Busting some Meal Planning myths – 3

Myth 3: Meal Planning means Boring & Predictable Meals

This is not true at all! Meal Planning enables us to consciously incorporate variety in our meals. The change could come from cooking the same ingredient using a different recipe or introducing a new ingredient into the menu or even by switching our usual combinations of dishes!

When you have a plan, you create time for yourself to look through recipes if you want to or even try out new ways of cooking. When we do Meal Planning, we have a way of knowing what we cooked and served in the last few meals and thus can avoid repetitions.

In fact, when you plan on a meal-to-meal basis, you end up cooking food, which is convenient to make and you run the risk of repetitions since you are operating from your top-of-mind recall. This may not be appreciated by the family and will lead to discontent and long faces at mealtimes. Let us face it – we are multi-tasking all the time and have limited bandwidth.

It is not possible to always be ready with an interesting menu on our own. We all could do with some help and AMIYAA is here to help with suggestions and an option for you to curate your own Recipe library or even have a ready reckoner of your Family’s favorite dishes which could then be added to the Meal plans easily.

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Busting some Meal Planning myths – 2

Myth 2: Meal Planning takes too much time

On the contrary, Meal Planning saves time. It is a fact that initially, it does seem like that since you are sitting down to plan for meals for 2-3 days at a go, which is a total of 9 meals or more! However, once you get the hang of it and figure your way around a system it will not take you much time.

The value of time

So your investment of time is only for the first few occasions and then it will roll smoothly. Also, having a Meal Plan for the next few days insight enables you to plan your shopping for the required groceries and vegetables in one go. You will save on your resources since you have an opportunity to buy only as per your specific requirements for the next few days.

So it is goodbye to buying more for the “just in case” scenario and running the risk of it going waste! Knowing what is going to get cooked also allows you to plan for the required prep like soaking, chopping, kneading, grinding, etc., in advance. This way you will end up saving on time and effort and be more efficient when it is time to cook.

AMIYAA’s Meal Planning module also makes it easy for you to plan the meals by offering interesting suggestions and triggers. Now, compare this with the angst and stress that you subject yourself to when you plan for each meal separately and individually. You make yourself go through the effort every day, as many times as the number of meals you are planning.

Sometimes, you may even have to rush to buy the required ingredients and then not have enough time to prep and cook properly. This is the reason most of the time, we end up cooking what is convenient and that may not be the best way to handle our /our family’s dietary requirements.

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Busting some Meal Planning myths – 1

“I don’t need to do Meal Planning! I have been managing the household for years and managing it well. My cook has been trained by me and knows what to make and how to make it. At my age, I do not need to bother with this.”

“Meal Planning may be helpful for people (working/students) in the age group below 40 years. Above 40 to my knowledge, most of us have figured out a system for this.”

“We are young and footloose – don’t need to plan our meals! Sometimes we eat at home and the rest of the time we eat out! How can we plan if we do not know how our days are going to pan out?”

“The App is for women with fixed working hours. Not for us who look at the weather, look at the mood and then come up with what to cook today. I can’t do it. It is too stressful!”

“Haven’t got the time to actually sit and do the meal planning… Need to take out time! Let’s see….”

“I thought that the App will give me meal plans automatically. But here also I only have to make the Meal Plans!”

“Why are you not giving recipes? You should have your collection of recipes from where we can select what we want to make.”

depicts a lady sitting peacefully because her meals are planned

There are a thousand more reasons like this and then some more when it comes to something that requires a change in a habit. Like all good habits, Meal Planning will also need a bit of discipline and determined effort to become a part of our routines!

We have to be patient for Rome was not built in a day and neither was the six-pack abs! But they are definitely possible with Meal Planning! Really, they are! Meal Planning is a very misunderstood subject and you will have to be patient while we try and bust some of the common misconceptions about it here!

Read this series with an open mind and we hope you will see another perspective.

Busting some Meal Planning myths

Part 1

Myth 1: Meal Planning is not for me!

Meal Planning is for everyone who cooks and eats at home. It is as much for the Working Professional as much as it is for the Homemaker. It is for those who have to decide what food to make every day. It is for those who have fitness goals. It is definitely for those who are managing certain health conditions for themselves or their family members.

It is helpful to provide balanced nutrition to all family members be it infants or senior members of the family and all the ages in between. Meal Planning is good for those who have families and even those who are single!

Meal Planning is for those who like variety. You do realize that that the same ingredient can be made differently using another recipe? Why stick to the same menus, same dishes, same dish pairings again and again? With Meal Planning, you will have a choice. Meal Planning is for everyone who wants to eat good, tasty, and healthy food every day.

To be continued………..

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Meal Planning & Life: Striking a Balance

Instead of thinking and deciding what meals to cook every single day, will it not be better if you were decide the meals for the forthcoming few days?

It will make it easy to incorporate variety in the meals, prevent repetitions and ensure that the meals are balanced in all required parameters.

Depicts a balance in life
AMIYAA: What’s Cooking?

However, as in life we need to be a bit flexible here as well and should be mindful of the following few things.

Having a Meal Plan means that you always know what’s cooking and are fully prepared accordingly.

However, be open to change your plan when you/your family/friends might want to eat out or order in.

Having a Meal Plan is always an advantage but should not hold you back from enjoying otherwise.

Try new ingredients, use earlier ingredients but in a different recipe, pair dishes differently than what you have doing in the past – switch the dal-sabzi combinations every once in a while!

Intersperse with a bundle of meal ideas – old & new and keep the option of bringing them up cyclically open to yourself for days that you may be crunched for time.

Keep the excitement and anticipation quotient high while planning the meals and you are on your way to great meal-time conversations and creating awesome food memories with your loved ones.

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Meal Planning with Family’s Favorite Meals

Every family has some favorite meals – those which when served elicit a positive response from all and very few murmurs of discontent come forth!  

When one sits down patiently to list these favorites down, one realizes that there are quite a few of them.

However at the time of planning the meals, these obvious choices escape one’s already crowded mind. We are all busy with a lot of things! We are multi-tasking all the time hence when we think about routine maters, we operate from our top of mind recall.

Depicts favorite meals of the family
Family – AMIYAA: What’s Cooing?

At that stage, we seldom have the bandwidth to do an objective analysis of all the possibilities as we are short on time and energy and tend to gravitate towards ease more than anything else. As a result, one resorts to options of what may be available to cook or what may be convenient to cook at that point of time!

What will help us is listing our favorite options in a place where they can be easily accessed by us when required. If one is to give Meal Planning a serious try, then this probably is the best way to start.

Make a list of your family’s favorite dishes in AMIYAA: What’s Cooking APP’s fantastic folder in the library module called “My Handy List’ which can be used for this purpose.

Once this list is ready, you can start with your Meal Planning by choosing any dish from here for a chosen meal on a chosen day. You can use AMIYAA: What’s Cooking App’s Meal Planning module and start with your Meal Planning easily.

It is a generally accepted view that planning helps us to be more efficient not only with our time but also with other resources.

Get started with Meal planning and use the Family’s Favorite meal list to begin with!

Once your planning is done, you will have ample time to organize the required groceries and do the necessary prep work and daily cooking will be a breeze!

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Meal planning

A Balanced Diet

It was probably in school that we first heard about a balanced diet. We learned that to feel good, stay healthy, we all should have a balanced diet every day.

Cut to the present – we all want to be healthy and fit and want the same for our family members as well.  We mostly eat at home and eat healthily! Or do we?

The truth is that in spite of our best intentions and efforts we are not able to provide/consume balanced meals consistently.

This has resulted in malnutrition and deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients in most people. All of these requirements could have been fulfilled by our home food but somewhere we seem to have lost the plot.

Our traditional systems had taken care of this very well. Our meals are a comprehensive combination of Vegetables (Sabzi),  Pulses (Dals), and/or Meats with Bread (Roti, Parantha), Rice along with Salads, Raita, Papad, Pickles, etc.

