Hey, guys. It’s that time of the week. Whoop whoop!
    We all have that moment when there’s so much food in the house and you are famished but you just don’t know what to eat. I’ve been in that situation and I can categorically say that it is one of the most frustrating things ever. Like you just stand there trying to think about all the types of food you’ve ever heard of, and it’s a wonder how only noodles or rice always creeps up in your head. Lol. Well, I can help you.😁
       Have you ever heard of meal planning? It’s a ‘headache-proof’ way of keeping your meals healthy, creative and fun. Of course, it also ensures you always know what to eat. If you are a freak for organisation and proactive planning, you will agree with me that it is very efficient. Meal planning also helps you save money and curtail food wastage.
        For readers who are wondering “what is meal planning?! She just keeps going on and on about it”,😂 calm down.
       Meal planning is a guideline which is used to control aspects of food. It is used to plan nutritious meals and snacks for a specified period of time. Meal planning can be designed to suit various health conditions but for the purpose of this article, I will focus the discussion on general meal planning. Meal planning is a culture that was imbibed in most homes when we were younger (especially for the 90s kids). I recommend that it is reintroduced for wholesome health experience.
        The question now is how to design an effective meal plan. Factors such as availability of food items, price, food recipes, season, market proximity, life span, food classes, time and health benefit should be considered when designing a meal plan. You should also put the purpose of the meal plan into consideration. I will take the time to break down these factors so that you can have a deeper understanding of what meal planning entails. 
1. Purpose of the meal plan: I think this is the most important factor to consider when designing a meal plan. For instance, if you’re trying to lose weight, gain weight or manage a health condition, the types of food included in your meal plan should suit that purpose. This would help you research relevant recipes that would suit your plan.
2. Availability: It is futile to design a meal plan and then realise that more than half of your food recipe is not available in your area. This would defeat the purpose of your meal plan. Therefore, it means that you have to do your research on various food recipes that can be included in your meal plan. The season also affects availability as some food items(especially in this part of the world) are not available all year round. It is advisable that your meal plan is designed weekly or monthly and not long-term. This prevents your meal plan from being boring and allows for variety.
3. Price: In this recession, this is very important!Lol. It is important that your meal plan is sustainable. When you have basmati rice with oxtail soup every other day, your meal plan is destined to fail…. or not(if you can afford it, why the hell not). Sustainability is very important, so it’s important to include foods that are affordable and suit your budget.
4. Market proximity: Food items that require you to make a trip to the market in the next town have no business being prominent in your meal plan(except you’re buying in bulk and it’s a one-time purchase). Identify markets close to your home when food items can easily be purchased.
5. Lifespan: The lifespan of food items (whether raw or cooked) should be considered for stage purposes. Food items which spoil quickly shouldn’t be bought in large quantities to prevent excessive food wastage. Food items should be sorted and processed immediately you get back from the market. Food items should be preserved and stored in the best ways that protect the lifespan of these items in the best ways possible.
6. Time: The duration of cooking/preparation time should be put into consideration. Foods such as beans, banga or onugbu soup which take long to cook can be cooked in large quantities on weekends when you’re free and stored in the freezer(if PHCN permits). This would make it readily available when you are ready to eat it. You can also pre-cook meat and the stock can be stored. I’m sure you get the gist.
7. Food classes and health benefits: your meal plan can be organised by pairing up food classes such as carbohydrate/protein/vitamins. This method of meal planning allows you eat healthy balanced diets, be creative with your meals and including a variety of foods in your meal plan. It is also beneficial to replace unhealthy snacks with fruits. 
           Let’s bring back meal planning into our homes and I promise you’ll be the better for it. Of course, you have to keep in mind that consistency is key.