How To Plan menus for personal chef clients

October 24, 2014

Personal Chef, food, culinary, White Apron

For every personal chef client, it is the same process.  And the same process applies to you when you plan your own meals.

I know my personal chef clients food blueprint because I make each one fill out an extensive food questionnaire.

One family is into chicken, tofu, beans, lots of rice and Asian dishes, while another may be paleo… only beef, pork, chicken, no fish, and vegetables.

We all have our own food blueprint, and the first step in meal planning is filling out yours.

You have to have a clear picture of what you eat to be able to plan healthy menus that have variety.

I’ll show you what my blueprint looks like and what my process is for planning.

We need to get mega specific.

I like breasts + chicken thighs, shrimp, mussels, clams, salmon, tilapia, cod, mahi-mahi, sole, ground beef, flat-iron steak, chuck roast, ground pork, and pork shoulder.  Black, pinto, or white beans, lentils, and tofu.  I prefer sushi rice to most grains.

But I will eat quinoa, farro, basmati, and jasmine rice.  Rice noodles are my fave.  I like udon, buckwheat, somen, and ramen noodles though I eat them sparingly.

I like broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, kale, all peppers, cremini, shitake, portabello mushrooms, red, green, and napa cabbage, arugula, romaine, spinach, sweet potato, brussels sprouts, squash.

This is the 4 step process I use to plan menus.

Step 1. Pick a protein for each day you want to cook

Step 2. Pick a starch for each day – Often starch + veggie can be combined to make a side salad, as in a quinoa or farro salad or a rice pilaf.  I also often leave out the starch entirely and do a salad or mixed veggies instead.

Step 3. Pick a veggie for each day – Think seasonally, don’t use tomatoes for a tomato salad in winter

Step 4. Pick a type of dish – Stir-fry, curry, chili, burgers, a marinaded piece of fish, meat, or tofu, etc.

I’ll give you an example for 3 days:


Protein: Salmon

Starch: Sushi Rice

Vegetable: Broccoli, roasted

Seasoning/type of dish: Lemon Chile Marinade (this is literally just lemon zest, cayenne and squeeze of juice.  EASY.)


Protein: Black Beans

Starch: Sweet Potatoes

Veg: Spinach

Seasoning/type of dish: Chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, onion/garlic turned into a chili – great to freeze + for leftovers, or to use in tacos


Protein: Chicken or tofu

Starch: Udon Noodles

Veg: Boy Choy + Red Pepper (or kale + mushroom.  or broccoli + carrots)

Type of dish/Seasoning: Noodle Stir-fry, soy sauce/mirin/siracha, ginger/garlic – you could use any noodle in this dish, or even rice, farro, or quinoa

So this week’s menu looks like this:

Lemon Chile Salmon with Sushi Rice and Roasted Lemon Broccoli

Cinnamon Scented Black Bean, Sweet Potato + Spinach Chili

Udon Noodle Stir-Fry with Bok Choy + Red Pepper with Chicken or Tofu

So you first think about the protein, starch, and veggie you want.  Then what kind of dish you would like.

Stew, stir-fry, curry, burger, taco, enchiladas, soup?

And from there, you can find recipes/seasoning that are in line with the flavors you eat.

This is the process I use for all my clients.

This is how I break it down so that the world of recipes doesn’t feel so overwhelming.

Make sense?  I will help you make more sense of it if you follow along with me.  This is a process of learning to break down food at its basic elements.  And you can learn it too.

Stick with me and I will show you how.





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