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Plate Method Meal Ideas

You can combine simple, healthy foods to make a variety of quick and easy meals that are appropriate for anyone, especially people with diabetes.

What Is the Plate Method?

To create balanced meals that stay within your carb and calorie allowances, let a 9-inch plate be your guide. Using the plate method, a meal complete with a side of fruit and a cup of fat-free milk provides about 425 calories, 55-60 grams of carbohydrate, 35 grams of protein, and 10 grams of fat. Save the dairy or fruit serving for a snack if you're targeting 45 grams of carbohydrate per meal (typical for many women) and limit high-calorie condiments.

The Plate Method:
-- Fill 1/2 of the plate with 2 servings of nonstarchy vegetables.
-- Fill 1/4 of the plate with lean meat (3 ounces cooked) or other high-protein food.
-- Fill 1/4 of the plate with a starchy vegetable or whole grain serving (amount varies depending on food selected).
-- Include a serving of fruit and/or dairy.

We show you 14 meal ideas, but take what you find on the following slides and mix and match to create your own meal ideas!

Fresh Tuna Salad

Nonstarchy vegetable: 1 cup mixed salad greens with 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Protein: 3 ounces flaked tuna (canned in water)
Starch or whole grain: 4 pieces melba toast

Optional:
Fruit: 1/2 cup chopped mango
Dairy: 1 cup fat-free milk

To transform this into a tuna salad sandwich, add 1 tablespoon fat-free mayo and chopped celery to the tuna and place mixture between two slices of melba toast.

In general, the serving size for nonstarchy vegetables is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked or juiced.

Egg and Potato Breakfast

Nonstarchy vegetable: 5 to 6 spears of cooked asparagus and 1 tomato, diced
Protein: 3/4 cup egg substitute, scrambled
Starch or whole grain: 1/2 cup halved or quartered boiled or roasted yellow potatoes

Optional:
Fruit: 1 cup honeydew melon
Dairy: 2/3 cup fat-free yogurt

Make this a breakfast of champions by sprinkling your potatoes with a little thyme or minced fresh dill and seasoning the egg substitute with ground black pepper and a pinch of sea salt.

Scallops, Rice, and Veggies

Nonstarchy vegetable: 1 cup boiled or steamed snow peas, water chestnuts, sliced baby carrots, and broccoli mix
Protein: 3 ounces cooked scallops
Starch or whole grain: 1/3 cup cooked brown rice

For full flavors, use non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle with Italian seasoning if sautéing the scallops, Steam or boil the veggies and season with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and oregano, if desired.

In general, the serving size for nonstarchy vegetables is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked or juiced.
Four ounces of raw meat or seafood cooks to 3 ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards.

Shrimp Salad

Nonstarchy vegetable: 1 cup mixed salad greens with 1/2 cup diced orange and yellow sweet peppers
Protein: 3 ounces cooked shrimp
Starch or whole grain: 1/2 cup garbanzo beans

Optional:
Fruit: 1-1/4 cups strawberries, quartered
Dairy: 2/3 cup fat-free yogurt

Toss together the salad greens, freshly boiled, broiled, or grilled shrimp (season with lemon juice and cracked black pepper, if desired), and garbanzo beans. Add a dressing of your choice, but remember to include the dressing as part of your total carb count.

In general, the serving size for nonstarchy vegetables is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked or juiced.
Four ounces of raw meat or seafood cooks to 3 ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards.

English Muffin Breakfast

Nonstarchy vegetable: 1 cup cucumber slices and 3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable juice
Protein: 3/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese
Starch or whole grain: 1/2 whole wheat English muffin

Optional:
Fruit: one medium fresh peach
Dairy: 2/3 cup fat-free yogurt

Steak Dinner

Nonstarchy vegetable: 1/2 cup steamed or roasted Brussels sprouts and 1/2 cup sautéed mushrooms
Protein: 3 ounces cooked sirloin or round steak
Starch or whole grain: 1/3 cup cooked brown rice

Optional:
Fruit: 1-1/4 cups strawberries, quartered
Dairy: 1 cup fat-free milk

Turn your strawberries into a tasty dessert! Drizzle with 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (which won't add carbs!) and sprinkle with a sugar substitute.

In general, the serving size for nonstarchy vegetables is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked or juiced.
Four ounces of raw meat cooks to 3 ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards.

