Meal Planning

By Courtney Tabor-... on Oct 12, 2016

When the time comes for us to live on our own, we begin to appreciate the times when food was prepared for us by our parents, our school cafeteria staff, etc.  We are faced with the reality that food is not free, and that it doesn’t prepare itself. Suddenly, the school lunches we complained about as kids seem a little more appealing.

For students transitioning from school to adult life, the skill of meal planning and budgeting becomes essential. For students with vision impairments, these skills may be particularly challenging. Many students who are blind or visually impaired are unaware of how food is prepared and may not be accustomed to participating in the meal planning in their family. Furthermore, students may have no idea how much various grocery items cost, simply because they do not see signs and price tags at the grocery store. This activity is designed to help students consider how to plan a meal, the ingredients needed for this meal, and the cost of these ingredients. This activity also addresses compensatory skills and assistive technology skills. Please note that this activity is fairly complex and contains several steps. The activity in full is most suited to students with strong conceptual and assistive technology skills, but instructors are encouraged to use pieces of the activity or to adapt it for students based on their abilities and needs.


  • Note taking device (pen/paper, laptop, braille notetaker, voice recorder)
  • Computer or other accessible device with Internet access
  • Access to a website where customers can do online grocery shopping (e.g. Pea Pod, Hannaford to Go)


  1. Ask student to develop a meal plan for a day, including a breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Meals can be simple but should be healthy and well-balanced. Student should record the meal plan using a note taking device, in a format that s/he can easily access later.
  2. Review the meal plan with the student, making adjustments together as needed to make for a balanced meal. This is a good opportunity to talk about what constitutes a nutritious meal.
  3. Based on the student’s meal plan, the student should develop a grocery list to purchase the items needed for the day’s meals.
  4. Ask the student to estimate the cost of these groceries.
  5. Using the online grocery website, students should research the cost of each item on their grocery list, note the prices of each item, and determine the total cost of the grocery bill. How does it compare with their estimate?


  • For a more extensive lesson plan that involves community travel, the student can bring the grocery list to an actual grocery store. This is an opportunity to learn about finding items, comparing brands and costs, and developing a conceptual understanding of grocery store setup and food packaging/presentation.
  • To practice a similar activity at school, students can learn about the prices of various items at their school store.
  • For students with complex needs, instructors and families can work with students on food choice to help a student begin to understand the process of building a filling and healthy meal (i.e. would you like oatmeal or eggs for breakfast? would you like an apple or an orange to go with your sandwich?)

Collage of meal planning

Read more about: Transition

Total Life Learning by Wendy Bridgeo,‎ Beth Caruso,‎ & Mary Zatta

Cover of Total Life Learning

The Total Life Learning curriculum was developed for students ages 3 to 22 who are blind, visually impaired including those students who have additional disabilities or are deafblind. The focus is on the development of life and career goals that enable student to maximize independence, self-determination, employability, and participation in the community.