10 Meal Planning Tips for Beginners

Health / Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

There are many reasons why you might want to try meal planning.  You might want to eat healthier meals, save money on meals, or even save time preparing meals. 

Meal planning can give you all of these benefits.  If you are just starting out, meal planning might seem overly complicated.  But rest assured it is not. 

In this blog post, learn 10 meal planning tips for beginners that will make meal planning a breeze.

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10 Meal Planning Tips for Beginners

What Is Meal Planning?

Meal planning is simply deciding in advance what you’re going to have to eat. In most cases, people plan several days’ worth of meals and snacks.

Meal planning makes shopping, cooking and preparing food a much simpler and healthier process.

Meal planning is also an important part of achieving optimal or complete nutrition.

If you don’t have a plan for what you’re going to eat, you may end up grabbing whatever is fastest and most readily available. And for most of us, this means junk food.

How to Meal Plan for Beginners

In the video below Katie Sottile shares some quick meal planning tips for those of you don’t know where to begin or who straight up hate to do it! 

Meal Planning Tips for Beginners

Here are 10 meal planning tips for anyone new to meal planning.

#1 Determine Your Shopping Frequency

Based on your schedule determine how often you will want to shop. If you can only shop once a week then you’re going to want to plan an entire week’s worth of meals.

Choose a shopping frequency that is comfortable for you.  If you are not a fan of grocery shopping, do not choose a frequency that requires you to go to the store multiple times a week. 

If you are anything like me, you will opt to grab fast food instead of going to the store.  

Meal Planning Tips for Beginners - Include Snacks in Your Meal Planning

#2 Include Snacks in Your Planning

Snacks are a part of your daily eating routine.  This means that they should be included in your meal planning.

If you do not plan your snacks, it is easy to grab something expensive or unhealthy.

#3 Plan Meals You Want to Eat

Planning meals that you actually want to eat is super important.  You can plan to have carrots and celery stick for a snack.

However, if you don’t like carrots and celery sticks, you’re not going to eat them and you’re likely to just go out for some fries.

Make sure the recipes and foods you put into your meal plan are foods that you and your family will want to eat.

Meal Planning Tips for Beginners - Try New Recipes

#4 Find Sources for Recipes

Where are you going to find your meal ideas? Take the time to identify a few great sources of nutritious recipes.

My favorite source for a variety of recipes is Pinterest.  You might also like using a meal planning cookbook.

Related Post: 50 Frugal Meals to Make When You’re Broke

#5 Create a Routine

Stay organized with your meal planning by creating a routine. Your routine should consist of planning meals, shopping, and documenting your meals on a set schedule.

For example, you might sit down and plan your meals on Thursday, take inventory of the things you need from the store on Friday, and go to the grocery store with your shopping list on Saturday.

Related Post: How to Cut Your Grocery Bill – 7 Easy Tips

If you are a visual person, you might also like using this meal planning dry erase board that attaches right to your refrigerator. 

It will give you and your family a clear menu of what you have planned for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner for the entire week.

Meal Planning Tips for Beginners - Themed Dinners

#6 Themed Dinners

When just starting out it is fun and easy to give some nights a dinner theme.  I’m sure you’ve heard of Meatless Monday or Taco Tuesday.

Choose your family’s favorite meals and make those your themed meals. 

In my house, we love homemade tacos.  So it was very easy to incorporate Taco Tuesdays into my meal planning. 

We also love Pizza, so although we don’t have a catchy name Thursdays is our pizza day.

#7 Involve the Eaters

If you’re cooking for a family, include them in on the meal planning. They are the ones that will be eating the meals right?

Ask your family for new suggestions and for their favorite meals. When people feel that they have a say in what is served, they tend to be more excited about it.

You might, for example, let each member of the family choose one meal a week. 

Related Post: Pack School Lunches Your Kids Will Actually Eat

Meal Planning Tips for Beginners - Have a Backup Plan

#8 Have a Backup Plan

My favorite express is “Life Happens”.  You might not have leftovers that you expected from last night’s dinner and now you have nothing for lunch.

It always makes sense to have some backup food. If you have a backup plan then you are always prepared.

#9 Pre-Cook Meals

If your weekdays have a tendency to get really busy consider adding a few pre-cooked meals to your meal plan.

These should be healthy recipes that you can prepare on the weekend, freeze, and thaw and heat for dinner.

Casseroles and crockpot recipes are perfect options for pre-cooked meals.

You can put everything together in the morning and come home to dinner.

Meal Planning Tips for Beginners - Add Variety

#10 Add Variety

As I mentioned earlier themed dinners are great.  However, don’t allow yourself to get into a meal planning rut.

Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, noodles on Wednesday and so on.

While themed dinners provide a framework to make planning easier, don’t allow them to completely limit your choices. Add variety into your meal planning by including one new recipe each week.

This will get you and your family excited about your food.

Related Post: Healthy Foods that Start with T

Establish Meal Planning Habits

Meal planning can take some getting used to. It requires you to create a few new lifestyle habits.

However, once you’ve integrated these habits into your routine, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without them.

It’s a great way to make sure that each meal is nutritious and delicious.

Leave a comment and share you meal planning tips.

10 Meal Planning Tips for Beginners

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18 Replies to “10 Meal Planning Tips for Beginners”

  1. I have always had an interest in meal-planning and taking pre-cooked meals with me to work just to make life a bit easier in the morning but the main problem is that I absolutely hate cooking. I should just get over that and get a move on with it!

    Thanks for sharing! x


  2. I think the routine is the most important tip you provided. Having that routine can really set the tone for the week. When I was meal planning that’s what I struggled with the most. From grocery shopping to actually making and dividing the meals up. These are all so helpful!

  3. this is indeed is a great help! When cooking for myself I always search for varieties. And I always plan my meals a day ahead. That way, i don not have to search for ingredients at the last moment.

  4. Great post and helpful. No doubt these tips are good for saving money, saving time and organize your daily life. I really like the idea of theme dinner, it’s interesting. Shopping frequency is also a big factor.

  5. Tip#7 is a big deal involving the eaters. Kids show tantrums if you are not making their favorite food so keeping that in mind is really important to make a successful meal plan. I don’t like to go to grocery shop too often so mostly I make a list and make food accordingly. The video is helpful to start!!!

  6. I wish I was better at this but I guess with it just being my husband and myself it is not as big of deal. We just buy what we want to eat for the week no planning, random though it in the cart so cooking like an episode of chopped, LOL.

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