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Lose Weight With This Four-Week Meal Plan For Women

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Image: courtesy World Obesity Federation

If you’re ready to lose some weight with a meal plan you can trust, look no further. There’s no juice fasting or excluding major food groups here – award-winning dietitian Azmina Govindji (opens in new tab) has created a balanced four-week meal plan to help you lose weight the healthy way. We’ve explained why you can trust a dietitian’s advice (opens in new tab), but in brief a dietitian is a qualified nutrition professional who’s regulated by law and governed by an ethical code. Govindji has been chief dietitian at Diabetes UK and you may have seen her in TV adverts for the NHS Better Health weight loss campaign.

While keeping to a total of around 1,300-1,400 calories a day including snacks, spreads and drinks, Govindji’s meal plan delivers on every dietary recommendation across the week. So you’ll be meeting your daily requirements of things like fibre, as well as most minerals and vitamins. You’ll also be keeping within the right limits for fat, saturates and salt.

The meal plan is also structured in a way that gets you used to a healthier routine. The calorie split throughout the day is roughly 300 for breakfast, 400 for lunch and 400 for your evening meal, similar to Public Health England’s 400-600-600 recommendation for maintaining a healthy weight. Govindji has also highlighted meals that deliver certain essential nutrients you need to stay healthy, which you can integrate into your diet after you finish the plan.

You won’t just be eating salads, either. You can look forward to enjoying punchy flavours and satisfying meals – think citrus beef and noodles, black bean quesadillas and jerk chicken kebabs.

If you follow this plan for the four weeks, we’re confident you’ll see noticeable weight loss and feel healthier thanks to the range of fibre-packed meals and nutrient-dense foods chosen.

Four-Week Weight Loss Meal Plan For Women

You might assume having a latte or a glass of wine is strictly forbidden on this meal plan, but no! The plan allows for up to five every week, of either milk-based coffees (skinny latte or similar), or something alcoholic up to a maximum of seven units (we’re talking a 125ml glass of wine or half a pint of 4% lager, or a single measure of spirits with a sugar-free mixer).

You can of course drink as much water as you like, as well as sugar-free soft drinks, tea and coffee, although if you take them with milk this will come out of your daily milk allowance of 100ml semi-skimmed milk or plant-based alternative. You’ll also have a 2tsp (10g) daily allowance of reduced-fat spread for toast, rolls, sandwiches, baked potatoes or to melt over veggies.

Plant-based drinks such as soya, oat or almond milk can be used in place of semi-skimmed milk. Choose fortified plant milks with added calcium, iodine, vitamin D and vitamin B12. Vegetarian and vegan alternatives to meat and cheese can also be substituted. Try tofu or mycoprotein like Quorn instead of chicken and pork; use Quorn or soya mince instead of beef or turkey mince. Vegan alternatives to cheese can be used, although cheese substitutes do not offer the nutrients that dairy contains.

It’s especially important for women to get enough iron in their diet and eating iron-fortified breakfast cereals is a good way to help with this. It’s best to avoid drinking tea or coffee with vegetarian meals because the tannins in those drinks reduce the absorption of the type of iron that’s found in grains and vegetables.

There’s no need to follow the plan rigidly: you can make switches between breakfasts, lunches or dinner options to suit your lifestyle and schedule. Just make sure you swap meals with a similar calorie content. Snack suggestions, especially fruit and yogurt, can be eaten as part of a meal if you prefer.

Pack sizes can vary by retail outlet, however this plan and nutritional information that goes with it is based on the following pack sizes, unless otherwise stated:

  • 100g salmon fillet (cooked weight)
  • 120g chicken breast (cooked weight)
  • 120g yogurt pot
  • 200g cans of beans and tomatoes (or half a standard 400g can)
  • 60g (small) or 120g (medium) for canned tuna (drained weights)

For easier cooking, the recipe suggestions include dry weights for grains like rice and pasta.

We haven’t included methods for every recipe. If you’re unsure, search the internet for recipes and you’ll soon find the standard techniques.

Week One: Monday

Breakfast: Quinoa porridge with seeds and berries (320 calories)

  • 40g quinoa
  • 200ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1tbsp chia seeds
  • 1tsp honey
  • 80g mixed berries

This spruced-up porridge provides half your daily recommended intake of calcium and over a quarter of your iron and fibre requirements.

