How to Teach Your Clients to Create Their Own Meal Plans

When a custom meal plan isn't the right fit, there are still ways to equip your clients with the resources and support they need to succeed. One way to do this is to teach your clients how to do their own meal planning, and you can do this by giving your client a meal planning guide.

Written by
Abigail Keeso, RN Abigail Keeso, RN
Published on

Many health professionals offer custom meal plans as a service as they are effective in helping clients achieve their nutrition goals. However, for a variety of reasons, sometimes offering a custom meal plan just isn't feasible.

When a custom meal plan isn't the right fit, there are still ways to equip your clients with the resources and support they need to succeed. One way to do this is to teach your clients how to do their own meal planning, and you can do this by giving your client a meal planning guide.

What is a Meal Planning Guide?

Meal planning guides are designed to empower the client to do their own meal planning. They can be used to attract new clients, increase their success and keep them engaged. You can use meal planning guides with clients one-on-one, group programs, workshops, and more.

A meal planning guide includes three key components:

  1. A collection of recipes designed to meet the needs of the client (or group).
  2. A blank meal plan.
  3. Instructions on how to create their own plan using the recipes provided.

How to Create a Meal Planning Guide

Here is how you can create a meal planning guide in minutes using That Clean Life.

1. Create a Collection of recipes to meet the client's needs.

When building any type of customized resource for a client, it is so important that you first assess their needs. Use our Assessment Tool to ask your clients the right questions about their lifestyle, food preferences, goals, etc. This assessment will help you choose recipes that are perfect for the client.

Next, use That Clean Life to put together a Collection of 16 to 20 recipes: four to five breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.

Be sure to use filters to find recipes quickly. You can filter by the number of ingredients, time, meal type, or diet. You can also filter recipes based on nutrition info like calories, macronutrients, and micronutrients.

Tip: See a full list of available filtering options available within That Clean Life.

2. Create a new blank plan and set your Smart plan rules.

Now head to the Planner, create a new blank plan and set any Smart plan rules that apply to your client. For example, if your client is gluten-free and dairy-free, add those as Smart plan rules so that if they swap a recipe, they will only be shown gluten-free and dairy-free options.

Next, add this blank plan with Smart plan rules to the Collection. Now the Collection will contain a blank plan with recipes.

3. Share the Collection of recipes with the blank meal planning template.

Once your Collection contains the hand-picked recipes and blank plan, click "Share". Turn sharing and "Allow Edits" on then choose any other share settings you'd like. Copy the link to share it with your client.

When your client clicks on this link, they will see the blank plan and recipes you provided.

When they click on the plan, they can start to build it out with the recipes you provided them with.

Tip: If sharing a Collection with a group of people, be sure to create a deep copy of the original collection and provide each client with their own unique link.

How to Introduce Your Client to Their Meal Planning Guide

Along with the shared link, you should provide your client with instructions on how to use their meal planning guide. These instructions can be sent via email or through your practice management software.

Here's an example of how you might introduce your client to their meal planning guide:


Welcome to your meal planning guide! Taking the time to plan your meals can have such a positive impact on your overall health.

In this meal planning guide, you will find a collection of recipes I have hand-picked for you, along with a blank planner, where you can plan your meals.

How to Use this Meal Planning Guide:

Step 1: Access your personal meal planning guide using the link provided. On the left-hand side of the screen, you will see your planner. On the right-hand side of the screen, you will see a list of the recipes I have selected for you.

Step 2: Next, look through the recipes and select meals that appeal to you. Add them to your plan by clicking the "Add" button. Set the number of servings you'd like the recipe to create. Continue to add meals to your plan until it is complete to your liking.

Step 3: As you add meals to your plan, you'll notice that your grocery list is automatically generated. You can view it by clicking on the "List" tab from your Planner. Your list is organized by category so that you know exactly what you need in each section of the grocery store. When your plan is done, get the list and do your shopping.

Step 4: Once you have done your shopping, you may want to do some meal prep. This is optional but can really help set you up for a successful week. Look at the recipes you have chosen and see what can be prepped in advance. Perhaps you can dice vegetables or even make an entire recipe to save yourself time later on in the week.

Now that you have created your plan, shopped, and done some meal prep, you are all set to follow your meal plan for the week! Check your plan every morning and night, so you know what is coming up next and can stay organized.

Meal planning is a skill that gets easier over time. Reach out to me any time with your meal planning questions.

If you are working with the client over a long period of time, you can continue to add blank plans and new recipes to their collection to keep them inspired and engaged. As the practitioner, you'll be able to see what your clients add to their plans and provide them with feedback.

With an awesome meal planning guide and clear instructions on how to use it, your client will feel empowered to do their own meal planning!

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