MyPlate Meal Planning: New Ideas

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Here are a few ideas for easy meal planning based on food groups for MyPlate.

Stock up your kitchen by food group. 

Stock up on ingredients that belong in each of the 5 MyPlate food groups: fruit, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy/calcium items.

Organize your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to organize food by groups. A quick glance in the pantry can show that you need more whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, or oatmeal. Or perhaps more beans and lentils are needed. A glance in the refrigerator shows that all of the salad or fruit items are now gone. And the freezer can hold all the bargains on protein items on sale. Now you don’t need to scrounge for a recipe or languish on what to cook! You simply prepare food from each group to make a meal or MyPlate.

Easy meal ideas that are based on using food groups:

  1. Sheet Pan Dinners - place protein items on a pan along with veggies and potatoes. Cut them, so they all cook at the same time. Add a little sauce or seasoning, and voila - a super delicious roasted dinner comes out of the oven on one pan. Use foil or paper on the bottom for super easy cleanup.
  2. Bowls - layer bowls with whole grains, protein, veggies, and a sauce. One bowl I recently had was called Mother Earth Bowl, and it consisted of quinoa, black beans, yams, and lots of raw veggies. 
  3. Make Your Own Meal Setups  - you can always put out a few foods from each group and let everyone make their own. Tacos, pasta, chili, salads, and stir fry meals lend themselves well to this approach. The leftovers can all go into lunchboxes or other meals. 
  4. Air-Fried Dinners - items that air fry well include chunks of chicken or fish, potatoes, winter squash, and cruciferous veggies like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower. Dinner can be made fast in 20 minutes, and everyone loves a little crunch.
  5. Pasta Bowls - spaghetti can be topped with lean meatballs, legumes, and veggies. Toss in a little cheese, and a fast dinner is made. 
  6. Wraps - think burritos or any kind of wrap sandwich. Wrap up protein and veggie items in a whole-grain tortilla, and you have a meal ready fast. 
  7. Grilled Plates - place chicken or fish along with veggies on a piece of foil. Grill all together and serve with a cooked whole grain dish. 

By Judy Doherty, MPS, PCII

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