One simple tool to save time and money, and get healthier: A meal plan template
Newsflash: Most meal plan templates are not very helpful!
Printable calendars that list the days of the week and have a spot to write out a grocery list are everywhere. Some are beautifully designed and even help you to track your servings of different food groups These may work for you if you like organizing recipes and planning your family’s meals in your spare time. These are designed for personal use.
For nutrition professionals who help clients reach their health goals, though, using a printable meal plan template isn’t that impressive. Even though they take more time to create, they can look a bit “amateurish.” They also don’t come with the power of good software built in.
What will help you save time, money, and let you help even more people reach their health goals? A well-designed electronic meal plan template.
What is a “well-designed electronic meal plan template?”
Here’s what it’s not: A meal plan that you need to manually create from scratch.
Instead, it’s a professionally premade starting point - the “template” is key!
Let’s back up for one second to make sure we’re on the same page. A “meal plan” is a list of recommended foods and recipes for meals and snacks for a specified number of days. For example, it’s your professional recommendation on what your client should eat or make for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for 3-, 7-, 21-, (or however many) days. It’s a simple way to organize recipes for your clients based on their nutritional needs and gives them a clearly laid out plan of what to shop for, make, and eat.
The meal plan is the path you recommend your clients take to reach their health goals - a customized healthy eating plan, complete with recommended recipes, grocery lists, and nutrition information.
A well thought out customized professional meal plan is pure gold for your clients!
Have you created a meal plan from scratch by:
Step 1: Researching different health goals and dietary preferences.
Step 2: Finding recipes to match those goals and preferences.
Step 3: Ensuring nutrition goals are met on a daily or weekly basis with all the foods and recipes you added to your plan.
Step 4: Considering other factors like your clients’ cooking preferences, lifestyle, reusing leftovers, and reducing food waste.
Step 5: Scaling the recipes in the plan for the number of people eating them and how much of each grocery item they will need.
As a nutrition professional, you want to present to your client a well-designed meal plan that accounts for all of these. We both know that this takes a lot of time and effort!
Even some meal plan software programs force you to start each meal plan from scratch every time.
Imagine how much simpler and quicker it could be if you could start with a quality meal plan template.
A well-designed electronic meal plan template is a ready-made meal plan you can tweak and customize to build perfect signature meal plans for your clients and programs. (Or, if it’s perfect already, you don’t even have to customize it, just use it as is!)
So, instead of finding dozens of recipes, calculating the nutrition info, etc., simply find a template that already includes recommended recipes, automatically calculates the nutrition information, and scales recipes for the number of servings needed and accurate grocery lists.
A quality template can help you save two, three, four, or even all five of those steps!
And this means it can help you save time, save money, and help you help more clients reach their health goals. As a nutrition and wellness professional, you want to do all three for your clients and your business.
How does a meal plan template help save time?
The real key is not to start from scratch! You can find a template already created and customize it a bit (if necessary) to make it perfect.
Good meal plan templates come in many shapes and sizes. There should be several to choose from. They have already been created for different dietary restrictions, health goals, cooking preferences, and lifestyles.
For example, for dietary restrictions, you can start with a premade template for your vegetarian or gluten-free clients, or school-safe nut-free recipes for those with kids.
When it comes to health goals, maybe using a meal plan template already created for athletes, low glycemic, or has a specific calorie count would be a great place to start.
For those clients or programs with specific cooking styles like minimal kitchen time or skills, you can start with a template that uses only 5 ingredients per recipe, or for mason jar recipes, or one that uses one day of batch cooking to last a whole week.
When it comes to lifestyles, there are also meal plan templates available. For example, ones that are budget-friendly, or for busy parents, or ones designed for those who like to prepare meals ahead of time.
Here are just a few examples of what you can choose from:
How does a meal plan template help save money?
As a nutrition professional, we both know that time = money! By saving time and not having to create individualized meal plans from scratch, you’re able to spend that time with paying clients, marketing your amazing services, or even relaxing with your friends and family. Plus, as a bonus, your customized recommended meal plan will help your clients save money too! By using meal planning software like Meal Garden that includes meal plant templates, once the meal plan is perfect, it automatically generates an accurate grocery list. And the grocery list is totally customizable so they can remove items they already have or add additional items they need (and it has a lot of other capabilities too!). This helps them buy everything they need in one trip and helps them avoid unnecessary convenience or fast food stops during the plan because they’ll know what to buy, prepare, and eat. It also links to all of the recipes, and even shows you which ones can be made in advance.
Bonus tip: You can also include leftovers in your meal plan to simplify it even more (less cooking!) and help your clients save more time and money.
How does a meal plan template help improve health?
Once you choose a template, software like Meal Garden automatically calculates the nutrition information. You can see at a glance if some of the nutrients are out of balance. If there is too much or too little of something, you can edit the meal plan schedule, make an easy swap, and then re-check the nutrition information to make it perfect for your client or program.
Plus, if there are other people that will be enjoying the meals with your client, you can easily scale them up. This will also scale up the recipe quantities and grocery store list that can help improve the health of your client’s family and/or friends as well.
Click here for a sneak peek inside a typical meal plan template, in this case, the DASH diet meal plan. It shows you a sample of the meals/recipes in one day and the nutrition information and grocery list for the week. It also shows the list of “mini” recipes that can be prepared in advance.
Using a meal plan template makes creating meal plans for your clients a whole lot easier and make you look a whole lot more professional. It saves you and your clients time and money, while delivering a nutritious meal plan to help them reach their health goals.
Click here to sign up for a free trial and see what Meal Garden has to offer.
Let us know in the comments below what meal plan templates would be the most useful for your practice. (We may just already have some available that can help you right away.)