When you turn to healthy eating, it’s hard enough to figure out what you should eat let alone what your entire family should eat. There’s a lot of budgeting, planning, prepping, and experimenting involved, not to mention how much time you will spend on it all. But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
We’ve got you covered with this 7-day family meal plan and expert tips on how to make clean eating work for everyone. To skip the ground work and get right to prepping and cooking, here’s what you need to know.
Easy 7-Day Family Meal Plan
Here’s an example of a 7-day real food family meal plan that you can follow to the letter, or tweak to meet your needs.
It’s packed with healthy whole foods, fruits and vegetables amounting to about 2,000 calories each day. It could also be greatly simplified by using dinner leftovers with a side salad for lunch on most days.
- Breakfast: 2 servings of blueberry parfait (74.7g carbs, 31.8g fat, 25.6g protein and 678.1 calories)
- Lunch: 1 pan seared chicken breast (0.1g carbs, 19.7g fat, 53.1g protein and 402.8 calories)
- Snack: 1 serving of yogurt and strawberries and 1 cup of grapes (43.2g carbs, 1.5g fat, 25.2g protein and 287 calories)
- Dinner: 2 servings of pasta with red sauce mozzarella (95.2g carbs, 14.3g fat, 32.3g protein and 617.2 calories)
Total daily calories: 1985
- Breakfast: 2 servings of peanut butter protein oats (65.2g carbs, 27.7g fat, 71.4g protein and 779.8 calories)
- Lunch: 1 serving of spaghetti with onion and mushroom (109.8g carbs, 15.8g fat, 21.21g protein and 657.3 calories)
- Snack: 1 cup of basic protein shake (14.7g carbs, 5.8g fat, 32g protein and 242 calories)
- Dinner: 2 servings of chicken with chipotle gravy (37g carbs, 14.7g fat, 55.5g protein and 617.2 calories)
Total daily calories: 2185
- Breakfast: 2 bowls of corn flakes and 1 serving of whole wheat toast (82.6g carbs, 10.9g fat, 23.6g protein and 514 calories)
- Lunch: 1 serving of chicken and spinach salad alongside 1 microwaved potato (32.4g carbs, 20.3g fat, 59.8g protein and 561 calories)
- Snack: 4 slices of cantaloupe and 1 ounce of almonds (28.6g carbs, 14.7g fat, 8.3g protein and 258 calories)
- Dinner: 2 servings of chicken, potato, and veggie stir-fry (45.3g carbs, 19.6g fat, 85.5g protein and 701 calories)
Total daily calories: 2034
- Breakfast: 4 banana pancakes and 1 apple (80.3g carbs, 20.1g fat, 28.2g protein and 591 calories)
- Lunch: 1 serving of turkey lettuce rollups and 2 cups of basic protein shake (32.1g carbs, 11.9g fat, 73.2g protein and 543 calories)
- Snack: 1 bowl of corn flakes and 1 orange (50.6g carbs, 5.2g fat, 11.3g protein and 284 calories)
- Dinner: 2 servings of beef stir-fry (58.3g carbs, 17.4g fat, 47.2g protein and 586 calories)
Total daily calories: 2034
- Breakfast: 1 oatmeal banana protein shake (48.5g carbs, 16.9g fat, 53.7g protein and 546 calories)
- Lunch: 2 servings of lime chicken salad and 2 bananas (60.5g carbs, 21.3g fat, 67.8g protein and 693 calories)
- Snack: 1 bowl of corn flakes (35.3g carbs, 5g fat, 10.1g protein and 222 calories)
- Dinner: 2 servings of pasta with marinara sauce (101.4g carbs, 6.3g fat, 22.4g protein and 516.1 calories)
Total daily calories: 1977
- Breakfast: 2 servings of cottage cheese with blueberries and honey (64g carbs, 10.4g fat, 47.7g protein and 525 calories)
- Lunch: 2 servings of chicken, spinach, and strawberry salad (23.3g carbs, 20.6g fat, 58.1g protein and 510.4 calories)
- Snack: 2 servings of super-easy blended salad and 1 orange fruit (91.4g carbs, 0.8g fat, 14.4g protein and 381 calories)
- Dinner: 2 servings of homemade pizza bagels (61.7g carbs, 23.5g fat, 29.6g protein and 580 calories)
Total daily calories: 1997
- Breakfast: 1 bowl of banana oatmeal (96.8g carbs, 7.4g fat, 19.4g protein and 494 calories)
- Lunch: 2 servings of balsamic and soy chicken breast (7.2g carbs, 12.5g fat, 109.2g protein and 613 calories)
- Snack: 1 cup of basic protein shake (14.7g carbs, 5.8g fat, 32g protein and 242 calories)
- Dinner: 2 servings of tortellini (83.5g carbs, 23.5g fat, 25.6g protein and 646.6 calories)
Total daily calories: 1996
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Benefits Of Eating At Home
You’re probably wondering why you should go through the trouble of homemade meals when you could just order in. Well, there are proven health and financial benefits of eating at home (2). Here are the several reasons why you shouldn’t think twice about coming up with a 7-day whole food meal plan for the family.
When you’re cooking from scratch, it’s easier to avoid processed foods.
You know what goes into your meals, so there are no surprises. This means that you’re avoiding junk food and low-quality fats that can end up causing weight gain (1).
