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Creating a meal plan using Choose My Plate

As part of a project on childhood obesity that is appearing this week in Shaw Media publications in Kane and McHenry counties and in DeKalb County next week, I am providing a sample weekly menu plan that meets the MyPlate requirements. 

The United States Department of Agriculture has been providing food guides to the public since 1916, when it first established guidance based on food groups and household measures. That guide has evolved over the years, most recently in June 2011, when the USDA unveiled MyPlate as its primary food group symbol to encourage people to make healthy food choices at all meal times. The symbol is a plate with the five food groups on a placemat, and suggests proportions, like half of the plate being fruits and vegetables, to be eaten at every meal.

The plate was developed from the 2010 report of the White House Childhood Obesity Task Force, which asked for a simple and direct symbol.

I assisted Shaw Media staff in several aspects of this project, including preparing meals that were used for graphics and filming videos on how to incorporate healthier portions and food choices using the Choose My Plate tool.

Calorie levels of this meal plan vary from 1200-1600 per day.  To add more calories in a healthy manner, add another healthy snack containing 150-200 calories, and consider adding a little extra protein and vegetables at your meals.  Healthy fats (olive oil, tub margarine, light mayo, etc. ) will also add 45 calories per tablespoon.  This will help you get more calories and feel more full.

Sunday - Breakfast

- (2) 4” Whole Grain Pancakes

- 6 oz. low-fat yogurt

- ¾ cup strawberries

Sunday - Lunch

- Cheese quesadilla made with (2) 6” tortillas and ¼ cup 2% shredded cheese

- ¼ cup salsa

- 2 cups salad greens with 2 Tbsp. low-fat salad dressing

- 1 medium apple

Sunday - Dinner

- 3 oz. roasted chicken breast

- ½ cup brown rice

- 1 cup green beans

- 1 cup melon

Sunday - Snacks

- 6 whole grain crackers

- 1 oz. low-fat string cheese

- ½-1 cup veggies 

Monday - Breakfast

- ¾ cup whole grain Cereal

- 1 cup low-fat milk

- ¾ cup blueberries

- ¼ cup nuts

Monday - Lunch

- Sandwich made with (2) pieces whole grain bread, 2 oz. turkey, and vegetables (lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber)

- 1 cup baby carrots

- 1 medium orange

- 6 oz. yogurt

Monday - Dinner

- 1 cup whole grain pasta

- ½ cup pasta sauce

- 3 oz. chicken breast

- 2 cups salad greens with 2 Tbsp. low-fat salad dressing

- 1 cup low-fat milk

Monday - Snacks

- 1 medium piece of fruit 

- ½-1 cup veggies 

Tuesday - Breakfast

- Whole grain English muffin

- 2 Tbsp. Natural peanut or other nut butter

- 1 cup low-fat milk

- ½ banana

Tuesday - Lunch

- 1 cup soup

- 6 whole grain crackers

- 2 cups salad greens with 2 Tbsp. low-fat salad dressing

- 1 medium pear

Tuesday - Dinner

- 3 oz. cooked ham

- 4 oz. sweet potato

- 1 tsp. tub margarine or butter (optional)

- 1 cup broccoli

- 1 cup low-fat milk

Tuesday - Snacks

- 1 medium piece of fruit

- 1 stick low-fat string cheese

- ½-1 cup veggies

Wednesday - Breakfast

- 2 pieces whole grain toast

- 1 hard-boiled egg

- Smoothie made with ¾ cup low-fat yogurt and ¾ cup frozen berries

Wednesday - Lunch

- Frozen veggie burger (i.e. Morningstar Farm, Boca) patty with whole wheat bun, topped with veggies (lettuce, tomato, onion, etc.) and 1 slice 2% cheese

- 1 medium apple

Wednesday - Dinner

- 3 oz. salmon 

- 1 cup wild rice

- 1 cup asparagus 

- 2 cups salad greens with 2 Tbsp. low-fat salad dressing

- 1 cup low-fat milk

Wednesday - Snacks

- 1 medium piece of fruit

- ½-1 cup veggies

Thursday - Breakfast

- 1 cup cooked plain oatmeal w/ cinnamon

- 1 cup low-fat milk

- ¼ cup walnuts

- ½ cup applesauce

Thursday - Lunch

- Frozen entrée low in sodium and fat (i.e. Healthy Choice) with less than 400 calories and less than 600mg sodium

- 2 cups salad greens and veggies with 2 Tbsp. low-fat dressing

- 1 medium size piece of fruit

Thursday - Dinner

- 2 soft tacos made with turkey breast,

- ¼ cup 2% shredded cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa

- ¾ cup fresh fruit

Thursday - Snacks

- 6 oz. low-fat yogurt

- 1 cup veggies

Friday - Breakfast

- Egg White breakfast sandwich with English muffin, egg white, and cheese

- 1 small piece fruit

Friday - Lunch

- 2 cups salad greens and veggies, 2 oz. grilled chicken strips, and 2 Tbsp. low-fat salad dressing

- ¾ cup berries

Friday - Dinner

- 3 oz. Turkey Burger with whole wheat bun topped with a 1 oz. slice of reduced-fat cheese and veggies

- 1 cup cooked vegetables 

- 1 cup low-fat milk

Friday - Snacks

- Medium-sized piece of fruit

- 6 whole-grain crackers and light cheese spread wedge (i.e. Laughing Cow Light)

- ½-1 cup veggies

Saturday - Breakfast

- Omelet made with ¼ cup egg whites, veggies, and 2% shredded cheese

- 2 pieces whole grain toast

- ¾ cup fresh fruit

- 1 cup low-fat milk

Saturday - Lunch

- Sandwich made with (1) whole grain pita pocket, 2 oz. chicken salad made with 1 Tbsp. Light mayo

- 1 cup snow or snap peas 

- 1 medium piece of fruit

Saturday - Dinner

- Chili with beans and lean ground turkey or sirloin and beans

- 6 whole-grain crackers

- 2 cups salad greens and veggies with 2 Tbsp. low-fat dressing

- 1 cup low-fat milk

Saturday - Snacks

- 6 oz. low-fat yogurt

- 1 medium piece of fruit

Other tips to encourage success:

Substitute calcium-enriched soy milk or Lactaid milk for those who dislike milk or are lactose-intolerant

Vary your fruits and vegetables to get the best assortment of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals

Prep your salad greens and veggies at the beginning of the week so they are easy to grab during the week.

Choose raw nuts and limit those that are roasted/salted.

Eat snacking veggies with low-fat dip or dressing if desired; just limit how much you use.

Low-fat and fat-free Greek yogurts are a great option to help you feel full.  They tend to have twice as much protein as regular yogurt, helping you to feel full longer.  

Look for foods with a Whole Grain stamp (see

Use the Choose My Plate Food Tracker sheets or My Fitness Pal (available at or as a free app) to help you meet your recommended daily calories goals for weight maintenance or weight loss.

Use measuring cups and spoons to measure your portions on occasion.

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