Lunch: Tuna salad roll (395 calories)

  • Small can of tuna
  • 1 heaped tsp reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • Chopped cucumber
  • 2 slices of pepper
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 large wholemeal bap
  • 1 orange (for dessert)

Dinner: Spinach and pea frittata (415 calories)

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 boiled new potatoes
  • 2tbsp peas
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • 1tsp oil
  • 1tbsp grated reduced-fat cheddar
  • Handful of mixed salad leaves (to serve)
  • 2 dried apricots (to serve)
  • 5 almonds (to serve)

This dinner provides over 80% of your daily recommended intake of folate as well as over a quarter each of your iron and calcium requirements. Eggs are an important source of vitamin D and this meal provides almost a third of your recommended intake.

Snacks: Oatcake with 1tsp reduced-fat meat pâté. Cucumber sticks. 90 calories

Week One: Tuesday

Breakfast: Bran cereal with yogurt (310 calories)

  • 40g bran cereal (eg All Bran)
  • 3tbsp 0% fat Greek yogurt
  • 4 dried apricots
  • 150ml orange juice

Fortified breakfast cereals are an important source of iron. This breakfast contains more than a third of the recommended daily intake and the vitamin C in the orange juice helps absorption. It also provides over 40% of the recommended intakes of fibre and calcium and 70% of folate.

Lunch: Hummus, carrot and beetroot sandwich (390 calories)

  • 2tbsp reduced-fat hummus
  • 2tbsp each grated carrot and grated beetroot
  • Small handful of rocket
  • 2 thick slices of seeded bread

Dinner: Mediterranean salmon bake (400 calories)

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  • 200g vegetables (red onion, pepper, courgette and cherry tomatoes, all sliced)
  • 2 new potatoes
  • 1 salmon fillet
  • 2tsp olive oil
  • 2tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh basil (to serve)

Snacks: Small handful (20g) of cashew nuts. 120 calories

Week One: Wednesday

Breakfast: Peanut butter and banana toast (285 calories)

  • 1tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 thick slice of wholemeal toast
  • a small banana, sliced

Lunch: Chicken, quinoa and pomegranate salad (395 calories)

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  • 1 small chicken breast (80g cooked weight)
  • 1tsp zaatar seasoning
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • 1tsp olive oil
  • 40g quinoa (dry weight)
  • 80g pomegranate seeds
  • Chopped cucumber
  • Handful of rocket
  • 1tbsp 0% fat Greek yogurt mixed with fresh mint

Marinate the chicken in zaatar, lemon juice and olive oil, then cook.

Dinner: Tomato and spinach dhal (420 calories)

  • 50g red lentils
  • Small can of chopped tomatoes
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • 1 small onion
  • 2tsp oil
  • Garlic, ginger and spices
  • Half a chapati

This super supper provides 60% of your recommended intake of iron and also contains lots of vitamin C to help your body absorb it.

Snacks: Small pot of low-fat fruit yogurt. 95 calories

Yogurt is a good snack to boost your iodine intake, providing 40% of your recommended intake.

Week One: Thursday

Breakfast: Bran flakes with nuts and raisins (337 calories)

  • 40g bran flakes
  • 100ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1tbsp raisins
  • 1tbsp mixed nuts

Lunch: Baked potato with cottage cheese and salad (400 calories)

  • 1 medium baked potato (180g)
  • 3tbsp cottage cheese (100g)
  • 1tbsp pumpkin seeds and chives
  • 80g mixed salad

Dinner: Citrus beef and noodles (418 calories)

  • 100g lean beef, marinated
  • 2tbsp orange juice
  • 2tsp reduced-salt soy sauce
  • 1tsp sesame oil
  • Garlic, crushed
  • Chilli
  • 80g mangetout
  • 80g baby sweetcorn
  • 50g wholewheat noodles (dry weight)

Marinate the beef in the orange juice and soy sauce before cooking. This meal provides three-quarters of your daily recommended protein intake as well as over a third of your iron.

Snacks: 100g grapes. 70 calories

Week One: Friday

Breakfast: Savoury French toast (345 calories)

  • 1 egg
  • 2tbsp milk
  • Nutmeg, grated
  • Parsley, chopped
  • 1tsp oil
  • 2 slices wholemeal bread
  • 1 grilled tomato

Lunch: Chicken avocado salad (400 calories)

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  • 1 small chicken breast (80g cooked weight)
  • ½ avocado
  • Handful of lettuce
  • 1 small tomato, sliced
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 15g cashew nuts
  • 1tsp lime juice (for dressing)
  • 1tsp olive oil (for dressing)
  • Crushed chillies (for dressing)
  • Fresh coriander (for dressing)

Dinner: Spicy cod and vegetable parcel (435 calories)

  • 1 cod fillet
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • Half a pepper, sliced
  • A few mangetout, cut into thin strips
  • 1tsp reduced-salt soy sauce
  • 1tsp sesame oil
  • Ginger, chopped
  • Chilli, sliced
  • 40g wholegrain rice (dry weight)
  • Scoop frozen yogurt (for dessert)

Cod is high in iodine, and this meal provides all of your recommended daily iodine intake.

