Menu Planning and Mass Food Production
In the past few decades, people ate in restaurants occasionally to celebrate a special event such as an anniversary, a birthday, or an achievement. It was an outing to look forward to, and if one indulged, it did not matter as these outings were rare.
Today, the scenario is different. Eating out has become a way of life. Education and employment has taken many of us away from home, and the mother’s role now has an added responsibility of contributing to the family income. Modern day compulsions have made eating out a necessity. No longer does one find time for the traditional fare of yesteryears and depends on the caterer for the following:
1. Food for festivals and celebrations
2. Meals at the work place
3. Ready-to-eat meals picked up on the way home from work
4. Snacks and sweetmeats for daily consumption
5. Preserves, pickles, papads, etc.
6. All meals served in institutions such as hospitals, school/college cafeteria, mess or dining hall, and boarding schools.
The number of reported cases of diabetes, hypertension, obesity, heart attacks, etc. is on the rise and so is the number of meals consumed away from home. This is not surprising because if one indulges practically everyday, it is bound to result in ill-health because of malnutrition. The caterer’s role has become more significant as the responsibility now lies with the caterer for planning nutritionally adequate meals. Menu planning is the key to overcoming this problem.
Menu planning is defined as a simple process which involves application of the knowledge of food, nutrients, food habits, and likes and dislikes to plan wholesome and attractive meals.
The caterer who is responsible for providing meals has to decide on various aspects such as:
2. Serving size
3. Food cost
4. Suppliers and quantities to be purchased
5. Standardized recipes to be followed
6. Type of service
7. Meal timings
The aim of menu planning is to:
1. Meet the nutritional needs of the individuals who will be consuming the food
2. Plan meals within the food cost
3. Simplify purchase, preparation, and storage of meals
4. Provide attractive, appetizing meals with no monotony
5. Save time and money
6. Minimize overhead expenditure, i.e., fuel, electricity, water, labour.
Menu planning is the most important aspect of planning and organization in the food industry. It is an advance plan of a dietary pattern over a given period of time.
Menus are of the following types:
Table d’hôte or fixed price menu It includes two or three courses at a set price. Each course may offer a choice of dishes.
A la carte On this menu, dishes are individually priced and the customers can compile their own menu which may be one, two or more courses.
Banquet menus These are special menus for banquets or functions.
Institutional menus Hospital menus, boarding school menus, and Industrial canteen menus.
Menu may be cyclic which means they are compiled to cover a specified period of time. The length of the cycle may vary and is decided upon by the management. A number of menus are set up and repeated. They are often modified to take into account variations, which may arise for a number of reasons.
FACTORS INFLUENCING MEAL PLANNING
Many factors influence the acceptability of a meal. Customers select what appeals most to them from a menu card based on individual likes and dislikes, budget, popularity of items, etc. However, while planning meals the following factors need to be considered.
The most important consideration in menu planning is to ensure that the meal fulfils the nutrient needs of the individual consuming the meal. For example, if the meal is planned for an Indus trial worker, it must meet the RDAs for that age group. Foods from all basic food groups should be included in each meal so that the meal is balanced and nutritionally adequate. Nutrient needs may be modified for hospital diets (therapeutic diets).
The spending power of the clientele has to be kept in mind and meals have to be planned within the budget. Low cost nutritious substitutes should be included in the menu to keep the costs low. The food cost should be maintained, if the organization has to run profitably.
Menus should be planned in relation to the type of food service, whether it is cafeteria, seated service, buffet, etc.
Equipment and Work Space
The menu should be planned keeping the available equipment and workspace in mind. Deep freezers, refrigerators, grinders, dough kneaders, deep fat fryers, boilers, etc. should be adequate.
An effective manager should consider as to how leftovers could be rotated to obtain maximum profit. Adequate storage space and hygienic standards should be ensured to minimize the risk of contamination and spoilage of food.
Food habits of the customer is another important criteria which needs to be considered as food served has to be acceptable to the customer. Special attention should be paid when a particular type of community is catered to. Religious considerations should be known to the meal planner.
Some fruits and vegetables are seasonal. During the season the cost is reasonable and quality is better. Today, practically all fruits and vegetables are available throughout the year because of advanced preservation technology. However, seasonal fruits and vegetables should be given preference. Regional availability influences menu planning. For example, fish and sea food is fresh and cheaper in coastal areas.
