There are a lot of great reasons why you should incorporate more lean protein into your diet. It’s a great way to aid in weight loss, helps keep your body strong, and it may even protect your heart. But when you’re new to this way of eating, or trying to get away from premade meals and takeout, it can be a little tricky to start planning meals around your protein source. Here are some ideas to help you get started.
The key to any good meal planning routines is finding a few different dishes that you enjoy and using those as the core for your plan. From there you can play around with variations, using leftovers, and of course finding a more tasty meal ideas here and there. Over time you’ll grow your very own library or recipe box full of dishes that healthy and built around a source of lean protein.
When you’re first starting out, it’s helpful to start with one protein source (let’s say chicken breast or lean ground beef) and then coming up with four or five different dishes based on that. For example, you could start with the chicken breast and fix it grilled with rice and broccoli, baked in Italian dressing with whole wheat pasta and a side salad, simmered in barbecue sauce over rice with a side of kale slaw, and leftover chicken served on a big salad, or turned into chicken soup. The ground beef could be used to make a big batch of beef and vegetable soup, turned into burgers or meatloaf, or used as tacos.
Start by choosing at least four different sources of lean protein including eggs, fish, chicken, turkey, pork, and beef. If you’d like, include plant based protein sources like tofu, hemp seed, and beans, or dairy like Greek yogurt for example. Then come up with several dishes for each. Without a lot of planning or effort, you have a list of 20 or 30 dishes you can rotate through for dinner. After that it’s simply a matter of coming up with a few breakfast dishes you enjoy (eggs and Greek yogurt are great choices), and either plan for lunches, or have some leftovers from the night before to work with. Add a handful of protein rich snacks and you’re good to go for an entire month. From there simply rotate through your 30 day meal plan, mixing it up and adding new recipes to try to keep from getting bored. Give it a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how quick and easy it is to plan healthy, protein-based meals.