Unit 1 Meal planning


Meal planning can be defined as the anticipated preparation of meals and snacks for a specific period of time. Meals can be prepared for the following days, for a week or for several weeks at once. Different meal planning methods have been described in the scientific literature. In fact, there is not a single correct method to meal prep, as it can be tailored based on cooking skills, schedules, food preferences and family eating habits.

QUESTION: Is meal planning only a helpful strategy to cook and eat healthier? A) Yes   B) No

Explanation: Planning is an essential component of successful home meal preparation, healthy and balanced diets, and meeting the nutritional needs of the whole family. Nonetheless, meal planning is also a great tool for:

  • saving money and time at the grocery store
  • body weight control, as you previously choose the ingredients and portions served in each meal
  • achieving a higher Food variety score (FVS), defined as the number of different food items reported to be eaten over a reference period of time
  • and reducing stress as you avoid improvised and impulsive decisions regarding food, or rushed preparations

A few studies have researched meal planning practices within the general population. These studies have shown that meal planning is positively associated with having better dietary quality, including higher adherence to nutritional guidelines as well as increased food variety. Additionally, meal planning has also been positively associated with family meals, frequencies of home food preparation, a higher consumption of fruits for dinner, and less likelihood of having overweight or obesity. Other previous studies show the effect of meal planning over adequate diets in diabetic subjects.

At the same time, children’s participation in family meals, particularly dinner, has received a great deal of attention by researchers, who have found that such meals promote healthier eating among children and adolescents in the form of greater fruit and vegetable consumption and less soft drink consumption.

Previous studies have evaluated the feasibility of the intervention with specific behaviorally based parent-training curriculums to address feeding problems associated with autism spectrum disorders or diabetes.

All these benefits suggest a potential interest in promoting meal planning to improve dietary quality and to prevent obesity and overweight in the general population, and in a family context. It is necessary to design applications and provide individuals with tips and steps for a successful meal planning.

  • Learn the sequence of steps for healthy meal planning and tips for making a grocery list
  • Understand the main principles of designing a healthy and seasonal diet for your family
  • Prepare a weekly family menu implementing batch cooking to your circumstances
  • Learn simple ideas for eating a healthy diet

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