"Meal planning is so hard when you are only planning for one!"
This is something we often hear from nutrition professionals who are meal planning for people who live on their own. After all, your client’s start with the best intentions, but when Friday rolls around and they still have a gallon of the salad they made on Monday sitting in the fridge, well, they’re more likely to call in take out because they’re certainly not excited to eat that again. This is where you come in! Meal planning for one, and keeping it exciting, is challenging but totally doable and will ultimately help your clients look and feel their best.
Check out these 10 practical tips to pass along to your client to give them the best experience when meal planning for one:
1. Give your client a meal prep guide so they know what to eat and what to freeze
When we think of meal planning, we often get tunnel vision and plan for a week at a time for our clients. Instead of isolating a week at a time, plan for two weeks at a time with the ability to freeze servings of meals they can eat later next week. This way, they are less likely to waste food and get stuck eating the same thing every day. To make organization easy for your clients, send along a meal prep guide so they know what they’ll be eating and freezing for the week.
Pro-tip: we recommend naming your meal plans after your clients with each week indicated in the plan so you know they go together, like this:
2. Teach your clients to be besties with their freezer
Okay, so maybe not besties, but you know what we mean.
Encourage your clients to freeze their leftovers while they are still fresh to preserve flavour and nutrients. (Side note: Freezing food does not cause nutrient loss.) Provide them with resources to keep their freezer organized with stackable glass containers so they always know what they have on hand.
Provide your clients with reminders to think ahead. Remind them to freeze leftover vegetables and fruit if they can foresee that they won't be able to eat them before they go bad. They will appreciate the reminder as it will ultimately save them money in the long run.
One of our favorite reminders is from a TCL member about herbs. Tell your clients not to throw them away!
"Chop up your leftover herbs, and use a tablespoon to measure out even portions into an ice cube tray and add 1 to 2 tbsp of water or olive oil. Transfer them to a zipper-lock bag once they're frozen. Herb cubes are great for soups and pestos!"
Photo via TheKitchn.com
3. Plan for your clients to always keep at least one type of burger and single servings of soup in the freezer
At That Clean Life, we are huge fans of soups and burgers. They are super easy to make in advance and freeze beautifully. We highly recommend these Kale Quinoa Fritters.
Encourage your clients to freeze soup in individual portions (we recommend 500 mL mason jars) as it melts quicker and they will only thaw what they need.
Pro-tip: Be sure to let your client know that when using mason jars to freeze things like soup or juice, they’ll need to leave room at the top for the liquid to expand. Otherwise, their jar will shatter and a'int no one got time for that. Also, remind them that if they forget to thaw their soup in advance, simply boil a pot of water and set their mason jar in. Let it melt to the point where they can dump it into a pot to reheat. These are the types of tips that will make your client ultra-successful and feel like their own champion.
4. Frozen fruit is the best thing ever
It's true for several reasons. First off, fresh berries can be silly expensive. Your client will get more bang for their buck with frozen berries and they won’t have to worry about them growing gross mold within a couple days. Frozen berries always seem to have more flavor in the offseason and they are a great staple for breakfasts and smoothies. Frozen grapes and sweet cherries also make a terrific snack for those times your clients are craving something sweet.
Pro-Tip: Let your client’s know that in berry season, they can buy and freeze their local berries to keep summer going all year long.
Another great reminder to pass along to your client is browning bananas. They can slice em' up, throw em'in a zipper-lock bag and freeze those babies. They will come in handy down the road when you add breakfasts and snacks to their plan like our Blueberry Banana Bread.
Having a meal plan is setting your client up for success from day one. Giving them a meal plan complete with a grocery list ensures they are saving money by only buying what they need instead of going into the store blindly throwing anything and everything into their cart.
You can also include a step-up in your services by offering grocery store tours so that your clients feel as confident as ever stepping into the grocery store. This will give you the opportunity to show them the store with a new set of eyes. You can also teach them, for example, if they are shopping for two weeks at a time, do a bigger grocery shop the first week, and the second week just fill in the gaps with things like fruits and vegetables that need to be purchased fresh.
6. Remind your client to prepare whatever they can ahead of time
A meal prep guide will give your client the ability to plan out their week and see where they can quickly throw easy dinners together or prepare in advance. Be sure to show them where they can squeeze these small preps in. For example, if they are having stir fry for dinner, they can chop up all the veg in advance so all they have to do is stir fry it later.
7. Have your clients recruit friends who also value healthy eating
True story: Clients always do better when they have a support system of people who care surrounding them. Encourage your client to prepare their meals with others, or share their meal creations with their friends and family to get their support system onboard with their wellness plan. This doesn’t mean that you need to meal plan for everyone they know, but seeing how they start to feel and enjoy preparing the meal plan you’ve made for them will get others excited about their journey.
9. Plan for leftovers
When meal planning for one, you’re scaling down a recipe and things happen like being left with half a pepper from yesterday’s dinner. Plan snacks into your clients' plans that encourage the full use of a vegetable.
For example, if you see they’re going to be left with a few half veggies as leftovers, plan in a snack for the next day where you pair the veggies with hummus. Waste not, want not!
10. Your client’s organization is key
Last but not least, encouraging your client to keep everything in their pantry, fridge and freezer organized will save them tons of time. If you can save your clients $10 from buying yet another bag of almond flour instead of using the one buried at the back of the cupboard, they will be forever thankful. We recommend using glass containers like mason jars and stackable tupperware like Pyrex. Remind your clients to cross-reference the grocery list you provided them with their newly organized pantry, fridge and freezer so they’re not doubling up on anything they already have.
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