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Meal planning for diabetics: A meal-by-meal guide

Meal planning for your week can take some extra time initially, but knowing what ingredients you need for each meal can save time and stress during you daily routine, especially if you have special dietary needs. Below are enough ideas for each meal of the day to go through one week, and they’re all diabetes-friendly! Look these over, made a list of ingredients for your favorites, and head to the grocery store.


  1. Veggie omelet | Coat a skillet with cooking spray and cook one egg. Add a handful of spinach leaves and mushrooms, onions, garlic and herbs as you like them. Top with 2 tablespoons of reduced fat cheese and serve with one slice of whole-grain toast.
  1. Crunchy yogurt | Top 6 ounces of fat-free, unflavored yogurt with ¼ cup granola, 1 tablespoon ground flax seed, and 1 tablespoon of chopped nuts.
  1. At-home egg McMuffin | Coat a skillet with cooking spray and scramble one egg with chopped tomato, onion or other veggies. Serve with a toasted whole-grain English muffin.
  1. Breakfast smoothie | Mix 6 ounces of fat-free, unflavored yogurt with 2 tablespoons dried mixed fruit, 2 tablespoons ground flax seed and 2 tablespoons of your favorite nuts.
  1. Bagel breakfast | Spread half of a whole-grain bagel with 1 tablespoon of low-fat cream cheese or 1 tablespoon of 100-percent fruit spread.
  1. Simple cereal | Combine 1 cup of Cheerios cereal with 1 cup fat-free milk. Enjoy with a medium orange on the side.
  1. Oatmeal with nuts | Cook ½ cup of oatmeal and top with ¼ cup of your favorite nuts and ground cinnamon to taste.


  1. Turkey-and-ham sandwich | Spread 1 teaspoon regular mayo and 1 tablespoon mustard onto 2 slices of whole wheat bread. Add 1 ounce each of turkey, ham, and your favorite low-fat cheese, then add shredded romaine lettuce and 1/2 sliced tomato. Serve with a handful of chopped carrots and low-fat ranch dressing or 1 tablespoon of your favorite kind of nut butter.
  1. Cheese quesadilla | Place 1 whole-wheat tortilla on a microwave-safe plate, then sprinkle on 2 ounces of your favorite low-fat cheese. Fold the tortilla in half over the cheese and microwave on medium power for 30-45 seconds. Top with lettuce, tomato, salsa, 2 tablespoons avocado and/or 1 tablespoon light sour cream.
  1. Italian-inspired salad | Rinse ½ cup canned garbanzo beans and combine with 2 cups mixed dark greens and 1 ounce low-fat shredded Mozzarella cheese. Top with 2 tablespoons light Italian dressing.
  1. Honey mustard chicken salad | Combine 2 cups mixed dark greens with 2 stalks of chopped celery and ¼ cup sliced green or red grapes. Coat a skillet with cooking spray and cook 2 ounces of chicken breast until browned. Top with up to 2 tablespoons light honey mustard dressing.
  1. Mini pesto pizza | Toast a whole-grain English muffin, then top each half with 1 tablespoon pesto basil sauce, 1 slice of tomato and ½ slice of the reduced fat cheese of your choice. Bake in oven at 325 degrees until cheese melts.
  1. Tuna salad | Mix 3 ounces canned tuna with 2 stalks of chopped celery, 1 teaspoon mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar and 4 chopped green olives. Mix tuna combination with 2 cups mixed dark greens and top with up to 1 tablespoon chopped almonds. Eat with a fork or scoop up with whole grain crackers!
  1. Bean tostada | Heat oven to 400 degrees and bake 1 corn tortilla until crisp. Rinse ½ can of pinto beans and spread on tortilla along with 2 tablespoons shredded low-fat Mexican blend cheese. Place tortilla back in the oven until cheese melts, then top with ¼ cup salsa.


  1. Shrimp salad bowl | Mix ⅓ cup cooked brown rice and 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese with 2 cups dark mixed greens. Sauté 3 ounces shrimp over low heat and add to salad, along with 2 tablespoons of your favorite reduced-fat dressing. Serve with whole-grain rye crackers spread with 2 tablespoons low-fat ricotta or cottage cheese.
  1. Parmesean baked fish | Combine ¼ cup light mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon sliced green onion and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Rinse 4 ounces skinless salmon fillets and pat dry, then coat with mayonnaise mixture. Place fish in baking dish coated with cooking spray and bake for 8-12 minutes at 450 degrees. Makes four servings.
  1. Oven-fried chicken | Coat 4 ounces raw chicken breast in 1 tablespoon low-fat Italian dressing and 2 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs. Place coated chicken on lightly oiled baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
  1. Loaded baked potato | Prick potato with fork several times so steam can escape, then microwave on high for 6-8 minutes, turning over once halfway through. Cut a slit in the top of potato and fill with ¼ cup cottage cheese, 2 tablespoons shredded cheese of your choice and broccoli.
  1. Sweet chicken stir-fry | Coat a skillet with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Stir-fry ½ medium sliced red onion in hot oil for 2 minutes, then add in ¼ cup pineapple pieces, ¼ cup zucchini strips, and ¼ cup trimmed pea pods. Stir-fry for an additional 2 minutes and remove mixture from skillet. Coat skillet with cooking spray again and add 4 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, then return onion mixture to skillet and combine. Mix in 3 tablespoons stir-fry sauce and heat 1 additional minute.
  1. Chili-stuffed peppers | Remove top, membranes and seeds from a small or medium green, red or yellow sweet pepper—if needed, cut a thin slice from the bottom of the pepper so it sits flat for filling. Set pepper aside and combine ¼ cup cooked rice and ¼ can of chili beans in a bowl. Fill pepper with rice mixture and place on a baking sheet, open side up. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. While the pepper is baking, heat 4 ounces tomato sauce over low heat and mix in ¼ cup of finely chopped onion. After removing the pepper from the oven, spoon tomato sauce mixture onto pepper and add the shredded cheese of your choice.
  1. Grown-up mac & cheese | Cook 3 ounces multigrain elbow macaroni per package directions, but do not add salt to the water. As the macaroni is cooking, coat a large skillet with cooking spray and cook 6 ounces skinless, boneless chicken cut into pieces with 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion. When chicken is no longer pink, remove skillet from heat and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk ¾ cup fat-free milk with ½ tablespoon flour and add to chicken mixture in skillet. Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring as needed, until mixture thickens. Reduce heat to low and stir in 2 ounces low-fat cheddar cheese. Drain the cooked macaroni and add to skillet; cook/stir for 2 additional minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup chopped spinach and ½ cup chopped and seeded tomatoes.

Let us know which of these recipes become your new favorite in the comments!

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