Meal planning can be difficult enough, without having to make sure that each meal is balanced and nutritious. So we’ve used the NHS’ Eatwell Guide to put together some simple, healthy meal ideas for you.
Starting your day with a great, healthy breakfast will set you up for the day and help you feel good. By adding a couple of different fruits to the mix you’ll be well on your way to your 5 a day before you’ve even hit 9am!
- Overnight oats
Most of us don’t want to be spending much time cooking in the mornings; we’d rather spend the extra time in bed. Therefore going for something like overnight oats, which (clue is in the name) you prepare the night before, is a great option. It also allows you to add whatever fruit, seeds and flavourings you like, so you’re not likely to get bored of it quickly.
- Porridge and berries
Cooked in the microwave or on the hob, porridge couldn’t be easier to make; just pop some milk and oats into a bowl. According to the NHS’ Eatwell Guide, 1/3 of our diets should be made up of starchy carbohydrates. And porridge, being wholegrain and high in fibre, is a great way to get this. Also you can throw on some fruit and maybe a bit of honey for a bit of extra flavour and nutritional goodness.
- Scrambled egg
Similarly to porridge, this can be made in the microwave or on the hob. It’s up to you whether you use the whole egg or just the egg whites but if you have high cholesterol you may be best just sticking to the egg whites. To make your scrambled egg healthier, only use a small amount of butter and pair it with some brown whole grain toast.
- Avocado and poached egg
This one does take a bit longer to prepare so maybe best saved for a weekend treat. Add a bit of lime and chilli to top up the flavour if you fancy. Avocados have increased in popularity over the past few years and are now considered a superfood, boosting close to 20 different vitamins and minerals in every serving.
Top tip: Having fruit for breakfast every day can become expensive! So why not give frozen fruit, such as berries a try? Not only is it cheaper to buy, it also reduces the amount of wastage from fruit going off.
You should be aiming to eat 600kcal for lunch to ensure that you’re fuelled for the rest of the day. Your lunches are likely to be slightly different during the week vs at weekends, since most of us are limited to microwave friendly meals at work.
According to the Eatwell Guide, we should be eating at least 2 portions of fish a week, but if you aren’t very confident in the kitchen that could be a bit of a challenge. So fishcakes are a lovely, easy way to get some fish into your diet, and they’re also nice and filling.
Unfortunately probably only viably when we’re at home, omelettes are incredibly easy and cheap to make. Pepper, mushrooms, sweetcorn, ham- throw in whatever you fancy because it’s pretty difficult to go wrong with an omelette. If you’re typically low on dairy in your diet, this is a great way to give it a bit of a boost without having to drink a glass of milk. And just in case still feel like you need some more vegetables, a side salad will go really well with it.
Red pepper and tomato soup
Ideal for a workday, you can easily get two of your five a day in with a nice soup. If a bowl of soup on its own doesn’t feel satisfying enough though, you can add a wholegrain roll.
One of my personal faves, jacket potatoes are great whatever the weather. Eat them with tuna and sweetcorn in the summer for your low fat omega-3 fix, or with baked beans in the winter to provide you with high fibre, high protein goodness. Once again, if in doubt, throw on a side salad.
Once again, you should be eating roughly 600 kcals at dinner time. This may come as a surprise, because for many it’s their biggest meal of the deal, so it’s important to exercise portion control in the evenings.
Cauliflower pizza (it’s not what you think)
Got a fussy eater in the house? Replacing your classic dough pizza based with a cauliflower base could be a game changer. The cauliflower is thoroughly blitzed in a food processor so nobody will be able to tell the difference! You can either buy your base ready or made or have a go at making them yourself. Then all you need to do is add the toppings and maybe some veggies on the side.
Prawn, tomato and spinach spaghetti
We don’t typically consider pasta to be a healthy meal, but swap out the creamy sauce and throw in some vegetables and it can be! Spinach is the ideal veg to add due to its superfood qualities and then add some tomatoes and prawns/shrimp to add some great flavour.
Chicken tikka masala
Curries don’t need to be unhealthy, just leave off the naan and poppadoms! However, if this is a step too far, you can pop the poppadoms yourself. You can buy uncooked poppadoms and cook them in the microwave. This makes them so much healthier it removed the frying stage. Try to go for a chicken or turkey curry because these meats are nice and lean, making them healthier options than lamb and beef. Then serve your curry with some wholegrain rice and throw on lots of vegetables.
Top tip: Try adding some chickpeas into the dish as well because they count towards your protein intake and have some great health benefits!
Roasted vegetable pasta
If you try to stick to Meatless Monday, a veggie pasta could be great. Meals without meat or fish often leave people feeling hungry and unsatisfied after finishing, but adding roasted vegetables will do the trick.
It’s time to put down the biscuits and pick up some healthier alternatives.
There are so many different flavours of rice cakes available that you may be happy to eat them plain. Alternatively, you could try them with a bit of spread and/or some fruit or veg.
Nuts are brilliant for your heart health as well as being packed with vitamins and minerals. They are high in fat though, so stick to just a handful.
Dried fruit is great if you’re craving something sweet. An easy one to snack on at your desk or on the go, and with a smell than is unlikely to cause offense to those near you- ideal! Try to eat it with other food though to avoid damage to your teeth. Limit yourself to 30g per day though because any amount over this doesn’t count towards your 5 a day.
Hummus with vegetables to dip
Not just good for when you have guests over, hummus with vegetable sticks is great for that afternoon lull and is really good for you too!
Top tip: aim to keep your snacks below 200kcal total
Need more dietary advice? You can join our free Eat Well programme for expert advice and personalised recommendations to help you to eat healthily.