Snacks: 1tbsp ready to eat edamame. 45 calories

Week One: Saturday

Breakfast: Multigrain flakes with prunes and nuts (315 calories)

  • 40g multigrain flakes (eg Special K)
  • 100ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 4 prunes
  • 1tbsp mixed nuts

Fortified breakfast cereals are an important source of iron. This breakfast contains over a third of the recommended intake for women and over two-thirds of the recommended intake of folate.

Lunch: Hummus wrap with roasted vegetables (395 calories)

  • Large wholemeal wrap
  • 2tbsp reduced-fat hummus
  • 100g roasted vegetables
  • Handful of rocket
  • Small bowl of melon, pineapple and mango pieces (for dessert)

Dinner: Pasta with spinach and cheese sauce (405 calories)

  • 50g wholewheat pasta (dry weight)
  • 50g medium-fat soft cheese
  • 50g spinach
  • Garlic, crushed
  • Black pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • 1tbsp pine nuts, toasted (to top)
  • 80g tenderstem broccoli (to serve)

Snacks: Oatcake spread with 1tsp medium-fat soft cheese. A few grapes. 95 calories

Week One: Sunday

Breakfast: Smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel (325 calories)

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  • Wholemeal bagel
  • 1tbsp medium-fat soft cheese
  • 30g smoked salmon
  • 6 cherry tomatoes

Lunch: Beetroot and walnut salad (430 calories)

  • 80g beetroot (pre-cooked or roasted)
  • 25g walnuts
  • Handful of rocket
  • 40g tofu
  • Fresh thyme
  • 1tsp red wine vinegar (for dressing)
  • 1tsp olive oil (for dressing)
  • 2 oatcakes (to serve)

Dinner: Beef fillet steak with butter bean mash (410 calories)

  • 1 lean beef fillet steak, grilled
  • Small can of butter beans
  • Garlic
  • Large pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1tsp olive oil
  • 40g baby sweetcorn
  • 40g mangetout

Drain the beans and mash with the garlic, cayenne pepper and olive oil. This meal provides all of your recommended daily protein intake as well as over a third of your iron requirements.

Snacks: 7 strawberries and 1tbsp 0% fat Greek yogurt. 55 calories

Week Two: Monday

Breakfast: Overnight oats (360 calories)

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  • 40g oats
  • 100ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 2tbsp low-fat yogurt
  • 1tbsp dried fruit (or a handful of chopped fresh fruit)
  • 1tsp chopped walnuts or other nuts

Lunch: Cottage cheese and tomato sandwich (370 calories)

  • 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread
  • 1 heaped tbsp cottage cheese
  • 1 sliced tomato
  • 1tbsp pumpkin seeds

Dinner: Fried rice with greens and cashew nuts (425 calories)

  • 40g basmati and wild rice (dry weight)
  • 2tsp sesame oil
  • 90g green cabbage
  • 2tbsp peas
  • 2tsp soy sauce
  • 20g toasted cashew nuts (to top)
  • 80g tenderstem broccoli

Snacks: Crispy kale (80g kale tossed in 1tsp oil and baked until crisp). 90 calories

Week Two: Tuesday

Breakfast: Bran flakes with apricots and almonds (315 calories)

  • 40g bran flakes
  • 100ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 4 dried apricots
  • 1tbsp flaked almonds

Fortified breakfast cereals are an important source of iron. This breakfast contains more than 40% of the recommended daily intake, as well as over 80% of the recommended intake of folate.

Lunch: Puy lentil salad (385 calories)

  • 60g puy lentils (dry weight)
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • A few cherry tomatoes
  • Half a yellow pepper, sliced
  • 30g reduced-fat feta or other Greek-style salad cheese
  • 1tsp lemon juice (for dressing)
  • 1tsp olive oil (for dressing)
  • Fresh basil
  • 2tbsp low-fat yogurt (for dessert)
  • 80g mixed fresh fruit (for dessert)

Dinner: Pan-fried mackerel fillet with new potatoes (395 calories)

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  • 1 mackerel fillet
  • 1tsp oil (for frying, or dry-fry)
  • 120g crushed new potatoes
  • 80g green beans
  • 80g tenderstem broccoli

Oily fish like mackerel contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids and it is recommended that everyone consume one portion a week. This dinner also provides over 60% of your daily vitamin D needs.

