How to Meal Plan: 5 Easy Steps for Quick & Easy Meal Planning

how to meal plan

Meal planning may help you perform tasks more quickly, more easily, and more affordably whether you're feeding a small group of people, your entire family, or yourself.

Have you ever known that you would prefer to dine at home rather than spend money dining out, but you are too exhausted and worn out at the end of the day to cook? If so, meal planning is a skill that can help relieve some of the worry and strain associated with feeding your family and yourself.

The basic concept of meal planning is to schedule your meals in advance, sometimes even including preparation. It's a terrific way to accomplish nutrition goals, cut costs on groceries, and more—in addition to relieving the stress of rushing to decide what's for dinner.

Here are some of our best meal-planning tools and advice, along with a detailed meal-planning routine, money-saving ideas, and family meal-planning guidelines.

How to meal plan for beginners

Meal planning has several benefits, not the least of which is the likelihood that you have done it before even if you don't believe you have. Ultimately, "meal planning" simply refers to organising your meals, be it dinner for that night or lunch for the upcoming workweek.

However, there is a distinction between occasionally organising a dinner and making meal planning a regular part of your schedule. Thus, if you're prepared to meal plan regularly, this is a detailed how-to instruction for you.

#1. Figure out a plan

Consider the benefits you hope to achieve from meal planning before you start your first one. Do you want to cut costs on groceries or do you want to put more nutrient-dense food on your plate? Meal planning is considerably simpler when you have a goal in mind.

#2. Note what you have

Once you have a clearer notion of what you want to plan for dinner, think about creating recipes with things you currently have in your kitchen. If you want to start cooking with less, frozen foods, leftovers, and cupboard staples are wonderful places to start.

#3. Pick a few recipes

The next step is to select your recipes after you've decided which meals to include in your schedule and for how many days. You can play around with recipes if your plan is only for a few days or meals, but for longer meal plans, try to keep things simple.

#4. Make a grocery list

Having all of your recipes prepared in advance, you can further optimise your time-saving efforts by organising your grocery list. Additionally, don't forget to tick down any ingredients you already have in your house when you make your shopping list.

#5. Shop, prep, and store

Meal prep is merely another approach to help you reach your objectives, and meal preparation can involve both planning and preparing your meals. All you need to do is prepare your meal and freeze it for later once you've shopped for every item on your list.

These are the fundamental five phases of meal planning. But what about meal planning on a tight budget or for a big family? Below are some of our family- and budget-friendly meal plan suggestions.

Tips for meal planning on a budget

Because meal planning lowers grocery expenses and food waste, it's a terrific method to save money. Here are some suggestions to help you save even more money if cutting your grocery expenditures is your ultimate objective.
  • Pick a weekly budget that works for you: A $50 weekly budget might be plenty for a single person's diet plan, but it's probably insufficient for a family of three. Planning meals is considerably simpler when you have a budget that you can stick to.
  • Plan recipes around sales and seasonal ingredients: Using seasonal and on-sale ingredients is a terrific approach to putting together a meal plan that fits your budget. To get you started, consider this USDA list of seasonal produce.
  • Give plant-based recipes a try: If you consume meat, you are undoubtedly well aware of the high cost of several varieties and cuts. Lowering food expenses can be achieved by cooking with plant-based protein sources (such as tofu and beans) a few times a week.

Tips for meal planning for a family

Having the whole family support a meal plan makes it even more beneficial for parents. Thus, the following advice should help your family find meal planning exciting:
  • Make a weekly or monthly calendar in advance and get everyone to contribute their best dish suggestions.
  • Choose recipe themes, such as Leftover Friday or Taco Tuesday, to ensure consistency in your meal preparation and to give everyone something to look forward to.
  • Pick dishes that are simple to alter, like quesadillas or a baked potato bar, so that people may eat anything they want without having to prepare separate meals.
  • Ask for assistance with chores like recipe planning, grocery shopping, and cooking to involve the whole family in the meal preparation process.


Meal planning can assist you in achieving your aim of saving time and energy when determining what to cook and eat each day. You may have your meals planned and ready to go for the day, week, or even month with just a little time and work, even if you've never meal planned before.


What is basic meal planning?

The process of planning meals ahead of time based on your preferences, schedule, available foods, seasonal vegetables, sale of goods, etc.

Can I meal prep for 5 days?

It depends

Can I meal prep rice?

Rice and grain bowls make great meal preps

Can I cook rice for the week?

Your rice should last at least 4 days and up to a week.

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