Curating meal plans

Nowadays, one size does not necessarily fit all, especially when it comes to consumer services.

These consumer services are the day-to-day services you and I use — when watching content, Netflix, for example, curates what they recommend to you based on your viewing habits. Similarly, eCommerce platforms recommend things to buy based on the last purchase made and your add-to-cart profile.

The same thing can be said for the food we eat. There comes a time of course when we need to be mindful of what we eat or when we just generally want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Interestingly, many of the young adults are becoming more health conscious that they already have a specific dietary preference.

The first time I encountered the concept of dietary preferences was the moment I flew outside the country in my early 20s. Best eye opener for me back then was Singapore Airlines’ extensive list of menu options; it was then that I learned about vegetarian lacto-ovo, kosher, halal, low calorie, low salt, and many others. The curious in me was satisfied, and that light bulb moment was the beginning.

Nowadays we have many options available on what we eat, and how we eat it. The decision could be based on religious denomination, health or lifestyle choice. Here are a few examples:

Low salt – for those who cannot tolerate salt and who may have kidney/renal issues

Low cholesterol – avoidance of animal fat in your meals to reduce and eliminate cholesterol issues

Low sugar – those suffering from diabetes would benefit from a low sugar meal plan

A combination of the above – also called SOS-free or salt/oil/sugar free

Vegetarian lacto-ovo – meals consisting of vegetables and dairy products such as eggs, cheese and milk

Vegan – purely plant-based

Low purine – for those who frequently have gout or hyperuricemia

Keto – low carb high protein

If there are family members in your household that prefer any of the above or something similar, it will be helpful to understand and study the natural remedies available and incorporate in your daily preparation. Knowing alternatives and substitutes that can be used in meal preparations would be a good approach as well.

Gout, for example, is a common form of arthritis affecting mostly men. To avoid any attack or flare up it is important to avoid foods that are high in purine and focus on those that have little of it. A good source of protein for those with gout would be broccoli or nuts and seeds such as almonds and chia seeds. Incorporating these with your meals would be good in minimizing gout incidents.

Here is an example of a curated meal plan for an individual requiring low purine, low cholesterol and low sugar:

Breakfast: Shakshouka with egg whites served with toasted wheat bread

Procedure: Sauté whole peeled tomatoes in olive oil and add salt, pepper and cumin. Add egg whites and cover the pan as it steams. Garnish with parsley.

Note: Your protein source here is the egg whites and you address the low cholesterol requirement by taking out the egg yolk.

Lunch: Raw salad and baked fish

Procedure: I incorporate pancit pancitan (good for gout) – called weedicinal too due to their medicinal properties – together with talbos ng kamote, arugula leaves, lettuce. Add fruit and nuts/seeds and your dressing of choice, season to taste. Whitefish has lower purine content compared to other fishes such as sardines, mackerel which could trigger gout flares.

Note: Your protein source here is fish.

Dinner: Spaghetti Chicken Cacciatore

Procedure: Season chicken breast fillets and brown in a pan (half cook) and set aside. In another pan, sauté onions, bell peppers and garlic. Add red wine and simmer for a few minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, mushrooms, seasoning and vinegar. Add chicken breast and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Serve on spaghetti noodles and garnish with parsley.

Note: Your protein source here is the chicken breast. It is also low in cholesterol due to the chicken part used.

Meal preparation is important especially when family members have different eating preferences. This is to ensure that the meals remain economical and sustainable and at the same time address all dietary requirements needed every day.

The author may be reached at or follow her at Instagram @kaycalpolugtu and @aplateofbahaykubo.