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Meal Planning: How do I get started?

* the opinions expressed are those of the author and not Nutrition Ink.

Image Source: “MyPlate Meals.” Food Network.

A little effort goes a long way

We all need to eat, but life can be busy. Who has time to plan out what they eat? What if a few minutes of planning could help you save money, eat healthier, and keep your meals organized? Studies suggest simple meal planning can improve diet quality, help those with diet restrictions, and improve food variety! Best of all there are many ways to get started.

Getting started

Choose a method that you like best to plan your week. Consider using organizational tools such as:

  • Planners

  • Phone apps

  • Calendars

  • Or make your own!

Fill in the days and mealtimes you want to plan for. Start small by laying out the next three days. Don’t forget snacks and drinks! Note down upcoming meals already planned.

Fill in the details

Fill in foods you’d like to eat for each day’s meals and snacks. Start meals with an entrée and base other choices off from there. Portions are useful to help keep you on track and plan for grocery store lists. In the end it’s your plan, adjust to fit your preferences!

Use the web

Online resources can aid you in planning and choosing healthier, balanced meals such as MyPlate, a USDA website that helps with everything from budgeting to food selection in meal planning. You can find the MyPlate website here Templates with fun designs are also available online to help you plan.

Keeping at it

In no time you’ll find your favorite way to plan out meals in advance. Challenge yourself to experiment with new foods and recipes! Expand your plan to cover four days, or even the entire week! With practice comes perfect and in no time, you’ll be able to plan out delicious, balanced meals ahead of time like a pro.

Image source: “Awareness of food groups.” Dr. Shagufta Feroz.


Ducrot P, Mejean C, Aroumougame V, et al. Meal planning is associated with food variety, diet quality and body weight status in a large sample of French adults. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2017;14, 12

Marynuik, MD, From Pyramids to Plates to Patterns, Perspectives on Meal Planning. Diabetes Spectrum. 2017;30(2), 67-70

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