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Food and Nutrition

Food for Thought: Template Meal Plan

Kathy Pariani, RD | Nutrition Specialist
/ March 31, 2022
meal plan written with scrabble letters on a blue plate

Template meal planning is the idea of using a simple formula to create your weekly menu. Nutrition Specialist Kathy explains!

Meal planning is one of the main tools for success. You are much more likely to meet your goals if your meals are ready to go when you are hungry and ready to eat them. We all know what happens when you are over-hungry and there’s nothing to eat—and it doesn’t follow the plate method! 

Although providing meal plans for our members sounds like it would really make life easy, everyone has different preferences so would likely be making changes to them. My solution to this is to create a meal plan template.  

Choose 3 Types of Foods

Create the basic structure of your meals for the week, including how much flexibility you are ok with adding in, and how many times you are willing and able to shop and cook. Then, choose 3 types of foods that you will prepare for the week. Note that I say types—this is how to get variety and also not have to reinvent the wheel each week. Here are some options:

  1. Proteins, 3 types: fish, tofu, chicken
  2. Preparations, 3 types: baked dish, soup, bowl
  3. Cuisines, 3 types: Mediterranean, Mexican, Asian

Next, spend some time making a list of several things that fit into each category. All that’s left is to plug them in to the days of the week, and you have your own personalized meal plan. One prerequisite to this is that you must be able to accept that you will have the same thing 3 times per week. You will thank me when you don’t have to do any cooking or dishes for most of the week. This is a big advantage! You also won’t have to think about what you’re going to eat on any day except for Sunday or whatever day you do your meal prep! Another huge bonus.

You may notice that I don’t include breakfast here. I find that most people are fine with some combination of oatmeal or yogurt with nuts and berries and/or eggs and veg, so just keep on keepin’ on with that. 

Here’s my example, I went with the Baked, Soup, Bowl method. I like to mix in some ‘Simple Meals,’ meaning ‘no prep.’ See examples below. Freeze any leftovers if you are tired of eating the same thing, and plug them into the following week.

Meal Plan Template

  Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Lunch Simple Soup Baked Baked Simple Bowl Leftovers
Dinner Soup Baked Bowl Soup Bowl Night out Simple/Night out/Freezer leftovers

Here’s my list, but of course feel free to individualize this so you are excited about your meals for the week.

Simple Meals

Any bagged salad with protein: rotisserie chicken, canned or smoked salmon, chicken sausage, marinated tofu

TJ lentil soup with chopped kale and feta

Scrambled eggs and greens with avocado


Turkey or Vegetarian chili

Beef barley soup

Beef Shirataki Noodle Soup

Lentil Soup


Spinach Artichoke Stew

Chicken Curry

And that’s it! As you come across new recipes you can add them to the list to create endless variations on your weekly meal plan with minimal effort.  

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