It also helps that you’re not restricted to only the foods on a menu, as you would be at a restaurant, or while ordering takeout. Home cooking means you can choose whichever diet you want – this might be the right time to implement a Mediterranean diet 7-day family meal plan and enjoy the heart health benefits of this diet.
If you want healthy portions at home, it’s important to get the right serving sizes for everyone before heading to the grocery store or delivery place. Too much of a good thing is never a good thing after all! You can ensure better portion sizes by planning out your meals beforehand and measuring everything out ahead of time, which will help to make sure that you don’t serve too much at once.
Furthermore, when eating out you’re always under pressure to finish your serving just so you don’t waste money. Eating at home allows you to eat just what you need and leave the rest for later.
When you cook at home, you avoid all of the added costs that come with eating out. This includes things like tips and gas to get to a restaurant, as well as delivery fees and one-time charges for takeout. You don’t have to worry about this when you make your own food right in your own kitchen!
Better Family Time
Taking time out from work, or getting home later than usual because of traffic – these are just some of the ways that typical eating out schedules can impact family time. Cooking together can give everyone an opportunity to be present and active instead of stuck on their phones or laptops while they wait for an order to arrive. With healthier meals delivered at the dinner table, there’s more quality time with each other.
Why Meal Planning?
Fine, I need to cook at home but how do I get on top of it all? What should I cook and when? Will the food be fresh all week? The first time cooking for a whole family can be daunting – which is why meal planning comes in handy.
Having an easy 7-day family meal plan at hand has the following benefits:
Meal prep is time-consuming, but it can be worth the effort. The best part about prepping in advance is that once you’ve done it, you don’t have to worry about making food all week! You’ll already know what’s for dinner every night and only need to do a quick daily preparation of your menu items before cooking them.
Meal planning includes choosing which produce to buy and where to buy it. Buying produce that’s in season saves money because it’s always cheaper that way. Planning to go grocery shopping when there are discounts will help keep costs down. Most importantly, ensuring you cook just enough so no food goes to waste, and that all leftovers are used up is the ultimate money saver.
Healthy eating can get frustrating and stressful really quickly. This is especially true when you don’t have a plan in place. If you have a 7-day family meal plan, it will take some of the stress out of what to eat. It will also help your wallet when you know exactly how much you have to spend at the store and exactly how each meal should look.
Meal Planning Tips For Families
How do you get everyone on the healthy eating plan? Here are some things you can do while planning a healthy family meal plan low carb 7 day, or any other, to ensure everyone gets balanced meals all week.
Consider Your Family’s Tastes
People have different tastes, and it’s important to consider these when meal planning. For example, you might love spicy foods but your partner doesn’t like them much. These preferences can be easily accommodated with a 7-day family meal plan, low carb by including jalapeno peppers in recipes that call for bell peppers and adding some extra hot sauce on the side of meals that are too mild.
Try To Plan Meals That Are Balanced And Varied
Everybody eats differently! Some people only eat meat while others get all their protein from eating lots of whole grains and legumes. One person is a picky eater while another is really only allergic to one or two things.
Take all these differences into consideration when planning meals for your family. You can’t please everyone but you can make sure that nobody goes hungry!
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Prep In Advance
Even if you always have free time to get fresh groceries and cook, some days are going to be better than others. If something unexpectedly happens during the week, like it’s raining and you don’t want to leave the house, then a prepared family meal plan may help save dinner!
Set aside an ideal time for you to prep ingredients so you can quickly pull together healthy meals regardless of external circumstances. By pre-slicing veggies or cutting up fruits that ripen quickly you’ll have them handy in the fridge or on a countertop when it comes time to cook.
Use Leftovers Before They Go Bad
Using leftovers is a fantastic way to avoid wasting food. If you didn’t use up your roast the night before, use it to make sandwiches in the morning or have it for lunch the next day.
Leftovers that don’t get used can either be frozen or repurposed into another 7-day family meal plan low carb dish. Leftover chicken can easily become several lunches of plain chicken with veggies and some homemade hot sauce on the side.
One easy trick that keeps families eating healthy meals all week long is to repurpose leftovers. By combining ingredients from different meals into new ones, you’ll always have something delicious for everyone!
While planning, make sure that leftovers are used as quickly as possible. Cooked food should not stay too long in the refrigerator as it may go bad and cause food poisoning. According to the USDA guidelines, leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or frozen for 3 to 4 months (3). Although safe indefinitely, frozen leftovers can lose moisture and flavor when stored for longer times in the freezer.
Get Everyone Involved
The first thing you’ll want to do is consider everyone’s opinion regarding the 7-day family meal plan. This way, everyone can participate in discussions about meals. If they’re already aware of what’s on the menu for breakfast, dinner or lunch, they are less likely to turn down meals, and might even be excited for meal time.
Decide which meals are easiest for kids to make themselves after school and allow them to prep their own snacks and lunches for the day as part of their chores. You can still cook dinner together as a family, but giving them a little extra responsibility will deal with the picky eaters.
The Bottom Line
A 7-day family meal plan will take the stress out of clean eating. Not only does it give you a fast and easy meal for every night, but it keeps your family from eating out. When everyone is involved with coming up with ideas for the meals that need to be prepared, everyone will be more likely to be on board.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Fast food consumption and overweight/obesity prevalence in students and its association with general and abdominal obesity (2018, nih.gov)
- Frequency of eating home cooked meals and potential benefits for diet and health: cross-sectional analysis of a population-based cohort study (2017, nih.gov)
- Leftovers and Food Safety (2020, usda.gov)