The Indian food universe is abundant with flavors of various cuisines and sub cuisines all of which contained the principle of providing for/ensuring a balanced meal for everyone.

There are many reasons that can be attributed to this imbalance in our nutritional uptake. Whatever the reasons may be, it is never too late to get back on the right track and take our home-cooked food more seriously.

There are huge benefits to eating a balanced meal.

1. Balanced meals and healthy eating habits help us to maintain normal body functions. These include our nerve functions, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, repair and maintenance functions being carried out by the body to name a few, and the efficient working of all organ systems and micro-systems in our bodies. 

2. Maintain a healthy weight; eating wholesome food keeps one’s body weight in a healthy balance as one prevents overeating of any single type of food and maintains the required proportions of all nutrients in the daily meals.

3. Prevention of Diseases; Eating balanced meals reduces the risks of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer, and skeletal conditions. It keeps lifestyle disorders in check and boosts our immunity.

4. Enhances Vigor and Temperament; A well-balanced diet helps in boosting energy levels which helps us to carry our tasks easily resulting in a relaxed state of mind.

5. Provide Relief from Stress & Anxiety; Good nutrition enables satiety and relaxes the mind and helps the body cope better with adverse external or internal factors.

The first step in this direction is to start with Meal Planning.

In India, we like to eat freshly cooked food every day. Breakfast, Lunch & dinner are all important meals for us.   Our nutritional requirements also change according to the stage of life we may be at. Instead of deciding what food to make on a meal-to-meal basis, start planning for meals for the next 3-4 days in advance.

This way one will have control over how to include all the important elements (Carbs, Proteins, Vegetables, Fruits, Fat) in the daily diet. One will also be able to avoid repeats of menu or ingredients thus keeping the menus fresh and interesting.

With Meal Planning, one can take care of including family members’ favorite dishes while also ensuring that each meal has the right proportions of the required nutrients, etc.

This will help in making sure that healthy eating does not become boring! With Meal Planning, we can also be healthy, wealthy, and wise!

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AMIYAA: What’s cooking?

Meal Planning & Health

Raise your hands if you or anyone you know is suffering from Vit D/Vit B12/Calcium/Iron or any other deficiency or from Blood Pressure or Diabetes? 

Looks like we all know a few people like that! 

Most of these are what are called Lifestyle Disorders and can be checked/managed by having a balanced diet and a fit lifestyle.

Research has shown that a large number of healthy-looking urban Indians are suffering from malnutrition resulting in vitamins, minerals, or micronutrient deficiency. Malnourishment in India is usually discussed as a problem of the disadvantaged, rural population. But there is significant evidence linking malnutrition to better-off, urban populations which surprisingly also face rising rates of obesity and diseases emanating from those conditions.

Studies indicate that the food people eat every day is only catering to a small amount of the actual requirement of vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients and the said deficiencies mainly result from an inadequate diet. 

The popular diet of Indian families consists of cereal/pulse-based foods.  There is no significant or consistent consumption of foods rich in vitamins such as vegetables, fruits, and dairy products. It is a fact that no single food item or food group can satisfy the requirements of all the micronutrients. 

Hence, having diversity (a variety of fruits, vegetables, leafy vegetables, dairy products, nuts, germinated seeds, protein sources) in the foods that we consume will meet our dietary requirements of nutrients, etc.

Meal planning enables everyone to make a plan of meals with optimal nourishment and nutrition for every member of the family within the available resources.

Let us be honest. How much thought is being given each day to plan and ensure balanced, nutritious, and healthy meals for the family, consistently?

Reducing sugar/salt/oil intake/ having salads and soups/ choosing roasted over fried foods etc does not count as having a balanced and nutritious meal. These are steps that one takes to avoid/manage certain health conditions and achieve fitness goals viz., weight loss/gain, etc.

Most of our effort in deciding daily menus for ourselves each day goes towards managing family’s expectations of taste, preferences, our convenience, and familiarity of recipes/ingredients to be cooked and hence we continue to operate in our comfort zones (stress included) while taking care of our other responsibilities! 

