How to Meal Plan: 23 Helpful Tips

Meal Plans

Having the ability to plan and prepare meals is an excellent skill to have in your personal tool kit for health and fitness.

A well-thought-out meal plan can assist you in improving the overall quality of your diet or in achieving a particular health objective while simultaneously saving you time and money in the process.

The following are 23 easy suggestions for establishing a habit of efficient meal planning.

  1. Start small

It is possible that you will find the process intimidating, particularly if you have never made a meal plan before or if you have had a significant break from the practice.

Creating a habit of meal planning is comparable to making any other kind of improvement in your life, and the same principles apply. Beginning your new routine with baby steps and steadily working up to full participation is an excellent strategy for ensuring its long-term viability.

Start by deciding what you’re going to eat for a couple of meals and snacks during the next week. You will eventually figure out which planning tactics work best for you, and then you will be able to gradually build upon your plan by including additional meals when you see them be appropriate.

  1. Take into account each of the food groups.

It is vital to make sure that each food category is represented in your plan, regardless of whether you are cooking meals for a week, a month, or just a few days.

The diet that is best for you is one that places an emphasis on entire foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, high-quality protein, and healthy fats while minimizing consumption of sources of refined grains, added sugars, and excess salt.

Think about each of these food groups as you look through your favorite recipes and organize them in order of preference. In the event that any of them are absent, you should make it a priority to fill in the blanks.

  1. Become more organized.

A well-organized meal plan is one of the most important components of a successful diet.

Because you will be aware of exactly what you have on hand as well as the location of your tools and supplies, creating a menu, going grocery shopping, and preparing meals will be much simpler for you if your kitchen, pantry, and refrigerator are well organized.

There is no one technique that is superior to another when it comes to organizing the areas in which you prepare meals. Just make sure that it is a method that is effective for you.

  1. Make an investment in high-quality container for storage

One of the most important tools for meal preparation are containers for putting food in.

The procedure of preparing meals can be very aggravating if you are currently using a cabinet that is stuffed with containers that do not match each other and/or are missing their lids. Purchasing containers of a good quality is an investment that will be well worth both your time and money.

Think about what you plan to store in each container before you go shopping for them. Be sure to choose containers that are appropriate for the activities you intend to perform with them, such as freezing, microwaving, or washing them in a dishwasher.

Glass jars can be safely heated in the microwave while still being kind to the environment. They are widely available in a variety of retail locations as well as online.

It is also helpful to have a selection of sizes available for the many different kinds of foods.

  1. Ensure that your pantry is always fully supplied.

Keeping a basic supply of pantry basics stocked at all times is an excellent method to streamline the process of meal preparation and make menu creation easier.

Keep these things in your cupboard if you’re looking for options that are both healthful and versatile:

  • Whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa

Grains such as quinoa, oats, bulgur, polenta, and whole-wheat pasta

  • Lentils, either in a jar or dried out

Lentils, pinto beans, black beans, and garbanzo beans to name a few.

  • Low-sodium options for canned products

The ingredients include broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, artichokes, olives, maize, and fruit (no extra ingredients).

sugar), tuna, salmon, chicken

  • Oils: olive, avocado,


  • Ingredients indispensable to baking, including baking powder, baking soda, flour, and cornstarch
  • Other: almond butter and almond flour

Potatoes, peanut butter, a variety of nuts and fruits dried out

You will only need to worry about picking up perishable things during your weekly grocery run if you maintain some of these fundamental necessities in stock at all times. This can be helpful in reducing stress and improving the effectiveness of your attempts to prepare meals.

  1. Always have a wide selection of spices on hand.

The use of various herbs and spices may transform an average dinner into a delectable one. Herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to food. A meal plan that is always going to include mouthwatering foods is probably going to be enough to convince the vast majority of individuals to maintain the habit of meal planning.

Herbs and spices are filled with plant chemicals that give a number of health benefits, such as reduced cellular damage and inflammation. In addition to being fantastic flavor enhancers, herbs and spices are an excellent source of these plant compounds.

If you don’t already have a good supply of dried herbs and spices, all you need to do is buy two to three jars of your favorite ones whenever you go grocery shopping, and you’ll have a nice collection put together in no time.

  1. Start by stocking your kitchen cupboards.

Take an inventory of what you already have on hand before you sit down to construct your meal plan. This will save you time.

Examine all of the areas in which you store food, such as the pantry, the freezer, and the refrigerator, and make a list of any specific goods that you wish to use up or that you are required to use up.

