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Many people would agree that meal preparation is as much of an art as it is a science. There are definitely steps you can follow if you’re hoping to make your meals look more tasteful and appealing. Consider the following 5 principles of meal design and presentation:

Focus First on Designing Healthy Meals Using Sensible Food Portions

The primary function of a meal is to nourish the body; so, when you’re designing a meal, it’s crucial to keep the goal of nourishment firmly in mind. You can take a cue from meal kit delivery services, which are a great healthy option for everyone. The chefs who design meal kits have mastered the art of creating simple, healthy meals that feature sensible portion control.

One of the main advantages of a meal kit service is that they do the calorie counting for you, and they carefully measure each ingredient to ensure you don’t get either too little or too much food. This makes it easy to avoid overeating. Consider trying meal kit delivery in Vancouver to experience multiple examples of how this can work.

Once you’ve sampled a few meal kits, you’ll probably want to use them as inspiration for designing your own healthy, portion-controlled meals.

Think of Your Plate or Dish as a Blank Canvas

Most people heap food onto their plates without giving much thought to its appearance. Yet, when food is beautifully presented, people do tend to find their meals more meaningful and enjoyable.

Give some thought to the shapes and colors present in the food combinations you’ll be serving, and choose a plate or dish that will enhance the presentation. A plain white plate can be a fantastic choice considering it will contrast beautifully with most entrees.

3. Fill, But Don’t Overfill, the Plate

The portion of food you’re serving might be exactly perfect – but if you serve it on an overly large plate, it will appear to be too skimpy. Similarly, if you present the food on a plate that’s too small, it might appear to be too overwhelming. Ideally, you’ll want to choose a plate that leaves you enough room for a bit of empty white space between the components. However, you don’t want so much blank space on the plate that your guests start to wonder where all the food is.

Remember, too, that you have three-dimensional space that can be filled on the plate. Your meal shouldn’t appear to be too flat or one-dimensional.

4. Use Groupings of Odd Numbers for Food Placement

It’s generally ideal to be as symmetrical as possible in your food presentation, with one major exception: You’ll want to use odd-numbered groupings of food items in order to maximize visual appeal. For example, you’d want to plate 5 chicken wings together rather than serving only 4.

When you approach the task of grouping your food items, Andrea Feldman at Johnson & Wales University suggests that you visualize lines your eye is able to follow. This strategy is particularly effective with overtly geometric shapes like round doughnuts or rectangular crackers. When the foods on your plate have interesting shapes, you can take advantage of their strong visual lines and use them to construct asymmetrical groupings that intrigue the eyes and tempt the palate.

5. Be Strategic in Your Use of Garnishes

You can add intriguing colors, textures and ingredients to your meals by including appealing garnishes to each plate. Do keep in mind that it is essential to use a garnish that relates well to the dishes you’ll be serving. For example, when you serve a seafood dish, lemon makes a lovely garnish because the flavor of the lemon will complement the fish well. The lemon also looks visually appealing when it accompanies fish.

Garnishing can also be used as a method for delivering subtle visual cues about the meal. You’ve no doubt had the experience of being served a food that you didn’t recognize, which can be disconcerting. To help your guests avoid this unpleasant situation, you can make the food you’re serving more identifiable through the strategic use of garnishes. For example, you could garnish a dish of carrot soup with a few carrot curls, which would help the diners at your table to understand that it’s a carrot soup, rather than a pumpkin soup or a sweet potato stew.

These are 5 compelling ideas you can use for designing and presenting a meal that is not just delicious, but is also visually appealing. If you’re hoping to make your meals more satisfying, consider implementing one or more of these strategies each time you cook.