Fundamentals of Meal Planning

 

 

 Generally, in haste, we buy what we feel to eat despite any pre-planning. We also don’t consider what nutrients those foods will provide. If we know the basics of meal planning, we can spend our money economically on buying specific foods as required to our body.

Meal planning It involves decision making regarding-

  • What to eat &
  • How much to eat each day at each meal?

The major goal of meal planning should not only focus on meeting adequate nutritional requirements, but the meals should be flexible enough to take advantage of the easy availability and lower prices of seasonal foods.

Different seasonal foods according to months-

  • Month

    Fruits

    Vegetables

    January

    Orange

    Pineapple

    Kiwi

    Strawberries

    Pomegranate

    Brinjal

    Beetroot

    Cauliflower

    Turnip

     

    February

    Sapodilla

    Muskmelon

    Grapes

    Guava

    Strawberries

    Oranges

    Broccoli

    Pumpkin

    Cabbage

    Carrot

    Radish

    Onion

    March

    Watermelon

    Mango- Totapuri, Badami

    Grapes,

    Orange,

    Pineapple

    Banana

    Spinach

    Capsicum

    Pumpkin

    Gourd

    April

    Watermelon,

    Mango – Totapuri, Badami

    Grapes,

    Orange,

    Jackfruit,

    Pineapple,

    Banana

    Okra

    Beans,

    Cucumber,

    Pumpkin,

    May

    Mango-Alphonso, Kesar,

    Raw-Papaya,

    Black Jamun,

    Litchi,

    Jackfruit,

    Watermelon, Muskmelon

    Spinach,

    Cucumber,

    Bitter Gourd,

    Beans

    June

    Mango- Alphonso, Kesar,

    Litchi,

    Cherry,

    Muskmelon

    Corn,

    Capsicum,

    Sweet_Potato,  Cucumber,

    Spinach,

    Lady’s Finger

    July

    Mango- Kesar, Totapuri,

    Cherries,

    Peach,

    Plum   

    Bitter Gourd,

    Corn,

    Spinach,

    Lady Finger,

    Sweet_Potato, Cucumber,

    Capsicum

    August

    Mango- Alphonso,

    Kesar,

    Litchi,

    Cherry,

    Muskmelon,

    Custard Apple

     

    Corn,

    Capsicum,

    Sweet_Potato, Cucumber,

    Spinach,

    Okra

    September

    Guava,

    Papaya,

    Pomegranate,

    Custard Apple,

    Passion Fruit

     

    Corn,

    Capsicum,

    Sweet_Potato, Cucumber,

    Spinach,

    Okra

    October

    Guava,

    Papaya,

    Pomegranate,

    Custard Apple,

    Passion Fruit  

    Brinjal,

    Tomatoes,

    Spring Onions

    November

    Oranges,

    Dates,

    Guava,

    Pomegranate,

    Custard Apple

    Brinjal,

    Tomatoes,

    Spring Onions,

    French Beans

    December

    Strawberries,

    Orange,

    Sweet Lime,

    Fig,

    Guava,

    Custard Apple, Pineapple           

    Brinjal,

    Tomatoes,

    Spring Onions,

    Radish, Beetroot, Yam

Source- eattreat.in

The meals planned by anybody should not only ensure that the essential nutrients are adequately met, but they should also be flexible enough to take advantage of the easy availability and lower prices of the seasonal foods.

Objectives of Meal Planning- We do Meal planning to achieve Nutritional Adequacy

Nutritional Adequacy-

It is the fundamental objective of meal planning. We know that no single food can provide all the essential nutrients, so we have to make combinations of adequate foods to obtain a balanced diet.

The foods have been divided into 3 major groups on the basis of their nutritional contributions-

The three major groups are-

  1. Energy giving foods
  2. Bodybuilding foods
  3. Protective foods

1. Energy giving foods

They provide energy to the body and are rich in carbohydrates, for example- Cereals and their products, starchy roots and tubers, etc.

Energy giving foods are also rich in fats, for example- Nuts, fats, and oils, etc.

The foods rich in fats also help in their easy ingestion in the esophagus due to their slippery nature, and they are palatable too.

Major examples are-

  1. Wheat
  2. Potato
  3. Oil
  4. Chapatti
  5. Rice

2. Bodybuilding foods-

How to build a body?

To build body, cells are needed to be increased (multiplied) so as to make more tissues- which in turn make up more muscles.

We see many bodybuilders consuming protein powders to build and maintain their physique.

So. Protein is the main bodybuilding constituent that is present in-

1. Animal origin protein-rich foods i.e. 

  • Milk and milk products
  • Eggs
  • Meat, poultry, etc.

                      Bodybuilding foods

So, these are the protein-rich animal origin food products, and they have high biological value, meaning that they contain all the essential amino acids that are required for our body. (Note- Proteins are made up of monomers called Amino acids)

2. Plant origin protein-rich foods-

  • Lentils
  • Legumes
  • Nuts and oilseeds

          Different types of Legumes- Protein-rich foods

These plant origin protein-rich foods are low in protein relative to animal origin protein-rich foods because the former is deficient in Essential amino acids containing Sulfur. So, their biological value is lower than the later.

