Whether you’re trying to lose weight or you’re on a restricted diet, it can become very difficult to come up with tasty meal ideas every day of the week. Trust me I know – you’re on a diet or you want to eat healthy but there’s only so much salad you can eat amirite?
Well you’ve come to the right place. I have a few tried and true healthy diet meal ideas that you can mix and match to come up with well-rounded and delicious meals any day of the week.
This post is first in a series that will focus on healthy diet meal ideas and recipes that fit various lifestyles like keto/low carb, paleo, and vegan/vegetarian. Today we’ll present a full day’s worth of meals and snack ideas that will work for different diets and lifestyles.
As we all know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s the fuel that revs our metabolism and gets us ready for the day. All too often, too many of us do not take the time to have, much less, enjoy this loveliest of meals!
I’ve already made several posts about quick and healthy recipes for breakfast and for dinner. These posts contain many versatile ideas that can serve as a go to for any meal. I won’t go through those again, but I’ll just add few more ideas in this post in the form of a meal for a day. Breakfast coming up!
- Oatmeal & Banana/Berries (omnivore, vegan, suitable for hypertensives)
This is a quick breakfast that hits a few essential health points. It’s full of a soluble fiber found in oatmeal that helps to lower cholesterol and keep you full for hours. The banana adds potassium, carbs to keep you full and a hint of sweetness to satisfy your sweet tooth.
If you’re using berries instead of the banana, you will have a bit fewer calories and higher anti-oxidant benefits. You can also lower the calorie content of this breakfast idea by making the oatmeal with water. If calories are not a factor, make your oatmeal with a vegan milk of choice for a creamier more satisfying oatmeal.
If you want a bit more sweetness, use a sugar free sweetener. I prefer monk sweet with stevia but there are lots of other choices out there, use the one you like.
In my opinion it’s best to forego snacks and instead enjoy three main meals every day. However, I know that there will be times when we can’t have a main meal and only have time for a small snack to keep us going until the next meal.
The following snacks are deceptively simple but chock-full of nutrients that many of us may miss in our regular diet. First up:
- Raw Nuts (vegan, paleo, keto, omnivore, etc.)
Nuts are one of the most energy dense foods you can consume. They are full of healthy fats that can keep you full for hours. Different nuts have different nutritional profiles, so it’s best to get a mix. Brazil nuts, for example, contain high amounts of selenium, fiber and protein.
Have between 5 to 7 tablespoons of raw nuts at most once every day – This is enough to sustain you for 3 to 4 hours until your next meal.
- Berries & Cheese (keto, paleo, diabetic-friendly)
Berries provide a nice punch of sweetness and cheese rounds out their sweetness with a savory creamy component. The berries are anti-oxidant rich, contain resveratrol, are fiber-rich, and full of vitamin C. The cheese is calcium rich, contains good levels of protein to fill you up and best of all is delicious.
Have a handful of any berries or a mix of your favorite ones. Enjoy no more than an ounce of two of your favorite cheese.
After breakfast, lunch should be your next heaviest meal of the day. This meal should be a balanced one – a protein source that’s about the size of your palm, ideally a moderate amount of complex carbs and half a plate of vegetables, ideally the green, leafy kind.
Since this site is about providing quick and healthy meals, these lunch ideas will be just that – quick to make and healthy for you.
- Chicken & Vegetable Wrap (depending of wrap, maybe keto, paleo and omnivore friendly)
A wrap is one of the most portable and versatile of meals available. You can purchase pre-made white meat chicken from brands like Purdue, Trader Joe’s, Applegate Farms, etc. or just cook your own by seasoning and cooking strips of seasoned chicken breast meat in a bit of olive oil.
You can also use a store-bought wrap but as always, make sure the ingredients are few and healthy. I like to make my own wrap or tortilla from einkorn flour. Butter or romaine lettuce leaves can also serve as a low carb wrap option.
Assemble your wrap by smearing your tortilla or wrap of choice with condiment(s) of choice – Mayo, mustard, etc. Next add a layer of mesclun veggies then your chicken strips. You can embellish with as many healthy toppings you like. For example a bit of shredded cheese for a flavor and protein boost and avocado for healthy, filling unsaturated fats.
