Choose the Best Meal Planning Tool for Your Private Practice
November 10, 2023
Jay Harrison, the CEO at Edison Health, describes manual meal planning as “a hideous and laborious exercise.”
He’s not wrong: it can be. This may ring especially true if you’re creating meal plans manually. It can take hours of painstaking work to produce an end product that some clients will abandon too soon. Or will they?
When a client asks for a meal plan what they’re really seeking is a solution for eating better to support their health goals. Helping them succeed requires meeting them where they are – which means a cookie-cutter approach won’t work.
Effective meal planning considers many factors, including a person’s likes and dislikes, how much time they have to shop for and prepare meals, who else they’re cooking for, ingredient availability where they live, and even cultural practices.
If you’re doing all this personalizing manually, then your instincts are spot-on: it is a lot of work. But it doesn’t have to be. Using a meal planning software tool significantly lightens your workload. The trick is finding the right tool for your practice.
In this article we’ll outline the different types of meal planning tools available and give you ideas for evaluating the different options out there.
There’s no disputing the evidence that meal planning is a viable strategy to support healthy eating habits. Regarding the general public, it’s no surprise that time is a major barrier to meal planning. No wonder clients count on your expertise to create meal plans they will stay motivated to follow.
Your time is a precious commodity, too. Having the right meal planning tool can supercharge your meal planning efficiency:
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to meal planning software. Choosing the best meal planner app or tool for your private practice will come down to personal factors including your goals, client base, area of specialization, and budget.
Next up we’ll explore the pros and cons of different meal planning tools available to help you make the best-informed decision.
When you’re researching tools to help with meal planning you’re likely to come across different terms, including top meal planning apps, effective meal planning software, and even best nutrition coaching apps.
On the face these tools may appear similar, but when you look under the hood you’ll see that many offer very different features and functionality. Understanding the similarities and differences will help you choose the meal planning tool that works most effectively for your business model.
Meal planning software is just what it sounds like: a tool that greatly simplifies the process of creating comprehensive meal plans and recipe collections customized to your clients’ needs.
Target users: Dietitians, nutritionists, and health coaches.
Combining robust meal planning functionality with practice management technology is an awesome way to save time and streamline the number of tools you need to run your business. Nutritionist Ashley Sauvé experienced the benefits firsthand by using the power duo of That Clean Life and Practice Better. Take a peek at her streamlined workflows.
Nutrition tracking apps are primarily focused on helping individuals track their nutritional intake and exercise, usually on a mobile device. These apps don’t typically have an interface for practitioners or functionality to support meal plans.
Target users: Individuals who want to keep a record of what they’re eating and how they’re moving.
Wellness pros don’t typically use these apps in private practice. They are similar to the nutrition tracking apps described above, but are more suited to individuals with specific macronutrients goals. For example, people who adhere to specific diets, like low-carb or keto, would be more inclined to use a macro and calorie calculator.
Target users: Individuals with specific macronutrient goals
Food diary and journal apps aren’t intended for meal planning. Rather, they provide a tool for making associations between the food people eat and how they feel, including mood, sleep, pain, energy, and more.
For example, the Practice Better Food and Mood Journal helps clients increase their awareness, engagement, and motivation while also providing practitioners with deeper insights into a client’s nutrient intake and mood in relation to what they’re eating.
Target users: Individuals who want to increase accountability and self-awareness around their eating habits. Wellness pros can offer these apps to clients to enhance their nutrition coaching
Dietitian and nutritionist software is more robust than the other tools profiled here. Typically these solutions offer full practice management capabilities that streamline workflows and lighten the administrative load of running a private practice. Many also offer integrated, robust nutrition and meal planning functionality.
Target users: Health and wellness pros, including dietitians, nutritionists, health coaches, and other nutrition experts.
Creating custom meal plans manually easily wastes hours that you could spend on higher-value activities. Technology makes all the difference When it comes to making meal plans for clients.
|The manual way||The tech-enabled way|
|Use the first appointment to directly assess a client’s unique eating habits, lifestyle, and dietary needs.||Access a large database of tested, high-quality recipes with photographs that up the enticement factor for clients.|
Search and filters help you find the right recipes to build a balanced meal plan.
|Spend hours scouring through your folder of recipes and the internet looking for recipes that fit your client’s needs.||Tap into a library of templates that provide ready-to-go, tested meal plans you can use as-is or as a jumping-off point for further customization.|
|Start from scratch each time you work with a new client.||Trust the tech to auto-adjust nutrition information in real-time as you make changes to the recipes.|
|Calculate and recalculate nutrition information as you edit recipes to accommodate client needs.||Auto-generate meal plans in seconds based on calories, macros, and diet type, with prep guides and grocery lists attached.|
|Create meal plans and grocery lists by hand.||Send a Word doc or .pdf of your meal plan to the client.|
|Create a Word doc or .pdf of your meal plan and send it to the client.||Send clients their custom meal plans through a secure link, with the flexibility to swap recipes on their own.|
You’re already investing time and money into creating individualized meal plans for clients. Why not think beyond 1:1 client counseling and consider how to sell meal plans online?
