Healthy Eating Meal Plan Wk 1: Half Plate Challenge

Start the New Year off with a healthy meal plan for the WHOLE family! This week's meal plan is full of tips to help you feel your best and recipes that will keep you and your family full, satisfied, and ready to take on the day!

This month we’re pleased to welcome Katie Morford and her meal plans as part of our January Reset Challenge! Katie is a San Francisco-based cookbook author and registered dietitian who writes the blog Mom’s Kitchen Handbook.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m like everyone else on the block and look to January to improve my eating habits. What’s hard, though, is knowing what healthy eating really means (it’s even confusing for me, and I’m a registered dietitian).

Nutrition research seems to flip flop on the daily, with one expert advising a high-fat diet while another says vegan eating is the answer to all your dietary prayers. The truth is, not everyone will ever agree on what the “right” diet really is. And what works for you may not be exactly what works for me.


All that being said, most nutrition experts do agree on a few fundamentals:

  • Vegetables and fruits of every color, shape, and stripe are enormously good for you and should be eaten abundantly with great variety.
  • Choosing whole foods over heavily processed ones is where it’s at.
  • From-scratch cooking adds up to healthier eating than routinely hitting the take-out or drive-thru.

As for what to cook, I’m personally a fan of whole grains, lean protein foods, plant protein sources (tofu, beans, legumes), quality dairy (hello, kefir and yogurt), and really good non-dairy foods (I’m hooked on oat milk just like everyone else).

I mostly use olive oil for cooking, and eat lots of other healthy fats, like nuts, seeds, and avocados. I try to keep my wine in check (not always successfully) and when I reach for a sweet, I aim for good, dark chocolate. That’s just me.

What does healthy eating look like for you: Using the basic framework of whole foods? Lots of produce? Eating in more than eating out?


Along those lines, I’ve got a challenge for you. I call it the “Half Plate” challenge, something I started last year on Instagram. Here’s the idea:

For every meal and snack for the next week, look to fill at least half your plate with fruits, vegetables, or both. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t nail it every time. Even just once or twice a day is an excellent start.

Here are a few examples:

  • For breakfast, add a handful of baby spinach to your eggs and top your toast with banana slices.
  • Embellish your turkey sandwich at lunch with tomatoes, avocado, extra lettuce, shredded carrots, and sliced cucumber. Add a pear on the side.
  • Instead of snacking on crackers and hummus, make it carrots and hummus.
  • Swap in mushrooms for meat in your Bolognese and serve it with a heaping side of roasted broccoli.
  • If you’re craving ice cream for dessert, make it one scoop instead of two and add an equal amount of your favorite berries.


Take a photo of your Half Plate meals or snacks to share on our January Reset Challenge Facebook page for a chance to win a prize. Below is a Half Plate Meal Plan to get you started. I chose these recipes because they do a great job illustrating that “half your plate” eating isn’t a diet prescription. It’s a way to enjoy vibrant, delicious food that happens to be good for you.

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Sheet Pan Meal with Chicken

LOVE a sheet pan supper, since it means very little mess once dinner is done. If you plan to serve this over rice, consider tossing in an equal amount of riced broccoli or extra cauliflower.

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Tuscan Bean Soup

This is the kind of supper I crave in the wintertime, which I 100 percent consider to be soup season. Carrots, celery, onions, and leafy greens make it a Half the Plate slam dunk.

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Beef Noodle Bowl - - noodle salad with beef and vegtables in a white bowl

Not only is this bowl packed with crunchy veggies, but it also calls for flank steak, which is one of the leanest cuts out there. Want dessert? How about upping your produce even more with a plate of fresh mango.

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Zucchini Roll-Ups Recipe Vegetarian

This is a good one for lasagna lovers and gluten-free folks alike. I like to add a simple arugula salad on the side tossed with this simple balsamic vinaigrette.

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Easy healthy shepherd's pie recipe

This recipe delivers all the comfort you should expect in a traditional shepherd’s pie, it’s just a little bit healthier. The filling is fortified generously with vegetables. The topping, a combination of both potatoes and cauliflower, relies on heart-healthy olive oil rather than butter for its creaminess.

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Green Smoothie

Here’s a good one to wake up to that will pack your day with produce from the get-go. If you’ve got extra, freeze it in an ice cube tray to defrost on another day.

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Katie Morford

Katie Morford is the Nutrition Editor for Simply Recipes. She is a writer, registered dietitian, and author of three cookbooks: PREP: The Essential College Cookbook, Rise & Shine: Better Breakfasts for Busy Mornings and Best Lunch Box Ever, which was nominated for an IACP award. Her work has been featured in Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, Health, Real Simple, Oprah, Parents, Self, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the New York Times, among others. Katie lives in San Francisco with her husband and three daughters.

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  1. Michelle

    Per my doctor I was told to cut sodium intake to 1500 mg per day 9 years ago because I was diagnosed with AFib. . I lost 50 lbs in a year doing this. I ate lean meats, nothing processed, lots of vegetable and fruits and 2 snacks a day. I would have a piece of good dark chocolate not more than one piece after walking 2 miles every day. I ate chocolate Fiber one bars cut into 9 small pieces after dinner or a Vitalicious muffing top cut in small pieces after dinner. Some days I had to eat a lot of food just to maintain the 1500 mg. Of course you are not eating out. If people would look at the menu before they go to eat out and look at the calories, fat and sodium they would stay home.

    I am not saying you should never eat out, but everything in moderation. I had free times like holidays but I always went back to my 1500 mg of sodium per day. It is like with anything it is a lifestyle change. Call it a diet and first thing you think of is I am being deprived of something.

  2. sharon carr

    I am eager to try these recipes! They are healthy offering a lot of flavor. Going to the grocery store today. Shared recipes with hubby who gave the thumbs up on everything. I will sneak in the smoothie and he won’t even taste the spinach…ha! onward….