Summarizing the Bodybuilding foods, we can say that besides providing proteins to the body, they also contribute towards providing energy, beta carotene and Vitamin- B.

So, Main examples of Bodybuilding foods are-

  • Eggs
  • Black gram
  • Fish
  • Groundnut
  • Milk

 

3. Protective foods-

These foods fight with external or internal harmful agents and protect the human body.

They provide an ample number of Vitamins and minerals for performing their regulatory and protective functions.

General examples

  • Aonla
  • Onion
  • Papaya
  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Mango

So, mainly all vegetables (except Starchy roots and tubers which are included under energy giving foods) come under protective foods.

Also, deep yellow and orange colored foods are rich in beta-carotene, which contains double bonds which absorb the light having wavelengths in the visible range. For example- Carrots appear orange in color.

    Carrots are orange in color due to Beta- carotene

 How to plan a balanced diet?

To plan a balanced diet, we have to select or exclude several foods from the Food Pyramid for every meal.

      A food pyramid Source- sanandres.esc.edu.ar

In the figure,

The top triangle includes those foods that should be eaten sparingly because it contains sugars and fats. Most importantly, the saturated sugars having easily breakable single bonds quickly break and absorbed in the blood, thus increasing the level of sugar, causing risk of Diabetes.

The second trapezium includes the foods that should be eaten moderately including milk, meat, etc.

The third trapezium from the top includes those foods that should be eaten liberally like fruits, vegetables, etc.

The fourth trapezium includes foods that should be consumed adequately including bread, cereals, grains, etc.

We should adequately consume Cereals, grains, etc.

            Bread- a product from cereals

So, such a balanced diet will

  • Meet nutritional requirements
  • Prevents degenerative diseases
  • Improves longevity and immunity
  • Prolongs productive life
  • Develops the optimum cognitive ability
  • Helps to cope with stress

In short, a balanced diet improves the quality of Life.

But, in a family, different members have different nutritional needs.

   A family having different age group members

The members in a family are differentiated on the basis of

  • Age (a family member is old, other is young, etc.)
  • Gender (either male or female member)
  • Physical activity (an employed man works hard to earn, while a sick old man is bed-ridden)
  • Physiological stress ( a working man may have personal stress, while a child may be stress-free, charming and happy)

So, a family may have

  • A growing child
  • A physically hardworking man/ woman
  • An adolescent boy
  • Adult woman
  • Old lady
  • A sick person

So, do we have to prepare different foods for all the family members as per their nutritional needs??

No, a normal family meal should be served but in different amounts and with a slight modification so as to serve the purpose.

For example– For a pregnant or lactating mother, an extra amount of protein may be given in form of eggs or milk, as protein help in bodybuilding, which is a must requirement for cell building for the baby, which is to be born or has been born.

 

Food Economy-

Generally, expenditure on food is the largest part of a family budget.

Case 1- If a family’s total income is increasing, then proportionate expenditure on food decreases.

Because, due to their increase in income, the family’s luxury interest increases and food expenditure seems to them as a very less amount to spend as compared to their total income

Case 2- If a family’s total income is decreasing, then proportionate expenditure on food increases.

Because, due to their decrease in income, the family’s foremost preference is to spend on food only along with fulfilling basic requirements.

For example, if a low-income family has a total monthly income of $100, then it will spend almost 34.1% of its total income on food.

So, if a family has a low income, its members should plan the meals and buy foods wisely, so as to achieve maximum nutrition for the money spent.

Few examples are given for economic planning-

  1. A low-income family may buy cheaper protein sources like Pulses, instead of buying meat.
  2. If a family has facilities available, it can keep poultry, so as to produce eggs and chicken for family meals.

                     Chicken and its products

  3. The family may also grow vegetables in their kitchen garden (if available), to cut down expenses of buying vegetables from the market.
  4. We should compare the prices of food items to make the best buy
  5. Use of fair price shops or food bazaars is advisable for an economical buy
  6. Buying perishables in bulk is a bad option, as they tend to degrade after their shelf life.
  7. Buying seasonal foods is a good and economical idea because they are nutritious too.

               Seasonal fruits and vegetables

  8. To reduce wastage, cooking the right amount of food is recommended.
  9. We should minimize nutrient losses by utilizing several cooking methods.
  10. Proper utilization of food leftovers like leaves of carrots or radish is a good idea
  11. Making proper accounts of money spent on food improves clarity in meal planning

    Maintaining accounts of food expenditure can surely help in Meal planning

  12. Techniques like Fermentation, Malting, Sprouting at home can enhance the nutritive value without increasing the cost
  13. Jaggery is widely used as a cheaper substitute for sugar

                                      www.organicfacts.net

  14. Toned milk can be used as it contains all nutritional elements except fats
  15. Natural foods are cheaper than processed and preserved foods because the processing of foods involves the cost of utilization of machines and manpower.

 

So, by considering the above information about the different food groups and seasonal foods, we can make a perfect Meal plan that can provide a healthy balanced diet for ourselves and our beloved family members.

 

Please visit page 1- Importance of Nutrition and Dietetics in our Society for the intro part.

Please comment on what you feel.

 

 

 

Share this article :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *