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A meal planning guide for beginners

Published March 25, 2022

Just like learning any new skill, learning how to meal plan effectively can be daunting. That's why we put together this meal planning guide to help you start small and feel those quick wins.

Meal planning doesn't have to be time-consuming or complicated, but for many of us, the thought of meal planning leaves us discouraged, overwhelmed, or frustrated. If you think of meal planning as a chore to complete instead of a masterpiece to create, this is for you!

Here are some principles that have helped us eliminate steps in the process that aren't important, and make the best use of our time. Think of them as your guide throughout the meal-planning process.

Start small

First of all, hear us when we say, we know the struggle is real. That's exactly why our first step toward meal planning bliss is simply starting small.

Here's how this plays out in real life: instead of setting a lofty goal to plan every meal for next month by the end of this month, set a small goal to plan two dinners next week. Setting a small, attainable goal, you put the victory within your reach, and that goes a long way.

By starting small, we equip ourselves to win not to fail!

Starting small can look different for everyone. We hear from lots of busy parents that they don't even have time to think about dinner tonight, much less plan for several days in advance. If that's you, first of all, having a meal plan can actually reduce stress for you. We even wrote about the benefits of having a good meal plan. As for a place to start, we suggest carving out 20 minutes from a Saturday or Sunday, pick two meals the following week, and write them down.

Get some quick wins

Starting small helps you feel those quick wins with your meal plan, and those quick wins give you the emotional fuel to press on to bigger goals.

Let's expound on the example we used before. Let's say you set a goal to plan dinner for two nights next week. Next week comes, and you look back and did what you said you would do. How does that feel?

Get another win just like that!

Getting quick wins isn't about the complexity of the goal, it's about the way winning makes you feel. When you win, you overcome the mentality that the job is too difficult or the task is too daunting. You realize that you do have what takes, and that's the motivation you need to start building momentum.

Build momentum

Now that you've started small and have some quick wins under your belt, it's time to build momentum.

Let's break this down:

  1. You've started small — plan dinner for two nights next week
  2. You've felt those quick wins — yay! you planned two dinners
  3. Now build momentum — try planning dinners for Monday through Friday next week

Building momentum doesn't have to mean you go from planning two meals to planning two months. All you have to do is add a little bit more to what you're already doing. Just like a snowball, the more you roll it, the bigger it gets.

Roll that snowball!

Stick with it

Now that you've started small, felt some quick wins, and built momentum, the last step is to simply stick with it!

You can do this!

Yes you can, and we're here to help. That's why we built our Meal Planner App in the first place. We wanted to take the stress out of meal planning.

Our online meal planner makes it easy to save all of your recipes in one place, schedule meals on the calendar, and organize and categorize your meals in a way that makes sense to you.

It's the tool to help you work the plan. We want to help you start small, feel some quick wins, and build momentum!

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