Meal Frequency and Pattern
The meal timings and number of meals consumed in a day, whether meals are packed or served at the table, also influences the selection of food items on the menu. The age, activity level, physiological state, work schedule, and economic factors need to be known before planning meals for institutional catering.
This is one of the most important considerations while planning meals. A variety of foods from the different food groups should be included. The term variety means
1. Variety in food ingredients
2. Variety in recipe
3. Method of cooking
4. Colour, texture and flavour
5. Variety in presentation and garnish.
A meal should look attractive and be appetizing. A judicious blend of flavours, attractive colour combinations and different textures make food enjoyable and interesting. The method of cooking used for different items on the menu should vary.
For example, two deep fried items would make the meal heavy. Simple processes such as fermentation and sprouting not only contribute to improved flavour and digestibility, but also enhance the nutritive value of the meal.
A well planned meal which is nutritionally adequate would have a good satiety value and prevent the occurrence of hunger-pangs before it is time for the next meal. The nutritional adequacy of a meal in an a la carte service depends on the food choices made by the customer. It is the duty of the caterer to offer adequate, nutrient dense foods to the clients, to choose from.
PLANNING BALANCED MEALS
Meal planning involves proper selection of food to ensure balanced meals. In Chapter 20 on balanced diets we have studied how food is classified into five basic food groups to help us plan balanced diets. We have also read that food can be classified on the basis of its source, the nutrients present in it, or on the basis of its functions into 3 – 11 groups. These food groups help us in planning balanced meals which supply all essential nutrients. In this chapter we will study the three basic food groups classified on the basis of functions performed by nutrients as this is the simplest way to ensure adequate nourishment to the body.
The three main functions performed by food are:
1. Providing energy
2. Body building and maintenance
3. Regulation of body processes and protection against infection.
On the basis of functions performed, food is classified into the following three groups.
1. Protective/regulatory foods
2. Body building foods
3. Energy giving foods
All fruits and vegetables – green leafy and other vegetables and all fruits are included.
Green leafy vegetables, Rich in carotene and
Orange, yellow and red ascorbic acid. Also
Fruits and vegetables, contain minerals, fibre,
Citrus fruits. And carbohydrates.
Body Building Foods
Foods rich in protein are included in this group. Nuts and oilseeds also provide fats.
All animal proteins Protein, vitamin and mineral
Pulses, nuts and oilseeds Protein, vitamin, mineral,
Energy Giving Foods
This group provides mainly carbohydrates and fats, along with proteins, some vitamins and minerals, and essential fatty acids. Foods included in this group are :
1. Cereals and millets, Carbohydrate rich roots and tubers. with other nutrients.
2. Sugars and jaggery Only carbohydrates.
3. Fats and oils Mainly fats.
While planning meals one should ensure that foods from all three groups is included in each meal. This classification is simple and easy to use for menu planning.
STEPS IN PLANNING BALANCED MEALS
1. Collect information regarding the customer with respect to
• Activity level
• Socio-economic background
• Food habits
2. Check the RDAs for energy and proteins
3. Prepare a food plan, i.e., list number of servings from each food group to meet the RDA.
4. Decide on number of meals.
5. Distribute servings for each meal.
6. Select foods within each group and state their amount.
7. Plan a menu.
8. Cross check to ensure that all food groups are included in requisite amounts.
Using the above steps, plan a balanced diet for a day.
Example : planning balanced meals for college students residing in a hostel.
1. Basic information
Age : 16 – 18 years
Gender : Male
Activity : Moderate
Religion : Hindu
Background : Urban, middle income families
Food habits : Cosmopolitan
2. Recommended Dietary Allowance for
Calories : 2640
Protein : 78g
3. Food Plan
EFFECT OF QUANTITY COOKING AND PROCESSING ON NUTRIENTS
Almost all foods consumed today need some form of cooking and processing before it is fit for service and consumption. Fruits and vegetables used in salads or for chutney are consumed uncooked. The nutrients we receive from the meals we consume depend to a large extent on cooking and processing practices which are being used. While some amount of nutrient loss is inevitable, cooking has many benefits which are listed below.
