Lesson 7: Meal Planning

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Dzifa is a housewife with three school age children. Every morning she wakes up with the problem of what to feed her family on for the day. Sometimes she is able to think quickly about what to cook but at other times it becomes very difficult to figure out what foods to put together to make a meal. Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? Waking up and not knowing what to eat. If you learn how to plan meals, thinking of what to eat or cook will be a thing of the past. You would find that planning what to eat becomes a very interesting and life fulfilling past time.

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The objective of this coarse is to facilitate to stakeholders how to improve quality of work on distant learning mode online.


The vocabulary of meal planning

  • A meal

A meal is a made up of all the foods eaten for breakfast or lunch or supper. It is usually made up of the main dish and its accompaniment, the dessert and the appetizer.

  • A dish

A dish refers to a food served in one plate or bowl for example ‘fufu’ is a dish and so is the soup served with it.

  • Main dish

A main dish is the dish that contains the protein part of a meal. It is eaten with an accompaniment which is usually the carbohydrate part of the meal.

  • A course

A course is made up of one or more dishes eaten together in a meal. For example light soup and fufu is a course in a meal.

  • A menu

A menu is a collection of dishes served in a meal.

Goals of meal planning

The vocabulary you have just reviewed gives you an insight into the various technical words used in meal planning. Now let us look at some of the reasons why we must plan our meals.

If you just pick any foods you have around and put them together, you may not be lucky to get all the nutrients your body needs with your combination.

With careful meal planning you will consider so that you can get as much nutrients as possible. So, one of the reasons why we plan meals is to provide a nutritious meal for those who will eat it.

You know from the previous unit that the food we eat must supply our bodies with essential nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and fats.

All persons need all these nutrients but the amount they need would vary from one person to another depending on peoples physiological state, whether they are old, pregnant, young, lactating etc.

All the essential nutrients can be provided by a diet which includes foods from the six food groups. You have already studied these groups in unit 1. Can you remember them?

Each person’s nutritional needs can be met by planning meals for the entire day. The day’s total nutrient intake is usually divided among breakfast, lunch, supper and snacks.

  • Breakfast, usually, should provide one-quarter of the days total nutrient needs. A good breakfast should provide energy and a lot of vitamin C. People who do manual work or are very active may decide to eat a heavy breakfast.

It is important to eat something in the morning before starting work to prevent mid-morning fatigue.

  • Lunch should supply one-third of the daily nutrients need. Food should provide all the nutrients the body needs. For growing children it is important for them to have a good lunch because breakfast and supper alone can not provide all the needed nutrients. For many people supper is the one meal of the day which can be eaten leisurely and shared. For some families it is the only meal of the day. It should provide a good supply of all the nutrients.

  • Snacks

Snacks are in between meals eaten to satisfy nutritional needs as well as hunger. If well planned snacks should provide the remaining percentage of nutrients which are not provided by breakfast, lunch and supper.

They should be chosen so that they do not provide excess calories but enough of other nutrients as well

Write down all the foods you ate yesterday and divide them into breakfast, lunch and supper and snack as shown in the table.

Breakfast Lunch Supper Snack Do you think the food you ate provided all the nutrients you needed?

Planned Spending

One important goal of meal planning is to provide the necessary foods to meet nutrients needs with the money available.

The amount of money spent on food depends on several factors some of which are your income

  • your ability to choose foods well
  • your shopping skills
  • your food preferences
  • your values
  • your time

Now let as examine each of these factors and see how they affect our spending.

  • Income

The higher your income the more money you spend on food. People with more money tend to buy expensive foods without thinking about it.

  • Time

Your time for shopping would dittermine how willing you are to stop and bargain so you can get your food at the cheapest prize.

  • Values

Your values would affect how much you spend on food because if you value health for example you would want to spend money to buy foods which will provide the necessary nutrients. If you value clothes you can go without food so that you will get money to pay for the latest clothes. Template:ACTIVITY

Preparing satisfying meals

  • A meal should be accepted and enjoyed. People will eat the foods they like best. Food acceptance is affected by factors like ethnic origin, religion, socio-economic status etc. We met all of these when we were discussing food habits in unit one.

In addition to the above factors, flavour, colour, texture and temperature would also affect food acceptance. Flavour which is a combination of taste and aroma can make people accept foods. Foods would normally taste sweet, sour, salty or bitter.

  • Flavour

Aroma gives the smell of the food. Both taste and aroma (flavour) are important in meal planning because people accept or reject a food sometimes because of its flavour.

  • Colour

Colour appeals to the eye when correctly used and it helps to stimulate appetite. The sight of a food can make you salivate. Colour blends are achieved using foods or using garnishes. A garnish is anything put on food to make it attractive.

  • Texture

Texture is the feel of food in the mouth. Food is said to be hard, chewy, soft, crisp, smooth, sticky, dry, gritty and tough. When meals are planned well textures are varied to make them appealing. Planning should be such that you can have dry and moist foods, crisp and smooth foods, soft and hard foods etc.

  • Temperature

Temperature of food affects appetite. Some foods look very unattractive when they are cold. Example fried yam looks good only when it is hot. Most often fried foods look good when they are hot. Hot foods should be served hot and cold foods should be served cold.

Methods of planning menus

  • Meals are generally planned around the main dish. Do you remember what a main dish is? This dish is the focal point of the meal. All other foods must compliment this dish.
  • Desserts are planned with the main course in mind. Check the vocabulary at the beginning of this unit to find out what a main course is.
  • The appetizer is planned with both the main course and the dessert in mind. When planning meals do the following:-
  • Choose the main dish first
  • Select the staple food which will accompany the maid dish
  • Add one or two vegetable dishes where necessary
  • Choose the dessert and or the appetizer

How to write the menu

  1. .List foods in the order in which they are served except that beverages are listed last irrespective of when they are eaten.
  2. .Foods eaten together are written together.
  3. .Items such as margarine, sugar cream, salad dressing are not written.
  4. .Capitalize all words except prepositions and conjunctions.
  5. .Plan the spacing and arrangement of the items on the menu card so that it is .symmetrical.

6#.Special accompaniments must be to the right of the dish they accompany or centre the main item and write the accompaniment item underneath. Template:ACTIVITY

Has this unit taught you something about planning meals?

Would you behave like Dzifa the next time you are confronted with providing food for your family? Try and plan some few meals for yourself.


Interview at least 2 women who had given birth {{ask if thet had experience any problems/difficulties during ist trimester. if any what were they what did they did to overcome those problems