ADHD Tip: How to Meal Plan in Minutes

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Meal planning can cause anxiety and overwhelm for many people living with ADHD. The thought of sitting down and planning three meals a day, for seven days feels like an enormous task. Instead, many people ‘wing it’ and eat whatever is around when they are hungry. While this technique might not be the most healthy or cost effective way to eat, it does remove the need for meal planning! However, if you are responsible for other people's nutritional needs besides your own you might feel guilty if you order pizza for the fifth night in a row.

There are many benefits to meal planning. The three main ones are:

Saves money 

When you meal plan, you have all the items in your kitchen to make a complete meal! This means fewer emergency trips to the grocery store and the inevitable impulse buys. You will also save money on eating out because there is nothing to eat at home.

Saves time

Thanks to meal planning, you always have the ingredients to make your meal. No more trying to make a chicken stir fry and realizing you don’t have the chicken. Even quick trips to the store are time-consuming when you factor in parking and waiting to the checkout line etc.


Preparing and cooking your own food is much healthier than eating outside your home. To make the food taste so good, restaurants add fat, salt, and sugar. In contrast, when you are cooking at home, you can eliminate or use those ingredients sparingly. You can also plan a varied diet, which is helpful to ensure you are getting all the essential nutrients.

Without meal planning, you might find yourself on default and eating the same meals again and again.

There is a great way to have the benefits of meal planning without having to repeatedly plan your meals. It’s menu rotation!  

Menu rotation is where you plan your meals for a certain period of time, for example, three weeks, then repeat those three-week menus again and again.

Your menu is planned once and then you never have to do it again!  It will revolutionize your eating and your health.​

Here is how to set up this system

1. In bullet points write all the evening meals you make regularly now. Your list might look something like this.

  • chilli, 
  • homemade pizza, 
  • chicken stir fry, 
  • slow cooked sweet and sour pork. 

2. Look for additional meals you have made in the past and enjoyed but forgot about them. Ask family members, look in your recipe books or any cooking websites. Add these to your list.

When you have seven  meals, you have your first week of evening meals!

3. Write out all the ingredients you need for those meals.

4. Now do the same for lunches. 

5. Next plan your breakfasts. You don’t need the same variety for breakfast as evening meals. Perhaps you have weekday breakfasts and weekend breakfasts

6. Over the next few weeks, build on that first week of meal planning. Add new recipes until you have 21 days of meals.

When you have 21 days your work is done! You have menus and weekly shopping lists for each week.


7. If you like to try new recipes, then allocate one evening a week where you try a new recipe. If it's really tasty it can be part of your rotation. 

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