To show a balanced and healthy diet
Image from the Internet

Pardon us for saying so, but the effort is more on making sure everyone is fed and happy rather than making sure that everyone is getting balanced nutrition from daily meals consistently. 

Unfortunately, eating healthy is assumed to be eating boring food, which is why it is not popular. Though all it essentially means is to eat balanced meals as described above and observing portion control. It is as simple as that.

It is a fact that healthy food can also be cooked in interesting ways and there are a plethora of such recipes available on the Internet for everyone to see and try!

Our country is blessed with a diversity of cuisines, ingredients, and food cultures. Our dining tables are increasingly showing how our individual/family’s food culture is evolving with the inclusion of more and different cuisines (including but not limited to Indian) in our meals.

It is possible to have interesting, balanced, and nutritious meal plans by exploring and incorporating Meal Planning into our routines. It may seem to be difficult initially but one just has to get used to it and adopt it in their lifestyle!

Meal Planning is the first (and the most important) step towards good health.

Say hello to good health and start with Meal Planning!

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Meal planning app

How do you start with Meal Planning?

Now that we have read and learned about the importance of Meal Planning and its various benefits (starting from, but not limited to our health), let us see how we can get started with it!

Tips to get started with Meal Planning:

1. Start small when you plan your meals

While there is nothing wrong with being ambitious, in this case, we will advise you to start with smaller steps. Consider beginning to plan your meals for a maximum of 3-4 days initially.

As you get comfortable with the idea and process, you can begin planning for a longer duration.

To show how a person basically shop!

2. Have specific days for Planning & Shopping

It is a good idea to do this task once/twice a week, maybe on weekend/off days.).

And, this is not cast in stone but having designated days makes it easy to be consistent and making this into a routine.

3. Familiar First in case of Meal Planning

Initially, it is advisable to include meals that one is familiar with and can make without too much investment of time and effort. 

Let the initial investment be in the effort of making a meal plan consistently.

This will enable one to ease into the planning mode before one embarks on including a variety in the menu.

4. Estimate Available Time & Pre-occupations

When one sits down to make the meal plan, it really helps to know how busy one is going to be in the coming days.

Is one expecting guests, planning to go out, catering for any special occasion, busy with professional commitments, etc?

Armed with this knowledge, one can plan meals accordingly.

To show choices and preferences that a family usually face in meal planning

5. Choices & Preferences in Meal Planning

Before you start planning your meals for the coming days, check with the family members what food they are craving for and would like to be included in the meal plan in the coming days.

Once the family suggests something it becomes easy to include it in the meal plan and you will have those many meals less to think about.

6. Special Requirements in Meal Planning

For making a meal plan, first, create the meal plan with all the special diet requirements and then go back to each meal and include the general meals for everyone else.

This way, you will be able to cater to special diets for those who need them and regular meals for others easily.

7. Prep and be prepared

When you start planning your meals, you can look for meals, which will benefit from a common prep.

You can freeze, prepared masalas for sabzis, daal, and other dishes together and use them as per requirement.

One can prepare batter for Idlis and have it in more than one meal. You may also make Dosas, Uttapams, etc from the same batter with minor adjustments.

You can get vegetables chopped and stored in the fridge and use them when required.

8. Plan for Leftovers (Economise your effort)

You can make a bigger batch of the family’s favorite meal and serve it another time. You will thus save on your time, effort, and resources.

Also, having leftovers in your next meal will prevent food waste.

8. Be Flexible in Meal Planning

So, you have a Meal Plan ready but don’t let that hold you back.

If you don’t like cooking, go out and dine. Save meal plan for another day!

Meal Planning is very enabling!

Do give it a try.

Why you should seriously consider Meal Planning?

So, why you should seriously consider Meal Planning? Most of us are used to Meal Planning at a go! While we may have some idea for a meal here or a meal there but more often than not, we are deciding the menus from meal to meal, almost at the last minute.

