Recently the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has altered dietary suggestions. Formerly the pattern used was the so-called "food pyramid" paradigm. However a full understanding of the pyramid was deemed to be too complex. Some social and cultural factors have to be considered when it comes to meal planning.
To this end the USDA has now introduced a much simpler model. A single "plate" (see the icon view of their plate to the right). Meal planners, according to the USDA, should focus on the five elements shown on the plate for every meal. The elements are shown in proportion and are Grains, Protein, Vegetables, Fruits and Dairy. Note that protein, for example, is a smaller portion of the plate when compared with grains or vegetables.
Every houshold generally has a decision-maker who plans meals. We feel that this person should be knowledgible when it comes to the USDA dietary suggestions. This person is the family "meal planner". It is a responsibility not to be taken lightly since the overall health of the family is at stake!
At all times the planner should know what food is "slated" for today, tomorrow, the next day. The government is concerned about obesity and the fact that planners too-often ignore the benefits of roughage, dairy, fresh fruits, etc. This web site helps food planners. It uses a model similar to a chalkboard "slate" you see at restaurants. The planner's task is simply to fill in the slate with three plates on a daily basis.
What is unique about the web application is the simple technique used to manage the daily slate. We have observed that tablet computers (they even look like a simple slate that children used to learn with in the nineteenth century) are ready made for use in the kitchen. For example they lack a keyboard that food could muck up and they can easily be cleaned.
If you wish to visit the USDA web site simply click on the plate icon (shown in the right panel). If you have a tablet computer (such as an iPad), or even a smaller mobile device (such as an iPhone) then simply click on the plateslate mobile icon (while using the tablet, or phone). This will automatically startup the plateslate meal planner application! (Note: if you plan to use it often the tablet computer supports saving the web application directly on your tablet or phone. That means the next time you would simply touch the plateslate icon and you're good to go!)
The easy way to do this is to follow these steps:
- On mobile device use a browser such as Safari and visit this same web page.
- Then, to download the mobile app, click here:
- Finally use the browser action control to add the web app to the device's home screen.
If the meal planner in the family tends to forget what meals were recently served and meals seem repetitive it should be noted that the "slate" automatically suggests "plates" that haven't been served in a week or so. This helps add variety to everyday plans. The web application has other features that include reminders that portions (such as fruit) are lacking. It also supports printing a week's summary of planned meals.
How does one use the slate to plan the plates? It couldn't be easier! The initial view, after choosing "Slates", presents "today's" suggested meals. You, the user, simply choose different plans for breakfast, lunch and dinner! To view the next day's plans simply touch the "Next". (Conversely to review prior days plates touch the "Prev".) The plates that are slated for however many days you plan for are automatically saved on the slate itself! Enjoy! (Please note: site is undergoing beta tests!)
What if I lack a tablet computer? The Web App is designed to work with any modern day HTML5 compatible browser. If your browser is very current, it is possible that it can work for you without having a tablet "slate".
What if I only want to plan for nightly dinners? At any time you may choose "Preferences" and tweak the way the web application works for you!