Get Started with Meal Planning in 6 Steps.

Get Started with Meal Planning in 6 Steps

Do you ever feel stressed about what to serve for dinner? You are not alone! Meal planning is a technique that may help. Research has shown that not only can meal planning reduce the stress associated with dinner preparation but it can also save money and help with weight control.1, 2

How to get started with meal planning in 6 Steps:


STEP 1: How many days per week are you willing to cook?

For example, if you currently never cook starting off with 2-3 days per week may be more reasonable than 6-7 days per week.

STEP 2: What is your grocery budget?2

Look at your food expenses for the past several months. This will help you get an idea of what you typically spend on food and make an initial grocery budget.

STEP 3: How much time are able to spend preparing dinner?

This step is important when you start to search for recipes. There may be days that you have more time for meal preparation and other days when you are limited to less than 30 minutes.

STEP 4: What foods do you and your family enjoy?

Look for recipes that include a few favorite foods to help reduce waste.

STEP 5: Find recipes:

When searching for recipes choose reputable sites that provide nutrition facts.1 Recipes with a short ingredient list and a short preparation time are great options if you are a novice cook. The following sites have free recipes and include nutrition facts:

STEP 6: Make a grocery list:

Organize your grocery list by department. A sample grocery list can be found here:

One week of meals at my house:


  • Baked salmon with dill sauce
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts


I will prep extra bell peppers for Wednesday evening


  • Chicken tacos with peppers, sour cream, and salsa

I will prep extra ground chicken for Thursday evening


  • Chicken chili made with chili-ready beans and chili ready diced tomatoes


  • Leftover chicken chili


  • Cauliflower pizza topped with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and canned mushrooms


  • Turkey sandwiches on whole wheat bread with carrots and leftover dill sauce from Monday

My grocery list:


  • 1 pound Brussel sprouts
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 pound bag baby carrots
  • 1 pound bag of baby bell peppers
  • 8 oz. container baby bell mushrooms


  • ½ pound sliced turkey


  • Dill sauce
  • 1 bag part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 small container of sour cream


  • 1 package yellow corn tortillas
  • 1 loaf whole wheat bread

Meat/seafood counter:

  • 2-3 pounds ground chicken
  • 1 pound salmon

Canned foods:

  • 1 jar teriyaki sauce
  • 1 jar salsa
  • 2 cans chili ready beans
  • 2 cans chili ready tomatoes
  • 1 jar marinara sauce

Frozen foods:

  • 1 bag frozen shrimp (cooked tail off)
  • Cauliflower pizza crust

Do you currently meal plan? Please share your tips with the community.

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