Eating healthily and following a balanced diet can be tricky sometimes. But, did you know that planning your weekly menu will help you eat better, save money and avoid food waste? Follow these tips and start creating your balanced weekly menu.
The food pyramid
To have a healthy diet, the first thing you should bear in mind is that it will be essential for your weekly menu to include all the food groups in the right quantity and frequency. The food pyramid was created for this reason. It is a pyramid that shows how much and how often we should eat each food group, according to the level where they are placed. We find the essential foods at the base and at the top the ones we should avoid or just eat occasionally.
The first level of the new healthy food pyramid of the Spanish Communal Nutrition Society (SENC, Sociedad Española de Nutrición Comunitaria) has a series of recommendations for healthy habits: exercising regularly, drinking water, etc.
The second and third levels of the pyramid have foods that we ought to eat in every main meal, like those rich in carbohydrates: bread, pasta, rice and other cereals (especially recommended in their wholemeal variety); tender legumes (peas, beans…) and tubers like potatoes. The daily intake of these foods is essential because they provide us with an important part of the necessary energy for our everyday activities.
On the third level we can find vegetables, fruits and olive oil. They are the main source of vitamins, minerals and fibre of our diet and also provide us with lots of water. It is key to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day. In addition, extra virgin olive oil is recommended both for cooking and for dressing salads or other meals.
The fourth level of the pyramid has different varieties of food that we should consume in moderation, such as Â dairy products, eggs, fish, nuts and white meat. Consumption of dairy products is recommended between 2 and 3 portions per day. The other ones, between 1 and 3 times per day, alternating between them.
Fifth and sixth level
Finally, the fifth and sixth levels have foods that are optional and that ought to be consumed occasionally and in moderation, such as red meat, cured meats, processed meats, sweets, industrial baked goods and savoury snacks. This group of foods appears on the pyramid because it is consumed by the population, but it is not at all recommended in a balanced weekly menu.
The plate method
Besides bearing in mind the principles of the food pyramid when creating your balanced weekly menu, to eat healthily every day you can follow the simple plate method. It is an outline that you can trace on your plate to your taste from many ingredients. This method consists of dividing your plate into three portions:
The first half
One half of the plate should be entirely covered with vegetables (and, at least, in one of the daily meals they should be raw).
The second half (first quarter)
We will divide the other half of the plate into two quarters: in one of them place the proteins: chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, legumes, tofu… The size of this portion will be equal to the palm of your hand or the size of your fist.
The second half (second quarter)
Lastly, the final quarter of the plate will be filled with cereals: pasta, quinoa, oatmeal, rice… This portion will be equal to a couple of slices of wholemeal bread, a potato the size of an egg or half a cup of rice, pasta or cereals.
If you want to start taking care of yourself and enjoying meals that are as tasty as they are healthy, combine these two methods: the food pyramid and the plate method. Prepare your shopping list and start feeling the changes of having a balanced menu in your life!