Many health professionals offer custom meal plans as a service. When a client has multiple food sensitivities or is dealing with an illness or disease, a custom meal plan is often exactly what they need. Designing meal plans is also great for clients who are looking for things to be done for them. They don’t want to have to think about things and prefer more of a “concierge” service.
But depending on your client’s unique needs, delivering them a customized meal plan can be super time-consuming. Also, some practitioners simply prefer to stay away from offering meal plans, whether it is not within their scope of practice, or they just don’t like doing them.
If a custom meal plan isn't the right fit, it is still up to you as a health professional to find a way 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 offering meal planning guides.
What is a Meal Planning Guide?
A meal planning guide is a nutrition resource that includes three key components:
- A collection of recipes designed to meet the needs of the client or group.
- A blank meal planning template in a calendar format.
- Instructions on how to use the meal planning guide.
Meal planning guides are designed to empower the client to do their own meal planning. They teach the basics of planning, prep, and healthy eating. With all of this being said, they do require more work for the client, so it is essential for you as the health professional to guide them through the meal planning process.
How to Create a Meal Planning Guide
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to create awesome meal planning guides for your clients:
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 Meal Planning Assessment Tool to ask your clients the right questions about their lifestyle, food preferences, and goals. This assessment will help you choose recipes that are perfect for them.
Next, use That Clean Life to put together a collection of four to five breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. Be sure to use our filters to find recipes quickly. You can filter by the number of ingredients, time, or diet like vegan, low FODMAP or ketogenic.
2. Export the collection or recipes with meal plan guide instructions and a blank meal planning template.
Once you have your collection of recipes made, you can export it from That Clean Life as a branded PDF.
Before exporting, be sure to include a brief, which will give your client instructions on how to use the meal planning guide, along with a link to download a blank meal planning template.
Here's an example of how the introduction to your meal planning guide might sound.
Welcome to your meal planning guide! Taking the time to plan your meals can have such a positive impact on your overall health. This guide will teach you how to create delicious meal plans for yourself.
How to Use this Meal Planning Guide:
Download a blank weekly meal planning template here.
Look at the recipes in this guide, and begin to fill in the weekly template by outlining what you will eat for your desired meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks). Don't be afraid to cook a big batch of a recipe and add it to your plan multiple times throughout the week. Enjoying leftovers is a big time-saver!
Once your meal plan is complete, create a grocery list. Refer back to the recipes you have added to your plan and write down the ingredients you will need to make them. Remember to check the recipe serving size and scale the quantities of the ingredients up or down depending on how many servings you need. To save yourself time in the store, organize your grocery list under headings such as "Fruits & Veg", "Meat & Deli", "Canned", etc. so that you know exactly what you need in each section of the grocery store.
Once you have done your shopping, you may want to do some meal prep. 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.
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.
–Abigail, Holistic Nutritionist
Once you have your meal planning guide introduction written, you can export your recipe book as a custom branded PDF. Now you have a beautiful resource that includes hand-picked recipes, a link to a blank meal planning template, and instructions for clients on how to use the guide to create awesome meal plans for themselves.
Using Meal Planning Guides to Grow Your Nutrition Business
Meal planning guides can be used to attract new clients, make your clients more successful, and earn more money as a health professional. Here are some ideas of how you can use meal planning guides to grow your nutrition business:
1. Meal Planning Guides for One-on-One Clients
Meal planning guides are a great resource for people who do not want to follow a formal, structured meal plan. They are also great for health professionals who prefer to stay away from creating meal plans for their clients. You can offer meal planning guides as a stand-alone one-on-one service, or you can incorporate them into your current offerings/coaching programs.
2. Meal Planning Guides for Group Programs
You can also use meal planning guides with your group programs. Instead of offering weekly meal plans with your group program, you could offer weekly meal planning guides. This is particularly awesome when you are working with a group where one meal plan won’t work for everyone.
You could even run a group program focused on meal planning itself. For example, you could offer a “Four Week Meal Planning Challenge” where you challenge your participants to meal plan for four weeks. You guide them through the process by providing support and weekly meal planning guides. If you are working with a specific type of client, be sure to match the program to your niche. For example, “The Four Week Meal Planning Challenge for Gluten-Free Moms”.
3. Teach a Meal Planning Workshop
Meal planning makes a great topic for a workshop. Host a workshop (either online or in-person) where you teach your audience how to create their own weekly meal plans, and provide the participants with a meal planning guide so they can take what they learn and put it into action.
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