Tips on Meal and Menu Planning

A Dietician on Meal Planning

In order to develop a healthy lifestyle it is important for you to plan healthy menus for you and your family. Let me give you a hint about how to plan healthy menus in this article.

As a Dietician, I believe my job begins with stressing on the importance of eating natural and wholesome foods. Let me begin by helping you to remember that our ancestors all over the world were hunter gatherers. Most of our great grandparents used to live simple lives and were mostly farmers and occupied with agricultural endeavors. Your grandmother made every food item including pickles, sauces and curries from scratch and then canned and preserved certain items for use for the rest of the year. Our ancestors did not consume too much processed foods. They ate foods that were real and freshly prepared dishes apart from fruits that were plucked from nearby orchards. Both men and women lived highly active lives and worked very hard throughout the day. They are rarely sedentary and did not sit on a desk for 8 hours a day like most urbanites do.

The menus that you should plan must be healthy and full of nutrition and must be based on the use of fresh fruits and vegetables. If you eat red meat, lower the consumption and if possible ditch the eating of red meat altogether. Select natural whole grain breads instead of highly processed white breads.

Menu Planning Tips

The menus that you plan must be adequate in nutrition and meet the consumer’s goals. The menu must be rich in protein, carbs, fat, vitamins, minerals and fluid.

  1. Jot down what you plan to eat the next week.

Remember to mark the special events, birthdays and other meals where you will be eating out.

2. Check your pantry, freezer and fridge

See what ingredients you have stored and use up your inventory.

3. Plan menus using your favourite foods

Plan for one day to begin with. Start with planning the 3 major meals of the day i.e Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast and lunch can be a complex carb based meal like upma, poha, whole wheat or rice preparations. At breakfast combine the complex carbs like cereals with red and green veggies like carrot, peas, tomatoes, capsicum, onions etc. The meal will look appealing and be a good source of antioxidants and fibres. Lunch can be a combination of whole grain cereal along with a  variety of dal and a sabzi Рa perfect meal to prevent mental exhaustion for latter part of the day. Select protein-rich foods for dinners like full fat paneer, dal chillas, sprout and beans, eggs, chicken or fish accompanied with a portion of vegetable curry or stir fry and vegetable soups. Fill your meal gaps with fresh fruits, nuts, oil seeds, yogurt and plain milk during the day. Choose wholesome fresh foods over packaged ready to eat foods.

4. Balance flavours – sweet, sour, tart, savoury or spicy but not too much of the same flavour.

5. Try to add contrasting textures – like not all soft foods or all hard foods.

6. Contrast the colour of the foods. Like not all white foods. Use a variety of colours to add appeal and stimulate hunger.

7. Go for variety. Like not only baked foods.

8. Overall, the menu must be appealing to the eyes!

Advantages of meal planning:

  1. You buy only the foods that you need
  2. You make fewer trips to the store
  3. Less impulse buying
  4. You save money!

Tips on Saving Money While Grocery Shopping

    • Stick to the foods that are on your list.
    • Remember to eat while shopping
    • Shop without your kids or spouse.
    • Compare prices and labels to get the best deal.
    • Don’t be afraid to try something new.

Eating Together

After making all the efforts to plan a menu for your family, it would be a shame if your family cannot make an effort to eat together. In many Indian homes, Sunday is the day when families set aside time to have special meals as a family. There is enough evidence to prove that families that eat together are healthier. If your family is not eating dinner together atleast, then make a commitment to eat together as a family at least once or twice a week.

Also remember to let your entire family participate. The weekly menu can and should become a family affair. You can plan the menu together with your kids and husband. The children can help set up the table. Older children can help with the food preparation such as washing the vegetables or helping with making the rotis or cutting the fruits. It can also be fun to have themes or do different things to make the meals interesting such as using special tablecloths, napkins etc. As more and more Indian families are eating out, it is all the more important to inculcate this redeeming tradition of eating meals together. Remember the benefits of the family eating a meal together are many:

  1. Enhances communication
  2. Develops manners and social skills
  3. Helps you try out new foods
  4. Helps everyone eat more nutritious foods that are freshly prepared
  5. Helps the family be self-sufficient and no depend on takeaways for meals.

Also do read an article here in the Hindustan Times featuring me and one of my clients Vivek Chennuri. Read more about him and my success story with him and get inspired to fight the flab this Diwali!


Do remember that you can always call or whatsapp me on 98206 07875 for an online or offline appointment where I can help you create healthy and nutritious meal plans that will not only nourish you and your family but also bring your family closer because what could be a better way to bond than over food!

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