Snacks: Toasted crumpet with fat spread from allowance. 110 calories

Week Two: Wednesday

Breakfast: Wheat cereal with apricots and almonds (310 calories)

  • 2 wheat biscuits (eg Weetabix)
  • 100ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 4 dried apricots
  • 1tbsp flaked almonds

Lunch: Edamame brown rice salad (405 calories)

  • 80g edamame
  • Radishes
  • Cucumber, chopped
  • Carrot, sliced or grated
  • 40g brown rice (dry weight)
  • 1tsp sesame oil (for dressing)
  • 1tsp rice vinegar (for dressing)
  • 1tsp soy sauce (for dressing)
  • 1tsp toasted sesame seeds (to serve)
  • Apple (for dessert)

Dinner: Spicy beef flatbread (385 calories)

  • Flatbread
  • 100g extra lean beef mince
  • 1tbsp tomato purée
  • Cumin, to taste
  • Paprika, to taste
  • 1tbsp Greek yogurt and mint (to drizzle)
  • 80g green salad (to serve)

Cook the mince with the tomato purée, cumin and paprika. This meal provides three-quarters of your recommended daily protein intake as well as over 40% of your iron requirements.

Snacks: 1 chocolate digestive biscuit. 85 calories

Week Two: Thursday

Breakfast: Multigrain flakes with prunes and nuts (315 calories)

  • 40g multigrain flakes (eg Special K)
  • 100ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 4 prunes
  • 1tbsp mixed nuts

Fortified breakfast cereals are an important source of iron. This breakfast contains more than a third of the recommended intake for women and over two-thirds of the recommended intake of folate.

Lunch: Mozzarella pasta salad (380 calories)

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  • 50g wholewheat pasta (dry weight)
  • 60g reduced-fat soft mozzarella
  • 2 slices red pepper
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • A few cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Fresh basil
  • 2tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2tsp olive oil

Dinner: Spicy mixed bean wrap (420 calories)

  • Large wholemeal wrap
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1tsp oil, for frying
  • ½ can of mixed beans
  • 1tbsp tomato purée
  • Fajita seasoning, to taste
  • 1tbsp grated reduced-fat cheese
  • Handful of mixed leaves

Fry the onion in the oil and simmer the mixed beans with the tomato purée.

Snacks: Oatcake with 1tsp reduced-fat meat or vegetable pâté. Cucumber sticks. 90 calories

Week Two: Friday

Breakfast: Vegan overnight oats (315 calories)

  • 40g oats
  • 150ml almond milk
  • 1tbsp chia seeds
  • 80g raspberries (or frozen mixed berries)
  • 2tsp almond butter

Lunch: Carrot and coriander soup (385 calories)

  • Half a carton of fresh (or canned) carrot and coriander soup
  • Medium wholemeal bread roll
  • Apple and 1tsp peanut butter

Dinner: Tuna salad Niçoise (400 calories)

  • 1 tuna steak
  • 3 new potatoes
  • 50g green beans
  • 4 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 little gem lettuce, chopped
  • 1 egg, hard boiled and sliced
  • 3 olives
  • 1tsp lemon juice (for dressing)
  • 1tsp olive oil (for dressing)

Snacks: 2tbsp low-fat yogurt with 80g mixed fresh fruit. 95 calories

Week Two: Saturday

Breakfast: Scrambled egg on toast (330 calories)

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  • 1 egg
  • 1 thick slice of wholemeal toast
  • 2tsp sunflower seeds
  • 1 tomato, grilled

Lunch: Sardine pâté on English muffin (377 calories)

  • 1 can of sardines
  • 1tbsp reduced-fat soft cheese
  • 1tsp sesame seeds
  • 1tsp horseradish
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • Black pepper
  • Chives
  • 1 wholemeal English muffin
  • Handful of rocket (to serve)
  • Cherry tomatoes (to serve)

Oily fish like sardines contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and we should all be eating one portion a week. This super lunch also provides all of your recommended calcium intake and a third of your iron needs.