Turkey and Couscous

Nonstarchy vegetable: 1 cup steamed or boiled water chestnuts, baby carrots, and broccoli mix
Protein: 3 ounces cooked skinless turkey breast cutlets
Starch or whole grain: 1/3 cup cooked couscous

Optional:
Fruit: 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
Dairy: 1 cup fat-free milk

Craving Indian flavors? Season the turkey breast with curry powder or Indian Spice Rub before grilling or roasting and toss pine nuts into the cooked couscous.

In general, the serving size for nonstarchy vegetables is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked or juiced.
Four ounces of raw meat cooks to 3 ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards.

Simple Salad Lunch

Nonstarchy vegetable: 1 cup spinach salad with 1/2 red sweet pepper, sliced
Protein: 3 ounces low-fat cheese
Starch or whole grain: 5 whole wheat crackers

Optional:
Fruit: 1 cup raspberries
Dairy: 2/3 cup fat-free yogurt

In general, the serving size for nonstarchy vegetables is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked or juiced.

Salmon and Asparagus

Nonstarchy vegetable: 1/2 cup roasted or grilled asparagus spears and 1/2 tomato, sliced
Protein: 3 ounces cooked salmon fillet
Starch or whole grain: 1/2 cup quartered boiled or roasted red potatoes

Optional:
Fruit: 3/4 cup blueberries
Dairy: 2/3 cup fat-free yogurt

Roast or grill the salmon and asparagus together for a quick and easy dinner. To ramp up the flavor in this dish, use a dab of extra-virgin olive oil, snipped fresh parsley, finely shredded lemon peel, and ground black pepper.

Four ounces of raw meat or seafood cooks to 3 ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards.

Wholesome Pork Tenderloin

Nonstarchy vegetable: 1 cup steamed or boiled canned wax (yellow) beans and cauliflower
Protein: 3 ounces cooked pork tenderloin, sliced
Starch or whole grain: 1/2 cup green peas

Optional:
Fruit: one small apple, sliced
Dairy: 1 cup fat-free milk

Add flavor to juicy pork tenderloin with the simple seasonings of rosemary and thyme. And give cauliflower and yellow beans some gusto with a pinch of garlic salt and cracked black pepper. If possible, choose reduced-sodium canned vegetables or rinse and drain the veggies before eating.

In general, the serving size for nonstarchy vegetables is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked or juiced.
Four ounces of raw meat cooks to 3 ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards.

Better Burger Option

Nonstarchy vegetable: 1 cup grilled zucchini and summer squash
Protein: 95% lean ground beef patty, cooked, 3 ounces
Starch or whole grain: 1/2 cup sweet potatoes, mashed

Optional:
Fruit: one small orange
Dairy: 1 cup fat-free milk

Spice up the sweet potatoes with cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and a small sprinkle of brown sugar substitute.

In general, the serving size for nonstarchy vegetables is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked or juiced.

Simple Chicken Dinner

Nonstarchy vegetable: 1 cup steamed green beans and sautéed mushrooms
Protein: 3 ounces cooked skinless chicken breast
Starch or whole grain: 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels

Optional:
Fruit: half of a medium pear
Dairy: 1 cup fat-free milk

Add a little zip to your corn kernels with Cajun seasoning or use our Southwestern Spice recipe. If using canned green beans for a veggie option, opt for the reduced-sodium green beans or drain and rinse before using.

In general, the serving size for nonstarchy vegetables is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked or juiced.
Four ounces of raw meat cooks to 3 ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards.

Southwestern Spice Recipe

Greek Yogurt Breakfast

Nonstarchy vegetable: 1 cup baby carrots and 3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable juice
Protein: 3/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
Starch or whole grain: 2 slices reduced-calorie whole grain bread, toasted

Optional:
Fruit: 3/4 cup blueberries

Transform your Greek yogurt into a bowl of flavor by stirring in 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and topping it with the blueberries. If you don't want to eat the carrots as part of your breakfast, save them for a midmorning snack.

In general, the serving size for nonstarchy vegetables is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked or juiced.

Pork Chop and Apples

Nonstarchy vegetable: 1 cup steamed or boiled assorted chopped veggies
Protein: 3 ounces cooked pork loin chop
Starch or whole grain: 1-3/4-inch cube corn bread

Optional:
Fruit: one small apple, sliced
Dairy: 1 cup fat-free milk

In general, the serving size for nonstarchy vegetables is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked or juiced.
Four ounces of raw meat cooks to 3 ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards

For Your Kitchen: Free Mix & Match Meal Ideas

11 More Yummy Dinner Menus -- Nutrition Info Included!

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