Menu planning helps you honor your commitment to good nutrition and answer that age-old question, “What’s for supper?” Taking the time to develop a menu and a grocery list will actually save you time, energy, and money in the store and at home in meal preparation.
Here’s how to start:
will be eaten away from home, and when you might have extra people to prepare for.
|Sunday||Lunch at Grandmother’s|
|Tuesday||Dinner in a crock-pot|
|Wednesday||Soup & sandwich|
|Friday||From the grill|
Use your menu system as long as it works for you. You might want to change it seasonally or with the school year, for example. You can find recipes or menu ideas in your local newspaper or magazines of your family’s favorites. Look for recipes that offer nutrition information and incorporate a variety of foods.
With this done, it’s time to start writing your menus. Follow these four steps to menu planning:
The more you plan, the easier this process will become to you. The 10-point checklist makes it easier by helping you see your menus are well balanced and meet the nutritional needs of you and your family. Answer these questions about your menus, and then make the needed adjustments:
__ Protein sources (2 per day)
__ Vegetables (3 – 5 per day)
__ Fruits (2 – 4 per day)
__ Enriched or whole grains (6 – 11 per day)
__ Dairy products (2 – 3 per day)
__ Colors: green, red, yellow, orange, purple, brown, white, blue
__ Flavors: sweet, sour, bland, spicy, savory
__ Textures: crisp, soft, liquid, crunchy, chewy, creamy
__ Temperatures: hot, cold, warm, cool, frozen
__ Shapes, sizes: small, big, round, and square
Another way to quickly evaluate your meals for completeness is with the 75/25-pie test. Consider each meal separately, thinking of your plate as a pie. To be well-balanced, your plate should contain 75 percent (or three-fourths) plant-based foods. That would be grain products, fruits, and vegetables. The remaining 25 percent should be foods from animal sources or meats, meat substitutes, and dairy foods.
Snacks help to balance out the menu, especially if you are planning for children. Children have small stomachs and require snacks in between meals to provide extra energy and nutrients. A good snack contains two food groups, which help build red blood cells, important in preventing iron-deficiency anemia. A good snack also changes every day and lets you introduce new foods to young children. Avoid letting children have too much fruit juice, which can cause tooth decay and may also keep them from eating enough solid foods.
Planned snacks also help you stay committed to a healthy diet. Don’t go hungry for long periods. You’ll be more likely to crave high carbohydrate foods that are often full of refined sugars, have too much fat, and are low in fiber, like cookies and chips. Write in a good snack every day so you won't be tempted to reach for something that’s not healthy.