MEAL PLANNING and why its important

Meal planning is the art of using food to satisfy the nutritional needs of individuals. Meal plans are also used for groups. They are modifiable to suit cultural habits; health status, social-economic status and even tailor-made for those with unique food needs e.g. allergies.

Meal planning offsets time scarcity and encourages home meal preparation, which improves diet quality and body weight status.

Meal planning has been associated with a healthier diet and less obesity cases, as proved by research. Whether you are trying to lose weight, or just improve your diet, meal planning is an easy step to help you reach your goals.

There are numerous advantages of planning out a meal in advance. “With anything in life, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. That applies to meal planning as well “says Silvia very, registered dietician at the Beaumont weight control centre conton.

Here is a list of some benefits that meal and snack planning will bring to you.


Learn portion control. It allows you to see how much you are actually having. This keeps you from eating in excess as you learn the different types of food groups and how much of each you need.

You eat healthily. Research has it that when hungry, you are inclined to eat whatever you get your hands on. When you do not plan meals, you most likely end up skipping meals, missing a key nutrient in your diet, underfeeding or overfeeding. This is why some of us settle for the closest fast food joint with unhealthy options. If we can take the time to plan meals, then we can avoid unhealthy feeding habits.

Save on time. Most of the time spent on cooking a homemade meal is not on the cooking itself rather it comes from thinking about what to cook, making the grocery list and shopping. If you plan ahead you will be able to save trips to the grocery store and time during busy weeknights. Saving time in the present is just as important as saving time in the future.

Saves money. Who does not like to save some money? With meal planning, you are more prepared, and this reduces impulse buying.  It also means you can cut down on your spending on food.

Reduce food wastage. We are, many times, guilty of wasting food. By buying only what you need and using the ingredients as to when you purchase them can reduce what ends up in the bin at the end of the week.

Enjoy a variety. When we are busy, it is very easy for us to cook the same thing repeatedly. Meal planning helps to ensure you are eating a variety of different foods, and it can help you eat more fruits and vegetables, which reduce the risk of chronic lifestyle diseases. By following a healthy meal plan, you are sure about eating the right foods in the right portions.

5 a day meal plan



It is important to note all through our life cycle from conception, to childhood, adolescents, adulthood and old age we require proper nourishment. Below are characteristics of a proper eating habit, the age groups and sample menus.

meal planing

Once a baby is at six months it is important that they are introduced to other foods. 

Apart from breast milk, no single food contains all the essential nutrients the body needs to be healthy and function efficiently. The nutritional value of a person’s diet depends on the overall balance.

A healthy diet should provide us with the right amount of energy (calories) from foods and drinks to maintain energy balance. Energy balance happens when the calories taken in through your diet are equal to the calories used by the body. We need energy to carry out everyday tasks such as walking and moving about but also for all the functions of the body. Processes like breathing; pumping blood around the body and thinking also requires energy.

  1. Base your meals on starchy foods like rice, potatoes, root tubers, pasta and other starchy foods. As you go shopping, ensure you read the ingredient list on the products and buy those high in fibre. look the word ‘whole ‘ as they contain more fibre

Avoid adding too much fat when cooking starchy foods as this will significantly increase the calories content of your meal. Bake or boil instead of frying. Use the nutrition label to identify breads and cereals with lower salt or sugar contents. Whole grains have many nutritional advantages. They provide.

  • Fibre helps to maintain normal bowel functions
  • B vitamins for example thiamine, which helps the body to use the energy from carbohydrates, we eat.
  • Iron required by red blood cells which transport oxygen around the body
  • Calcium is development and management of bones and teeth.
  • Folate is needed for the formation of healthy red blood cells and for the nervous system
  1. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables as they contain different types of vitamins and minerals.
  • Vitamin c is important for maintaining healthy body tissues.
  • Vitamin A for the maintenance of normal vision , skin and proper immune system
  • Folate needed for the formation of healthy red blood cells and nervous system
  • Fibre helps to maintain a healthy gut (this means that there is proper digestion.)
  • Potassium helps maintain a healthy blood pressure and is also involved in the normal functioning of nervous system
  • Magnesium helps maintain normal bones and teeth.
  1. About Meat, fish, legume and eggs. Aim for at least 140 grams of cooked oily fish and 140 grams of cooked white fish each week. for red and processed meats , consume no more than one kilogramme in a week

Beans and pulses are inexpensive, high in fibre and lower in fat than animal sources of protein and one portion per day can count as one of your 5 A DAY (CHECK FOR DEFINATION AT THE MIDDLE OF THE ARTICLE)

Protein foods are also important for growth and maintenance of normal muscles and maintenance of healthy bones. First, they contain Zinc for maintenance of normal skin, hair, nails, vision and immune system. Secondly, VitaminB12 in meat and fish is good for healthy red blood cells and nerve function. Thirdly, Vitamin D in oily fish is important, for healthy bones and muscles and the Omega 3 fatty acids in oily fish help to maintain normal heart function.

