BASIC MEAL & MENU PLANNING
As a basis for meals and menu planning, refer to the pyramid information mentioned earlier to make sure you have the basic food requirements met for all family members. Then cross check and plan by looking over basic food categories to target healthy foods to fit the lifestyles and health of everyone. For example, if someone has depression, add some foods mentioned above to his or her dietary plans that aid in the healing and prevention of depression.
Meal planning also depends upon several factors like the number of people eating, meal times, special dietary concerns, budget, available foods, and recipes on hand and likes and dislikes of everyone who will be eating. Begin by choosing foods and recipes that you like and know how to prepare well and that fit into everyone’s dietary plans. If one or more people have special needs, like diabetics, plan ahead for substitutions either in the food preparation or food substitution for that individual or for those individuals.
Add variety to your meal planning. Have other family members jump in and prepare meals some nights and on weekends. Kids enjoy making macaroni and cheese, so host mac-n-cheese night on Wednesdays, for example. Then alternate different vegetable combinations, colors and textures to vary the menu on a weekly basis (no need to let boredom take over on Wednesdays with the same routine!)
Also note seasonal food selections for savings. Create menus and meals based upon what’s on special that week or month. Hint: stock up and store or freeze special-priced items and family favorites when possible and storage room and the budget allow. But don’t over do it. With convenience stores and supermarkets for food shopping in practically every neighborhood anymore, there is no need to hoard. An old saying, “Haste makes waste” might apply if you see a great buy, purchase multiple items, then let them become outdated and have to toss them out.
One fun way to save is by trading coupons and working out food deals with friends, family, neighbors, your church group and anyone else who’d like to join in. Food cooperatives and farm markets available in your area may offer special pricing to groups or large purchases. So team up for better purchasing power and split everything up between group members. If you’re not into that much organization, go one-on-one with a neighbor, other friend or relative. Buy a huge bag of potatoes, onions, oats, and / or other foods, then share.
Here are some cooking tips to help with your perfect dietary planning:
Low-Fat Supplies – -Keep these on hand. Butter-flavored low-fat vegetable cooking sprays are out there. So is apple sauce in place of some oil in recipes. Also keep the following handy: lemons, limes, your favorite fresh herbs and spices, evaporated skim milk, cornstarch, plain non-fat yogurt, flavored vinegar, and onions.
Substitute – Check recipes and ingredients and where applicable, cut fat and calories by using:
• Fat-free or reduced-calorie versions
• Skim milk, 1 percent or 2 percent milk for whole milk
Cooking Skills – – Hone in on or learn how to:
• Sauté, as with vegetables in water or broths.
• Use coking sprays or nonstick cookware.
• Cook in foil or parchment paper to seal in juicy flavors
• Trim fat from meats
• Stir-fry, bake, roast, poach, microwave, steam and broil
• Experiment with seasonings (herbs, spices)
BASIC MEAL & MENU PLANNING