Expert tips for creating and using a meal planner template
Templates are amazing.
You have things that you need to do on a regular basis - your “to do” or grocery list, blog post format, or planning your clients’ meals.
When you have to repeat something many times, using a template gets you the same result with less effort since you’re not starting from scratch.
When it comes to meals, which we all have several times each day, you want to make them as simple as possible for your clients. In fact, they probably pay you to do this for them. If that’s the case, then you’ll love using a meal planner template. Using one helps you and your nutrition clients save time and money, all while making strides toward health goals.
Meal Garden Expert and Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Kelly Ryan says,
“As a busy professional, I don't have time to create recipes and creating recipes is not my focus. There are many delicious recipes out there and why re-invent the wheel if you don't need to?”
That’s exactly the beauty of using a meal planner template - you don’t have to re-invent the wheel!
When creating one keep two things in mind. First, how to design your template, and second, how often to re-use it.
How to design a meal planner template
When designing your meal planner template consider:
Duration - 3-days, 7-days, etc.
Client Needs - Dietary restrictions, health goals, cooking styles, lifestyles, etc.
When it comes to duration, meal plans can be for any number of days; commonly 7-days. The trick is to choose a timeframe that makes sense based on your client’s schedule and health goals. For example, weekly would make sense for those of us with a fairly consistent weekly schedule - 5 days of working, 2 days on weekend.
Here is what different durations would look like:
Once you’ve chosen your duration, then fill in the meals based on your client’s needs. Are they following a particular diet or have specific restrictions, how can food help them reach their health goals, and how do they like to (and are able to) cook? Also, consider other lifestyle factors like if they’re busy parents or have a specific food budget.
You can imagine that taking all of these into account every single week for every client will take a lot of time.
THIS is why you want to do it once as a template, and then tweak it over and over so it continues to help your client and they don’t get bored of it.
Kelly shares her expert tips:
“My biggest tip for creating meal planning templates for my clients is that it is so important to make sure that you [consider] what your client likes or dislikes and their current eating habits so that you can ensure compliance. It is also very important to try to minimize the number of ingredients that your client has to buy and simplify recipes as much as possible realizing that you don't want to overwhelm your client.”
When it comes to choosing the meals for the plan, you can hand-pick them yourself and write them up on a page or in a table, and re-use it over and over.
Or, you can use our software to access dozens of professionally created meal planner templates available from thousands of recipes to suit scores of dietary restrictions, health goals, cooking styles, or even lifestyles.
How often to re-use a meal planner template
But, eating the same thing every Monday forever is boring!
Yep! That’s why the second thing to consider for your meal planner template is how often you’re going to re-use it.
Let’s use a weekly template as an example. If you were to create two of them and repeat every week, it would look something like this:
There are other ways too!
Here’s how Kelly uses them for her clients:
“I generally use meal templates as an add-on for my clients. I make weekly plans that are to be used over and over for a month and then change the plan to keep the client from getting bored. The meal plans are unique to a certain extent based on a client's specific health issues, likes/dislikes, nutrition requirements, etc. I will re-use the template (sometimes with some tweaks) for clients with similar health issues and re-use recipes between templates.”
Kelly’s meal planner template looks like this:
If you’re a nutrition professional, using meal planning software is a no-brainer! You save time by having pre-made templates, you save money (because time is money), and you can help your clients reach their health goals without starting from scratch every single week.
Registered Holistic Nutritionist Kelly Ryan helps clients who are starting to see signs and symptoms of health issues work to feel even better than they did in their 20's through nutrition, lifestyle and mindset changes.