Skip to main content
Healthy Eating

Sample Menus: Healthy Eating for Older Adults

Image of Make Smart Food Choices for Healthy Aging infographic.
Read and share this infographic to learn about making smart food choices for healthy aging.

Planning a day’s worth of meals using smart food choices might seem overwhelming at first. Here are some sample menus to show you how easy it can be. These menus provide 2,000 calories a day and do not exceed the recommended amount of sodium or calories from saturated fats and added sugars. You might need to eat fewer or more calories, depending on your height, weight, activity level and whether you are a man or a woman.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ChooseMyPlate offers sample two-week menus. These menus provide recommended food group amounts for a 2,000-calorie USDA Food Pattern. They also meet recommended intake amounts for almost all nutrients. The menus include healthy dishes that you can learn to prepare from recipes at What’s Cooking? USDA Healthy Mixing Bowl. Other cookbooks and healthy recipes for many different types of cuisines are featured at:

Diet and exercise infographic icon
Share this infographic and help spread the word about healthy diet and exercise.

Trying to lose weight? Check out these 1,200- and 1,600-calorie menus. These sample menus reflect several culinary styles: traditional American cuisine, Asian- American cuisine, Southern cuisine, Mexican-American cuisine, and lacto-ovo vegetarian cuisine. These menus also make use of the What’s Cooking? recipe database.

Sample Menu
Breakfast Lunch
1/2 whole wheat bagel
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (spread on bagel)
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
Tuna salad sandwich
  • 2 slices 100% whole wheat bread
  • 2 ounces canned tuna
  • 2 teaspoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped celery
  • 1 medium leaf lettuce
4 baby carrots, 1/4 cup raisins, 1 cup low-fat milk
Dinner Snack
Spaghetti & meatballs
  • 1 cup cooked spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes (canned, no salt added)
  • 3 medium meatballs
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
  • Garden salad
  • 1 cup mixed greens
  • 3 slices cucumber
  • 1/4 cup cubed avocado
  • 1/4 cup garbanzo beans (canned, low sodium)
  • 3 tablespoons shredded, reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon ranch dressing
  • 1 cup tap water
  • 1/2 medium apple
  • Fat-free strawberry yogurt (8 ounces)

Find more recipes at the USDA’s What’s Cooking website.

Read about this topic in Spanish. Lea sobre este tema en español.

This content is provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date.