Here it is: the dietitian-devised complete balanced meal planner! Choose any combination of steps 1-6 and you will create a healthy, and flavoursome, balanced meal. Give it a try for yourself and have a go planning your dinners (or lunches) for the week.
Step 1: Choose your protein
This should take up ¼ of your plate. Choose lean meats and trimmed of skin and fat, dried or reduced salt tinned versions of lentils and other legumes, raw or dry roasted, unsalted nuts and natural nut and seed butters (without added sugar or salt) and reduced fat dairy, where possible.
100g beef, lamb, kangaroo, veal, chicken, turkey, pork or fish (in the form of mince, steak, breast, diced, sliced, tinned, skewers, rissoles, meatballs, etc)
2 large eggs
170g tofu or tempeh
1 C lentils, chickpeas, red kidney beans, cannellini beans and other legumes
30g nuts, seeds, or nut or seed paste
1 cup (250mL) milk
½ cup (120mL) evaporated milk
2 slices (40g) hard cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, fetta)
½ (120g) cup soft cheese (ricotta, cottage)
¾ cup (200g) plain natural or Greek-style yoghurt
Step 2: Choose your carbohydrate
This should take up another ¼ of your plate. Choose wholegrain and low GI versions where possible.
1 cup cooked pasta (spaghetti, penne, risoni, lasagne sheets, cannelloni tubes, wonton wrappers etc), noodles (rice, egg), rice, quinoa, pearl barley, buckwheat, bulgur, polenta or semolina
2 slices bread, 1 medium roll, 1 flatbread (wrap, pita etc)
2 small English muffins or crumpets
1/3 cup flour (wheat, buckwheat, quinoa, rice, corn) or breadcrumbs- into patties, pancakes etc
1 medium potato, sweet potato, parsnip, taro or cassava
1 medium corn cob
1 cup lentils, chickpeas, red kidney beans, cannellini beans and other legumes
Step 3: Choose your vegetables
This should take up the remaining ½ of your plate. Each of the following is 1 serve; aim for 3 or more serves to fill half your plate. Choose fresh, frozen, or reduced salt tinned versions and as many different colours as possible.
½ cup cooked green, orange, white or purple vegetables (e.g. broccoli, carrot, pumpkin, cauliflower, mushrooms, beetroot, etc)
½ cup cooked beans, peas, lentils or other legumes
1 cup leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, rocket, kale, silverbeet, etc)
1 cup raw salad vegetables (cucumber, capsicum, sprouts, etc)
1 medium tomato
Step 4: Choose your cooking method for each element
Note: Plate elements (protein, carbohydrate and vegetables) can be cooked together or cooked and kept separately.
Step 5: Choose your flavour base
Usually in tablespoon quantities per plate.
White or red wine
Herb or spice rub
Reduced fat cream or evaporated milk
Step 6: Choose your flavour additions
Usually in teaspoon or tablespoon quantities per plate.
Herbs- fresh, dried or paste
Lemon, lime or other citrus
Cheese- parmesan, fetta, ricotta, mozzarella, etc
Condiments- mustard, chilli jam, etc
Olive or nut oils