Dinner: Vegetable chow mein (420 calories)

  • 1 nest wholewheat noodles
  • 1 small carrot, sliced
  • ½ pepper, sliced
  • 50g beansprouts
  • ½ pak choi
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • Garlic, chopped
  • 1tsp sesame oil
  • 1tsp soy sauce
  • 1tsp rice vinegar
  • 1tsp pine nuts, toasted
  • 7 strawberries (for dessert)
  • 1tbsp 0% fat Greek yogurt (for dessert)

Snacks: Small bag of lightly salted popcorn. 70 calories

Week Two: Sunday

Breakfast: Savoury French toast (345 calories)

  • 1 egg
  • 2tbsp milk
  • Nutmeg, grated
  • Parsley, chopped
  • 1tsp oil
  • 2 slices wholemeal bread
  • Grilled tomato (to serve)
  • Lime wedges (to serve)

Lunch: Roasted pepper and hummus wrap (390 calories)

  • 1 pepper, roasted and cut into chunks
  • 1tsp oil (for roasting)
  • 1tbsp reduced-fat hummus
  • Handful of rocket
  • 1 wholemeal wrap
  • 2 dried figs (for dessert)

Dinner: Jerk style grilled chicken kebabs (425 calories)

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  • 1 small chicken breast, grilled and cut into chunks
  • 1tsp oil
  • 1tsp honey
  • 1tsp jerk seasoning
  • ½ pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 small onion, cut into chunks
  • Handful of skin-on potato wedges
  • Corn on the cob

Snacks: 1tbsp ready-to-eat edamame. 45 calories

Week Three: Monday

Breakfast: Smashed avocado on toast (315 calories)

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  • 1 small avocado
  • Coriander
  • Squeeze of lime juice
  • 1 thick slice of seeded toast

Lunch: Salmon and potato salad (410 calories)

  • 1 salmon fillet, baked
  • 120g new potatoes
  • 1tbsp reduced-fat mayonnaise (for dressing)
  • 1tbsp 0% fat Greek yogurt (for dressing)
  • 1tsp mustard (for dressing)
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Cucumber, chopped
  • Celery, chopped
  • Chives, snipped

Oily fish like salmon contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids and it is recommended that everyone consume one portion a week. This dinner also provides over 70% of your daily vitamin D needs.

Dinner: Black bean quesadillas (390 calories)

  • 2 medium wholewheat wraps
  • 80g roasted butternut squash
  • 2tbsp black beans
  • Lime juice
  • Coriander, chopped
  • Chilli flakes, to taste
  • 1tbsp grated reduced-fat cheddar
  • 1tbsp salsa (to serve)
  • Green salad

Snacks: 2tbsp low-fat plain yogurt with 80g mixed fresh fruit and 1tbsp chia seeds. 135 calories

Week Three: Tuesday

Breakfast: Green breakfast smoothie (330 calories)

  • Empty Large handful of kale or spinach
  • 1 small banana
  • 2tbsp oats
  • 150ml (or to taste) plant-based drink (eg almond)
  • 1tbsp almond butter

Lunch: Harissa chickpea couscous salad (395 calories)

  • 3tbsp canned chickpeas
  • ½ pepper, chopped
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 apricots, chopped
  • 40g couscous (dry weight)
  • ½tsp harissa paste
  • 2tsp oil
  • Chopped coriander (to serve)

Dinner: Baked potato with homemade coleslaw (425 calories)

  • 1 medium baked potato
  • ½ apple, grated
  • 2tbsp carrot, grated
  • 80g red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • 15g toasted walnuts
  • 1tbsp edamame
  • Parsley
  • 1tbsp 0% fat Greek yogurt

Snacks: 1 heaped tbsp tzatziki and half a wholemeal pitta bread. 98 calories

Week Three: Wednesday

Breakfast: Banana and cashew butter toast (285 calories)

  • 1tbsp cashew nut butter
  • 1 thick slice of wholemeal toast
  • A small banana, sliced

Lunch: Tomato and bean bruschetta (420 calories)

  • 1 ciabatta roll, halved, toasted and rubbed with garlic
  • Small can of butter or cannellini beans, drained and lightly mashed
  • Cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • Black pepper
  • Basil

Dinner: Miso chicken and rice salad (430 calories)

  • 1 small chicken breast, grilled
  • 1tsp miso paste (for marinade)
  • 1tsp sesame oil
  • 1tsp garlic, crushed
  • 1tsp ginger, grated
  • 40g brown rice (dry weight)
  • Carrot, grated
  • Radish, sliced
  • Spring onion, sliced
  • 2tsp sesame oil (for dressing)
  • 2tsp rice vinegar (for dressing)
  • 1tsp sesame seeds, toasted

Snacks: Small pot of low-fat fruit yogurt. 95 calories

Yogurt is a good snack to boost iodine intake, one pot providing 40% of the recommended intake for women.