On milk and dairy foods.

Try to use lower fat versions. Reduce fat cheese products. They contain, to mention little Calcium for the development and maintenance of healthy bones, Protein for growth and repair, Iodine to make the thyroid hormone for a healthy metabolism.

Keep hydrated

Aim at 8-10 glasses of water in a day

  • Water acts as a lubricant. The water in the saliva helps to facilitate chewing and swallowing ensuring that food will slide easily down to the stomach.
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Water removes harmful toxins from the body
  • It transports valuable nutrients to the body
  1. Cut down on saturated fat and sugar. Although we need some fats in our foods for the absorption of the vitamins ADEK, eating excessive of the fats may lead to the adding of excessive weight or even a risk of the heart diseases.
  • Replace saturated fats from butter , lard , pastries , cream , pies and cheese which can increase your blood cholesterol levels use the unsaturated fats from vegetable oil , nuts , seeds oily fish and avocados .
  • Too much sugar ,especially between meals can increase risk of tooth decay and will add extra calories so limit your added sugar
  • Have less salt. Adults should not take more than 6 grams in a day and children should have less. This will go a long way i preventing high blood pressure or heart disease. Most of our salt intake comes from processed foods rather than added salt. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you read the nutrition labels well.
  • Try using extra herbs , spices , citrus juices (lemon and lime ) , mustard or vinegar to flavour foods so you can use less salt in your recipes



Children are in their rapid growth and development.  They are also in the stage where they are very active in playing and very alert discovering new things .and some are starting their schooling.

They are to start maintaining their ideal weight

Therefore, you as the parent or the caretaker you will have to make sure a good meal plan will cater for all this characteristics in your young one.

Break fast





pawpaw 1/2 cup whole meal pancake , a glass of milk


a glass of yoghurt and a banana

Rice beans stew and cabbage.  glass of water

a cup of porridge

Banana wedges minced meat and steamed spinach.



They are in the stage of rapid growth they are at the peak of their transition from childhood to adult hood .if they do not have proper diet the following will happen.

  1. They will not get the recommended calcium levels and thus not get to the peak bone mass leading to a risk of arthritis and osteoporosis in future.
  2. The recommended iron targets are not reached leading to a risk of anaemia.
  3. Not eating enough protein when you are still growing in puberty , can lead to delayed or stunted height and weight
  4. Could develop eating is recommended you seek for medical advice. These are either bulimia or anorexia nervosa.
  5. If you eat excess of the unhealthy oils or too much processed foods you are at a risk of contracting type 2 diabetes , high blood pressure , high cholesterol levels, breathing problems , overweight and obesity , joint problems .
  6. If you do not enough especially breakfast your concentration level is likely to be very low
  7. Take water for good hydration. Avoid carbonated drinks and sports drinks.






a bowl of oat based cereal or porridge and banana and water

a 1/2 glass of yoghurt and air popped popcorns

animal based protein or plant based protein with rice or ugali or chapati or pasta

40 grams  of nuts and glass of milk

animal based protein or plant based protein with rice or ugali or chapati or pasta



 There are several factors to consider when meal planning. This includes:

  1. Gender: the male gender takes more food than the female gender
  2. Physical activity: we said that the energy taken in the body must be equal to the energy being utilised so that there is proper health. Those people who use a lot of muscle in their occupation tend to have more in meals than others do who have less tasking jobs.
  3. Age: as your age increases the level of food intake reduces
  4. Some of the people tend to get illnesses some are short-term and others long term. For the short term illnesses once one is healed one’s appetite comes back to normal. those with long term illness especially the lifestyle diseases they undergo too many restrictions when it comes to diet and some end up even eliminating some foods from their meals the following is a sample menu for adults who are healthy.






 A whole wheat ban or 3 slices of whole wheat bread

A tea spoon of peanut butter or margarine

A medium banana

A cup of tea or milk or coffee

200 grams yoghurt and a ban

animal based protein or plant based protein with rice or ugali or chapatti or pasta

40 grams  of nuts and a glass of milk

animal based protein or plant based protein with rice or ugali or chapatti or pasta

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