Basic Meal & Menu Planning

Meal planning also depends upon several factors like the number of people eating, meal times, 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 ahead for substitutions either in the food preparation or food substitution for that individual or for those individuals.

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 can't experiment. For instance, eggs and sausage can be served for dinner, not just breakfast. 

Add variety, too. Have other family members jump in and prepare meals some nights and on weekends. Kids enjoy making meals as well, so host pizza night on Wednesdays, for example, you just make a low carb version for yourself. Then alternate different vegetable combinations, colours and textures to vary the menu on a weekly basis (no need to let boredom take over on Wednesdays with the same routine!)

To help with family food budget concerns, note seasonal food selections for savings. Create menus and meals based upon whats on special that week or month. Hint: stock up and store or freeze special-priced items and family favourites when possible and storage room and the budget allows. But don't over do it. With convenience stores and supermarkets for food shopping in practically every neighbourhood 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 An old saying, Haste makes waste might apply if you see a great buy, purchase multiple items, then let them become outdated and have to toss them out.

Here is one special item to note with regards to dietary planning. Its unfortunate, but fast foods, especially those that are high in fat content (fried, greasy foods), are often cheaper than good, healthy food choices.  It is always better to cook your meal from scratch but not always are you able too, so plan ahead for the week and try to avoid fast food places.