When you do this, it makes it easier for you to use up the food you already have, it cuts down on the amount of waste you produce, and it keeps you from buying the same things over and over again when it’s not necessary.

  1. Be sure to always schedule time for it.

Setting it as a top priority is the most effective strategy to incorporate a pattern of meal planning into your way of life. Setting aside a consistent portion of time each week or month that is exclusively devoted to planning can be beneficial.

The process of developing a weekly food plan can take as little as ten to fifteen minutes for some people. You might need a few more hours if part of your strategy involves preparing some food items in advance or pre-portioning meals and snacks before you leave the house.

Making the time and remaining consistent are two of the most important factors in determining whether or not a particular tactic will be successful.

  1. Assign a specific location for the archiving and storage of recipes

You can spare yourself the needless aggravation of trying to recall recipes by storing them in a specific area, from where they can be accessed without difficulty at any time.

This could be in the shape of a digital file on your computer, tablet, or mobile phone, or it could be in a physical spot within your home.

Having a specific location in which to store your recipes can help you save time and alleviate some of the stress that may be connected with meal preparation.

  1. Ask for help

It can be tough to always feel motivated to construct a brand-new meal for each week, but thankfully, you don’t have to do it all by yourself if you don’t want to.

Do not be hesitant to seek other members of your family for their feedback if you are the one who is responsible for the planning and preparation of meals for a full household.

If you’re only going to be cooking for yourself most of the time, you can get ideas from your friends by asking them what they’re doing in the kitchen or from internet resources like social media or food blogs.

  1. Keep a log of the meals that you enjoy the most.

It can be really upsetting to find that you have forgotten a dish that you or a member of your family truly liked.

Or, what’s even worse, forgetting how much you loathed a recipe and then having to prepare it again, forcing you to go through the ordeal all over again.

You may steer clear of these culinary traps by maintaining an ongoing record of the meals you enjoy the most and the ones you dislike the most.

It is also helpful to keep notes of any adjustments you made or would like to make to a certain recipe. This will allow you to quickly begin taking your cooking skills from the level of an amateur to the level of an expert.

  1. Before going to the supermarket, you should always make a list of the things you need (or shop online)

It is an excellent way to waste time and wind up buying a lot of stuff you don’t need if you go to the grocery store without a shopping list.

The presence of a list makes it easier to maintain focus and resist the temptation to buy food that you do not have a plan to utilize simply because it is on sale.

Depending on where you live, some of the major supermarket chains have the option of shopping for groceries online and then either picking them up at a specified time or having them delivered to your home.

There is a possibility that you will be required to pay in order to make use of these services; however, they can be an excellent tool for economizing time and avoiding the lengthy lines and distracting promotions that are likely to be found in the retail establishment.

  1. Stay away from stores while you’re feeling hungry.

It is best to avoid going to the supermarket when feeling hungry because this increases the likelihood that you may make rash purchases that you will come to regret later.

If you start to feel a twinge of hunger just before you head to the shop, you shouldn’t be afraid to take a snack first, even if this goes against the normal pattern of when you eat meals and snacks during the day.

  1. Buy in bulk

Make use of the bulk department of the supermarket near you as a means to save money, purchase only the quantity that you require, and cut down on waste caused by superfluous packing.

This section of the store is an excellent location for shopping for pantry essentials such as rice, cereal, quinoa, almonds, seeds, dried fruit, and beans.

Bring your own containers so that you won’t have to resort to using plastic bags to transport the bulk things you purchased back to your house.

  1. Make a plan for the leftovers and find new uses for them.

Plan to prepare enough food so that you will have leftovers if you do not want to spend time in the kitchen each day of the week.

It is a terrific way to have lunch ready for the following day with no additional work if you simply prepare a few additional portions of whatever you are cooking for evening.

If you don’t like eating leftovers, you should give some thought to how you may reuse them so that they don’t seem like leftovers anymore.

For instance, if you roasted a whole chicken with root vegetables for supper, the next day for lunch you could shred the leftover chicken and use it to make tacos, soup, or as a topper for a salad.

  1. Cook in batches

Cooking in batches refers to the process of preparing big quantities of a variety of foods at once with the intention of utilizing those items in a variety of ways over the course of the next week. This strategy is especially helpful if you don’t have a lot of time during the week to spend in the kitchen preparing meals.

At the beginning of the week, you might want to try roasting a large tray of veggies, tofu, or meat and preparing a large quantity of quinoa or rice to use in salads, stir-fries, scrambles, or grain bowls to eat throughout the week.

