We’ve all heard it before—it’s important to have a well-balanced diet. But what does “well-balanced” actually mean?
What makes a well-balanced nutritious meal?
Let’s start with the basics.
Broken down simply, there are three main parts that determine if a meal is well-balanced:
- Variety – Eating a variety of foods not only keeps things interesting with different textures and flavors, but it also helps provide your body with a range of key nutrients.
- Nutrition – Nutrition is a critical part of health and development—and better nutrition is related to stronger immune systems, reduces the risk of chronic disease, and gives you energy!
- Portion size – Eating appropriate portions of food helps with digestion (your digestive system works best when it’s not overloaded with food), keeping blood sugar balanced, and keeping you feeling full and satisfied.
All three pieces of this puzzle are of equal importance. Since different foods contain different kinds and amounts of nutrients, it’s important to represent multiple food groups (think fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy) on your plate.
All Foods Fit
All foods have value—some are more nutritious than others. A well-balanced meal has more nutritious ingredients, but less nutritious foods can still fit in your meal, they just might need to be consumed in moderation (watch your portion size and frequency). Guiding Stars helps you choose nutritious foods, making it faster to shop for meals.
How Guiding Stars Can Help
In short, Guiding Stars is a quick and easy way to eat more nutritious food. Backed by science and built for speed, the Guiding Stars patented formula reviews food and beverages in participating supermarkets to help shoppers find products with good nutritional value both in-store and online. If a product meets our nutritional standards, it earns one, two, or three stars—one star means a product has good nutrition, two stars means better, and three stars means it offers the best nutrition! If a product has no stars, it means that item doesn’t meet our science-based standards for good nutrition. Our recipes are also rated with the good, better, best star system—meaning every well-balanced recipe in this blog post earns at least one star (good nutrition)!
Now that we’ve covered what makes a meal well-balanced, and how Guiding Stars can help you find nutritious ingredients, let’s dive into some examples of satisfying, well-balanced meals.
Well-Balanced Seafood Salad
Our first well-balanced meal idea is for those who love shellfish—a seafood salad with a citrus vinaigrette! This salad has it all: 14 grams of protein per serving, plenty of nutrients like calcium, iron, and potassium, and healthy fats from the avocado. It’s also got fruits and veggies (grapefruit, cherry tomatoes, and lettuce). Add in some grains by serving with a slice of 100% whole grain bread on the side, and you’ve got a well-balanced meal in just 20 minutes!
Tuscan Chicken & Veggies
Well-balanced meals can also be easy: just try this one-pan Tuscan chicken and veggies recipe! Simply toss together the Brussels sprouts and grape tomatoes with some olive oil, balsamic, and spices, and season the chicken with Italian seasoning and lemon juice and pop them in the oven all on one sheet pan. Serve with some whole grain pasta and your favorite marinara sauce to really round out your dish! And, what’s more, this recipe only takes 35 minutes to cook—making it a perfect weeknight meal.
Spicy Fish Taco Bowls
Our next well-balanced meal idea is a southwestern-style favorite—spicy fish taco bowls! With a serving of grains in the form of brown rice, protein from the tilapia fillets, and nutrient-dense low-sodium black beans, these satisfying bowls are as filling as they are yummy. Serve alongside a side of roasted veggies like onions, peppers, and zucchini (try seasoning them with similar spices as the tilapia to tie things together!) and you’ve got a nutritious, delicious meal.
Beef Kebabs & Broccoli Pilaf
If you love steak, you’ll love these beef kebabs with broccoli pilaf. Cubes of sirloin provide the protein, brown rice supplies the grains, and broccoli completes the dish. By using the broiler to cook the kebabs, you can make this recipe even without a grill! Serve with a simple side salad and voilà, an easy, balanced, 30-minute meal!
Well-Balanced Black Bean and Quinoa Burgers
Lastly, here’s a well-balanced meatless meal: black bean and quinoa burgers! This unique recipe is packed with nutrients (both black beans and quinoa are both great sources of protein). With delicious ingredients like cumin, paprika, and nutritional yeast, these patties are sure to satisfy. Serve them up on whole-grain buns and top with veggies like lettuce, onion, and tomato for a fun, vegetarian twist on a classic American meal. Try them with sweet potato fries as a side for a better-for-you alternative to fast food!
We hope you enjoyed these well-balanced meal ideas! Guiding Stars is a science-backed program that allows you to find more nutritious foods in a lot less time so you can feel better about what you are feeding your family. Let us know in the comments if you’ve tried any of these star-worthy recipes.