To promote growth, a healthy weight and overall good health, teens need to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from all the food groups, including grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and low-fat dairy. This sounds great, but getting your teen to eat right can be a challenge. Planning a weekly menu may help. To make the planning a little easier and foster better eating habits, work with your teen when planning the menu.
Make It a Good Monday
Make sure your teen starts every day right with a good breakfast, as eating a morning meal helps teens do better in school and makes it easier for them to manage their weight. A healthy breakfast for teens might include whole-grain unsweetened cereal with nonfat milk and a banana. If your teen brings lunch from home, pack a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread with carrot sticks, an apple and a cup of nonfat yogurt. Try going meatless on Monday at dinner, which might include whole-wheat pasta primavera served with a tossed salad, crusty Italian bread and a cup of nonfat milk.
Punch It Up on Tuesday
To punch up nutrition, include as many food groups as possible at each meal. For breakfast, your teen might enjoy a vegetable omelet with low-fat cheese and whole-wheat toast with a cup of calcium-fortified orange juice. A healthy lunch might include mixed greens topped with beans, dried cranberries and walnuts with whole-grain crackers and a container of nonfat milk. At dinner, make burgers using lean ground beef or turkey served on a whole-wheat bun with roasted red potatoes, steamed broccoli and a cup of nonfat milk.
Healthy Meals on Wednesday
For teens on the go, a healthy Wednesday breakfast meal might include a fruit smoothie made with nonfat yogurt, bananas, strawberries and peanut butter. For lunch, whole-grain unsweetened cereal with milk purchased from school and a cup of applesauce makes a good choice for teens who can't refrigerate their lunch. At dinner, the whole family might enjoy baked chicken with brown rice and green beans.
What to Eat on Thursday
A bowl of oatmeal topped with raisins and walnuts with a cup of nonfat milk makes a healthy and filling breakfast for teens. For lunch, hummus stuffed into a whole-wheat pita with sprouts and sliced cucumbers and served with a pear and a container of nonfat milk makes a good choice. A healthy dinner meal might include broiled pork chops with applesauce, peas and a baked sweet potato.
Consider Leftovers on Friday
By the end of the week, you may be ready to clear out your fridge, so consider serving leftovers. Your teen might enjoy scrambled eggs with sweet potato hash and a cup of calcium-fortified orange juice for breakfast. For lunch, wrap Wednesday's chicken in a whole-wheat tortilla with lettuce and sliced peppers and serve with cubed pineapple and a container of nonfat yogurt. Make a shrimp stir-fry with broccoli, carrots and low-sodium soy sauce and serve it with leftover brown rice.
Easy Saturday Meals
Whole-wheat bagels with peanut butter and cantaloupe makes an easy and healthy breakfast meal on Saturday morning. For lunch, your teen might enjoy whole-wheat English muffin pizzas served with mixed greens topped with low-fat salad dressing. At dinner, grill salmon and serve with orzo salad and grilled asparagus.
Finish the Week Right on Sunday
Blueberry pancakes for breakfast is a delicious way to sneak in fruit on Sunday; round out the meal with a glass of nonfat milk. A healthy lunch might include sliced chicken breast served on a whole-wheat roll with celery sticks and nonfat yogurt. Slow-cooked stew served with mixed greens and whole-wheat bread makes a healthy finish to the week.
A Word About Snacks
Teens need daily snacks to help meet nutrient needs and aid in hunger control. Healthy snack ideas include fresh fruit, cut vegetables with low-fat salad dressing, low-fat cheese and whole-grain crackers, dried fruit and nuts or nonfat yogurt. Keep snack sizes for your teen small to keep calories in check.