Meal Planning and ADHD

So, I’m not very good when it comes to planning ahead. I usually forget about eating until I’m too hungry to make good choices, or I just impulsively want to eat something that sounds good. I’m not very good about going to the grocery store or planning ahead. This ultimately ends up in not so great food choices and also a large amount of money spent eating out.

Does anyone have tips for meal planning that they’ve used? Are there any apps or other programs that have helped you? Are there any “go to” meals that you eat on a regular basis?

When I have been better about meal planning in the past I relied heavily on frozen meals or things that were easy to cook in a matter of minutes. Highly involved meals aren’t really my thing unless it’s a special occasion.

Any tips or tricks would be greatly appreciated. Thanks everyone!


I’m also pretty poor planning for food and eating at random times.

You must know what you like to eat, how about getting a list together and then breaking it down to ingredients so you have it all listed on your phone or in a notebook when you need to go shopping. I guess it would still need some planning to get food in advance and avoid impulsive hungry food shopping.

I do batch cooking when making some meals, you can make a better quality meal for a lot less money instead of buying prepared meals. fill a big pan, like cooking for 6 people, eat 2 days fresh and put 4 meals in the freezer in separate portions. It keeps the preparation and cooking time and labour down to a minimum. Say I’m making a basic sauce, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, beans etc. You can add extras and different flavours to the basic sauce when you re-heat.


I used to hate cooking but Many years ago I injured my back and in my recovery I started cooking meals from scratch, as it was one of the few physical things I could do at that time, I discovered that the more effort I put into cooking the more I enjoyed it, I put my headphones on and hyper focus on the cooking, finding new recipes and creating my own helps to keep it interesting and with that i also found that meal planning was more interesting and easier to do as well.


I like cooking and am usually pretty good at having ingredients in the house, but sometimes things are still frozen shortly before I want to eat. Here are some things that help me (even if others have mentioned similar things).

  1. For those times when I want to eat in just a few minutes, but my planned meal still needs to defrost, I always keep a few quick meals stocked. Pasta, grilled cheese, pancakes, eggs, frozen entrees. I haven’t fallen back on breakfast cereal in a long time.
  2. Cooking for others helps motivate me. Pasta 4 nights a week and cereal 3 would be much more common if I were the only one in the house. I’m not advocating anyone get married or have kids only for this reason.
  3. I am awful at coming up with ideas on the fly, or remembering which recipe book or web site I found something on. So I make copies of recipes I like and store them in one or two places. I generally copy them into a single “Recipes” google doc. I also print them and keep them in a 3-ring binder. The printed copy lets me take it out and put it on the counter while preparing it. My laptop really doesn’t like being splattered if I put it on the counter while preparing food. And with paper, there is no screensaver that always kicks in when my hands are dirty.
  4. It might sound counter-intuitive because it is slow, but I like sous vide cooking, as it allows a much bigger margin of error regarding timing. After a given amount of time, I know the food is safe to eat. And 60 versus 90 minutes cooking isn’t going to be the difference between raw and charcoal.
  5. As someone who likes camping, I tend to gravitate towards one pot or dutch oven meals. They are often simpler and if I like them, I can make them away from civilization as well.
  6. Cook during stay-at-home in a pandemic. When we are only supposed to shop every week or two, it almost forces me to plan meals better.
  7. Find things you like to eat and cook those. I’ve mentioned some of the things I like, but you are much more likely to cook things you are interested in eating.
    Good luck and enjoy!

I dont know if you struggle with perfectionism like I do but sometimes I get really concerned with going by the book and preparing a ‘meal’ when it would be fine to just throw some ingredients together that taste the same as said meal.

e.g instead of cutting up vegetables for a salad, just throw some tomatoes, lettuce, whatever else in a bowl and eat it as is! Or if you’re working from home, a ploughman’s lunch. This works with meals that can go over several days like roasts, you just keep the ingredients in the fridge and you can turn them into whatever you fancy.

In short, if you think of eating more in terms of ingredients (carb + protein + fat) than meals it may give you more flexibility and therefore healthier choices :slight_smile:

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Think about what’s easy to make, and how often you’ll eat it. Maybe write a list of what meals you have in the house and pin it on the fridge?
I try and have some flexibility so that I still eat if whatever I planned doesn’t sound particularly appealing at the time ( ie. I can heat up some rice and chicken, or rice and curry, or rice and a fried egg… rice is super useful!! )

Another tip is to buy groceries that you’ll use in a variety of things. If you buy pasta, can you make it several different ways? Will you put tomatoes in your sandwich? Your salad? Your snack?
Potatoes is a great example of this. Mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes as a side, microwave loaded potatoes, etc. ( whole chicken is also a good example bc you can roast it whole, and there’s lots of leftovers for various meals. Plus, the bones make an easy stock! )


  • meat and cheese sandwich. Lots of options and very filling.
  • no-chop salads ( like @Assynj described ). I generally add spinach, nuts, tomatoes, any berries on hand, and some shredded cheese.
  • curry w/ rice ( we make curry at home, and it reheats really well. I’ve been told chili is the same way )
  • I also add a side to whatever I’m eating so it’s more filling. Right now it’s: baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, apples, or yogurt.

Meal/snack suggestions:

  • yogurt w/ fruit + nuts
  • mashed potatoes and veggies
  • apples and peanut butter
  • leftover chicken and cheese sandwich
  • granola bars
  • roast beef sandwich w/ tomatoes and cheese
  • pizza bread ( bread w/ tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings toasted )
  • pretzels and string cheese
  • hummus and chips

I would also disregard the idea of certain foods being for certain meals… if you eat it at lunch time, it’s a lunch food, and so forth…

Hope this is helpful and good luck w/ your meal planning :grin: