Everyone who runs a household has one perennial question – what should I cook for the next meal? We’re here to help you create a weekly menu plan, so you don’t have to revisit that thought again!

Menu planning is a skill everyone who runs a household should have – whether you’re working or a home-maker. It saves time and makes life simpler and you’re able to ensure your family gets a wide variety of nourishing food. Creating a weekly menu plan also helps you spend wisely on food, and ensure your pantry is well-stocked.

Here’s the Cuddles guide to creating a menu planner:

GETTING STARTED

Set your schedule
Creating a weekly plan is the way to go! It will help you bring in variety to your family’s diet while ensuring that you have all the supplies you need and that you’re using fresh ingredients. It’s also a great way to make sure you’re including all the essential nutrients in your meals.

Fix a planning day
Fridays or Saturdays are good days to plan, so you can stock your kitchen for the coming week over the weekend.

Show it off!
Make sure your menu plan is easy to access and visible. You can use a piece of paper stuck to the fridge with a magnet, a notebook, or even an online file. Having it stored on Google Docs will help you when you’re out grocery shopping!  

Making a grocery list:

    • List what you’ll need for the upcoming week
    • Check your spices and condiments
    • Strike off the ingredients you have enough of in your kitchen and include the rest in your shopping list.

Keep it seasonal
Select a mix of ingredients based on type, seasonal availability and affordability. Here’s an easy reference list of the types of foods you should try and include in each day’s menu:

    • Cereals (Rice, Wheat, Jowar, Bajra, Ragi, etc.)
    • Pulses (Moong, Masoor, Chole, Soyabean etc.)
    • Fruits (Apple, Banana, Melons, etc.)
    • Leafy vegetables (Palak, Methi, Gongura, etc.)
    • Roots and Tubers (Potato, Carrot, Beetroot, Onions, Sweet Potato, etc.)
    • Other vegetables (Beans, Cauliflower, Ladies Finger, Gourds, Brinjal, etc.)
    • Eggs and Meat
    • Nuts (Almonds, Cashews, etc.)
    • Milk and milk products (Milk, Curd, Paneer, etc.)
    • Fats and oils (Oil, Ghee, Butter, etc.)

CREATING A WEEKLY MENU PLAN

Here are some things to keep in mind while putting together your meal plan for the week:

Something for everyone!
Consider the likes and dislikes of all family members – especially children – and try working around them. Mix and match if possible so that everyone has something they enjoy

Keep it fresh
Be sure to include ingredients with shorter life-spans, like leafy vegetables, poultry and fish closer to the day you do your grocery shopping to ensure their freshness.

Six a day
Divide the day’s menu into 6 parts: early morning, breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, evening snacks and dinner.

Get your daily doses
It is good practice to have two- to three servings of fruits a day. Try and increase variety by including a different fruit every day. Also, try having milk or milk products to be a part of your daily menu.

Get nutty
Make nuts a part of your meal plan, too! This can be in the form of roasted nuts that can be added to upma and poha, or even as a nut powder, which can be combined with wheat flour or mixed in with milk.

Think about colour
While this isn’t essential, try and bring different colours to the plate – this makes the food more appealing!

Here is a sample menu plan to help you ease into the process.

DAY EARLY MORNING BREAKFAST MID MORNING LUNCH EVENING SNACK DINNER
Special Sunday Banana Oats in a jar Custard apple Phulka + Navratan Korma Tomato Soup Chicken  Biryani + Raita
Marvellous Monday Pomegranate Onion Uttapam + Coconut chutney + Sambhar Chickpeas and 2-3 almonds Paratha + Kadhai Paneer+Cucumber raita Corn chaat Cereal Khichdi* + Kadhi Pakodi
Tasty Tuesday Pear Poha + Masala-milk Pomegranate Rice roti + Mix vegetable with soya chunks + Curd Roasted Makhana (with salt and pepper) Bajra Roti + Brinjal bharta + Pitla + Peanut chutney
Wonderful Wednesday Apple Egg omelette-Roti roll + Coconut water Papaya Jowar Roti + Carrot sabzi + Flaxseed chutney + Buttermilk Barley puffs Rajma-Frankie +

Lemon coriander soup

 

Tantalizing Thursday Banana milkshake with chia seeds Vegetable Chilla + Pudina chutney + Fennel seeds-nimbu paani Pear Phulka + Bhindi sabzi + Buttermilk Black Water chestnut Jeera Rice + Dal makhani + Salad topped with some pumpkin seeds
Fabulous Friday Custard apple Sabudana khichdi + Sweet Lime juice   3-4 walnuts Phulka + Peas paneer sabzi + Salad Peanut-Bhel Rice + Fish curry + salad
Super Saturday Papaya Aloo Paratha + Curd Banana Ragi roti with Drumstick leaves sabji Sprouts Chaat Paratha + Palak Mushroom sabzi

*Can be made with bajra, jowar and rice along with pulses and sesame seeds.

#After meals: you can have a mixture made of fennel seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, some sea salt and ajwain as a mouth freshener.

Do you have any menu planning tips we’ve missed out on? Let us know!

Author: Nikita Mitra, Clinical Nutritionist, Cuddles Foundation

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