Enjoy your wrap with a refreshing soda and lime or water.
- Anything Goes Salad (omnivore, keto, paleo, dash, etc.)
There is no meal more versatile that the simple salad. Using a great variety of green leafy vegetables for a base, the humble salad can be loaded with healthy and delicious toppings to create a satisfying meal.
I like to use mesclun greens as the base for my salads, but you may use iceberg, romaine, kale or any kind of green that suits your fancy. Now for the toppings for our salad – anything goes here, so raid your pantry or fridge for any of these:
- Boiled eggs
- Cooked beans/Chickpeas
- Cherry tomatoes
- Artichoke hearts
- Cheese (all types)
- Nuts (all types)
This is by no means an exhaustive list of toppings, the sky’s the limit. You can make an anything goes salad on any given day mixing and matching healthy topping for limitless possibilities.
Be sure to always stick to simple salad dressings like lemon juice, vinegar and oil, etc. If you prefer store bought dressings, just be sure they have whole, simple ingredients.
You can pre-make your anything goes salad ahead of time to take to work the next day. Using a compartmentalized serving dish helps to keep things in order and fresh.
The last meal of the day – dinner. I don’t think many of us put much thought into what to make for dinner. Especially if you work a 9 to 5, have a family and have to make dinner every night.
Dinner need not be as heavy as breakfast or lunch. A serving of healthy protein alongside healthy vegetable sides is all you need at the end of the day.
I have already posted some quick and healthy dinners here, but I’ll offer a couple more ideas in this post as well. These will not be full-fledged recipes, rather a brief list of ideas you can whip up in no time flat.
- Air-Fried Garlic Lamb Chops (paleo, keto, omnivore)
This meal can be ready in as little as 15 minutes! If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that my air-fryer puts in heavy-duty throughout the week. It is truly a miraculous cooking tool. I use my air fryer to make this simple garlic lamb chop recipe that’s delicious as it is quick and healthy.
To make this dish, simply mince 3 cloves of garlic and rub the paste over both sides of 2 (or more depending on the size of your family) lamb chops that have been sprayed with cooking spray – shoulder or loin cuts are good.
Next, add dried rosemary, salt and pepper to both sides of lamb chops. Sprinkle a few drops of Worcestershire sauce over each side as well. Air-fry at 380 – 400 for 6 to 8 minutes per side depending on how rare you like your lamb.
Pair the lamb chops with any sides you like. I sometimes pair them with cauliflower fried-rice, slices of avocado or a refreshing salad. Use your imagination and what’s in your fridge and pantry.
- Pan-Seared Spiced Steak (omnivore, paleo, keto)
Believe it or not, you can enjoy a nice steak for a mid-week dinner without the need for a grill and a lot of time. This recipe is extremely simple and straightforward – the only caveat is you have the necessary spices on hand.
The secret to this easy and delicious steak is garam masala. Garam masala is a blend of Indian spices – most notably coriander, black pepper, cinnamon, fennel, nutmeg and clove.
Make sure your steak is fully thawed before you begin. Next apply a thin layer of olive oil to your steaks add salt and the garam masala to taste on both sides of your steak.
Sear steaks in a hot cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. Depending on the thickness of your steak and how rare you like it, let the steak cook for 3-5 minutes per side.
Enjoy with a side of garlic mashed potatoes or roasted brussels sprouts.
Preparation – The Secret to Creating Healthy Diet Meals
I hope I’ve shown by now that creating quick and healthy meals is not impossible or daunting. The secret to creating a variety of healthy meals is in preparation. Preparing for each week’s meals in advance will put you at great advantage for when you actually make them.
Depending on your WOE, go grocery shopping for appropriate proteins, vegetables, spices and healthy pre-made sides on Saturday. Portion out and freeze all proteins for each family member in advance.
When ready to prepare your meals for each weekday, simply pull out the amount of protein you need from the freezer and place in the fridge to thaw out overnight. Cook the next evening using one of our easy recipes and/or pairing with any healthy sides you enjoy.
Let me know if you’ve tried any of our meal ideas in the comments!