Example Day

Below is a suggested menu, for someone who needs about 2000 kcal (8400 kJ) per day (see attachment for recipes) to ensure that you consume a varied, balanced diet over the course of the day could include the following combination of foods:

The foods presented have been chosen to ensure that over the day, the right amounts of nutrients like carbohydrate and fat, as well as vitamins and minerals are provided. The calories provided are actually a bit lower than the 2000 kcal (8400 kJ) guideline but it is likely that over a few days, this would balance out. Balancing this calorie intake with an active lifestyle will help to maintain a healthy weight. The sugar, saturated fat and salt content is below the recommended maximum, and the minimum 5-A-DAY target is exceeded.

Nutrient Guideline Example Day
Calories Around 2000kcal (8400kJ) 1910 kcal (8000kJ)
Total Sugars Less than 90g 88g
Saturated fat Less than 20g 12.4g
Salt Less than 6g 5g
Fruit and Vegetables At least 5 portions 7 portions

The example day also meets the Department of Health’s eatwell plate and 8 healthy eating tips:

The items in this menu (or similar items that you like) can be mixed and matched with the other breakfast, lunch or evening meal suggestions above. However, it is important to try to balance out foods eaten over the day and week with complementary foods from the four main groups in the eatwell plate so that you have enough from each one and have plenty of variety. Where possible, meals should be based on starchy foods and at least five portions of fruits and vegetables eaten each day. Moderate amounts of milk and dairy foods and foods from the ‘meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein’ group should also be included in meals and snacks over the day. Remember that chopped vegetable sticks with a dip, or a piece of fruit and handful of unsalted nuts make excellent healthy snack choices.

Nutrient Classified as 'high' if:
Saturated fat More than 5g per 100g
Salt More than 1.5g per 100g
Sugar More than 22.5g per 100g

The evening meal is a great opportunity to boost fruit and vegetable intake. Try to include at least two portions with your evening meal, and more if other meals and snacks haven’t included very much.  For example, extra vegetables could be added to the chicken and vegetable curry, which could provide two portions, and a fruit salad makes a simple dessert.

Tips for eating out of the home

Buying food on the run can present a challenge to healthy eating, but comparing food labels can help you select healthier options. Try to be mindful of the overall saturated fat, salt and sugar content, especially in any pre-packaged foods that you buy. Check our tips on reading and understanding labels to help you select healthier options. As a quick guide: a product will be classified as high in saturated fat if it contains more than 5 g of saturated fat per 100 g, high in salt if it has more than 1.5 g of salt per 100 g (or 0.6 g sodium) and high in sugar if it contains more than 22.5 g of sugars per 100 g

When looking for a suitable lunch or evening meal, try to identify meals with a total calorie content of around 600 kcal / 2500 kJ (female) or 750 calories / 3150 kJ (male). Ideally, opt for a side of fruit, vegetables or salad. See our pages on eating outside of the home for further hints and tips.

Meal Planning

This resource is designed to help you with planning your meals and shopping in line with the eatwell plate recommendations. Fill in your meal, snack and drink ideas for each day in the weekly planner table based on the key messages below, and use this to create a shopping list. Ideally, the ‘fruits and vegetables’ and ‘starchy foods’ sections should be the longest lists, whilst the ‘snacks and treats’ section should be the shortest. To help work out which foods belong in which food group, see our pages on the eatwell plate (LINK). Some foods might be difficult to categorise, such as a jar of sauce or a dip, so there is space for these extras in the ‘other’ section.


We’ve given an example of how to complete the planner using our ‘example day’ above, to help you get started and have provided recipes for the meals included in the planner.

For more information on the sources used in this text, please contact postbox@nutrition.org.uk

Last reviewed May 2014. Revised January 2016. Next due for review May 2017