Nutrition experts create healthy menu plans to suit a variety of eaters’ lifestyles.

By Sally Solo
Updated February 20, 2009
Plate of food
Credit: Dasha Wright Ewing

It’s amazing when you think about it. We know more than ever about how food can enhance our well-being and even prolong our lives, but the typical American diet is still high in calories, fat, sugar, and salt, and low in many nutrients. Even the most careful eater is probably not getting enough calcium, fiber, potassium, or vitamin E, according to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). And, of course, more Americans are overweight than ever before.

Daily Meal Plans for Every Body

Thankfully, the remedy for eating better and keeping your weight in check isn’t deprivation, blandness, or a rigid diet. Nor is it one-size-fits-all. To illustrate this point, Real Simple asked two professionals―a food scientist and chef and a registered dietitian―to develop model eating plans that provide examples of how to eat well, whether you prefer to prepare homemade meals, rely on convenience foods, or snack throughout the day.

Each day's total is between 1,800 and 2,000 calories.

the home cook: daily menu plans
the convenience eater: daily menu plans
the grazer: daily menu plans

Creating Your Own Meal Plans

If you’d rather create your own meal plans, consider the 7 Principles of Healthy Eating based on the latest research, which show you how to incorporate good habits into your life. Start with a healthy diet and you may find yourself with more energy to exercise. Now, that’s food for thought.