The Pure Plate: A Creative Guide to Dinner Planning

September 10th, 2012 at 2:02 pm

It’s 6 o’clock, you just walked through the door, and your family gapes hungrily at you as you rummage through the fridge trying to scrounge up something to throw on the table. Your own stomach growls impatiently as you mutter a curse under your breath when you realize you forgot to thaw the chicken…again. Whooped from a long day, you manage to throw together a fast but nutritionally wimpy pasta dinner and call it a day.

Sound familiar? As much as I hope it doesn’t, it’s the picture of an all-too-common weeknight in the life of the average busy mom or wife…or anyone with a full schedule, really. How do we balance the ins and outs of our daily lives without compromising our wellness values and grabbing takeout every other night?

Welcome to the first post in a four part series where we’re going to talk all about one of my favorite topics: meal planning.

Don’t worry. I promise this will be as painless as possible. (Even if you’re not that super organized person with color-coded calendars and an orderly underwear drawer.) Meal planning may seem old-fashioned and time consuming, but I promise you that if you get in the habit of planning dinners regularly, you’ll find yourself saving time, money, and your sanity in the long run.

Let’s outline what we’ll talk about each week:

  • Today, Week One: An introduction to what I call “The Pure Plate” method of planning. It’s a little different than what you might have seen out there in terms of meal plan guides, so I hope you’ll find it useful.
  • Week Two: A guide to The Entree Salad
  • Week Three: A guide to The One Dish Wonder and The Rib-sticking Soup or Stew
  • Week Four: A guide to The Square Meal and The Odd Ball

Each week of The Pure Plate series will feature *FREE* printable PDF documents outlining the different meal structures we’re going to cover. Exciting, I know!

Today I wanted to give you an overview of the five basic dinner structures I use in my own life as a template for creating healthy meal plans. They are:

  • The One Dish Wonder: a skillet or one-pot meal good for busy weeknights or when you’re tired and don’t feel like cooking
  • The Entree Salad: a big meal-worthy salad good for lunches, busy weeknights, potlucks, and spring/summer
  • The Rib-sticking Soup or Stew: a hearty soup/stew good for fall and winter nights or when you’re entertaining a crowd and want an affordable meal
  • The Square Meal: a protein/veg/carb model that’s good for kids who like their food groups separated or families with multiple food allergies
  • The Odd Ball: a “clean out the fridge” style meal that’s good for when you’re running low on food and need to use up what you’ve got

So how do you use these meal structures and implement them into your daily life? That’s where this week’s *FREE* printable comes in!

Download THE PURE PLATE OVERVIEW which includes an outline of the five basic meal structures, how to use them, my personal tips and tricks, and—coolest of all—daily meal plan sheets to get you started with the planning process.

The meal planning sheets, pictured above, are half-sheets designed to make using The Pure Plate system a little simpler and more streamlined. They’re easy to tuck inside your purse or tack onto the fridge so that you can keep them handy at all times.

Download the document and get started with The Pure Plate plan right now! If anything, it’s a great jumping off point if you’re new to meal planning and gives a fresh perspective on how to go about coming up with dinners night after night.

Over the next four weeks, we’ll dive into each structure separately so you can see just how much variation exists within these five plans. If you have questions, comments, or meal ideas of your own, please share! I hope to make this series a forum of great inspiration for all of us.



  1. What a brilliant idea Hallie! I love the organization method, and who can pass up cute, fun printables. The theme is catchy, too.

  2. What a great read. I will be tweeting and sharing this with my readers!

  3. Great idea Hallie! I’m sure this will help lots of busy people! I’m excited.

  4. Hallie, what a totally cool idea! I am loving this. Cannot wait to see the rest of the series now! :D

  5. I like it already! Can’t wait to see the next installment!

  6. I’m already loving this unique mindset for meal planning! Can’t wait for more!

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The Pure Kitchen Books

In Hallie’s cookbooks you’ll find gluten-free, dairy-free recipes made with whole, natural foods.

The Pure Kitchen: Amazon | Hallie's eStore

Super Healthy Cookies: Amazon | Hallie's e-store

Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free: A Whole Food Starter Guide and Cookbook

About me

I'm Hallie Klecker, a professional recipe developer, author, and passionate gluten-free foodie. As a certified holistic nutrition educator, my goal is to inspire others to live a balanced, nourished life through eating well and living pure—one bite at a time. Learn more.