The food that we consume is well assimilated in our body and is used for the growth and maintenance of body tissues. Life cannot exist without food, and it is for this reason that every living organism strives to obtain its food requirements. It has been seen that the satisfaction of hunger is usually the main factor for a satisfactory food intake. It is very important that for sustaining a healthy and normal life, diets should be planned with the scientific knowledge of nutrition. It is very essential to learn the general principles and considerations that govern the planning of balanced diets. Meal planning is regarded both as a science as well as an art. It is regarded as an art because it involves the skillful blending of colour, texture and flavor and it is considered to be a science because it involves a careful selection of food for optimum nutrition and digestion. A well planned meal is always appealing to the eyes. Therefore, it is very important that we should obtain adequate nutrition by including the foods from all the food groups in sufficient quantity as well as proportion. Meal planning means planning for adequate nutrition. Meal planning is an art which develops through inspiration and thought. It may appear to be difficult at first but it is a skill which grows with patience and practice. The wisely planned meal not only has to be palatable but also it should be nutritious. Appetite depends not only on hunger but also on the taste, texture, appearance and attractiveness of the foods. Meal planning includes food purchasing and meal preparation.
Importance of Meal Planning
1. Planning of meals in a family is very important in order to fulfill the nutritional requirements of the family members. This is very important to keep them strong and healthy and also free from any nutritional deficiency disease symptoms of any kind. 2. The food or the meal that is planned has to be palatable and appealing to the eye as well as nutritious. It has been observed that a majority of the people do not prefer to eat the foods that they do not like, even if those foods are of high nutritional value. 3. Meal planning is of utmost importance because it involves economizing on time, labour and fuel. While planning of meals the cooking method should be such that there is maximum retention of nutrients and at the same time there is minimum loss of nutrients. 4. This is also very important to keep in mind that the meals should be planned according to the budget of the family. There can be the maximum utilization of the money spent on foods if it is spent in the best possible way. It is possible to have a diet rich in quality and nutritive value without purchasing expensive foods like milk, eggs, butter, meat and a recognition of this will remove misconceptions that only expensive foods are nutritious. Meal planning, therefore, helps one to plan within the family's means and resources. 5. There are so many varieties of foods that it becomes difficult to decide and select the food to be cooked. A knowledge of the nutritive value of the foods is, therefore, very important because it enables one to make a better choice and at the same time to avoid any monotony in the diet. 6. It is always advisable to plan the meals in advance before cooking. This will be very economical as the left-overs from the previous meal can be made use of, instead of being wasted. For instance, the boiled rice can be used in khichri or in some rice pudding. The nutritive value of some foods can also be enhanced by sprouting or fermenting the foods required in advance. 7. Meal planning also helps to determine the adequacy of the diet, the kind of the food purchased, its quality and its cost, the way it is stored, prepared and served. It is very much advisable for the housewife to record and find out how the meals she serves can be improved, their cost reduced and their nutritive value be enhanced.
Factors Affecting Meal Planning
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