Week Three: Thursday

Breakfast: Bran flakes with raisins and nuts (337 calories)

  • 40g bran flakes
  • 100ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1tbsp raisins
  • 1tbsp mixed nuts

Fortified breakfast cereals are an important source of iron. This breakfast contains over 40% of the recommended intake, as well as over 80% of the recommended intake of folate.

Lunch: Bulgur wheat salad (395 calories)

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  • 40g bulgur wheat (dry weight)
  • Tomato, chopped
  • Spring onion, sliced
  • Cucumber, chopped
  • 40g reduced-fat Greek-style salad cheese (feta)
  • Fresh mint
  • 2 olives
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • 1tsp olive oil
  • Small cereal bar (for dessert)

Dinner: Chickpea, spinach and potato curry (430 calories)

  • Small can of chickpeas
  • Small can of tomatoes
  • 2 new potatoes
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • 1tsp oil
  • Garlic, crushed, to taste
  • Curry powder or spices, to taste
  • 1 small or 1/2 large chapati, to serve

This simple curry provides over half of your daily requirements for fibre and folate as well as 30% of your iron needs.

Snacks: 1tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds. 95 calories

Week Three: Friday

Breakfast: Wheat cereal with banana and walnuts (310 calories)

  • 2 wheat biscuits
  • 100ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 small banana
  • 2tsp chopped walnuts

Lunch: Hummus topped with roasted peppers on rye crispbread (365 calories)

  • 4 rye crispbreads
  • 2tbsp reduced-fat hummus
  • Roasted peppers (homemade or from a jar)
  • Carrot sticks
  • Cucumber sticks
  • Small pot of low-fat fruit yogurt (for dessert)

Dinner: Spaghetti bolognese (430 calories)

  • 100g extra-lean beef mince (or plant-based alternative)
  • 1tsp oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 6 mushrooms, chopped
  • Garlic, crushed, to taste
  • Mixed herbs, to taste
  • Small can of chopped tomatoes
  • 50g wholewheat spaghetti (dry weight)
  • 1tsp parmesan, grated

This meal provides three-quarters of the recommended daily intake of protein as well as more than one-third of the iron requirements for women.

Snacks: Oatcake spread with 1tsp medium-fat soft cheese. A few grapes. 95 calories

Week Three: Saturday

Breakfast: Shakshuka (315 calories)

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  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small red pepper, chopped
  • 1tsp oil
  • Garlic, chopped, to taste
  • Smoked paprika, to taste
  • Small can of tomatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 1tbsp low-fat yogurt
  • 1tsp mixed seeds
  • Coriander, chopped, to taste

Fry the onion and pepper, add garlic and paprika, add the tomatoes and simmer. Break the egg into a well in the sauce and bake until the egg is perfectly cooked. Serve with the yogurt, coriander and seeds.

This egg-based breakfast dish provides more than half of your daily iodine intake and over 30% of your vitamin D needs.

Lunch: Falafel flatbread (395 calories)

  • 1 flatbread
  • 2 falafel balls
  • 2tbsp lettuce, shredded
  • 60g cucumber
  • 1tbsp 0% fat Greek yogurt
  • Mint
  • 1 apple (for dessert)

Dinner: Herb-crusted baked Basa fillet with potatoes (440 calories)

  • Basa fillet (or other white fish), baked
  • 1 lemon, zested and sliced
  • 25g wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • Parsley
  • Chilli flakes
  • 1tsp olive oil
  • 175g new potatoes
  • 40g green beans
  • 40g broccoli
  • 7 strawberries (for dessert)
  • 1tbsp 0% fat Greek yogurt (for dessert)

Make the crust with lemon zest, breadcrumbs, parsley and chilli flakes.

Snacks: 1 slice of fruit loaf with fat spread from allowance. 105 calories

Week Three: Sunday

Breakfast: Quinoa porridge with mixed berries (320 calories)

  • Quinoa porridge made with 40g quinoa
  • 200ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1tbsp chia seeds
  • 1tsp honey
  • 80g mixed berries

This porridge provides half your daily recommended intake of calcium and over a quarter of your iron and fibre requirements.

