Meal planners also help you check the fridge before you shop.
Amiyaa, a meal planner – distinctly different from the chalkboard variety – is making Indians sit up and take notice. But more importantly, one must first understand why meal planning is important for Indians. Shalini Chaudhary Goyal, who crafted Amiyaa, says her application (read App) is like a breakfast, lunch and dinner wallchart rolled into one. She says she is aware that meal planners are niche products in India and it has a way to go before it becomes mainstream.
But Indians need to get used to it because they rarely plan their meals. A meal planner is not scary, it helps you think about cooking and also saves time, stress and, most importantly, cash.
In India, meal planners are a hit with wellness gurus, yoga teachers and weight-loss experts because it also helps cut food waste, a matter of serious concern for India. Nearly 40 percent of food produced in India is wasted every year, says the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). This is a loss that occurs even before the food reaches the consumer. And then, household food waste in India is a whopping 68,760,163 tonnes a year.
Hence meal planners have led to a new wave of interest. Meal planning or menu planning gets you an idea of what you are going to eat on a particular day and at a specific time. It is actually a detailed plan of foods the family is going to eat for the next few days. Making a week’s meal plan is workable and comparatively easy to start with.
Goyal says the Indian menu plan – it largely works through the internet – could work wonders in India, where the internet penetration rate is around 50 percent out of 1.37 billion people.
But then, Indians need to understand reasons why they should seek a meal planner. It saves time, health and cash.
After all, there could be days when spending just five minutes to decide the day’s menu could look impossible and one ends up cooking a pack of junk to satisfy the family’s hunger. And then, making a healthy meal at least 4 times every day is not a joke. Right?
At the same time, meal planners should not be confused with diet charts. Only qualified dieticians can prescribe options as per your food choice, health condition, and family food habit. But Goyal says her application will help develop a family menu plan and it could be easily aligned with personal diet charts and other health conditions and food preferences.
Amiyaa enables users to create distinctive meal plans, which are as per the unique tastes and preferences of their family members. It also provides helpful suggestions and triggers, which ease the decision-making process and also provides other engagement opportunities to the users.
Thanks to Amiyaa, you do not have to ask what to cook today, something which is routine in Indian homes. “Even when someone else is undertaking the cooking of the food, the menu planning is still done by the woman of the house with little or no participation from the other family members. The homemaker by the nature of her role is multi-tasking and thus this everyday decision-making becomes an unacknowledged source of anxiety for her. Meal Planning is of help as it enables a situation of readiness be it with respect to the menu, ingredients, recipe knowledge and preparation for the said meal,” says Goyal.
Goyal says meal planning is making a plan of meals with optimal nourishment and nutrition for every member of the family within the available resources.
“A balanced meal plan of the day should ideally include all five groups of food namely vegetables, fruits, grains, protein, and dairy. Each food group provides the body with different nutrients; therefore, by including foods from all five groups in our daily meals we can make sure that we get the required nutrients needed for our bodies to function effectively and stay healthy. However, most of our effort each day goes towards managing family’s expectations of taste, preferences, diet requirements and our familiarity of recipes to be cooked and hence we continue to operate in our comfort zones (stress included) along with taking care of our other responsibilities,” says Goyal.
Goyal is clear that a meal planner should not dictate anyone’s life. Working across seven days gives you flexibility. It helps you to ease work and family life situations. It offers infinite possibilities. In short, it simplifies your kitchen work. Cooking dinner plus an extra portion for lunch at work the next day is a great way to minimise cost and waste.
It even helps you check your fridge before you shop.
And the biggest challenger for a meal planner in India? Getting Indians hooked on it. Meals are important for Indians but they rarely think about food while eating.
Can Amiyaa change the trend?