Meal is the word used for one of the most important functions of a Tamagotchi toy and is accessed by the second icon. Available since the first Tamagotchi made, a meal is a food item that will increase increase the Tamagotchi character's hungry hearts. They generally fill up one hunger heart.
The base food generally remains the same for most Tamagotchi breeds on releases up until the Connection V1. On the Mesutchi and Osutchi each TMP group has a different set of food, the Morino has multiple kinds of foods available from the child stage onward and a meal unique to each adult, and on releases such as the Mothra and V1 every character has a specific set of meals and snacks, though some sets may be the same for two characters.
On modern Tamagotchi releases starting from the Keitai, various different kinds of food can be bought at the shop. The prices vary, depending on how rare / filling the food is. Some of the more expensive meals can fill up more than one hungry heart, as well as some of the happy hearts. Most meals make the Tamagotchi's weight increase by 1; the more filling the meal is, the more it will add to a Tamagotchi's weight.
On most English releases, each Tamagotchi has a favorite meal. After eating a favorite meal, the Tamagotchi will say, "Great!" and a happy heart will increase as well as a hungry heart. On the Tamagotchi Music Star, favorite meals can be found when the Tamagotchi character smiles while viewing the food in the inventory. Favorite foods on the Music Star can also decrease stress.
All Tamagotchi version that require food have a "default" meal in the inventory. There is an unlimited supply of this kind of meal and it does not appear at the shop. It always only fills up one hungry heart and no character has it as their favorite food. On the Tamagotchi iD L, almost all adult Tamagotchis dislike the default meal.