Lunch: Vegetable and lentil soup (395 calories)

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  • 1 small onion
  • 150g root vegetables (eg carrots, potato, sweet potato, parsnip, swede)
  • 2tsp oil
  • 25g lentils
  • 250ml reduced-salt vegetable stock
  • Spices, to taste
  • 1tbsp low-fat yogurt (to top, optional)
  • 1 thick slice of wholemeal bread (to serve)

Dinner: Lemon and prawn pasta (400 calories)

  • 50g wholewheat pasta (dry weight)
  • 75g prawns
  • 2tbsp peas
  • 60g tenderstem broccoli
  • Lemon juice and zest
  • Chilli flakes
  • 1tbsp half-fat crème fraîche
  • 80g melon, pineapple and mango pieces (for dessert)

Snacks: 1tbsp ready-to-eat edamame. 45 calories

Week Four: Monday

Breakfast: Wheat cereal with apricots and almonds (310 calories)

  • 2 wheat biscuits
  • 100ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 4 dried apricots, chopped
  • 1tbsp flaked almonds

Lunch: Spicy chicken and pomegranate wrap (390 calories)

  • 1 chicken breast, grilled
  • 1tsp zaatar
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • 1tsp olive oil
  • Lettuce, chopped
  • Cucumber, chopped
  • 40g pomegranate seeds
  • 1tbsp 0% fat Greek yogurt mixed with fresh mint
  • 1 wholewheat tortilla wrap

Marinate the chicken in zaatar, lemon juice and olive oil, then cook.

Dinner: Tofu, cashew nut and pak choi stir-fry (420 calories)

  • 80g tofu
  • 20g cashew nuts
  • 1 pak choi, chopped
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • Ginger, chopped
  • 1tsp sesame oil (for dressing)
  • 1tsp reduced-salt soy sauce (for dressing)
  • 1tsp honey (for dressing)
  • 50g wholewheat noodles (dry weight)

Nuts contain healthier unsaturated fats, and this stir-fry dinner provides over a third of the recommended dairy intake of monounsaturated fat and iron. It also delivers over 60% of your recommended intake of calcium and folate.

Snacks: A banana. 85 calories

Week Four: Tuesday

Breakfast: Bran cereal with yogurt (310 calories)

  • Emp40g bran cereal (eg All Bran)
  • 3tbsp 0% fat Greek yogurt
  • 4 dried apricots, chopped
  • 150ml orange juicety list

Fortified breakfast cereals are an important source of iron. This breakfast contains over a third of your recommended intake and the vitamin C in the orange juice helps with absorption. This breakfast also provides over 40% of the recommended intakes of fibre and calcium and 70% of folate.

Lunch: Tuna and bean pasta salad (390 calories)

  • Empty list50g wholewheat pasta (dry weight)
  • Small can of tuna
  • 2tbsp mixed or red kidney beans
  • 1tbsp sweetcorn
  • 1 slice of red pepper
  • 2tsp oil

Dinner: Chicken and vegetable couscous (405 calories)

  • 1 small chicken breast
  • 2tsp oil (for sautéing)
  • 1 small onion
  • Garlic, chopped
  • 6 mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ pepper, chopped
  • 40g couscous (dry weight)
  • Lemon zest, to taste
  • Chilli flakes, to taste
  • Herbs, to taste

Use the lemon zest, chilli flakes and herbs to add flavour to the couscous.

Snacks: 2tbsp low-fat yogurt with 80g mixed fresh fruit and 1tbsp chia seeds. 135 calories

Week Four: Wednesday

Breakfast: Breakfast cranachan (295 calories)

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(Image credit: Unknown )
  • 2tbsp toasted oats
  • 3tbsp 0% fat Greek yogurt
  • 80g raspberries
  • A drizzle of honey
  • 1tbsp mixed nuts, chopped

Layer the oats, yogurt and raspberries, then top with the honey and nuts.

Lunch: Egg and watercress sandwich (420 calories)

  • 2 thick slices of seeded bread
  • 1 egg, hard-boiled and chopped
  • 2tsp reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • Handful of watercress
  • Peach or nectarine (for dessert)

Dinner: Beef and vegetable stir-fry (455 calories)

  • Empty l100g lean beef
  • ½ pepper, sliced
  • 80g mangetout
  • 80g baby sweetcorn
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1tsp sesame oil
  • 1tsp reduced-salt soy sauce
  • 1tsp sesame seeds
  • Garlic, chopped, to taste
  • Ginger, chopped, to taste
  • Chilli, chopped, to taste
  • 50g wholewheat noodles (dry weight)ist

This meal provides three-quarters of your recommended daily protein intake as well as over one-third of your iron requirements.

