meal planning guide

Meal Planning for Beginners: A Helpful How-To Guide

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Are you a beginner at meal planning? Or do you already meal plan, but can use some extra tips?

Meal planning is important because it helps when you are trying to stick to a budget. It also helps to not waste food since you are planning your meals around what you have.

I did not always meal plan. There once was a time where we would grocery shop with no clue as to what we were going to eat throughout the week. (How the heck did we manage that one?!)

We would spend so much money and yet feel like there was barely any food in the house. Then we would end up eating out, which meant spending even more money.

Have you ever gone out grocery shopping, but decided on the way home that you’re too tired to cook so you pick up a pizza even though you JUST bought groceries?! That’s what happened to us most weeks.

Once our family grew I knew I absolutely had to start meal planning. It was necessary in order to stick to a budget, as well as to ensure we had something to make every night for dinner instead of eating out.

What is Meal Planning?

Meal planning is the process of creating a menu for what you are going to eat for a specific period of time (week, month, etc). You could either plan all of your meals for the day or just the dinners (which is what I do).

Many people feel that meal planning is hard and overwhelming. They also tend to feel as though it is too time-consuming. The thing is, it doesn’t have to be.

I meal planned an entire month’s worth of meals in about an hour by following the tips I am about to share with you. The time it takes to meal plan is so worth it because you won’t have to spend the time figuring out what you are going to eat later on. It reduces stress and anxiety knowing that it is already taken care of.

How to Get Started

To get started I suggest the following meal planning essentials:

Tips for Successful Meal Planning

  1. Take inventory of everything that is in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. That way you are not buying food that you already have. Knowing what you have will also prevent food from going to waste.
  2. Assign themes for each day of the week. For example:
    • Mondays – Air Fryer meal
    • Tuesdays – Mexican
    • Wednesdays – Breakfast for dinner
    • Thursdays – Pasta
    • Fridays – Pizza
    • Saturdays – Instant Pot meal
    • Sundays – Soup and sandwich
  3. Pull out your recipes, whether they be in a recipe binder, on recipe cards, in cookbooks, and/or online.
  4. Decide what meals you will have each day based on the themes you have chosen.
  5. Write your grocery list to ensure that you have all the ingredients you need to make your meals.
Meal Planning for Beginners

Common Questions/FAQ About Meal Planning

Does meal planning save money?

YES! What happens when you do not already have something planned for dinner? More than likely you decide to eat out. That costs way more money than if you were to go buy some groceries to make a homemade meal.

Meal planning also saves you money because it keeps you from wasting food. You have already made a plan as to what you are going to make, so you know you are going to use the groceries you have purchased.

How can I save money on groceries?

  • Take inventory of what you already have at home to make sure you don’t buy anything that is unnecessary.
  • Plan your meals based on the sales going on at your grocery store.
  • Use coupons that you find in your Sunday newspaper and online.

What do you eat on a low budget?

Foods that are inexpensive and can make a large amount of food, such as:

  • Eggs
  • Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Soup & Sandwich
  • Bulk Meats (ex. ground turkey)

How do I make my meal plan easier?

How do you stick to a meal plan?

  • Have your meal plan posted somewhere the whole family can see it
  • Meal prep whatever you can ahead of time

What are the benefits of meal planning?

  • Saves you money
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Prevents you from wasting food

Conclusion

Meal planning is very helpful, especially when you are a mom. It helps reduce the stress and anxiety that comes from having to figure out what to make for dinner each night.

It will also save you money and help you to eat healthier because you will have a planned meal at home instead of eating out.

I hope this helped you! If you would like to download the free PDF guide and receive future newsletters from me you can sign up below.

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    Do you meal plan? If not, what is keeping you from doing so?

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    20 thoughts on “Meal Planning for Beginners: A Helpful How-To Guide”

    1. OMG!!! I was literally just talking to a friend of mine about us starting to plan our meals. I’ve never been the one to plan meals because I’m soo moody and . . . lazy!! Ha! Thanks for this!!!

      1. athomewithmykiddos

        I totally get it Shalona! I was the same way and would never meal plan because it seemed like it would take too much much time and energy. Once I did it though I realized that it really makes things so much easier in the long run. Let me know if you try it and how it works out for you!

    2. I make massive batches of black beans, lentils, chickpeas, rice, and quinoa in our crockpots and instapots and freeze them in servings so I can grab and go for any dish throughout the week. It’s great for saving money, but I really need to get better at the planning portion, this is really helpful to get started, thank you!

      1. athomewithmykiddos

        I need to do some freezer cooking myself. I have never done so, but I think it would really help. Thanks for visiting my blog Ariana!

    3. Setting themes for each day of the week makes planning meals so much easier. In November, I set Mondays as soup day since that’s my busy day with kids activities and I can easily use the crockpot. I need to get back in the habit and set more theme days. Thanks for the reminder with this post!

      1. athomewithmykiddos

        You are welcome Val. Having themes for each day is so helpful because it makes it much easier to come up with ideas!

    4. This is great! As a new mom I now have to meal plan for 3! I like the benefits you highlighted about saving money and reducing waste! I’m gonna follow your tips to meal plan next month or should I say next year! Happy new year!

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