9 Well-Balanced Meal Ideas
Whether you are eating breakfast, lunch or dinner, creating a balanced meal is key to ensuring that you are nourished, satisfied, and energized. Although it might seem like a complicated formula, creating a balanced meal is actually quite simple, and once you know how to do it, you will be able to put delicious and healthy meals together in a pinch. So here are 9 well-balanced meal ideas and some quick tips on exactly how to do it.
The Components of a Balanced Meal
I’ve already shared a full post on the blog about how to create a balanced meal, but in case you missed it, here is a little refresher: ensure that every meal you eat contains carbohydrate, protein and fat.
Think of it like ticking a box; at every meal look to see if there is a source of carbohydrate, protein, and fat on your plate or bowl, and if there is, you are good to go. In fact, it doesn’t matter whether your carbohydrates come in the form of fruits, vegetables, grains or legumes; your protein in the form of meat or plant-based options; or your fats in the form of oils, nuts, seeds or avocados, as long as you can tick the box for all three macronutrients you are creating a balanced meal.
One little tip that is very helpful is to remember that some foods can play “double-duty” and tick the box for more than one macronutrient. For example, nuts and seeds can tick the box for both fat and protein, while beans and lentils can tick the box for carbohydrates and protein. You can also tick the boxes multiple times within the same meal. Regardless of how you do it, the most important thing is that the boxes are actually ticked. The more familiar you are with the different sources of macronutrients the easier it will be to create balanced meals.
So, to help paint you a picture of how simple this can actually be, here are 9 balanced meal ideas that you can use for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
1. Banana Almond Oatmeal
Why this is a Balanced Meal: Carbohydrates (oatmeal + banana) + Protein (almond butter) + Fat (almond butter)
A bowl of oatmeal on its own is simply a big serving of carbs, however, by adding a handful of nuts, or nut butter, you can easily add some protein and fat to help tick all of the boxes. Although not necessary, the addition of fruit can provide some natural sweetness and some added fibre, and a sprinkle of cinnamon goes a long way to provide flavour without adding any sugar.
2. Avocado Toast & Eggs
Why this is a Balanced Meal: Carbohydrates (toast) + Protein (eggs) + Fat (eggs + avocado)
This breakfast combination is as straightforward as they come; the toast serves as a source of carbohydrates, the eggs serve as a source of protein, and the avocado serves as a source of fat. However, you could easily swap the toast for potatoes or the avocado for butter and still have a well-balanced meal to start the day. Plus, consuming the whole egg as opposed to the egg white not only adds a little extra fat to the meal but adds a ton of fat-soluble nutrients as the yolk is the most nutrient dense part of the egg.
3. Veggie & Cheese Omelette
Why this is a Balanced Meal: Carbohydrates (veggies) + Protein (eggs) + Fat (egg + cheese)
It is important to keep in mind that carbohydrates do not always need to come in the form of potatoes, bread, and pasta, as vegetables are also an important and nutrient-dense source of carbohydrate. Paired with a little dollop of high-quality cheese, this veggie omelette is a great way to incorporate extra veggies, nutrients and added fibre into your morning meal. However, if you find yourself short on time in the morning you can whip up a make-ahead egg bake like my Greek Omelette Casserole or Western Omelette Muffins that you can eat hot or cold, and grab-and-go in the morning.
4. Chicken Salad
Why this is a Balanced Meal: Carbohydrates (spinach + veggies ) + Protein (chicken) + Fat (avocado + dressing)
A salad is one of the quickest and simplest ways to create a balanced meal; just be sure to include some protein and a good dressing and you’ve got a well-balanced meal ready in a pinch. Something like my Chopped Chicken Salad is a great meal prep idea for a week of healthy lunches.
5. Quinoa & Chickpea Buddha Bowl
Why this is a Balanced Meal: Carbohydrates (vegetables + quinoa + chickpeas) + Protein (quinoa + chickpeas) + Fat (dressing)
Buddha bowls are a great way to add a ton of colour, a ton of flavour, and all of the macronutrients in next to no time. When adding protein to a salad, you don’t always need to use a meat variety, as there are plenty of plant-based protein options that work just as well. Although items like chickpeas, beans, lentils, and quinoa are predominantly sources of carbohydrate, they do contain some protein which can help you tick all of the macronutrients boxes. My Meal Prep Buddha Bowls and Hummus Buddha Bowls are delicious options that will ensure you have a balanced meal.
6. Protein Bistro Box
Why this is a Balanced Meal: Carbohydrates (crackers + veggies + hummus) + Protein (hummus + almonds) + Fat (hummus + almonds + olives)
For those days when you just don’t have time to put together a whole meal, a little platter or bistro box works just fine! As long as you include a variety of ingredients, you can easily create a balanced meal that looks good and taste good too. Hummus is a quick and easy way to include a little protein in meals, and with so many options available you won’t get bored of it very easily.
7. Pesto Chicken, Rice & Broccoli
Why this is a Balanced Meal: Carbohydrates (rice + broccoli) + Protein (chicken) + Fat (pesto)
Sometimes the simpler you keep your meals, the easier it is to ensure that they are well-balanced. When choosing a lean cut of meat, like a chicken breast, it is important to add a good source of fat that otherwise is not present. If you opt for a fattier cut of meat you don’t need to worry about it as much since you’ve got the fat built right in, but if not, a dollop of pesto is always a simple (and delicious way) to add some healthy fat to a meal.
8. Salmon Stir-Fry
Why this is a Balanced Meal: Carbohydrates (vegetables) + Protein (salmon) + Fat (salmon + sesame oil)
Vegetables are a great way to include carbs in a meal, and the more variety you can include the better. Using salmon in this dish helps to add both protein and healthy fat, however, using a high-quality marinade in the stir fry will also ensure you get some added fats in the meal. This meal is a twist on my Rainbow Chicken Stir-Fry, I just swapped the chicken for salmon and used a bag of frozen mixed vegetables instead of fresh.
9. Chickpea Curry
Why this is a Balanced Meal: Carbohydrates (squash + chickpeas + veggies) + Protein (chickpeas) + Fat (coconut milk)
Curries are one of my favourite dinner ideas because they are so versatile and quick to prepare! You can essentially use any type of protein you like, chicken, fish, beef or vegetarian, and by simply combining it with your favourite veggies, a can of coconut milk and some spices, you can tick all of the macronutrient boxes to create a well-balanced meal. Depending on what type of curry you make, you can serve it with a side of rice for a source of carbohydrates, or work the carbs right in like I did in this recipe with some potatoes, squash or vegetables. This meal is a version of my Yellow Chickpea & Squash Curry that not only makes a great well-balanced dinner, but is a great meal prep idea for a week’s worth of balanced lunches.