What Factors Do You Consider in Planning Meals for Children?

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When planning meals for children, consider the children’s nutritional needs; preferences and allergies; the appearance and cost of foods; and the time and skill of the meal preparer, recommends Thomas Williams for SFGate. Balancing these factors can ensure meals that are healthy, appealing and affordable.

To give a child a nutritious meal, MedlinePlus recommends filling half of the child’s plate with fruits and vegetables, a little more than one-quarter of the plate with whole grains and a little less than one-quarter of the plate with healthy sources of protein, such as lean meat, nuts or eggs. Within these guidelines, the meal preparer can select food that appeals to the child in terms of taste and texture. A variety of colors and shapes also makes the meal more inviting.

Another factor to consider is the cost of the food. Families with a tight food budget can buy grains in bulk, shop at farmer’s markets for fruits and vegetables and choose less expensive sources of protein such as tuna and ground beef, notes Williams. Because children are more likely to develop healthy eating habits if their meals are made well and served at the same time every day, meal preparers need to plan recipes that suit their cooking skills and available time.