A balanced diet is an essential part of maintaining good health for everyone and it can only be achieved by having well planned meals. Here’s an insight into what a good meal plan must have.
A well planned meal is put together by taking care of three major aspects – Presentation of the meal, it’s taste and palatability and it’s affordability in terms of time required to prepare it; accessibility, as well as the total cost of the food prepared. It is very important to keep these three things in mind as you plan your daily meals.
Essentials of meal planning:
In addition there are certain other factors also, that play a major role in efficient meal planning and are considered essential part of a well planned meal. These are:
Nutritional adequacy: when you plan a meal remember that it should meet the nutritional requirements of an individual, as well as the family as a whole. It should be a well balanced mix of all the food groups as mentioned below:
- Energy giving foods: these include cereals and their products, fats, sugar, starches and root vegetables.
- Body building foods: these provide proteins e.g. Milk and milk products, eggs, meat, fish, chicken, pulses and soya beans.
- Protective foods: these provide vitamins and minerals e.g. Fruits and vegetables.
- Fiber rich foods: these foods are good for a healthy gut, as they aid in good digestion. e.g. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and pulses.
- Water for healthy metabolism
Food cost and affordability: another essential part of good meal planning is the cost effectiveness and affordability of your meal. In your daily cooking, a well planned and even elaborate meal need not necessarily be expensive, if the following points are kept in mind:
- Use seasonal food items like fruits and veggies.
- Buy non-perishable foods in bulk from super stores.
- Cook the required amounts only. This will reduce wastage of food.
- Where money is a concern go in for cheaper substitutes. They are not inferior in nutrition.
- Use leftovers creatively
Acceptability of meals: When preparing food for the whole family, likes and dislikes of one and all should be kept in mind. While serving the necessary nutrients rich food is a must, creative cooking and disguising not so favorite food items helps. Here are some points to be kept in mind:
- Take into account the likes and dislikes of all the family members
- There should be enough variety in every day cooking, as well as from meal to meal to avoid tedium. This can be achieved by intelligently selecting different dishes.
- Meals should be filling to provide good satiety value till the next meal. This is done by adding adequate fiber-rich foods as they fill up the stomach for a longer time thus, slowing the absorption of nutrients.
While consulting on diet and nutrition I always advise people to keep these little things in mind, not only to make their daily meals healthier; but also turn them into something each member of the family looks forward to. Have a happy meal, for a happy life!
This article has been contributed by Ms. Raminder Deshmukh. She is a Nutrition Consultant with an extensive experience of over 20 years in this field. She holds a Post-graduate Diploma in Dietics and Public Health Nutrition, from Delhi University. You may put across your queries related to Diet and Nutrition to her through our "Ask The Tzars" section or, you may contact her directly for online consultation at -