5-2 Diet Meal Planning and Recipes

More on Planning for 5:2 Diet Fast Days

I’m really not good at meal planning.  It’s probably because living along, I’m used to catering for myself in a kitchen foraging kind of way.  At best it leads to inventive cooking.  At worst it’s only me who gets to see and eat what ever I happen to have ‘created’.

mustard gratinated smoked haddock

But, to follow something like the 5:2 Diet, I find you really do have to plan for your fast days.  It’s partly because with just 500 calories to play with for the day it’s hard to just pick something out of the fridge.  It’s also because a little planning really does help keep the calories down.  Replacing potatoes with celeriac cuts the calorie count by about 50%, using shirataki noodles gives you a big bowl of comfort food for less than 150 calories including vegetables and meat, and making your own soup means you can avoid adding cream, fat and too much potato and still have a hearty and warming meal.

So, yesterday’s meal plan was as follows:

Breakfast – Coffee with a little milk (nothing else because I really wasn’t hungry)

Lunch – Home made spicy tomato and lentil soup.  I used my own recipe for 5:2 diet spicy lentil soup, but made a much improved version by using half a teaspoon of Gran Luchito chilli paste rather than the red chilli that I’d originally used.  The result was a smokier, deeper flavour which was if anything a little less fiery. Highly recommended (and I’ve updated the recipe!!!)

Supper-  I made Gratinated Smoked Haddock in Mustard Sauce.  Very good indeed but I think next time I might try a smooth mustard rather than the dijon, just to improve the appearance which is fine ‘in the pan’ but kind of messy on the plate (though very very tasty!)

mustard gratined smoked haddock

This particular recipe comes in at about 280 calories, depending on the size of the haddock fillet and is real winter comfort food without the calories.  You really do only need a touch of parmesan on top of the tomatoes to give it that lovely gratinated flavour, and good smoked haddock like the sort I was sent by John at DelishFish makes this dish truly tasty!

5-2 Diet Gratinated Smoked Haddock in Mustard Sauce

Serves 1
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Allergy Fish
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Serve Hot


  • 15g Cornflour
  • 60ml 1% Milk
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 20g Parmesan (Finely Grated)
  • 1 Fillet of smoked haddock (Natural please, not the bright yellow dyed stuff)
  • 1 Tomato (Sliced)
  • 1 Shallot (Finely diced)
  • 1 Stick of celery (Finely diced)
  • 15g Unsalted butter


Step 1 Begin by poaching the smoked haddock for 5 minutes in the milk. Remove the fish from the milk and retain the flavoured milk
Step 2 Sweat the shallot and celery in melted butter for 5 minutes, then stir through the cornflour and cook for a minute
Step 3 Stir the milk into the mixure and warm through till it thickens. Add mustard and pepper to taste, but be careful about adding any salt as smoked fish can taste quite salty.
Step 4 Place the fish in a buttered gratin dish, cover with sauce and place the sliced tomatoes on top
Step 5 Sprinkle over the grated parmesan and bake for 15-20 minutes till everything is bubbling and the top of the gratin is golden
Step 6 Serve with green vegetables

My total calories for the day were around 450, including milk for coffee throughout the day.

Interestingly, there’s a school of thought within the 5:2 dieting community that suggests you should try to extend the ‘natural’ total fast of sleep for a further 12 hours or so, effectively eating nothing at all until your evening meal on fast days.  I haven’t found that a particularly easy concept to follow, but I’ve managed quite well to not eat breakfast and drink just green tea or herbal tea without milk when the weather is good.  Sadly, as winter has crept up on us, I’ve felt an increasing need for comfort food and the two recipes I’ve listed for yesterday’s 5:2 diet fast day both fall into that category.





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  1. says

    Nice job with the menu planning! Can’t imagine it’s easy to fill an entire day with only 500 calories, but you got very innovative, and lentil soup is definitely delicious and filling…I’m stealing your recipe!:-)

  2. says

    I think if someone likes this sort of meal plan, that this is a great way to help them get ideas on how to set it up and get proper nutrition!

    • says

      it wouldn’t be if it was 7 days a week, but it’s an eating plan that essentially allows your body to recover for alternate days (in my case 2 days a week).

  3. says

    I’m not going to lie: when I saw the photo on your post, I thought it was pizza and got really excited. :) The smoked haddock sounds delicious, though. I’m amazed you are organized enought to plan your meals so well.

  4. says

    I’ve never heard of the 5:2 diet before but it sounds challenging to keep your calorie count down. Will definetely be trying some of your recipes :)

  5. Bonnie b says

    When do you do you fast days? I can’t seem to find any info on whether its best to leave only 1 day between of whether it doesn’t matter if there’s 3 or 4 days between?

  6. Duncan Ellis says

    Michael Mosley did a great programme on the BBC’s Horizon about the 5:2 Diet (Eat, Fast and Live Longer) thats well worth watching if you can find a copy. If not he’s just co-authored a book called ‘The Fast Diet’ (£5.99 from amazon) that explains the science, and has recipes. I try and follow his regime (fast on Mon and Thur) but the great thing is that if you have a rotten day and just have to break the fast, it doesnt matter as long as you do it on another day so Tue and Fri are my fall back days as required. this leaves the W/E to eat normally and have a social life. It gets even better if you watch his other Horizon programme ‘The Truth about Exercise’ where he explains the science behind H I T – physical training that is effective as 3 x hour visits to the Gym a week in 3 min a week.

    • says

      I’ve seen the programme, but the link is now gone from bbc iplayer, and I’ve reviewed the book already on London Unattached but the recipes are rather weak and geared around eating a breakfast of eggs and smoked salmon which is just a bit limiting for many of us. If it works for you fine, but one of the reason I post my own recipes is that most people find them helpful.

  7. Ian Edwards says

    Your recipe looks great. I started the 5:2 diet today, having decided to keep menu planning as simple as possible. Until I get bored with it, I plan to have a small bowl of cereal/semi-skimmed milk for breakfast followed by a full (or nearly full) carton of New Covent Garden Soup (typcaly 210 calories or less) for lunch and another one for dinner. This easy option provides nutrition at three times during the day for 600 calories or less in total, making the fasting day much less of a challenge.

    • says

      yes I know other people who work on that basis. I rather like the innocent veg pots too (around 250-350 calories a pot) – you might be able to work something like that in if you don’t want to cook. For me the cooking is cathartic and is part of what makes the diet work for me – but I completely get the ‘opposite’ view.

  8. Valerie Lake says

    I started the 5.2 diet last Friday, so I’ve had 2 fast days. I find if you plan ahead it is quite simple to follow and thanks to all your recipes it makes it also interesting. I love to cook so having a lovely time trying out new recipes. I am making the soups and some of the meals and freezing them in single serve portions. I love the idea of this diet as I only have to be really really disciplined 2 days a week. My chosen days are Monday & Friday.

  9. peta says

    Hi Fiona
    if you put your recipes in an ebook I’d buy it off your site, saves me copying etc as long as it was priced well!

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