14 Simple Meal Planning Tips for Beginners

So you want to meal plan but you’re not sure where to start. Meal planning can be intimidating at first but if you try some of these simple tips it can be fun and easy!

The more you do it, the easier it will get! Meal planning is the perfect way to stay on a budget with food while eating healthy homecooked meals without cooking every night.

Meal planning is also a great way to eat less processed and more organic food on a budget.

It is possible to eat well for less money and healthy food can be more affordable then fast food. Majority of my recipes cost $2-$4 per serving!

Give these 14 meal planning tips a try and start your journey toward meal planning!

1. Set aside time for the meal planning process.

If you take 10 minutes to plan out dates for grocery shopping, meal prep and which meals are eaten on which days then everything will fall into place. Its all about finding the time but if you have it scheduled in pressure is off!

2. Plan out your meals bi-weekly or monthly.

Now that you have time in your schedule for meal planning sit down and start picking out your meals. Be sure to decide how many meals you need to make and even schedule the nights you will enjoy which meals if you like.

I tend to meal plan by the month and plan for 10-15 meals.

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3. Plan for leftover nights.

You may have noticed I only plan for 10-15 meals for a month. That’s because of a wonderful thing called leftovers!

Leftovers will be your best friend. And if the recipes you’re making are mouthwatering then you will look forward to your leftovers. Like when you were in college and you woke up to cold pizza that you actually wanted to eat…or was that just me…

4. Theme your meal plan or specific nights of the week.

The abundance of recipes online are a great thing and a nightmare. Its much easier to find a good recipe if you start out by narrowing down your search. Try categorizing your recipes by theming nights of the week (Ex. Mondays are chicken night!) Or theme your whole meal plan (Ex. Chicken and Beef meal plan).

A lot less to search through and overwhelm the mind.

5. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

It’s easy to get stuck in a food rut by only making a couple meals or one type of cuisine. Meal planning allows you to plan new foods into the month.

You may be surprised at how good a homemade Pad Thai can be! There are so many great foods out there waiting to be discovered by you!

Easy General Tso Chicken | Easy Chinese Dinner | Easy Weeknight Dinner
Slow Cooker General Tso Chicken

6. Find meals that do not need to be cooked during prep.

There are some meal plans that require cooking on prep day, and sometimes those recipes are so good they are worth it!

But majority of the time I prefer meal prepping days that involves some dicing chopping and throwing everything into a freezer bag. These meals tend to take 10 minutes or less to prep and allow you to get a whole month of meals prepped in an hour.

If you are just starting out I recommend trying out meals like this to start.

7. Simple meals are always a win.

Simple is always a win! Tasty doesn’t always mean a million ingredients. There are so many delicious recipes that have 10 ingredients or less. As you look for recipes to add to your meal plan try looking up freezer meals with 10 ingredients or less or 5 ingredient freezer meals.

8. Use a slow cooker or Instapot!

For me it’s a slow cooker but I know so many people love their Instapot! Both are a great option for easy cooking. Imagine 10 minutes to prep a meal, stick it in the freezer and the morning of dump it into the slow cooker. That’s it! Dinner will be ready when you come home from work or when you need it!

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9. Double the recipe!

Always double your recipes for one meal! Doubling recipes allows for extra food for lunches or dinners throughout the week with little to no prep time added. Doubling recipes also allows you to always have enough if someone extra shows up for dinner!

10. Organize your grocery list.

This may sound like overkill at first but when you have 5 different meals you are planning to prep for, and each one is doubled, this is a lifesaver.

Organizing your grocery list will take all the stress off shopping. No back and forth and you can confidently drive home knowing you actually got everything. Stress free.

And stress free is important when you bring multiple toddlers with you when going on a big grocery trip…

11. Use your freezer.

Meal prepping doesn’t mean you have to make everything fresh Sunday and eat it by the end of the week. Instead use your freezer!! Finding freezer meals allows you to switch things up and not feel pressure to use things right away. The freezer will keep so many organic foods fresh longer!

12. Print off or save family favorite recipes!

As you being to gain a stockpile of recipes you know your family loves, meal planning becomes easier and easier!

Be sure to print off or save to your computer those stellar recipe because there is nothing worse then finding an amazing meal that gets lost in the internet mess, or deleted off Pinterest, or you just have no idea what site it was on!

By having this stockpile, you can meal plan in minutes by picking your families favorite recipes! No research required.

13. Schedule a meal planning day in your calendar or have a meal planning party with the girls.

Take some time to yourself in the kitchen, have the kids watched, grab some wine and turn on your favorite music to dance too while you prep those meals. Meal planning can be a great time for you, and if you schedule it in it may actually happen!!

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OR if you want to enjoy a night with your lady friends then schedule a meal planning party! Everyone can come and prep together and go home with a couple meals or everyone preps multiple meals of their favorite at home and at the party each person exchanges an already prepped meal. This is a great way to try something new!

14. Find some meal plans you love that are already completed.

When I started meal planning, I just wanted someone to do all the background work for me. And they have! There are so many prepped meal plans out there for you with a grocery list, freezer and cooking instructions all ready to go! If you find some sites or bloggers with meals you really like subscribe and then you have a resource to keep going back for more!

Here is a link to my free meal plans if you would like to give them a try!

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So there you have it! 14 simple meal planning tips for beginners.

Meal planning will take a huge load off your shoulders when dinner is easy and budget friendly. With a bit of planning and practice you will never go back.

Hopefully these tips have given you some good idea! If you enjoyed these tips and want the latest freezer recipes and meal plans then subscribe to my blog for more!


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    Hi! I'm Hannah

    Thanks for stopping by, to learn more about freezer cooking and how to make healthy home-cooking easy.

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