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Week Four: Meal Planning

Step 1: Read Lesson

The secret to smart shopping is to plan meals and make a list. Planning out a week's worth of meals may seem like a chore, but can save you time and money in the long run.

Menu Planning Steps

  • Scan the weekly circular for deals and to get some creative ideas.
  • Look through your pantry and take inventory what you already have.
  • Using the same method we used for planning out your plate last week, do the same method for planning each meal:
    • Pick 1 protein
    • Pick 1 starch
    • Pick 2 veggies and fruit (or one of each)
  • Fill in your shopping list with the necessary ingredients to make each meal.

Quick Tips

  • Use leftovers wisely! You may get 2 nights worth of meals out of one well planned menu plan.
  • Make it a date. Make every Wednesday homemade pizza and salad night and every Thursday vegetarian night for example. That takes the guesswork out of planning meals for at least two nights each week.
  • Make everything but the kitchen sink. These nights tend to fall the day before a much needed trip to the grocery store! By keeping a well stocked pantry, you can be prepared when you need a quick meal.
  • Recycle menu plans and lists. After you've made menu plans for a few weeks, they essentially turn into your own individualized set of meal plans. Keep staples on hand.

Read Nutrition Labels


Nutrition Label Calories: First, check the serving size and servings per container. How many servings will you eat? If you eat more than one, be sure to multiply that number by the calories (the next line) to determine the actual number of calories you'll consume. Does the calorie count fit into to your meal goal of 450 calories? Foods with 40 calories or less per serving are considered low-calorie; those with 400 or more per serving are high calorie.

Fats: Look for foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol to lower your risk of heart disease. For fat and cholesterol, low-fat is defined as 5% of the daily value or lower.

Sodium: Eating less then 2,300 mgs of sodium (about 1 teaspoon) of salt a day may lower the risk of high blood pressure. Most of the sodium people eat comes from processed foods, not the saltshaker.

Fiber: When choosing grain-based foods (breads, crackers, cereal), look for products that contain at least 3 grams of fiber. You should eat at least 25 grams of fiber per day.

Sugars: Sugar provides calories but few nutrients, so look for foods and beverages low in added sugars. Check the ingredient list to make sure that added sugars are not one of the first few ingredients. Other names for added sugars include sucrose, glucose, corn syrup, fructose, and high-fructose corn syrup.

Protein: Most adults should eat between 60 to 70 grams of protein a day. Try eating a little extra protein if you find you're often hungry (but don't forget the 450 calories/20 minutes rule from the previous chapter).

Sample Menu Plan

Healthy Day Less Healthy Day
Breakfast
» Maple brown sugar oatmeal: $0.18
» Plum: $0.69
» 2 hardboiled eggs: $0.41

Subtotal: $1.28
Breakfast
» Orange juice: $0.56
» Frozen breakfast: $2.00


Subtotal: $2.56
Snack
» Almonds: $0.58 for 1 serving
» Banana: $0.39

Subtotal: $0.97
Snack
» Frappucino Coffee: $2.99
» Scone: $1.99

Subtotal: $4.98
Lunch
» Tuna: $1.32 for 3 oz can (0.44/oz)
» Whole wheat bread: $0.22 for 2 slices
» Light mayo: $0.15
» Apple sauce: $0.40
» Baby carrots: $0.90

Subtotal: $2.18
Lunch
» Ham: $1.20
» Grinder roll: $0.50
» American cheese: $0.25
» Diet coke: $1.50


Subtotal: $3.45
Dinner
» Pre-marinated chicken breasts: $1.25
» Wild rice: $1.80
» Zucchini & squash, steamed: $0.80
» Skim milk: $0.32

Subtotal: $4.17
Dinner
» Chicken parm sub: $5.45
» Small bag of chips: $1.00
» Lemonade: $1.10


Subtotal: $7.55
Snack
» Pudding snack: $0.64

Subtotal: $0.64
Snack
» Ice cream & whipped topping: $0.90

Subtotal: $0.90
TOTAL: $9.24 TOTAL: $19.44

Step 2: Watch Video

Watch Kristina Spellman's video to get tips and information to help you understand this week's principles.

Step 3: Review and Complete Activities

Activities Workbook (pdf)

Step 4: Listen to Podcast

Listen to Dr. Blackburn's podcast to keep yourself motivated.

Step 5: Take Quiz

Take the quiz to test what you've learned this week!

Step 6: Perform Weekly Tasks


  • Continue to keep track of your daily intake and assess R-K-O status daily
  • Continue using Eat Less strategies: 450 in 20 minutes, measure portion sizes, use nutrition label
  • Use the strategy above (pick a protein, pick a starch, pick fruits and veggies) to plan your meals and form your shopping list