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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Meals >>  Meal Ideas

Meal Planning Tips

Healthy eating is the best way to improve your fitness and performance. Consuming healthy meals keeps your immunity strong and reduces the risk of ailments. It also enhances memory and concentration and keeps you alert throughout the day. By eating healthy foods you are able to supply your body with all the nutrients it requires. It keeps you fit and prevents unnecessary weight gain.

But what exactly is ‘healthy eating’? A healthy diet comprises of regular meals and nutritious snacks. Most people eat three meals a day, but you can also break up your meals into smaller portions which you can consume more frequently during the day. Healthy eating also means that every meal incorporates all the major food groups such as proteins, grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy. It is not necessary to eliminate all your favorite foods from the diet. You can still eat these occasionally. The important thing is to balance healthy foods with small amounts of other foods such as sweets. It is also important to know when to stop eating. Overeating can lead to weight gain and hence it is essential to stop eating when you feel full. Today one can find meal planning and ideas in abundance in books, on the television and over the internet. It is advisable to sift through these sources and look for healthy meal ideas which incorporate nutritious ingredients and healthier cooking methods. Here are different types of easy meals and their preparation ideas.

Quick Meal Ideas

We all live fast paced lives today and don’t have the luxury to spend hours on planning and preparing a meal. Therefore we require simple meal ideas which are both healthy and tasty. There is a lot one can do with leftovers. With a little creativity and some practice, you can turn last night’s leftovers into tonight’s delicious dinner. For example, leftover chicken can be used to make a pasta dish. Simply boil your pasta and prepare the sauce of your choice. Then add the chicken to the sauce and serve. Some of the most inexpensive meal ideas can be made with leftover vegetables. You can veggies to soups, quiches, stir fries and casseroles. You can also mix them into scrambled eggs for a healthy and light meal.

Family meal ideas

When you are cooking for the family, you need to take into consideration everybody’s preferences. It can get tricky sometimes to balance all the various likes and dislikes and still be able to serve a nutritious meal. The best family meal ideas are those which appeal to the adults and children. They must also be budget-friendly and easy for you to make. One of the best dinner meal ideas is soup. Soups are extremely versatile and can be made with a variety of ingredients. You can give your kids some crackers or whole wheat bread sticks to dip into the soup as well. Soups made with pureed vegetables make healthy soups for babies too. Other interesting meal ideas for dinner include sandwiches, salads and pastas.

Kid’s meal ideas

Meal ideas for toddlers include enjoyable dishes such as macaroni and cheese, meatballs and pasta, banana bread, rice and raisin pudding and milk shakes. Toddlers can be especially fussy when it comes to food and hence toddler meal ideas should incorporate different colors, varieties and textures. This will keep them curious and interested in the food. If you are planning to go camping with the kids and don’t want to compromise on healthy eating, try out some light and easy camping meal ideas. Fruit and cheese sticks make for a fun outdoor meal. Simply dice up some cheese and fruits such as strawberries, pineapple and oranges. Place the cheese and fruits into different bowls and have the kids pick them up using toothpicks. Pizzas are also great meal ideas for kids. Instead of using regular white bread pizza base, opt for pita bread.

Vegetarian meal ideas

Vegetarians must ensure that they get their daily protein intake from plant sources. Chickpeas are high in protein and hence make valuable additions to a vegetarian meal. You can use them in different ways such as in curries, salads and rice. One can also find plenty of vegan meal ideas today. If you are a vegan it does not mean that you have to forfeit your favorite foods. You just need to be aware of vegan ingredients and which cooking methods work best. Some healthy dinner meal ideas for vegans include black bean soup, vegetarian chili, tofu burger and pumpkin pie.

Summer meal ideas

A fresh summer salad is one of the best ways to beat the heat. Chop up the freshest seasonal vegetables you can find, toss in some sliced mozzarella and drizzle with some olive oil and vinegar. The summer is also a great time to have a barbeque cookout. You can make lamb or vegetables skewers and serve them with a side dish of potato salad or baked beans.

Gluten free meal ideas

Those with gluten allergies need to avoid consuming foods which contain gluten. A gluten-free diet may consist of fruit salad and gluten free muffins for breakfast. Lunch can include fresh salads and roasted chicken. Dinner may comprise of dishes such as onion soup and mashed red potatoes.

Low carb meal ideas

Low carb meals are beneficial for those who wish to lose weight. However many foods which are low in carb may be high in fat. In order to restrict your intake of both carbs and fat you need to consume foods such as green vegetables, tomatoes, mushrooms, kale and squash. Foods to avoid include rice, pasta and white bread. Low fat meal ideas include many chicken and turkey dishes. Steamed eggplant with garlic sauce, steamed mushrooms and sugar snap peas and baked salmon with a fresh vegetable salad are also good examples of low calorie meal ideas.

3 course meal ideas

A 3 course meal typically consists of a starter, a main course and a desert. Some excellent choices for starters include prawn and avocado soup, crab stuffed peppers, vanilla scallops and fresh herb salad with goat cheese. For your main course you can prepare dishes such as roasted white fish with lemon mayonnaise, turkey and sweet leek pie and grilled squid with mint sauce. There are a variety of options for desert ranging from carrot cake and chocolate pudding to plum tarts and stuffed fruit crumble. When you have to prepare a 3 course meal, it is advisable to plan your meal and shop for groceries well in advance. Also opt for recipes that are quick to prepare so that you can enough time to devote to all dishes. Presentation is very important when cooking for a special occasion. Therefore ensure that you have some time to garnish and dress your dishes before serving them. Whatever the occasion, whatever the requirements and whatever the mood, there are always options for you to choose from. All it takes is some planning and a tiny spark of creativity. Planning and preparing your meals does not have to be a stressful affair. Once you get into the habit of meal planning, you will find yourself enjoying the process more and more. Efficient meal planning results in excellent meals. Hence the better you plan, the better you eat.

Submitted on January 16, 2014