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The 30-Day Shape Up Your Plate Challenge for Easy, Healthy Meal Planning

Eating right, prepping meals, avoiding all the processed stuff you know you should save for special occasions, and oh yeah, staying committed to a healthy diet can be difficult—duh. But it can be even more daunting right after the holidays when you’ve spent the last four or five weeks eating more rich, creamy, heavy, belly-clogging foods than you normally would. All those splurge foods and holiday treats should be enjoyed (I mean, we’re all about balance here at Shape), but not at the expense of your health, fitness, or frankly, mood. (BTW, save this three-step strategy to feel better faster after you eat a little too much…)

So in the spirit of starting fresh with a new year (but if you’re reading this and it’s, oh, say, July…who cares? Start this healthy monthly meal plan now!), we wanted to make things easier on you with an entire month of healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner options planned out for you. That’s right—the Shape Up Your Plate Challenge requires no guesswork, no research. Just recipes, tips, and yep, even treats to get you back to yourself in no time. (Related: 10 Meal Planning Staples You Should Always Have In Your Kitchen)

If you’re asking, "Will this healthy monthly meal plan help me lose weight?" or "Will eating these healthy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners give me more energy to get to the gym?" the answer to both is likely yes, but that’s not why we worked with Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., registered dietitian and author of The Superfood Swap, to create this healthy monthly meal plan. "Shaping up your plate can be easy and taste great, so I wanted to prove that," Jackson Blatner says. "This challenge spends time on food prep only once a day, and I’m not a gourmet chef, so I made sure the dinners are things you can do, even if you’re new in the kitchen or tight on time." And before you roll your eyes thinking that a nutritionist created a bunch of bland yet healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas filled with "diet food," think again. This month you’ll enjoy things like fried rice, meatballs, lemon chicken, and stuffed sweet potatoes. You’ll never go hungry either: Each day, you’ll have three balanced meals plus healthy snacks and sweets. See? Doable and enjoyable! (We're not leaving you hanging when it comes to fitness goals this year either. In fact, we have an ab-solutely amazing plank challenge to try alongside this healthy monthly meal plan.)

How it works: You’ll begin the healthy monthly meal plan with a seven-day detox—and by "detox" we do not mean anything resembling a juice cleanse or watery soup three times a day. This first week is designed to prime your body for the coming weeks. The healthy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners will jumpstart your metabolism, digestion, and diet overall to get it over the hump from dense holiday meals more quickly. You can start your days with one of three drinks: hot lemon water, matcha green tea (made with water), or a simple green juice (kale, water, lemon squeeze, ice). Breakfasts include quick eats such as oatmeal or avocado toast. Lunch will always be a re-imagined version of leftovers from the night before. (So easy, we know.) And dinner this week includes seven original recipes created by Jackson Blatner just for Shape readers. And guess what? They are so good and so simple.

The three weeks after that are grouped by category: healthy gut, vegetarian, and superfoods. You’ll find breakfasts, lunches, and dinners planned out for you again, so there’s no wondering "What’s for dinner?" or "What can I pack for lunch tomorrow?"

To make things even easier for you (because eating healthy should be easy, and dare we say, fun), we created a healthy grocery list for you. You'll have everything you need on hand for every week of the healthy monthly meal plan, which will make meal prep Sundays a breeze and hopefully keep you from making extra trips to the store.

30-Day Shape Up Your Plate Healthy Eating Challenge

Day 1

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Photo: Avery Powell

Day 1: 7-Day Detox

Breakfast

Almond Butter Oatmeal with Berries
Stir 1 1/2 tablespoons almond butter into 3/4 cup cooked oatmeal (prepared with water). Top with 1 cup berries and sprinkle of cinnamon.

Lunch

Green Base
Place leftovers from dinner the night before on bed of salad greens. Chinese leftovers, chopped up pizza—anything.

Dinner

Hummus Chicken with Zucchini and Potato Wedges

Day 2

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Photo: Avery Powell

Day 2: 7-Day Detox

Breakfast

Egg and Greens Breakfast Bowl
In a bowl, top 1/2 cup sautéed kale with 1/2 cup cooked brown rice, 1 scrambled egg, 1/4 avocado, and sea salt. Serve with 1/2 grapefruit.

Lunch

Hummus Chicken and Kale Bowl
In a bowl, toss 2 cups chopped kale, 2 tablespoons hummus, and 2 tablespoon lemon juice. Slice 4 ounces cooked chicken breast (left over from dinner) and place on top of kale mixture along with 1/2 cup shredded carrots, 1/4 cup finely chopped apple, and 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds.

