Menu Planner Checklist


Planning ahead helps you get the most out of every meal!  Are your menus on track with tasty, good-for-you, and budget-wise foods? Find out!





Most often, daily meals and snacks contain:

  • A variety of interesting flavours, colours, shapes (cubes, slices) textures (crunchy, smooth) and temperatures (cooked, raw).  
  • Foods that are least processed/prepared. For example, rather than buying frozen pizza, make your own whole-wheat pita pizzas.
  • Fresh vegetables and fruits in season and frozen or canned (drained) at other times. Include a dark-green vegetable (frozen peas, bok choy) and an orange vegetable (carrot, sweet potato) or fruit (canned peaches, cantaloupe).
  • Whole-grain choices at least half the time: brown rice, barley, bulgur, oats, quinoa, couscous, pitas, cereals, pasta, tortillas, roti, wild rice, popcorn.
  • Lower-fat milk (2% milk fat or less) or fortified soy beverage.
  • Meat alternatives (beans, eggs, tofu) and lean meats with fat trimmed and poultry with skin removed.  
  • Each week includes at least two Food Guide servings (125 mL or ½ cup or 75 g) of fish (salmon, tuna, char, herring, sardines, trout).
  • Enough food to meet the Food Guide recommendations.
  • Foods that offer little nutrition and mostly fat, sugar and/or salt (sweet baked goods, chips, candy) are served seldom and only in small amounts.

Daily beverage choices:

  • Serve water often.
  • Each day, children and adults need 500 mL (2 cups) and youth (14-18 years of age) need 750 mL (3 cups) of milk or fortified soy beverage.
  • Adults can have up to six cups of tea or three cups of coffee a day to a limit of 300-400 mg caffeine. Pregnant women should limit caffeine intake to 300 mg per day, which is equal to about 2 cups of coffee or 4 cups of tea per day.
  • Limit daily juice to no more than 125 mL (1/2 cup) for children and 250 mL (1 cup) for adults. Serve vegetables and fruits more often than 100% juice.
  • Limit or avoid sweetened fruit drinks, punches, energy drinks and soft drinks.

Cooking Methods: 

  • Foods are flavoured with herbs, spices, onions, etc., and prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt.
  • A small amount (30-45 mL or 2-3 tbsp per person) of unsaturated fat (canola, olive and soybean oils, salad dressing, soft margarine that is low in saturated fat and is trans fat-free, mayonnaise) is included each day.
  • Butter, lard and shortening are limited, and hard margarine with trans fat is not used.
  • Lower-fat cooking methods (baking, poaching, roasting, slow-cooking, broiling, grilling, steaming) are used most often.


Last Update – June 10, 2015

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If you have questions about what you've read here, or other questions about food, nutrition or healthy eating, click to email our Registered Dietitians or call 1-877-510-5102.