MEAL PLANNING FOR THE FAMILY
INTRODUCTION: Meal planning involves deciding what to eat day at each meal. It takes thought, effort and use of knowledge acquired in earlier. As the family’s well-being and health are dependent on how well they are fed, it is a challenge to every meal manager to meet it. It proves to be a satisfying and rewarding experience, when done well.
Each day we eat three meals and perhaps an additional snack. The various members of the family partake of these meals. We need to plan the meals to ensure that the needs of each family member are met. The plan can be flexible to take advantage of lower prices of seasonal foods, and to meet the needs and choices of your family. But it has to be a plan. Meal planning can be done by the family as a joint project. The family members can discuss the meal plans, the food budget and the actual preparation and help in making the plans work. Such co-operation will lead to greater acceptance and enjoyment of the meals. The four steps involved in meal planning are as follows:
- Preparation and
MEAL PLANNING: You must take into account the family members, their ages and occupation in planning family meals. The food guide will help in selecting foods. This will help to decide the amounts of foods needed from each group. As you learnt earlier, there is a large variety in the kinds of foods within each food group, so it is possible to choose foods, which the family members like from each group. It is important to use seasonal vegetables and fruits, as these are not only of high quality, but are available at reasonable price.
The selection will also be guided by the schedules of the family members. All that you eat and drink at home or outside, the cup of tea / coffee taken daily, the snacks served at meetings, the chana – dana, which children eat in short recess, all form part of the daily food intake of the members. Planning for these or at least an awareness of these, makes it easier for you to pick the foods that add up to meet the needs of various family members.
Meal planning is intimately connected with food purchase. In purchasing food, consider the space available for storage and the conditions of storage. For example, if the space is limited, you may have to purchase food often. If you have a refrigerator, you can buy vegetables and fruits once a week. Thus now often you purchase foods is dependent on the space and conditions of storage.
OBJECTIVES IN MEAL PLANNING: In planning meals your aim is:
- To satisfy the nutritional needs of the family members, according to their age and occupation.
- Keep expenditure within your family’s food budget.
- To decide amounts of foods to be purchased from each food group.
- To consider family size and composition.
- To consider food storage space and conditions of storage, decide how often you need to purchase various foods.
In order to translate the meal plan into meals that meet the family’s needs, the following additional steps have to be taken ---
- Prepare a food purchase list, taking the food preferences of members into account.
- Use methods of preparation, which retain nutrients, without sacrificing palatability.
- Serve meals, which are appetizing and attractive and fit in the schedule of the members.
- Manage the time, energy and available materials efficiently, with the help of the family members.
If you make a weekly plan for all meals, you can save time, energy and money. It will also help you to avoid monotonous meals.