Menu and Meal Planning

Planning ahead for the family meals will ensure your weight goal success. We tend to unravel when there is no forward planning and we just throw something together or get take away as a quick option.

Previously, people would use the food pyramid as a guide to help form the basis for meals and menu planning. While it still has some merits to it, research shows that the food pyramid suggests an over use of carbohydrates which would in turn lead to weight gain. Instead, we should be encouraging a high use of vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables and a moderate use of lean protein as well as fruits.

This will help 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.

You need to consider several factors when planning the family meals. These factors include 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. Start by choosing foods and recipes that you like and

know how to prepare well and that fit into everyone’s dietary requirements. If one or more people have special needs, like diabetics, plan ahead for the necessary food substitutions for that individual or for those individuals.

When making choices for meals, you can be adventurous! You don’t always have to stick to the way that the foods are advertised. For instance, eggs and sausage can be served for dinner, not just breakfast. And waffles can be made from healthy wheat grains and eaten for lunch with fresh fruits, instead of sugary syrup and heavy butter for breakfast. Add variety, too. Have other family members jump in and prepare meals some nights and on weekends. Kids enjoy making home made pizzas, so host a pizza night on Wednesdays where you can use thin crust flat bread and loads of veggies for topping, 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!)

Sometimes the budget can be a contributing factor to the meal planning. To help, clip coupons from newspapers, weekend inserts, and any place you can find them. Also note seasonal food selections for savings. Create menus and meals based upon what’s on special that week or month. Use your freezer space to stock up and store special-priced items and family favourites when possible. But don’t over do it. Supermarkets and convenience stores are generally readily available so 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. Only purchase what you know you can use in the coming months.

It can be fun to save 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 neighbour, other friend or relative. Buy a huge bag of potatoes, onions, oats, and / or other foods, then share.

Even though you can plan your meals with all good intentions, there is one important factor to note. It’s unfortunate, but fast foods, especially those that are high in fat content (fried, greasy foods), are often cheaper than good, healthy food choices. For example, lean beef costs more than high-fat beef; cereals high in nutritional value are often priced much higher than the low-cost, sugary brand names. And low income and homeless people are particularly victims of this situation, many times needing to turn to the less healthier food choices for survival. If you can manage it, keep the costs of food down by growing it yourself. Homegrown fruits and vegetables taste better than bought stuff and at least you know it is chemical free. Home veggie patches can also offer hours of fun for the kids, while teaching them the importance of good food choices.




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