The Ultimate Guide to Meal Planning for Beginners


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Are you tired of trying to figure out what to eat every day? Are you constantly eating out or ordering takeout because you don’t have time to cook? Meal planning can help you save time, money, and most importantly, it can help you eat healthier. In this ultimate guide to meal planning for beginners, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get started with meal planning.

What is meal planning?

Meal planning is the process of preparing meals ahead of time by choosing recipes, creating a grocery list, and preparing ingredients. Meal planning can help you save time, reduce stress, and make healthier food choices.

Why should you meal plan?

Meal planning offers several benefits:

  • Saves time: By planning ahead, you can save time on grocery shopping, meal prep, and cooking.
  • Saves money: By planning your meals, you can buy groceries in bulk and avoid buying unnecessary items.
  • Reduces stress: Knowing what you’re going to eat each day can reduce the stress of mealtime decisions.
  • Improves nutrition: By planning your meals, you can make healthier choices and avoid unhealthy options.

How to get started with meal planning

Determine your dietary needs and preferences

Before you start meal planning, consider your dietary needs and preferences. Do you have any food allergies or intolerances? Are you following a specific diet, such as vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free? Consider these factors when choosing recipes and planning your meals.

Create a meal planning template

A meal planning template is a useful tool that can help you stay organized and on track. You can create your own template or use a pre-made one. Your template should include the days of the week, the meals for each day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), and space for your grocery list.

Choose your recipes

Choose recipes that fit your dietary needs and preferences. Look for recipes that are easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time. Aim for a variety of foods, including lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Make a grocery list

Once you’ve chosen your recipes, make a grocery list. Check your pantry and fridge to see what items you already have on hand. Group your list by category (produce, dairy, meats, etc.) to make shopping easier.

Tips for successful meal planning

Batch cook

Batch cooking is the process of preparing multiple meals at once. By cooking in batches, you can save time and have meals ready to go for the week. Choose recipes that freeze well, such as soups, stews, and casseroles.

Use leftovers

Don’t let leftovers go to waste! Incorporate them into your meal plan by using them in creative ways. For example, leftover chicken can be used in a salad, or leftover vegetables can be added to a stir-fry.

Be flexible

Meal planning doesn’t have to be rigid. Be open to making changes if needed. If you have unexpected plans or events come up, adjust your meal plan accordingly.

Meal planning tools and resources

There are several meal planning tools and resources available to help make the process easier. Here are a few to consider:

Meal planning apps

Meal planning apps, such as Mealime and Plan to Eat, can help you create meal plans, generate grocery lists, and even suggest recipes based on your dietary preferences.

Recipe websites

Recipe websites, such as Epicurious and Allrecipes, offer a wide variety of recipes to choose from. You can search for recipes based on your dietary needs and preferences, as well as save your favorites for future reference.


Cookbooks are a great resource for meal planning inspiration. Look for cookbooks that focus on healthy and easy-to-make meals, such as “The Skinnytaste Cookbook” by Gina Homolka.

Frequently asked questions

How much time does meal planning take?

Meal planning can take as little or as much time as you want it to. Once you get the hang of it, you can create a meal plan and grocery list in as little as 30 minutes.

Can meal planning save me money?

Yes, meal planning can save you money by allowing you to buy groceries in bulk and avoid buying unnecessary items.

Do I have to cook every day with meal planning?

No, you don’t have to cook every day with meal planning. You can batch cook and prepare meals ahead of time to save time during the week.

Can I meal plan if I have dietary restrictions?

Yes, you can meal plan if you have dietary restrictions. Just make sure to choose recipes that fit your needs.

Can I meal plan for weight loss?

Yes, meal planning can be an effective tool for weight loss. By planning your meals ahead of time, you can make healthier food choices and control your portions.


Meal planning is a great way to save time, money, and make healthier food choices. By following the steps outlined in this ultimate guide, you can get started with meal planning today. Remember to be flexible and open to changes, and use the tools and resources available to make the process easier. Happy meal planning!