Planning Breakfast, Lunch and Snacks
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It revs up your metabolism, and studies show that people who eat breakfast have healthier body weights than those who do not. But, are you one of the 40% of Canadians who skips breakfast? How can you fuel up for the day and still be out the door on time?
The good news is, breakfast is the easiest meal to plan because it tends to be the most routine. A balanced breakfast features the following to ensure you are starting your day off with a nutrient-packed meal:
- A source of protein such as eggs, Greek yogurt, milk, cheese or nut butter
- Whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice or whole grain bread
- Fruit and/or vegetables such as bananas, berries, apples, tomatoes or peppers
With this mix, you can eat something quickly, and be satisfied. If you are eating on the run, pour a smoothie of milk, yogurt and frozen fruit into a thermos. Pop a high-fibre granola bar or a small homemade whole grain muffin in your bag, and you have a balanced breakfast.
Reduce the stress of planning lunch by getting your family involved in preparing it. That way everyone will get something they like to eat. Try packing lunches the evening before to reduce the morning rush.
To create a delicious, well-balanced lunch:
- Fill ½ of your plate with vegetables and fruit. Most Canadians do not get enough of these foods; however, they pack a nutritional punch and are easy to throw into a lunch bag. By preparing a week’s worth of veggies (washing, peeling, cutting and packaging), you will save time in the long run.
- Fill ¼ of your plate with whole grains. Try different whole grains to add variety such as pita, tortillas, buns or crackers.
- Fill ¼ of your plate with protein-rich foods. Expand your choices beyond meat, poultry and fish. Hummus, hard-boiled eggs, lentils or cheese will help you change it up.
- Add a glass of milk to complete the meal. Stay hydrated while providing your body with 16 essential nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D and protein.
Plan for eating snacks at home and away by including portable items on your grocery list. Healthy snacks can energize you, help you manage hunger between meals and provide key nutrients. For a healthy balanced snack that will keep you satisfied, combine:
- Protein-rich foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, nuts and nut butters, beans or legumes
- Fibre-rich foods such as vegetables, fruit or whole grains
In terms of size, if you are less active, aim for 200 calories or less in a snack; if you are very active, aim for 200-300 calories per snack. It can be this easy:
- Yogurt dip or hummus and veggies
- Cheese wedge and an apple
- Latte or tea steeped in milk and a small whole grain muffin
- Unsalted nuts mixed with dried fruit and whole grain cereal
Article revised March 2015
Melinda Falkenberg-Poetz, Home Economist