We wake up in the morning and start thinking of what to cook for breakfast up to lunch, maybe.

And the job is not restricted to just deciding the menu for the meal but also ensuring that the required ingredients are handy else that will require more effort and time to organize those too.

Once this planning for cooking and eating the meal is over, we start thinking about the next meal.

Thus we end up devoting a substantial amount of our time planning for the meals every day whether or not we acknowledge it.

What if, we do things differently! On a preferred day, say Saturday morning you sit down to decide your meal plan for the next few days. 

Consider your social and professional commitments of the week, your available time, likes and dislikes, diet requirements of your family, and then plan your meals with these considerations.

Here’s why you should seriously consider Meal Planning!

Meal Planning helps to save time.

When you sit down to plan your meals for the next few days, it may seem like a tedious task initially but it will eventually save you a lot of time. When your plan is ready, you avoid going back and forth on the decision of what to make for each meal.

When it is time to prepare the meal, you won’t need to dash to the stores or order missing groceries at the last minute. You will also avoid multiple visits to the market to buy missing ingredients.

You can plan your trip to the market at a suitable time so that you avoid crowds, and do not have to face long queues at the billing counter. With a grocery list in hand, you will also not aimlessly wander in the shopping aisles and stay focused.

With Meal Planning done, all you have to do is cook – which is not half as difficult as arriving at the decision of what to cook and this answers to the quest of why you should seriously consider Meal Planning!

Meal Planning enables you to save time.  You can use this saved time for something that you enjoy doing!

It helps to save money

When you do Meal Planning, you use your resources optimally and wisely.

With a meal plan ready, you will buy the perishables as per your requirement and not get tempted to buy items, which you are not planning to use in your plan.

You will avoid wastage by not cooking extra unnecessary portions. Having said that if the planned meal is to the liking of your family members and they do not mind repeating the dishes in the next meal, you can cook extra. This way you will save on your cooking effort and be able to cater for two meals at one time. This also helps you save on time, effort, and money.

When you are organized, you can get deals on your planned monthly buying of non-perishables so that you can optimize your home budgets rather than succumbing to deliveries promised in 15 minutes.

You will also be able to reduce the number of times you have to go to the grocery store or order groceries online and hence, this is why you should seriously consider Meal Planning!

With a meal plan in place, you will be able to make more meals at home thereby doing away with the temptation of ordering in/eating out frequently which while being heavy on the pocket is also not great for your health.

A penny saved is a penny earned! And saving on resources is never a bad idea!

Meal planning helps to prevent wastage

When you do Meal Planning, you will be able to estimate exactly what you need to buy and how much you need to cook.

You will also be able to use all that you have bought because everything would have been bought as per plan. There will be no perishables languishing at the back of the refrigerator getting spoilt.

You will also be cooking optimal quantities for each meal and be able to avoid the cooked food going to waste.

You can also incorporate leftovers in your meal plan thus preventing food from going to waste.

Why squander the hard-earned resource when you can save?

It also helps us to eat healthy

When you do Meal Planning, you allow yourself to make healthy food choices for yourself and your family members.

You will be able to create balanced and nutritious meal plans which find favor with everyone’s palates.

Healthy food does not have to be boring or bland.  There are a number of ingredients, cooking styles and recipes, which will enable you to make healthy and tasty meals.

Once you decide on your meal plan, you will have time to figure out how to make the meals such that everyone enjoys them.

Having interesting Meal Plans handy also keeps indulgence-driven junk food binging at bay and enables healthy eating.

You can easily ensure a healthy (and tasty) diet for everyone by Meal Planning.

Meal planning helps to include variety in meals

When you are busy, you tend to cook the same dishes in a repeat mode and also use ingredients in the same manner.

Your pre-occupations do not allow you to move away from your comfort zones thus creating monotony around meals.

When you plan your meals, you enable yourself to consider including different ingredients and dishes in your menu. 

You can include seasonal produce, cook different recipes and make different dishes.

With Meal planning, you can cook different dishes every day without repetition!

