat flakes with one cup non-fat milk and one teaspoon sugar
  • One banana
  • One slice whole grain toast with one tablespoon peanut butter
  • One cup black coffee or herbal tea

(Macronutrients: approximately 557 calories with 18 grams protein, 102 grams carbohydrates, and 12 grams fat)

Snack

  • One cup grapes and one tangerine
  • Glass of water, hot tea or black coffee

(Macronutrients: 106 calories, 1 gram protein, 27 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fat)

Lunch

  • Tuna wrap with one wheat flour tortilla, one-half can water-packed tuna (drained), one tablespoon mayonnaise, lettuce, and sliced tomato
  • One sliced avocado
  • One cup non-fat milk

(Macronutrients: 419 calories, 27 grams protein, 37 grams carbohydrates, 19 grams fat)

Snack

  • One cup cottage cheese (1-percent fat)
  • One fresh pineapple slice
  • Four graham crackers
  • Sparkling water with lemon or lime slice

(Macronutrients: 323 calories, 29 grams protein, 38 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fat)

Dinner

  • One serving lasagna
  • Small garden salad with tomatoes and onions topped with one tablespoon salad dressing
  • One cup non-fat milk

(585 calories, 34 grams protein, 61 grams carbohydrates, 23 grams fat)

Snack

  • One apple
  • One cup non-fat milk

(Approximately 158 calories, 9 grams protein, 31 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fat)

Day Five

This delicious meal plan includes three meals and three snacks and has approximately 2,250 calories, with 53 percent of those calories coming from carbohydrates, 25 percent from fat, and 21 percent from protein. And lots of fiber—over 40 grams.

Breakfast

  • One piece French toast with one tablespoon maple syrup
  • One scrambled or poached egg
  • One serving turkey bacon
  • One cup orange juice
  • One cup black coffee or herbal tea

(Macronutrients: approximately 449 calories with 16 grams protein, 57 grams carbohydrates, and 18 grams fat)

Snack

  • One cup sliced carrots
  • One cup cauliflower pieces
  • Two tablespoons ranch dressing
  • Glass of water, hot tea or black coffee

(Macronutrients: 223 calories, 4 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrates, 16 grams fat)

Lunch

  • Veggie burger on a whole grain bun
  • One cup northern (or other dry) beans
  • One cup non-fat milk

(Macronutrients: 542 calories, 38 grams protein, 85 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fat)

Snack

  • One apple
  • One pita with two tablespoons hummus
  • Sparkling water with lemon or lime slice

(Macronutrients: 202 calories, 5 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fat)

Dinner

  • One trout filet
  • One cup green beans
  • One cup brown rice
  • One small garden salad with two tablespoons salad dressing
  • One glass of beer
  • Sparkling water with lemon or lime slice

(634 calories, 27 grams protein, 78 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams fat)

Snack

  • One cup cottage cheese
  • One fresh peach

(Approximately 201 calories, 29 grams protein, 16 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fat)

Day Six

Today's meals and snacks have about 2,200 calories, with 55 percent of those calories coming from carbohydrates, 19 percent from fat, and 26 percent from protein. You'll also get about 31 grams fiber.

Breakfast

  • One cup corn flakes with two teaspoons sugar and one cup non-fat milk
  • One banana
  • One hard-boiled egg
  • One cup black coffee or herbal tea

(Macronutrients: approximately 401 calories with 18 grams protein, 72 grams carbohydrates, and 6 grams fat)

Snack

  • One cup plain yogurt with one tablespoon honey, one-half cup blueberries, and one tablespoon almonds
  • Glass of water, hot tea or black coffee

(Macronutrients: 302 calories, 15 grams protein, 46 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fat)

Lunch

  • One cup whole wheat pasta with one-half cup red pasta sauce
  • Medium garden salad with tomatoes and onions and two tablespoons salad dressing
  • Glass of water or zero-calorie soft drink

(Macronutrients: 413 calories, 11 grams protein, 67 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams fat)

Snack

  • One and one-half cup cottage cheese
  • One fresh peach
  • Glass of water

(Macronutrients: 303 calories, 43 grams protein, 23 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fat)

Dinner

  • Four and one-half ounce serving of pork loin
  • Small garden salad with tomatoes and onions topped with two tablespoons oil and vinegar (or salad dressing)
  • One small baked sweet potato
  • One cup asparagus
  • One glass wine (regular or dealcoholized)
  • Sparkling water with lemon or lime slice
  • (500 calories, 46 grams protein, 35 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams fat)

​Snack

  • Five graham crackers
  • One cup non-fat milk
  • One cup strawberries

(Approximately 279 calories, 10 grams protein, 50 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fat)

Day Seven

Today's menu contains about 2,200 calories, with 54 percent of those calories coming from carbohydrates, 22 percent from fat, and 24 percent from protein. There's also 46 grams fiber.

Breakfast

  • One cup cooked oatmeal with one-half cup blueberries, one-half cup non-fat milk, and one tablespoon almond slivers
  • Two slices turkey bacon
  • One cup non-fat milk to drink
  • One cup black coffee or herbal tea

(Macronutrients: approximately 442 calories with 26 grams protein, 59 grams carbohydrates, and 14 grams fat)

Snack

  • One cup plain yogurt with one tablespoon honey, one-half cup strawberries, and two tablespoons almond slivers
  • Glass of water, hot tea or black coffee

(Macronutrients: 343 calories, 17 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams fat)

Lunch

  • Six-ounce baked chicken breast
  • Large garden salad with tomatoes and onions and two tablespoons salad dressing
  • One baked sweet potato
  • One whole-wheat dinner roll.
  • Glass of water or zero-calorie soft drink

(Macronutrients: 498 calories, 47 grams protein, 63 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fat)

Snack

  • One cup raw broccoli florets
  • One cup raw sliced carrot
  • Two tablespoons veggie dip or salad dressing
  • One fresh peach
  • Glass of water

(Macronutrients: 112 calories, 3 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fat)

Dinner

  • Three-ounce serving of baked or grilled salmon
  • One-half cup black beans
  • One cup Swiss chard
  • One cup brown rice
  • One whole wheat dinner roll with a pat of butter
  • Sparkling water with lemon or lime slice

(671 calories, 38 grams protein, 91 grams carbohydrates, 19 grams fat)

Snack

  • One Orange

(Approximately 62 calories, 1 gram protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, 0 grams fat)

A Word From Verywell

Planning healthy meals isn't difficult but if you're not used to it, the planning can take a little practice. The examples we provided should give you a great start.

Don't feel discouraged if you don't stick to the plan exactly as outlined—it's OK to make variations that fit your lifestyle and needs. Just do your best to incorporate healthy choices into your day—vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, beans and legumes, and whole grains are always smart bets.

Continue Reading