How to Meal Plan for a Week

Apr 5, 2019

Benefits of Meal Planning

While meal planning may seem like a chore, in the long run the benefits can outweigh the minor hassle of setting aside time to meal plan.  In this post I am going to explain how to meal plan for a week, the benefits of meal planning, my step by step meal planning guide, meal planning tips, and meal planning on a budget.

  • Save more money by knowing exactly what you need before heading to the grocery store.
  • Save time by not having to go to the grocery store more than once a week and having a plan when you do go.
  • You will eat more balanced and nourishing meals.  By planning out your meals you can ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients in your diet.
  • Reduce food waste in your home.  Proper meal planning means less food going bad in your fridge, which also saves you more money!

Grab Your Free Weekly Meal Planning Template Here:


Meal Planning Guide

  1. Look at your week ahead.  Figure out what days you will need meals planned.  Which days are you planning on going out to eat? How many breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks will you need? 
  2. Pick out recipes or meals you would like to have during the week.  What are you craving?
    1. Pinterest
    2. Cookbooks
    3. Magazines
    4. Instagram
    5. Your favorite food bloggers
    6. Some of my recipes here
    7. Any creations of your own
  3. Make sure your meals are balanced.  An easy way to do this is to make sure each meal has a protein source, carbohydrate sources (vegetables, fruit, and starchy carbohydrate such as bread, pasta, potatoes, grains, etc), and fat source such as avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds, etc.  
  4. Plan what snacks you want to have on hand and any dessert options.
  5. Create a master list of all the ingredients you will need for the recipes and/or meals for the week.
  6. Check your pantry and fridge to figure out what ingredients you already have.  Check those items off of the list.
  7. Organize your list into grocery store sections: produce, dairy, meats, and pantry items.  This will help you navigate the grocery store faster.

Meal Planning Tips

  • Prepare breakfast the night before or all in one batch during the beginning of the week.
  • Make enough dinner to have leftovers for lunch.
  • Prepare your grains ahead of time and store in a airtight container in the fridge.
  • Cut up vegetables and fruits ahead of time.
  • Make any condiments or dressings during the beginning of the week and store them in the fridge.
  • Allow room for flexibility.  I suggest planning 4-5 meals for the week.  Other nights can be left for going out, leftovers, or throwing together something quick and easy you have on hand.  If something comes up one night, you can simply push a meal back a day.
  • Figure out what works best for you.  Notice each week what worked about that meal plan and what didn’t.
  • Shop online!  You can grab pantry staples easily on amazon and have them shipped directly to your home.  Many grocery stores also offer pick up or delivery.
  • Use my free meal planning template.  Get it here.

Meal Planning on a Budget

  • Come up with a weekly budget before going grocery shopping.
  • Check your local grocery store website for coupons.  Many stores offer members cards where you get extra savings and sign up online to add extra coupons to your members card.
  • Search for brand coupons online or in your local newspaper.
  • Buy in bulk.  While the initial cost may seem high the overall cost will actually be lower.
  • On the flip side buy in the bulk section of the grocery store but grab only the amount you need.  This can be useful for grains, nuts, dried fruit, etc.  Here you will save money on packaging and branding.
  • Plan meals with produce that is in season.  Produce in its peak season is usually cheaper.
  • Go meatless more often.  Dried or canned beans are less expensive than meat.
  • Don’t forget about frozen vegetables and fruits.  Frozen veggies and fruits are often cheaper and still contain vital nutrients since the produce is frozen at peak ripeness.
  • Only buy what is on your list.  One way to stick to your list is to snack before you go grocery shopping.  Something as simple as an apple and almonds or cheese and crackers can help you remain focused in the store and less distracted by your growling stomach.
  • Plan meals that use similar ingredients.  Therefore you can buy a larger amount of an ingredient that will end up being cheaper per unit than buying a smaller amount.

Don’t forget to claim your free weekly meal planning template here and pin this post to your Pinterest Board!

How to Meal Plan for a Week


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heather lasco confidently nourished dietitian

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