Mealtime is an important occasion for the members of the family. Mothers who are concerned with the health of the family should know what foods to buy and prepare in order to provide good nutrition for the family members. Good nutrition means eating the proper kinds of food in the right amount. Good foods ensure proper growth and development for babies; keep young people and adults physically fit and promote physical and mental health for everyone.
Meal planning is the method of thinking, choosing, planning, and deciding the series of activities in management. The planning and preparation of meals is a very important subject for housewives and other people who work with food. In planning meals, there are several points to consider.
Nutritional Value. It is important point to consider in meal planning. We eat mainly for health, not for pleasure alone. Care should be taken that all of the necessary nutrients are present in our food.=
Palatability. This includes both the taste and the appearance of the food.
Economy. We need to realize that expensive foods are not necessarily the most nutritious, and neither is cheap foods necessarily lacking in the proper nutrients.
Sanitary Quality. A housewife or cook should take care that the sanitary quality of the food is preserved. Unsanitary methods in the handling and preparation of food can cause diseases and even death.
Variety. It is a big factor in determining whether a meal will be a success or not. There are several ways of adding variety to meals
1. Do not repeat the same kind of food in one meal. If you serve fried fish for dinner, do not serve boiled fish as well.
2. Avoid using one type of foodstuff in one meal. A menu consisting of pasta, macaroni salad, noodles, cookies and rice is not proper because all of these foods are rich in carbohydrates.
3. Provide attractive color combinations. Color can be added by using garnishes such as red and green pepper, celery, peanuts and other spices.
4. Vary the shape of food. Have variety of shapes such as round, square, triangle and others.
5. Use sauces and relishes such as catsup to add flavor to a dish.
6. Plan your menu according to the season. Hot soup is not advisable on a hot night nor cold pineapple juice on a cold December morning.
7. Serve hot food hot and cold food cold.
8. Serve light dessert with heavy meals and heavy dessert with light meals.
Likes and Dislikes. The likes and dislikes of each family member should be carefully considered when planning menus. If father likes fried chicken but the rest of the family hates it, find something else that will satisfy everyone. Good substitutions can be made with a little imagination. With so many foods to choose from, it should be easy to please everyone.
Which Comes First. In planning meals, it is usually the protein course which is thought first. After the main dish has been selected, an accompanying vegetable dish to complement it is chosen. Dessert, preferably in the form of fruits or sometimes sweets, maybe added. A soup is not a necessary item in a menu, but it helps to add variety, stimulate the appetite and is especially desirable of “dry meals”.
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