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Planning meals

Jan 21, 2010, 4:55 PM | Article By: Isatou Dumbuya

We need to eat food to enable us grow is the answer you will have from anybody, but there is more to it than meets the eye. At least three meals should be eaten every day; two big meals and one small one. It is essential that a meal be eaten in the morning in order to start the day's work well.

The food we eat can be divided into three main groups:

1. Body-building or flesh-forming foods e.g. proteins.

2. Energy-giving foods, e.g. carbohydrates and fats.

3. Protective foods e.g. minerals and vitamins.

When planning meals, foods from each one of these groups must be provided. The foods selected should supply the required daily nutrient in the most digestible form.

Fruit should be eaten everyday, especially in the morning because it stimulates bowel action.

Green vegetables supply vitamins and mineral salts. They are eaten either raw, in salads, or in stews or as an accompaniment to the main dish. Daily consumption of first-class protein should be encouraged. Vary the menu by alternating fish with meat.

Beans, peas, and groundnut are valuable second-class protein foods. If possible one of them should be included in the diet daily. The body makes better use of protein foods if they are mixed; therefore mix animal and vegetable proteins in the meal.

Cereals and root vegetables supply carbohydrate, but they may be alternated in the menu. Some fat or oil should be eaten everyday. Un-bleached palm oil is rich in vitamins A and D. Groundnut oil provides Vitamin E. But remember that plenty of oil is bad for the body.

Plenty of protective foods should be provided for the family, e.g. milk and eggs. Plenty of fresh food is also very important.

Stale and thinned foods lack some of the vital food substances the body needs.

Choose foods which are in season, because they are then the cheapest and best.

Variety is essential. It promotes the appetite and you are most likely to supply the necessary nutrients in the correct proportions. Plan ahead, because this saves time, energy, material, and money.

Consider the number of people in the family, the age of the people eating the meal, their occupation, their state of health, the times of the meal, and the money to be spent.

Plan to use left-overs, as this saves time and money. But remember to serve simple, but well cooked and nourishing food, and introduce new ways of serving.

Plan and serve foods attractively so that the family will learn to eat a large variety of foods.