Snacks: 1tbsp reduced-fat hummus and 2 celery sticks. 75 calories

Week Four: Thursday

Breakfast: Shredded wheat, fruit and seeds (335 calories)

  • 2 shredded wheat
  • 100ml semi-skimmed milk
  • ½ nectarine
  • 10 raspberries
  • 1tbsp sunflower seeds

Lunch: Chicken tikka rice salad (380 calories)

  • 100g chicken tikka
  • Tomato, chopped
  • Spring onion, sliced
  • Cucumber, chopped
  • 40g brown rice (dry weight)
  • Fresh coriander

Dinner: Vegetable chilli with baked potato (400 calories)

  • Small can of chopped tomatoes
  • Small can of red kidney beans
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1tsp oil
  • ½ pepper, chopped
  • 1 small courgette, chopped
  • Vegetable stock
  • Garlic, crushed, to taste
  • Chilli powder, to taste
  • 1 small baked potato
  • 1tbsp 0% fat Greek yogurt (to top)

This dinner provides two-thirds of your recommended daily fibre intake and over a third of your iron needs.

Snacks: 2 dried apricots and 5 almonds. 100 calories

Week Four: Friday

Breakfast: Apple and cinnamon smoothie bowl (345 calories)

  • 1 apple, grated
  • 2tbsp oats
  • 3tbsp 0% fat Greek yogurt
  • ½tsp cinnamon
  • 1tbsp mixed seeds (to top)

Lunch: Cheese salad sandwich (410 calories)

  • 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread
  • 25g reduced-fat cheddar
  • 1 heaped tsp pickle
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • 2 dried figs (for dessert)

Dinner: Roast vegetable quinoa (385 calories)

  • 50g quinoa (dry weight)
  • 200g vegetables, chopped (eg pepper, courgette, aubergine, cherry tomatoes)
  • 2tsp olive oil (for roasting)
  • Chilli, chopped, to taste (for roasting)
  • Smoked paprika, to taste (for roasting)
  • 1tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • Fresh basil

Snacks: Oatcake with 1tsp reduced-fat meat or vegetable pâté. Cucumber sticks. 90 calories

Week Four: Saturday

Breakfast: Muffin with spinach and poached egg (305 calories)

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  • Wholemeal muffin
  • 50g baby spinach, wilted
  • 1 egg, poached
  • 2tsp sunflower seeds
  • 3 cherry tomatoes, grilled
  • Mushrooms, grilled

Lunch: Beans on toast with cheese (405 calories)

  • Small can or pot of reduced salt/sugar baked beans
  • 1 thick slice of seeded toast
  • 1tbsp grated reduced-fat cheddar
  • 100g grapes (for dessert)

Dinner: Cajun salmon traybake (430 calories)

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(Image credit: Unknown)
  • Empty 200g vegetables, chopped (eg butternut squash, peppers, courgette, cherry tomatoes)
  • 2tsp oil
  • 1 salmon fillet
  • 2tsp sesame seeds
  • Cajun seasoning, to taste
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  • 80g tenderstem broccoli (to serve)list

Snacks: 6 stewed prunes and 2tbsp low-fat yogurt. 100 calories

Week Four: Sunday

Breakfast: French toast (360 calories)

  • 1 egg
  • 2tbsp milk
  • 1tsp oil
  • 2 slices wholemeal bread
  • 80g mixed berries (to serve)

Lunch: Hummus with pitta (445 calories)

  • Wholemeal pitta bread
  • 2tbsp reduced-fat hummus
  • Carrot sticks
  • Cucumber sticks
  • Handful of cashew nuts

Dinner: Lentil stuffed peppers (415 calories)

  • 3tbsp ready-to-eat or cooked lentils
  • 1tsp oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 mushrooms, chopped
  • Garlic and chilli flakes
  • 1 red pepper, halved
  • 20g reduced-fat feta or other Greek-style salad cheese
  • Parsley (to top)
  • Green salad (to serve)
  • Small slice of banana loaf (for dessert)

Sauté the lentils with the onion, tomato, mushrooms, garlic and chilli flakes. Fill the pepper halves with the lentil mixture, top with the cheese and bake.

As well as providing more than half of your daily fibre recommendation this dish is a useful source of iron, providing over a quarter of your requirements. The vitamin C in the peppers helps with iron absorption.

Snacks: A small bowl of melon, pineapple and mango pieces. 35 calories

Camilla Artault is a writer and keen runner. She has covered women’s running gear – testing leggings, jackets, bras, tops and shorts – for Coach since 2018, as well as interviewing experts and writing about a range of health and lifestyle topics.