How to Do Basic Meal and Menu Planning

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As a basis for meals and menu planning, 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.

What is involved in meal and menu planning?

Meal planning also depends upon several factors like the number of people eating, mealtimes, special dietary concerns, budget, available foods, recipes on hand and likes and dislikes of everyone who will be eating. Begin by choosing foods and recipes that you like and know how to prepare well and that fit into everyone’s dietary plans. If one or more people have special needs, like diabetics, plan for substitutions either in the food preparation or food substitution for that individual or for those individuals.

You decided breakfast was just for morning?

There are a few things to note when making meal choices and menu planning. First, some foods may be advertised a certain way, but that doesn’t mean you cannot experiment. 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.

Get some variety in your meal planning

Add variety, too. Have other family members jump in and prepare meals some nights and on weekends. Kids enjoy making macaroni and cheese, so host mac-n-cheese night on Wednesdays, for example. Then alternate different vegetable combinations, colors, and textures to vary the menu on a weekly basis (no need to let boredom takes over on Wednesdays with the same routine!)

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Learn to save some money with meal planning

To help with family food budget concerns, clip coupons from newspapers, weekend inserts, and any place you can find them. Downloaded coupons from the Internet to save money, too, from places like CouponCart.com. Refunding makes Cents offers an affordable subscription to a neat print magazine for coupon deals, trades, and lots more, with a secret code to their website for Internet coupon-codes for lots of online companies like Amazon.com (cookware) and Barnes and Noble (cookbooks).

Keep in mind what may be in season

Also note seasonal food selections for savings. Create menus and meals based upon what’s on special that week or month. Hint: stock up and store or freeze special-priced items and family favorites when possible and storage room and the budget allows. But don’t overdo it. With convenience stores and supermarkets for food shopping in every neighborhood anymore, 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 must toss them out.

Get your friends and family involved with you planning

One fun way to save is 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 neighbor, other friend or relative. Buy a huge bag of potatoes, onions, oats, and / or other foods, then share.

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Lastly, beware of the affordable easy food trap

Here is one special item to note with regards to dietary planning. 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. So whenever possible, your plans might want to include donating a portion to homeless shelters and churches who would be more than willing to take extras off your hands.

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