Design by Betsy Farrell
When it comes to all things weight loss, the simplest, fastest way to make impactful, lasting change is to form habits you can actually stick with for life. That’s why this plan involves an easy-to-follow meal planning guide. This full week of (delicious!) food will take the guesswork out of grocery shopping and prepping with nutritionist-approved breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas. If you have a higher activity level, check out these 1,300-, 1,400-, 1,500-, and 1,800-calorie meal plans as well.
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What You Should Know About Meal Plans
While 1,200 may be the right number for some people, it can be super restrictive for others, says Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. That’s why we’re using 1,200 as our base, and encourage you to build upon these meal and snack ideas by doubling (or tripling, quadrupling …you get the point!) up on veggies at any opportunity — and adding more fruit at snack time, too. You can also add 1-5 ounces of protein at all meals if at any point you’re feeling like it’s just not enough food to keep you satisfied. The combo of fiber from produce and lean protein makes this an adaptable strategy that’ll help you lose weight safely — one meal (and snack) at a time!
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Day 1: Breakfast
Combine 3/4 cup bran flakes, 1 banana, and 1 cup fat-free milk in a bowl.
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Day 1: Lunch
Build a sandwich with 1 mini whole wheat pita, 3 ounces turkey breast, 1/2 roasted pepper, 1 teaspoon mayo, mustard, and lettuce. Serve with 1 stick part-skim mozzarella string cheese and 2 kiwis.
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Day 3: Breakfast
In the microwave, cook 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats with low-fat or unsweetened soy milk. Add 1/2 apple (sliced or chopped), 1 teaspoon honey, and a pinch of cinnamon.
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Day 3: Lunch
To make a chicken salad, toss 4 ounces shredded skinless roast chicken breast with 1/4 cup sliced red grapes, 1 tablespoon slivered almonds, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, and 1 tablespoon plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt. Serve over lettuce. Eat with 1 banana.
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Day 3: Dinner
Serve 4 ounces steamed shrimp with 1 baked potato topped with 3 tablespoons salsa and 1 tablespoon unsweetened Greek yogurt, plus 3 cups spinach, steamed. Finish the meal off with 1 ounce of chocolate or a 100- to 150-calorie ice cream bar.
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Day 4: Breakfast
Top 1/2 toasted English muffin with 1/2 small apple, sliced, and 1 ounce shredded reduced-fat cheese, any type. Microwave 30 seconds on high. Serve with 2/3 cup plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt sprinkled with 1 tablespoon slivered almonds.
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Day 4: Dinner
Serve 4 ounces poached salmon with a slaw made by tossing 1 1/4 cups coleslaw mix and 2 sliced scallions with 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar and 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Add spices, herbs, and seasoning as desired. Pair with 3/4 cup of a 100% whole grain (like quinoa) and an apple on the side.
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Day 5: Lunch
Make a quesadilla by spreading 1/4 cup fat-free refried beans over a 100% stone-ground corn tortilla. Sprinkle on 1 ounce shredded part-skim cheese. Top with salsa and another tortilla; microwave 45 seconds on high. Serve with cucumber spears and 1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese or Greek yogurt topped with 2 clementines.
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Day 5: Dinner
Serve 3 ounces roasted pork tenderloin with 1 cup baked acorn squash, mashed with a pinch of cinnamon; 2 to 3 cups salad greens with a dash of olive oil and as much vinegar as desired; and chocolate or an ice cream bar for dessert (100 to 150 calories).
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Day 6: Lunch
Make a tuna pita with 1 mini whole-wheat pita, 2 ounces water-packed light tuna, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, mustard, cucumber, and onion slices. Serve with 10 baby carrots and 2/3 cup plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt with a small pear.
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Day 6: Dinner
Make jambalaya by combining 3/4 cup cooked brown rice; 1/2 cup corn; 2 ounces cooked turkey sausage, sliced; 1/3 cup salsa; and 1/4 cup no-salt-added black or navy beans. Heat through. Eat with 3 cups spinach sauteed with garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil.
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Day 7: Lunch
Make black bean salad by tossing 1/2 cup canned black beans, 1/2 cup orange slices, chopped red bell peppers, red onion, scallions, and any other desired veggies with 1 teaspoon vinegar. Serve over salad greens. Serve with 1 100% stone ground corn tortilla and a piece of fruit.
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Day 7: Dinner
Serve 3 ounces broiled or grilled flank steak with 1 baked sweet potato with 1 teaspoon butter; 1 cup steamed zucchini; and 1 1/2 cup berries.
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1,200 Calories and More
Want more delicious, good-for-you recipes? Get 4 full weeks of satisfying breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert ideas all perfectly portioned for a 1,200-calorie diet in our newest weight-loss guide, 1,200 Calories and More.
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