Benefits of Cooking Food
1. Cooking increases palatability
2. Cooking makes food easier to digest by destroying anti-digestive factors such as trypsin inhibitor in soya beans.
3. Pathogenic micro-organisms are destroyed.
4. Shelf life is increased by destruction of spoilage organisms and denaturation of enzymes.
5. The appearance of food improves, e.g., cooked meat versus raw meat.
Common Food Processing Techniques
1. Removal of unwanted outer layers, e.g., potato peels, inedible shells and scales of fish, and pea pods, and removal of inedible seeds, stones, etc.
2. Cutting, slicing, micing, grinding, or reducing the size of vegetables, fruits, meat, etc.
3. Liquefaction and emulsification, milling and blending.
4. Heat treatment – blanching, cooking by various methods such as boiling, frying and roasting.
5. Incorporation of air – beating, whipping, aeration of soft drinks.
7. Dehydration, freeze drying, deep freezing, etc.
Food prepared in large quantity in institutional kitchens or in food processing plants is more prone to loss of nutrients, if adequate care is not taken to retain or preserve the nutrient. This is because if food is cooked in bulk, the pre-preparation begins hours in advance, e.g., vegetables have to be cut in advance and if these are not blanched and refrigerated to inactivate enzymes, oxidative losses of labile vitamins will continue at room temperature. Apart from nutritive value, the crisp texture of salads is also lost and phenol containing vegetables will discolour and turn brown, making the dish unattractive and unappetizing.
Effect of heat on nutrients
Cooking has beneficial effects on carbohydrates because of gelatinization of starch, favorable browning reactions such as Maillard reaction and caramelization of sugar which gives colour and flavour to food.
Proteins too take part in Maillard reaction along with sugar. Enzymes which catalyse undesirable enzymatic reactions in fruits such as apple and pears, and vegetables such as potato and brinjal are inactivated on blanching or cooking these foods. Enzymes which hasten oxidative destruction of vitamin C or ascorbic acid are denatured by blanching. Proteins get denatured by heat.
The chemical reactions that take place when oil is heated continuously during deep fat frying bring about hydrolysis, oxidation and polymerization of the oil.
The moisture from the foods being fried hydrolyse fat into free fatty acids, mono and diglycerides and glycerol.
The release of moisture, high frying temperatures of 160-190degrees C, presence of carbonized crumbs in the oil and oxygen from the atmosphere during frying brings about oxidation of the oil. Repeated use of the frying medium forms thermal and vitamins. These products undergo polymerization and increase the viscocity of the oil. The oil darkens in color, has a lower smoke point and foams when used for frying. Such oil should be discarded. Fat soluble vitamins dissolve in fat used for deep frying specially if the food to be fried is not well coated.
Effect of alkali
Alkali is used during cooking and processing to soften vegetables, make pectin soluble, and dissolve hemicelluloses. It is also used as lye(sodium hydroxide) to peel vegetables during processing. A pinch of sodium bicarbonate added to green vegetables helps in brightening the green colour. However, B-complex vitamins and ascorbic acid are destroyed in an alkaline medium. The use of alkali to hasten the cooking process for vegetables and pulses should be discouraged. Excessive cooking in an alkaline medium not only destroys vitamins but makes the texture mushy and gives a soapy taste to the product.
Effect of acid
An acidic medium while cooking helps preserve water soluble vitamins and retards enzymatic browning of certain fruits and vegetables. Vegetables and pulses take a longer time to cook in an acidic medium as acids precipitate pectin and hardens vegetables.
Effect of washing and soaking
While preparing food, water soluble vitamins and minerals leach out into the cooking or washing water. These losses can be minimized by washing the uncut fruit or vegetables and not soaking the cut vegetables in water.
Soaking grains and pulses in water is beneficial as soaking increases digestibility and reduces cooking time.
Effect of sprouting and fermentation
Soaking whole grains overnight in water and tying them in a muslin cloth to allow them to germinate has many beneficial effects.
