'What's for meal time today' is a million dollar question that many homemakers search for answers. Three meals a day and seven dinners a week seem to be a preposterous proposition for most home managers. Meal planning need not be so stressful any more. There are certain simple tricks, refreshing ideas, no-fuss recipes that come in handy to make mealtime a great interaction session with the family.
Planning a Meal
A well balanced diet is a basic requirement for a healthy family. A homemaker ponders over what to serve, how much to serve, how much to spend, where to shop, how much to buy, what dishes to make and how to serve meals. It is essential that she equips herself with sufficient information on nutrient requirements and individual preferences before working on a delicious meal.
More importantly, meals have to be planned within the family income. Time, labor and fuel need be economized. Varying dishes can be prepared with a proper selection of foods and preparing an appealing meal selecting food in terms of color, texture and flavor. Meal planning is a skill no doubt and it improves with practice.
Why plan a Meal?
Planning a meal in advance saves money. Impulse spending can be cut and leftovers can be used efficiently. Buying in bulk also makes it easier to stockpile freezer meals at reduced prices. Meal planning also saves time. With sufficient time to prepare side dishes and salads to complement the main menu, family's consumption of fruits and vegetables is likely to be on the increase.
Weekly Meal Plan
Weekly Meal Plan eases the daily chore of meal planning and cooking. Statistics prove that planning a meal ahead of time eliminates much of the random buying at grocery stores. To make weekly meal plan successful, it would be wise to make a list of the family members' likes and dislikes. Prepare the grocery list and shop for the entire week.
It should be simpler to use a calendar to list the meals of the day. Seek suggestions from other family members. Freezer is of great help and plays a vital role in weekly meal planning. Freezer bags are an asset and should be stored flat to save space. Even if a five course meal has to be prepared on a Sunday morning, one item can be cooked and the other four could come from the refrigerator.
Weekly meal plan brings a variety to the diet and interest in the menu. For example, a salad could be prepared with myriad colors to make the meal look more appetizing. Big dinner on Sundays, leftovers for Tuesdays and burgers on Mondays, spaghetti for Wednesdays, casserole for Thursday and grills on Fridays and Saturday nights for pizzas. If such a routine is created around menu planning, there would be enough time and space to try new recipes as well. Do not forget to keep these old plans safe in a folder as they can be reused when you are hard pressed for time!
Planning a healthy meal
Healthy eating starts by making nutrient rich food choices, food that are packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. Only this can help one live a longer and healthier life. There are certain functional foods which when consumed in appropriate amounts provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition. Recent researches have shown that eating such functional foods that are rich in health promoting ingredients or natural components can enhance health and reduce the risk of acute and chronic diseases.
Since the habit of eating healthy food should be imbibed as a lifelong habit, it has to be formed early in life. Even children can be taught to eat a balanced diet with a variety of healthy foods. Such functional foods can be found in a grocery store and can be refrigerated. Some of the functional foods include cheese, almonds, broccoli, blueberries, milk, salmon, garlic, citrus fruits, yogurt, soy, spinach, cranberries, walnuts, tomatoes, and flaxseed, avocado and hot cocoa.
Meal planning tips
Making a draft plan, shopping smartly, retaining flexibility at the marketplace and firming up the menu plan are some of the basics of menu planning.