As a basis, you’ll need a reliable platform to launch and host your programs and a marketing plan to raise awareness. Here are a few more ideas to get you started on expanding the reach of your expertise and generating more income:
You organically grow your owned email list by requiring an email address to access the free meal plan. It’s much easier to nurture and convert folks on future offers when they have opted in to hear from you by email and see you in their inbox regularly.
When it comes to how to sell meal plans online, there are lots of avenues to explore. Get more ideas on how to choose and create programs for your practice.
Your technology needs are as unique as your business. This means the best nutrition software for dietitians won’t necessarily work for a personal trainer who dabbles in dietary counseling.
Whether you’re researching the best nutrition software for dietitians, best nutrition coaching apps, or some other term in between, some basic questions will help you find the right nutrition software to grow your business:
The ability to upload your own tried-and-tested recipes to the solution also saves a lot of time. Bonus points if it automatically generates a grocery list to go with your recipe.
For example, if you are coaching individuals on nutrition to manage perimenopause symptoms, your meal plans will likely focus on repeatable advice, like adopting a Mediterranean diet and accommodating intermittent fasting.
On the other hand, if you’re working with renal patients who need to carefully manage their kidney disease, your meal plans may require more complex customizations.
We all have an inner skeptic. Yours may be wondering how much time meal planning software actually saves nutrition professionals. Here are a few real-life stories to inspire you:
Jessica Mantell, Registered Dietitian and founder of NextGeneration Nutrition, used to spend up to 10 hours searching for recipes and putting together a single meal plan from scratch. After implementing That Clean Life she reduced time spent on meal plans to a maximum of 30 minutes per client. See how she does it.
Dietitian, Kayley George, and her team provide interactive custom meal plans for clients based on each individual’s budget, kitchen appliances, time, calories, and more. Kayley and team regularly use analytics to check how often clients view and use their plans and follow up accordingly. This enhanced level of support prompts clients to stay in the 6-8 month program longer. Clients love the experience so much they often come back for more support in the future.
Dietitians and other wellness professionals are passionate about bringing their nutrition guidance to life for clients. Most are less enthusiastic about the time investment required to build meal plans for clients using traditional tools.
A meal planning app is a powerful tool you can use in your private practice to drastically cut the time you spend meal planning without compromising on the quality of your client experience. After all, the way to drive high compliance with your plans is to give clients a plan to make sure the food they enjoy each day makes a difference to their long-term health.
The best way to answer the question, “What is the best meal planning app?” is by doing your homework to compare different solutions. This upfront research will pay off in the long run by ensuring you choose a technology that meets the holistic needs of your practice.
If you’re interested in exploring the power of an all-in-one platform that combines the power of meal planning with a full suite of practice management functionality you’ll be interested to know about the upcoming That Clean Life + Practice Better integration.
A: Meal planning tools help you efficiently provide customized dietary guidance to your clients. They streamline the meal planning process, making it easier to create personalized nutrition plans, leading to better client outcomes and overall success in your practice.
A: Meal planning apps are typically more user-friendly and accessible on mobile devices, while meal planning software offers more extensive features and may be designed for desktop or laptop computers. The choice between the two depends on your specific needs and preferences.
A: Yes, meal planning tools allow you to generate custom meal plans tailored to your clients’ unique dietary requirements, preferences, and goals. This personalization is a key feature of many meal-planning apps and software.
A: To sell meal plans online successfully, you should develop a clear marketing strategy, create a professional online presence, and establish a secure and user-friendly platform for clients to purchase your services. The blog discusses various strategies for selling meal plans online.
A: You should evaluate factors such as the tool’s ease of use, customization options, compatibility with your workflow, pricing, and client support. The blog provides detailed guidance on selecting the most suitable tool for your practice.
A: Many meal planning tools offer the ability to create meal plans based on specific macronutrient goals. You can input your clients’ macro targets and use the software to precisely generate meal plans that meet their dietary needs.
A: The blog includes case studies highlighting how nutrition professionals have effectively integrated meal planning tools into their practices. These examples offer practical insights into the benefits and outcomes of using such tools.
A: To stay informed, regularly visit the official websites of the meal planning tools you use, follow their social media accounts, and subscribe to newsletters and blogs related to nutrition and dietetics. Networking with peers can also be a valuable source of information.
A: Data security is crucial when handling client information. Ensure that the tool you choose complies with privacy regulations, has robust encryption, and provides data backup and recovery options. The blog emphasizes the importance of safeguarding sensitive information.
A: To determine the best meal planning software for your practice, carefully assess your specific needs, budget, and goals. The blog offers guidance on evaluating these factors and selecting the tool that aligns most closely with your requirements.
Practice Better is the complete practice management platform for nutritionists, dietitians, and wellness professionals. Streamline your practice and begin your 14-day free trial today.
Published November 22, 2023
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