Dinner

Chopped Sesame Salad with Salmon and Quinoa

Day 3

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Photo: Avery Powell

Day 3: 7-Day Detox

Breakfast

Sunflower and Avocado Toast
Smash 1/2 avocado on 1 slice sprouted whole-grain toast and top with 1/4 cup watercress or arugula, 1 slice tomato, and 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds. Serve with 1/2 grapefruit. (Related: 30 Awesome Avocado Toast Recipes to Fuel You Through This Healthy Monthly Meal Plan—and All Year Long)

Lunch

Greek Salmon Bowl
Put 3 cups chopped romaine lettuce in a bowl. Chop 4 ounces cooked salmon (left over from dinner) and place on top of lettuce along with 1/2 cup diced cucumber, 1/2 cup diced tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese. Top with 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon dried dill.

Dinner

Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash Pasta
 

 

Day 4

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Photo: Avery Powell

Day 4: 7-Day Detox

Breakfast

Chia Berry Yogurt Parfait
Mash 1 cup berries (of your choice) with 2 tablespoons chia seeds. Top 6 ounces plain 2% Greek yogurt with the berry-chia mixture and 1 tablespoon toasted unsweetened coconut flakes.

Lunch

Veggie Soup with Meatballs
Warm 1 1/2 cups low-sodium canned veggie soup with 4 ounces meatballs (left over from dinner). Top with 1 tablespoon shredded Parmesan cheese.

Dinner

Lemon Chicken with Roasted Root Vegetables

Day 5

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Photo: Avery Powell

Day 5: 7-Day Detox

Breakfast

Sweet Greens Breakfast Smoothie
In a blender, combine 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk, 1 cup kale leaves, 1 banana, 2 tablespoons rolled oats, 1 tablespoon almond butter, 1 teaspoon honey, and 1/4 cup ice. Blend until smooth. (For this healthy monthly meal plan and beyond, here's our formula to build the best smoothie.)

Lunch

Lemon Chicken Caprese Salad
Toss 2 cups watercress or arugula, 1 cup chopped tomato, 1 ounce chopped fresh mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Slice 4 ounces of lemon chicken (left over from dinner) and serve on top of salad.

Dinner

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Black Beans and Avocado

Day 6

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Photo: Avery Powell

Day 6: 7-Day Detox

Breakfast

Apple and Almond Butter Toast
Spread 1 1/2 tablespoons almond butter (or your favorite nut butter) on 1 slice sprouted whole-grain toast and top with 1 small sliced green apple and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Lunch

Black Bean Taco Salad
In a bowl, add 3 cups of chopped romaine lettuce. Top with 1 cup warmed black bean mixture (left over from dinner), 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes, 1 chopped green onion, 1/4 avocado mashed, 2 tablespoons cheddar cheese, and 2 tablespoons cilantro.

Dinner

Golden Chicken with Coconut Rice and Broccoli 

Day 7

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Photo: Avery Powell

Day 7: 7-Day Detox

Breakfast 

Open-Face Breakfast Sandwich
Top 1 slice sprouted whole-grain toast with 1/4 cup spinach, 1 over-medium egg, 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese, and a sprinkle of black pepper. Serve with 1/2 cup cubed cantaloupe. (Related: Healthy Breakfast Sandwich Recipes For Hearty Morning Meals)

Lunch

Golden Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Chop 4 ounces golden chicken (left over from dinner) with 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper, 1/2 cup shredded carrot, and 1/4 cup chopped cashews. Split mixture to fill 2 whole romaine lettuce leaves and top with fresh lime juice

Dinner

Cauliflower Fried Rice Bowl

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Photo: Avery Powell

7-Day Detox Snacks For This Healthy Monthly Meal Plan

Healthy Monthly Meal Plan Snacks

(about 150 calories each)

  • Almonds (15) + freeze-dried berries (1/4 cup)
  • Apple slices (1/2 apple) + cinnamon almond butter (1 tablespoon almond butter with sprinkle of cinnamon)
  • Melon (3/4 cup) + mozzarella (1 ounce)
  • Veggies (1 cup) + ranch dip such as Marzetti Ranch Dip (2 tablespoons)
  • Brown rice crackers (about 8) + avocado (1/4) and pepper
7-day-detox-treats

Photo: Avery Powell

7-Day Detox Treats

Healthy Monthly Meal Plan Treats

(about 100 calories each)

  • Peppermint tea and dark chocolate chips (1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • Golden spice latte: 1 cup warm unsweetened almond milk + 1 teaspoon honey + 1/2 teaspoon turmeric + 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon + pinch of sea salt and pepper (BTW, this Iced Golden Milk Latte will have you bypassing the coffee shop.)
  • Berries (1/2 cup) with honey-ginger dip: 1/4 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt + 1/2 teaspoon honey + 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
blueberry-cacao-smoothie-bowl

Healthy Monthly Meal Plan Week 4: Superfoods

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