Let’s chat about how to build a healthy balanced meal today! I’m sharing the 4 key areas I focus on when building a healthy plate. These are strategies I use every single day for myself, and for my kids.
How to build a balanced healthy meal
I am often asked about how to build a balanced meal. When I think about balanced measl I think about 4 things. Three of them are your main macronutrients: protein, fat and carbohydrates. And then we add a bonus of veggies in there!
When I’m going through my list in a meal, I ask myself this…
- Are there veggies?
- Is there protein?
- Is there fat?
- Are there carbohydrates?
Let’s talk about each of those 4 components in detail. I’ll also share what that can look like on a plate while we build an example simple healthy meal at the end.
In a healthy balanced meal we need… veggies
I think we can all agree that veggies are important. They provide vitamins, minerals, they are fiber rich and filled with so much goods. They are nutrient dense! You get a lot of bang for your buck with you add veggies.
How can we add more veggies onto our plate?
We can add a salad. Or roast some broccoli for a side. Or serve kale chips along with your meal.
If you’re making a pasta dish, can you take some frozen spaghetti from the freezer and add it into your spaghetti sauce? Or grate some carrots or zucchini to add in?
Just take a moment to think about how you could add some extra veggies in. They could be front and center like a salad, or a veggie that is added into a meal, like grated zucchini in spaghetti.
In a balanced meal we need… protein
Protein is SO important. It is a building block in our body. It breaks down into amino acids which the body uses as a building block.
When I think about how to get protein into a meal, I think about meat first – chicken, beef, pork, turkey and seafood. You can also get protein in non-meat options like eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils.
Think about the protein sources that you want to include. Every family has certain proteins that they gravitate towards and love, and so lean into that.
I often think about the protein source first when I am building my meal plan, and then create meals around that.
In a healthy balanced meal we need… fat
In the meal, we include fat. That could naturally be coming from the protein option if it’s a more fatty cut of meat. You are also getting fat from fish like salmon, which is loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
I think about.. is there already fat in the protein. If not, I ask myself what fat will I be cooking with? Or what fat will I be adding into our meal – like avocado with a mexican dish. Maybe I’m adding sesame oil onto a stir fry for some added fat and flavor.
In a balanced meal we need… carbohydrates
Lastly, we consider carbohydrates. This helps us bring balance to our meal. What are the smart carbohydrates options to consider? Look for a carbohydrates that is a complex carbohydrates – it will be more fiber rich than a simple carb.
Will we be using sweet potatoes, or brown rice, or quinoa, or if it’s a breakfast will I be cooking up oats? Maybe it’s a pasta dish and I’m choosing a brown rice or whole wheat pasta, or even a bean based pasta.
When I consider a carb, I ask myself, what is the best option I can choose for this specific meal?
Examples of what healthy balanced meals look like
Now what can this look like using mexican food as an example? Let’s build a balanced meal around taco salad.
- When you’ve got a salad, you know veggies are instantly added in. Lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, green onion and bell peppers. How much color can you add?
- What about the protein? We love ground beef with my homemade taco seasoning. Beans are also a great addition
- What is the fat? Avocado and we might also have some shredded cheese in there.
- What is the carb? We’ll often serve it with corn tortilla chips. But you could easily use tortilla shells or serve it over brown rice and turn it into a burrito bowl.
Thinking about these 4 components are the building blocks when I create healthy meals at home.
Don’t let perfectionism ruin your meals
I also know, not every meal will be perfect. And that is okay! We don’t want to let perfectionism take over the joy in a meal.
Do your best.
Find what works for you.
If this meal didn’t work well, just use that information when you go into your next meal.
Grab the free meal plan!
Do you want done for you examples of what balanced meal can look like? Grab the free meal plan below!
Within the meal plan I use the strategy of repurposing protein to simplify cooking and prep time. This gets dinner on the table faster, which is always a win!
Prefer to watch + listen? Head to YouTube to watch the how to build a healthy balanced meal video.
Looking for more resources to help you save time in the kitchen, meal plan and feed your family? Check out these posts:
- How to take stress out of feeding your family
- How to meal plan
- Should you meal plan?
- My meal planning secret weapon
- Strategies for picky families
- Easily add more variety into your meal (with examples!)
- Strategies to save time in the kitchen
- How to customize a meal plan
Do you use these strategies when building a meal? Different ones? I wanna hear about it!
Leave a comment below! Any more questions? I’m here to answer them!