1. In sprouted grains, the dormant seed becomes active and synthesizes vitamin C.
2. Partial breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins and fats begins making it easier to digest.
3. The bio-availability of nutrients especially calcium and iron increases.
4. The active seeds synthesize vitamin C and thiamine, riboflavin and niacin content increases.
Exposure to air or oxidation
Exposure of finely divided foods to oxygen of the air reduces the vitamin C content by oxidation. The enzyme ascorbic acid oxidase is released when fruits and vegetables are cut. The enzyme activity is temperature dependent and can be inactivated by blanching or by storing cut fruits and vegetables at refrigeration temperatures or by adding acid.
Vitamin A is destroyed on exposure to air. The colour of cut carrots
(carotene) fades due to oxidation and B-complex vitamins are also affected.
Whole meal flour contains all nutrients present in the grain. In flour with 100% extraction no nutrients are lost. Low extraction flours (45% extraction) are light in color and are mainly starch with some protein and fat. Approximately 70% of all B-complex vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre present in the whole grain are lost during milling.
Polished rice(the form in which rice is consumed) loses 75% vitaminB1 or thiamine, while parboiling helps in retaining some of the vitamin.
Cooking and processing practices vary widely from one region to another, hence no authentic information on exact losses can be known. While cooking has both adverse and beneficial effects, proper practices can minimize the adverse effects and maximize the benefits so that food can become more wholesome and safe.
Enhancing nutritive value of food
Process Foodstuff Nutrient
Fruit juice Iodine
Lysine (amino acid)
Vitamin A and vitamin D
Vitamin B1, niacin, Fe and Ca.
Sprouting Whole grain cereals and pulses Vitamin C
Bioavailability of iron increases
Fermentation Cereal and pulses
Bread dough Thiamine, riboflavin and niacin
Food combinations Cereal +pulses
Cereal + small quantity of animal protein
Cereal + pulses + green leafy vegetables Protein quality improves, becomes complete protein.
Iron utensils for cooking and tempering Any food, preferably acidic, cooked or stirred or tempered with iron cooking utensils. Iron
Correct cooking methods Correct washing, pre-preparation, cooking and storage procedures. Maximum retention of nutrients
The release of moisture, high frying temperatures of 160˚C - 190˚C, presence of carbonized crumbs in the oil and oxygen from the atmosphere during frying brings about oxidation of the oil. Repeated use of the frying medium forms thermal and vitamins. These products undergo polymerization and increase the viscosity of the oil. The oil darkens in colour, has alower smoke point, and foams when used for frying. Such oil should be discarded. Fat soluble vitamins dissolve in fat used for deep frying specially if food to be fried is not well coated.
Effect of alkali
Alkali is used during cooking and processing to soften vegetables, make pectin soluble, and dissolve hemicellulose. It is also used as lye (sodium hydroxide) which is a caustic alkaline chemical to peel vegetables during processing. A pinch of sodium bicarbonate added to green vegetables helps in brightening the green colour. However, B-complex vitamins and ascorbic acid are destroyed in an alkaline medium.
Nutrients are needed by humans in specific amounts to ensure good health and well-being. These nutrient needs are met by eating the right kinds and amounts of food, if a diet is planned and given to an individual with the correct kinds and proportions of different nutrients, and he is asked to follow it everyday, it will become monotonous. Also a diet which is acceptable to one individual may not be acceptable to another individual for many different reasons such as food preferences, customs, food habits, age, economic reasons, and allergies.
RECOMMENDED DIETARY ALLOWANCES
While planning balanced diets, we need certain guidelines regarding the kinds and amounts of nutrients that require for maintenance of good health. The RDA is the guideline stating he amount of nutrients to be actually consumed in order to meet the requirements of the body. The RDA is based on requirements.
The requirement for a particular nutrient is the minimum level that needs to be consumed to perform specific functions in the body and to prevent deficiency symptoms. It should also maintain satisfactory stores of the nutrients in the body.
Recommended dietary allowances are based on a person’s requirements for different nutrient. In other words
Recommended Dietary Allowances = Requirement + Margin of safety
The margin of safety is added to take care of factors such as:
1. Losses during cooking and processing
2. Short periods of deficient intake
3. Nature of the diet
4. Individual variations in requirements.
For example the requirement of iron in western countries is 10 mg for adult men and 15 mg for adult women respectively, while Indian RDAs suggest an intake of 28 mg for adult men and 30 mg for adult women. This is because the form of iron consumed varies and the factors interfering with absorption of iron such as phytates in cereals and larger proportions of nonhaeme iron present in Indian diets. The requirement for vitamin C or ascorbic acid is actually 20 mg, but since the vitamin is easily destroyed during pre-preparation, cooking, and storage. The recommended intake is twice the requirement and is 40 mg/day.
