Meal planning is the art of creating adequate diet which includes all the essentials nutrients in their right proportion for different groups of people. A well planned meal should satisfy the nutritional needs of an individual and promote good health.

A menu is used during meal planning. A menu is the list of courses or details of a meal. These courses are:

  • First course meal or appetizer.
  • Second course meal or main meal.
  • Third course meal or dessert.

Menus consist of breakfast, lunch, dinner/supper and their list of courses.


  • Ensure that the meal is balanced by including body building and protective food while the energy giving food should make up the diet.
  • The food should include enough variety both in food type and method of food preparation. This is to ensure consumption of different nutrient as well as to hold in the interest of the family.
  • Meals should be planned ahead ensuring that the meal is balanced.
  • Meal planning should be economic in the sense that it provides a balanced meal at minimum cost.
  • Meal should contain enough roughage and water as this aid digestion.


  • Food in season: – foods in season should be used. These foods are cheaper, contains nutrients at its peak and available.
  • Family composition: – the nutritional needs of the different groups of people in the family must be provided.
  • Food cost: – it will determine the type of food to be utilized.
  • Family likes and dislikes: – the family favorite dish must top the list.
  • The keeping quality of the food.
  • Traditions and customs of the people.
  • Ease of food preparation.


A meal is the food we eat e.g. semolina and soup, plantain pottage, rice and stew.

There are three types of meal in Nigeria: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Snacks can be served when desired.

 Breakfast: it is the first meal of the day. The nutritionist considered breakfast to be the most important meal of the day because if breakfast is omitted or inadequate, physical activity and mental efficiency decrease and it is of no value in weight loss. Breakfast should be nutritious, adequate and able to sustain an individual till lunch. The breakfast menu can be continental or local.

A continental menu:

  • Fruit or fruit juice: they serve as: they serve as appetizer because they supplies vitamins, minerals and digestive enzymes.
  • Cereal dishes e.g. pap, Quaker oat, millet, maize porridge etc.
  • Egg: it may be boiled, poached, scrambled, fried or omelet.
  • Bread and butter on toast.
  • Milk and cocoa drink for children, tea and coffee for adult.


Local breakfast menu:

(ai) Fruit and fruit juices.

  • Boiled rice with fish vegetable stew.
  • Bean cake/okpa and pap.

(bi) Fruit or fruit juices.

(ii) Fried sweet potato/plantain with fish or egg sauce.

  • Millet or acha porridge, soya bean, milk and sugar/honey.

For manual worker, they should consume high energy food because they expand a lot of energy on their jobs e.g. yam (fried, roasted or boiled) foofoo with soup etc.


Lunch is afternoon meal. It is the meal eaten between breakfast and dinner.

Suggested menu for lunch

(1a) Fish okra soup with foofoo

  • Pineapple ring with syrup

(2) Chicken Jollof rice garnished with sautéed vegetables or mixed fruit salad.

(3a) Chicken soup

(c) Fish yam pottage

(d) Green vegetables

(e) Pawpaw rings


Dinner or supper is the food eaten in the evening. Dinner should be light because no more energy is expended after eating before going to bed. Eating heavy meal in the night can cause constipation, fermentation and tiredness in the morning. It can cause overweight.

Suggested menu for dinner

(1a) fish vegetable soup

(b) Agidi

(c) Fresh stew

(2a) Chicken stew

(b) White boiled rice

(c) Fresh fruit

(3a) Beef stew

(b) Boiled plantain

(c) Fruit and fruit juice


Snacks are in-between meals they should be light and easy to digest e.g. cake, plantain chips, moi moi pastries etc.



In menu writing, breakfast, fruits or fruit juice should come first. This is because fruits aid to stimulate appetite and help digestion by activating digestive enzymes then protein, energy and protective foods should follow.

The menu starts with protein, energy and protective foods when planning for lunch.

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