It helps to reduce stress

Everyone is under some stress or the other owing to the multiple responsibilities that one shoulders.

Meal Planning can help one to reduce or even take away the stress coming from the constant and continuous need for deciding meal menus.

Once one knows what is going to get cooked in one’s kitchens for all meals and for the next day or more, one can reasonably relax!

With Meal Planning done, one will neither have to worry about what one is cooking or whether one will have all the required ingredients available and handy!

One will also be able to take care of including all family members’ preferred dishes in the meal plan of few days, create a variety in daily cooking and make interesting meals so no one will have a reason to complain.

Meal Planning is a stress-busting lifestyle choice, worth trying!

Enables efficiency

Meal Planning makes us more efficient in terms of utilization of time and effort. We can plan meals when we are free, buy the groceries according to the plan, and be able to manage other responsibilities ably too.

It will also ensure that we remember everything we had planned for and there will be no slip between the cup and the lip.

Meal Planning makes Cooking and Shopping easier, quicker, and focused and thus making the tasks more efficient.

Meal Planning makes life easy with its efficiency.

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Why Meal Planning is a good idea for everyone?

Most people think that they do not need Meal Planning. They assume that they are fine and managing to run their kitchens well and feeding their families home-cooked food!

Sure, that is absolutely true! Nobody has ever gone hungry because they were not able to decide what food to cook to feed themselves or their families.

Kitchens are going strong, managing to handle the increased (post-Covid) pressures well, churning out meals more consistently than before.

Businesses are advertising majorly promising delivery of groceries or food in 15 minutes flat!

Ordering from restaurants, eating out, take-away is slowly inching back to their pre-covid levels. Industry experts are talking about how food-related businesses are going to do much better in the post covid world.

Things are looking good and soon the offices and schools will reopen and life will become what it was before the Pandemic hit us.

So where’s the problem then?

Before we go to the problem, let us step back and understand the context.

  • According to research, Indians spent the most amount of time in the kitchens as compared to anyone where else in the world. And this research is from the pre-covid times. The time spent in the kitchen has only increased in the current circumstances.
  • We are having more home-cooked food now than ever before.
  • There are quite a lot of people who have underlying health conditions be it a lifestyle disorder or a genetic predisposition for which they need to be careful. Their daily diets have to take care of these factors.
  • The first and second waves of Covid have also made us aware of the importance of having a strong immunity. Instead of solely relying on pills, we are counting on our kitchens and coming up with immunity-building concoctions and healthy foods.
  • Food prices are rising for various reasons. While eating out a few times was always budgeted for, the costs of food for home cooking have also gone up thus putting more pressure on the home budgets.
  •  A lot of people have either lost jobs or taken pay hits and year-end bonuses are a thing of the past for now. Family budgets have taken a huge hit because of Covid.
  • In a family, each member has a different choice or preference and that has to be factored in when one is planning the daily menus.
  • The landfills/ garbage collection centers outside most major urban centers are beginning to rival the Himalayas. Food wastage coming from households is a real problem. According to Food Waste Index Report 2021, released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 50kg of food is wasted per person per year in Indian homes.

With this context in place, we should be conscious of the fact that the increased expectations from the kitchens have put the decision-maker (mostly the lady of the house) under immense pressure. And we must not forget that she is handling a lot of other responsibilities alongside managing this one too.  

And that is where the problem lies!

That is some context (and problem) for everyone to mull over and think through, but it must be given serious consideration by all and most importantly by the women themselves!

It is time to see how we can optimize our efforts and relieve ourselves of some stress. Meal Planning is one such activity that we would like you to consider seriously.

Use AMIYAA: What’s Cooking Meal Planning App to help you in this task

Like all new things, this too shall require some discipline, and initially, you will find it challenging and would want to quit and want to fall back to your old ways and pattern.

We would advise you to persevere, for all good habits require patience and time to grow on you.

Once you get used to this, you will be saving a lot of time, resources, and money and also be able to create more interesting and healthy meal plans for your family.

It will be worth it! We promise!

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From Play Store/App Store or visit our website