The RDAs apply to healthy individuals and are set high enough to cover individual variation. They are based on gender, age, body size, activity level, and special physiological state. Disease and drugs prescribed for treatment for one or more nutrients.
RDAs for Specific Nutrients
The RDAs are expressed in metric units such as kilocalorie (kCal), grams (g), milligrams (mg), and micrograms (µg).
How much food each individual will need will depend on many factors which have been considered while computing the Recommended Dietary allowances. Factors such as age, gender, and special physiological needs have been kept in mind. The RDA table gives us the quantity of different nutrients to be included in our daily diet. The second important factor we need to know to know to ensure the right selection of food is its nutritive value. Most foods contain more than a single nutrient. The nutritive value of different foods have been analysed in the laboratory and on the basis of this information , food consumption tables have been formulated.
This tables give us the percentage of important nutrients in the edible portion of all foods we consume, we can calculate its nutritive value with the help of food consumption tables. This can be compared with the RDAs which will tell us wether our diet is nutritionally adequate or not. The RDA is a goal to be achived and food is selected so that we reach the goal.
However, this process is time consuming and not at all practical as lengthy calculations are necessary. What is needed is a practical guide which can help individuals to select foods of their choice according to their choice according to their nutritional requirements. Since no single food provides all the nutrients in desirable amount, and all foods differ in their nutrient content, it becomes necessary to divide food into groups to help us consume a balanced diet.
Balanced Diet A balanced diet is one which includes a variety of foods in adequate amounts and correct proportions to meet the day’s requirements of all essential nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals, water and fibre. Such a diet helps to promote and preserve good health and also provides a safety margin or reserve of nutrients to withstand short durations of emergency.
The safety margin takes care of the days on which we fast, or on a certain day all nutrients may not be consumed. If the balanced diet meets the RDA for an individual;, then the safety margin is already included as the RDA is formulated keeping extra allowances in mind.
A balanced diet takes care of the following aspects:
1. It includes a variety of food items
2. It meets the RDA for all nutrients
3. Nutrients are included in correct proportions
4. Provides a safety margin for nutrients
5. It promotes and preserves good health
6. Maintains acceptable body weight for height
BASIC FOOD GROUPS
One of the simplest ways to plan a balanced diet is to divide foods into groups. Foods are grouped on the basis of the predominant nutrients present in them. They may be classified into three, four, five, seven or eleven food groups. This classification varies from one country to another depending on many factors. For example, in India we do not have milk products or flesh foods as a separate food group because of religion, economic reasons, etc. The five food group classification is used in India as a guide to meal planning. Many factors have been considered while compiling these groups such as availability of food, cost, meal pattern, and deficiency diseases prevalent. Not all foods in each group are equal in their nutrient content. That is why a variety of foods from each group should be included in the diet.
A food group consists of a number of foods which have common characteristics. These common features may be the source of food, the physiological function performed, or the nutrients present.
On the basis of the source of food, at least fourteen groups can be identified, e.g. cereals, pulses, milk and milk products, egg, flesh foods, nujts and oilseeds, sugar and sweetness, fats and oils, root vegetables, other vegetables, green leafy vegetables, fruits, condiments and spices, and miscellaneous foods. This does not simplify the planning of balanced meals. A classification based on nutrients present will ensure that all nutrients made available to the body and offer greater variety within the group.
GUIDELINES FOR USING THE BASIC FOOD GROUP
1. Include at least one or a minimum number of servings from each food group in each meal.
2. Make choices within each group as foods within each group are similar but not identical in nutritive value.
3. If the meal is vegetarian proteins with suitable combinations to improve the overall protein quality of the diet. For example, serving cereal, pulse combinations or including small quantities of milk or curds in the meal.
4. Include uncooked vegetables and fruits in the meals.
5. Include at least one serving of milk to ensure a supply of calcium and other nutrients as milk contains all nutrients except iron, vitamin C, and fibre.
