Guide to Meal Planning
General Nutrition • • 1 minute to read • By Dr Shunmukha Priya, INFS Faculty
Author: Dr. Shunmukha Priya. S
Planning meals is the crux of any healthy eating. Few people find it challenging to eat healthy due to a lack of planning. A meal plan enables one to eat healthily inspite of hectic schedules. Planning meals enhances the quality and the nutrient density of the foods as well as meets the family’s requirements and within the time limits.
This article covers the following:
- Steps in planning meals
- Factors to be considered while planning meals
- Tips for Planning Meals
- Benefits of Planning Meals
Steps in planning meals
The steps to be considered while planning the meals for a family are as follows:
Factors to be considered while planning meals
- Nutritional requirements of the family members based on their age, physical activity and physiological status must be met through the planned meals
- While planning meals, take into account the seasonal availability of foods
- Ensure variety in the planned meals using flavours and textures
- Check on food intolerances while planning meals
- Take into account portion control and plan the meals accordingly to prevent food wastage.
- Avoid foods that are high in sugar, fat, and sodium while planning the meals
- Check on people with non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and the like and plan meals as per the diet plan given by the physician/dietitian
Tips for Planning Meals
**** Certain tips would help while planning meals.
- Organize kitchen equipment where they are frequently used
- Invest in appliances such as microwave ovens, and food processors that may reduce cooking time.
- Plan and organize ingredients before preparation to save time
- Make flexible meal plans so that they can be switched as and when there is a need for variety or when there is a short time.
- Before finalising the meals, including family members as much as possible, so that it will be fun for everyone.
- Make children plan and prepare one of the meals in a week under adult supervision. They would like to try new foods if they are allowed to select and prepare the food.
- Serve a balance of family favourites and new recipes without compromising the health of the family.
- Apply diverse cooking methods such as grilling, baking, broiling, and stir-frying’s.
- Avoid serving the same food on two consecutive days.
- Occasionally plan for potlucks or cooking with a friend.
Benefits of Planning Meals
Planning meals has a lot of benefits right from health to bonding between/or within the family members.
Numerous studies have shown that planning meals resulted in an increased frequency of consumption of home-based foods. Also, there was less obesity among those who were planning meals prior. This is a simple yet powerful tool. Learn and understand the concept of planning meals and start following the same.
- Ducrot, P., Méjean, C., Aroumougame, V., Ibanez, G., Allès, B., Kesse-Guyot, E., Hercberg, S., & Péneau, S. (2017). Meal planning is associated with food variety, diet quality and body weight status in a large sample of French adults. The international journal of behavioural nutrition and physical activity, 14(1), 12. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-017-0461-7
- Laska, M. N., Larson, N. I., Neumark-Sztainer, D., & Story, M. (2012). Does involvement in food preparation track from adolescence to young adulthood and is it associated with better dietary quality? Findings from a 10-year longitudinal study. Public health nutrition, 15 (7), 1150–1158.
- Aubé, J., & Marquis, M. (2011). Attitudes et habitudes de Canadiens relativement à la planification des repas et à la cuisine maison [Attitudes and habits of Canadians in relation to planning and preparing meals at home]. Canadian journal of dietetic practice and research : a publication of Dietitians of Canada = Revue canadienne de la pratique et de la recherche en dietetique : une publication des Dietetistes du Canada, 72 (2), 70–75. https://doi.org/10.3148/72.2.2011.70
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