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Menu planning can refer to a single meal's menu for a special event; or individualized menu planning for a special diet for a nutrition counseling client; or a set of meal plans for a cafeteria or residential facility which typically repeat over a one to three week cycle to provide variety and consistency for ordering supplies and providing adequate nutrient balance over the average of the week's meals. 


Shopping list and items to have on hand such as spices and cooking or baking supplies may be provided with the menu plan. Specific recipes are generally required for residential facilities to show that dietary recommendations are being made available to the residents. Individual differences in dietary needs for residents are accommodated with modified versions of the main menu. The one to three week cycle menu is written out for several types of typically required diet modifications.

Bulk food whole-sale companies may have sets of cycle menu plans that utilize the canned and processed foods available from the company.

For more information:

  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a service for locating a nutrition counselor near you at the website (

  • 40+ Weekly Meal Planning Templates, one completed example plan and a variety of blank forms for creating your own meal and grocery shopping plans, tips and budget advantages also available, (

  • Diet and Nutrition Care Manual, provides menus for a range of special diets and other guidance which can be used for residential facilities or to provide to individualsBecky Dorner (

  • Help Clients Plan Menus for Weight Loss Success, Today's Dietitian, (

  • Menus of Change, - menus focused on sustainable food choices, Today's Dietitian, (

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

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