6. Cereals should not supply more than 75% of total calories.
The food guide pyramid is an educational tool that shows the dietry guidelines in the easily understand graphic format. It was originally prepared by the Human Nutrition Information Service and published in 1992 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is meant for use by the general healthy population s a guide for the amounts and types of foods to be included in the daily diet. The pyramid was designed to help teach the concepts of variety, moderation and the inclusion of food types in appropriate proportion in the total diet. The food guide pyramid can be modified for different age groups. Food guide pyramid helps to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and meets the RDA of different nutrients.
FOOD EXCHANGE LIST The food exchange lists are used in meal planning to make a quick and fairly accurate estimation of the nutritive value of diets. These are used to calculate the energy, carbohydrates, fats and proteins content of the meals. The exchange lists were first published by a joint committee of the American Dietetics Association, American Dietetics Association and the U.S. Public Health Services in 1950 and were revised in 1976.
In the making of exchange list, similar foods are grouped together so that specified amounts of all foods listed in that group or exchange, have approximately the same energy, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats content. The nutritive value of specific foods in the exchange may slightly differ from the average value for that food exchange, but on variety of food selected in the daily diet, these differences tend to get cancelled. So any, one food in a particular list can be exchanged for any other food of the same list.
So, an exchange list allows one to make a wider choice in selecting foods within every exchange, while controlling the total energy and fats in the total diet.
SR.NO Name of food item Exchange Amt (g) Energy (Kcal) CHO (g) Protein (g) Fats(g)
I Cereals 1 30 100 21 3 0.5
II Pulses 1 30 100 17 7 0.5
Soyabean 1 23 100 4.8 10 4.4
III Nuts and oilseeds 1 8 50 1.7 1.7 4
IV Milk and milk prdts
Milk ( C) 1 150ml 100 6.6 5 6
Curds ( C) 1 150 100 4.5 4.5 7
Paneer( C) 1 40 100 - 7 8
Cheese 1 20 100 2 7 7
Milk ( B) 1 85ml 100 4 4 7.5
V Meat and Poultry
Fowl, goat meat 1 90 100 - 18 3
Mutton muscle 1 50 100 - 10.5 6.5
Egg (Hen) 1 50 85 - 6.6 6.6
VI Fish 1 100 100 2 21 1
Bombay Duck 1 35 100 - 21 2
VII Veg A 1 150 25 6.2 - -
Fresh green peas 1 27 25 4.3 2 -
(ash gourd, ambatchuka, amaranth ,bottle gourd, bitter gourd, brinjal, celerystalk,cabbage,tomato,coriander,colocasia,cucumber,cluster,capsicum,cluster beans, cauliflower, cowpea pods, drumstick leaves, drumstick, French beans, ghosala, jackfruit, knol khol greens, knol khol, lettuce, ladies fingers, mayalu, mustard leaves, mint, methi, mango green pumpkin, parwar, plaintain green, ridge gourd, radish white. Radish pink, snakegourd. Spinach, shepu, tinda, tomatogreen, onionstalks)
VIII Veg B 1 50 50 11 1.5 -
( Yam, potato, colocassia, sweet potato, tapioca)
Carrot, onion, beetroot 1 100 50 11 1.5 -
Group I 1 300 50 12.5 - -
Muskmelon and watermelon
Group II 150
Fig and papaya 50 12.5 - -
Group III 1 100 50 12.5 - -
Orange, guava, sweet lime
Group IV 1 80 50 12.5 - -
Apple, cherries, lichi, grapes
Group V 1 50 50 12.5 - -
Banana, mango, chickoo.
Dry fruits 1 15 50 12.5 - -
Raisins, Dates, prunes.
X Fats, oil and sugars
Oil 1 11 100 - - 11
Ghee 1 11 100 - - 11
Butter 1 14 100 - - 11
Sugar 1 12.5 50 12.5 - -
Honey 1 15.6 50 12.5 - -
Jaggery 1 13 50 12.5 - -
Sago 1 30 100 25 - -
Arrowroot 1 30 100 25 - -
Makhana 1 30 100 22 3 -
Papad 1 in no 8 23 4 1.7 -