Simple tips for effective meal planning

4As we read about good health and nutrition, we too feel the need to plan and make our day healthy. There are various factors which one needs to keep in mind while planning.

What is meal planning?
Meal planning is nothing but organizing your thoughts and ingredients to make a healthy meal. This could be done on a daily basis or weekly or even for some monthly. You can make a chart or maintain a book to plan. The motive for this is to enjoy the process and make the best use of the resources available.

Given below are few tips to plan a healthier diet for you and your family:

  • Firstly remember to be practical. Do not over plan or under plan. Keep in mind the quantity required before planning. Do remember some meals need help or pre-planning.
  • Keep the likes and dislikes of the family in mind.
  • Remember to allot portions in advance. For e.g.; children eat lesser compared to adults, so plan the portions to avoid wastage.
  • Keep seasons in mind, as some food spoils faster in summer compared to winter.
  • Keep availability in mind. Seasonal fruits and vegetables need to be incorporated for better health.
  • Keep updating your knowledge about food and nutrition by reading various articles or cook books whenever possible
  • Save the recipes that you like or make a note pad for the recipes you want to save.
  • Sometimes keeping a theme in mind helps. For e.g: soup, salad and grill day, Chinese, Italian, Mexican or Chat day and so on.
  • Do keep a look for some sales and deals for some saving.
  • Always stock your pantry or the kitchen well. Do not buy excess of things you are unsure about.
  • If you are trying a recipe for the first time, make it in smaller quantity for better results.
  • Use the perishables first. Foods like seafood, milk products like paneer need to be used faster.

Common food groups to include in your meals everyday:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Proteins
  • Fats & Oils
  • Fibre
  • Fluids

Breakfast always has to be heavy – a combination of carbohydrate with proteins is a must. Some healthy breakfast options are:

  • Cereal – for people on the go – cereal with milk or yoghurt
  • Idli/ Dosa/ Pohe/ Upma/ Chilla with some chutney on the side for better digestion
  • Fruits / Sprouts with Curd/ Buttermilk or Milk
  • Eggs/ Cold cuts with Toasted Bread and Fruit
  • Sandwiches/ Roti Roll (roti and left over vegetables)/ Paratha/ Thepla with curd and fruit
  • Tea/ coffee/ juices/ buttermilk/ milk needs to be added for at least 1 – 2 meals per day. Ideally keep these as in between fillers – typically at 11 am and 5 pm

Keep lunch moderate and dinner light. Add salad, curd/ buttermilk to balance the nutrients for the day.

Finally remember to enjoy the process, rather than getting stressed. Planning only helps to make a variety of foods and eases your problem of over working; but if it leads to more confusion or stress then you need to rework the strategy.

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Malavika Athavale
Consulting Nutritionist
Eatrite – The Nutrition Clinic

Malavika Athavale has a PG Diploma in Dietetics from SNDT University (Mumbai) and industry experience in clinical and pediatric nutrition. She founded Eatrite – The Nutrition Clinic where she provides her consultancy services in individual diet counseling and corporate well-being initiatives.

Image: Getty Images

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