The keys to success in Meal Planning at Sea 

Are you a seasoned Chief Cook or just starting your career in the galley? Understanding meal planning can make a world of difference in ensuring that crews are well-fed and happy while at sea.  At the core of navigating diverse palates and ensuring healthy nutrition on board, there are two key words: meal planning. 

Meal planning is the art of scheduling regular meals for a given period, for example, at weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly intervals. Effective meal planning is crucial for achieving healthy eating and portions. In the ship's galley, meal planning is usually the sole responsibility of the Chief Cook.Things to consider in meal planning include the budget allocated, the seasonality of the products needed, and the nationalities of the crew, as they determine the type of food preferred.

Menu selection requires skill and precision. Menu selection and meal planning are skills acquired through training and experience. IFS offers a free training and support program for all chief cooks serving on IFS-catered vessels. Seafarers face unique nutritional challenges in the course of their duties. As such, it becomes imperative to factor in meal planning and careful meal selection. A proper meal can replenish dipping energy levels and promote work efficiency. A well-balanced diet improves mental well-being, physical stamina, and cognitive abilities. At IFS, we ensure that the recipes are not only health-conscious but also bursting with flavour. 

VarietyChief Cooks plan nutritionally balanced meals ahead of time. This should include adequate amounts of;
  • Carbohydrates - ideally whole grain meals because of their high fiber content.
  • Proteins - These take the longest to digest, therefore sustaining seafarers for a longer period. Sources of protein include poultry, beef, legumes, and dairy products.
  • Vitamins and minerals are not only present in fresh fruits and vegetables but in all sorts of foods.
  • Fats and oils are super-important for immune health. In addition, all hormones depend on fatty-rich foods. Good fats are unsaturated and have a lower risk of disease. These include olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado. On the other hand, bad fats contained in fatty meat, butter, ghee, and processed foods should be avoided.

SustainabilityOnboard a sea vessel, Chief Cooks must monitor consumption levels and adhere to the recommended calories across the key food groups Meal planning reduces food waste and, as a result, mitigates the potential man-made greenhouse gas emissions crisis. Proper meal planning also ensures that provisions are ordered and utilized correctly according to the desired quantity and the expiration date. Provisions are normally utilized using the First-In-First-Out approach.  In addition, fresh and perishable provisions are used first before frozen and canned provisions.

Economical and efficient food productionIn their meal planning, chief cooks need to consider the cost, quality, and quantity of ingredients required to maximize utility and minimize waste.Different cooking methods are used for different types of meals. Cooking methods may include braising, boiling, stewing, and roasting. Menu planning comes in handy for chief cooks to determine the cooking method that is most suitable for a particular meal. The cooking methods also influence the flavor, texture, and appearance of food. “In the long run, meal planning helps manage weight better, ensures a balanced diet, presents healthier food options, and limits food waste."  IFS Dietician, Pettie Peeters. Our Chief Cooks are guided by the data provided in our IFS food monitoring software. The interface provides shipowners and ship managers with precise cost, nutritional value, and quantity information. At IFS, looking out for the well-being of our crew and seafarers is paramount. Being a data-driven company, we are keen to source wholesome, healthy, and quality food even within a controlled budget. 

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