You could also whip up some chicken, tuna, or chickpea salad to spread on sandwiches, munch on with crackers, or mix into salads.

  1. Use your freezer

Cooking particular dishes or meals in large amounts and storing them in the freezer for later consumption is an excellent way to save time, cut down on food waste, and get more out of your food budget all at the same time.

You may make straightforward staples with this method, such as broth, fresh bread, and tomato sauce, or you can use it to make full meals, such as lasagna, soup, enchiladas, and breakfast burritos.

  1. Measure out your servings ahead of time.

A great method for meal preparation is to pre-portion your meals into individual containers. This is especially helpful if you are attempting to consume a particular quantity of food each day.

This approach is popular among athletes and anyone who are serious about their fitness since it allows them to accurately monitor the calories and nutrients that they consume. It’s not just a terrific way to get ahead when you’re pressed for time, but it can also be a great way to promote weight loss.

To get the most out of this strategy, you’ll need to cook a substantial meal that has at least four to six portions. Put each serving into its own separate container, then put the containers in the fridge or the freezer to keep them fresh. Simply reheat it and serve it whenever you’re ready to dine.

  1. Immediately wash and prepare any fruits and vegetables you intend to eat.

If you want to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, you should try to wash and prepare them as soon as you come home from the farmer’s market or grocery store. This will help you stick to your goal of eating more fresh produce.

If you open your refrigerator and see a fruit salad that has been freshly prepared or carrot and celery sticks that are ready to be snacked on, you are more likely to reach for those foods when you are hungry.

If you prepare for your hunger in advance and provide yourself with options that are both nutritious and convenient, it will be much simpler to resist the urge to grab a bag of potato chips or cookies just because they are quick and easy to eat.

  1. To get ready, work smarter, not harder

It is important to not be afraid to admit when you need to take shortcuts.

If you’re not excellent at chopping veggies or if you don’t have time to cook in bulk and pre-portion your meals, it’s possible that your neighborhood grocery store has some healthy prepared options that you may choose from.

The cost of pre-cut fruits and vegetables as well as the cost of prepared meals is often higher; nevertheless, if the convenience element is what it takes to relieve stress in your life or get you to eat more vegetables, it may be well worth the investment.

Keep in mind that the processes of meal planning and preparation do not look the same for everyone. If you want to be successful in reaching your long-term objectives, it is important to have the wisdom to recognize when you need to cut back and enhance your efficiency.

  1. Put your slow cooker or pressure cooker to good use.

When it comes to the preparation of meals, slow cookers and pressure cookers can be a godsend, particularly if you don’t have the time to stand over a stove.

Because of the additional freedom and hands-off cooking that these technologies provide, you will be able to prepare meals while concurrently completing other tasks or going about your errands.

  1. Mix up the dishes you serve.

It is very simple to get into a rut when dieting and to start eating the same items over and over again.

Your meals have the potential to rapidly become monotonous, which may result in a loss of inspiration in the kitchen. The lack of diversity could, in the worst case scenario, contribute to vitamin shortages.

To keep this from happening, make it a habit to experiment with preparing various kinds of food or meals on a regular basis.

If brown rice is your go-to option, consider switching to quinoa or barley for a change. If you always eat broccoli, try something new once in a while by switching to cauliflower, asparagus, or romanesco.

You may also give some thought to adapting your menu to the changing of the seasons. Eating fruits and vegetables that are in season allows you to increase the variety in your diet while also allowing you to save money.

  1. Make it enjoyable

If you find that you love the process of meal planning, you will have a better chance of maintaining your new habit of doing so. Instead of thinking of it as something you need to complete, try reframing it in your mind as a sort of self-care that you deserve to accomplish.

If you are the cook in the house, you might want to involve the rest of the family in the dinner preparation process. Invite your family members to assist you in chopping vegetables or preparing a large quantity of soup for the upcoming week. This will allow you to transform these chores into quality time spent with your family rather than merely another duty.

If you would rather do your dinner preparations by yourself, put on some of your favorite tunes, listen to a podcast, or listen to an audiobook as you work. It won’t be long before it becomes something you anticipate with excitement.

Bottom Line

The planning and preparation of meals is an excellent approach to reduce waste, save time, and cut costs while also improving one’s diet.

You may build a durable habit of meal planning that is tailored to your own way of living by using any one of a number of ways, despite the fact that at first it may appear to be an insurmountable task.