Simple Meal Planning 101: The Basics

Meal prep ideas for the week.

It seems like every home workout plan, nutrition guru, and dieting channel in social media sticks to one basic concept, meal planning ideas. The reason this seems the common denominator is that meal planning is key to a balanced diet routine working. If you are new to meal planning for the week, here are a few things to know before implementing prep into your routine for you or your family.

Free Printable Weekly Meal Plan Template

Use this Free Printable Weekly Meal Planner Template to simply plan out your menu and shopping list for the week. Take all the guess work out of meal prep with this simple downloadable and printable weekly calendar! Click photo below to download.


Free printable weekly meal plan by Eat Your Nutrition.

What Can Meal Planning Do For You?

Meal planning can help you hold accountable to your health and fitness goals. By having a healthy meal plan ready for each week, it’s easier than scrambling last minute to create a healthy meal and stay on track.

Quick, Simple Tips & Ideas to Get Started Meal Planning

Choose a date when you want to begin. Ensure ample time to plan out your meals and gather recipes you want to make that week. First, gather recipes from online or ones you already make, and enjoy that align with your eating goals. Then break down that even further into the ingredients you need to purchase and what ones you already have on hand. This way, you do not end up spending money on unnecessary items.

Don’t walk into the store without a list, because you oftentimes forget items you need for a particular recipe or impulse buy things that don’t align with your balanced eating habits.

I like to fill out my planner on Friday afternoon, so that I have time to shop and gather all the ingredients on Saturday. Then on Sunday I cook. This weekly planner is perfect because you can reuse them whenever you like. No need to rethink of meal ideas for the week again.

Once you start doing this on a weekly basis, you will begin to have a large database to plan from in the future. Once you are a pro at this, you then can move on to monthly meal planning.

I then go through my week and fill in my shopping list, cook everything and then just have a clean slate every Monday.

I also like to use a printable meal planner with each month on it. I like to use the to-do list method of meal planning. I write down all my weekly meals that are planned on one sheet and then I just repeat the week over and over again.

Here is the link to the printable planner that I use:

Free Printable Weely Meal Plan Template

Where do you begin? The first thing is to start following a healthy eating plan. This will help make sure you are getting your daily nutrients in and eating a balanced diet. If you need help finding one, I have put together a list of healthy eating plans that are easy to follow.

The next step is to start meal planning. There are many meal planning apps that you can download for free. I have listed a few below. I’ve also linked to the printable version of my weekly meal planner so that you can have a quick look at the meals I tend to make.

Meal Planning Apps

Once you have decided on your weekly meal plan, start making a list of all the ingredients you will need for each meal. This will help you when cooking, and will make it so much easier to cook all your meals on time. You can also print out a PDF of my weekly meal planner so that you have a reference to the meals I make.

Start With a Master Food List

The first place to start with ideas for meal planning is with a master food list. You can print these online, by season, or by making your own list. I have you covered with my Free Printable Weekly Meal Planner! Ideally, you are narrowing down the foods you like, the foods you do not like, the ones you are allergic to, and the ones you have never tried before.

This master list will help you narrow down your recipes and get foods for your meal planning that work for you personally. You can also mark down how many calories each have and how they can be used.

Meal planning for the week.

Narrow Down Your Meal Planning Goal

You don’t have to prep all your meals ahead of time, but you can prep some ingredients in advance. For example, wash, peel, and chop your veggies. Perhaps you just want to prep the proteins in advance. You can batch cook all your proteins, like tofu, chicken, and turkey burgers, all on a Sunday. You might want to simply cook all your dishes in advance.

I like to prep all various components on Sunday morning. I will begin cooking my carbohydrates, proteins, and prepping my veggies into various containers. Then I build out my plates with each component ready to heat up.

Make sure you consider your goals with your meal planning prep. For example, you may be looking for a way to reduce your stress during the week. Meal planning may offer you more downtime and more time to enjoy being with your family. Then again, you may want to drop several pounds. If that is the case, you want to keep an eye on your caloric intake.

In addition, bodybuilding goals have even more considerations to reach your goal. You should consider long-term, short-term, and goals before you start meal planning prep.

Consider Your Meal Planning Containers

One thing many people do not consider meal planning is the containers they will be using. This can make a big difference in how you plan your meals. Most people use containers with several slots for protein, vegetables, fruits, and sauces. If you will primarily do full meals, then these are ideal. You may also want to bento boxes, soup containers, or other options. Consider what types of meals you want to have, and then make sure you have the containers for them.

Timeframe for Meal Planning

Considering your timeframe is something that goes along with the basics. You need to ensure that you are planning for a set amount of days. Most people do weekly planning, while larger families may plan for the whole month. The timeframe, along with the food lists and goals, can greatly affect your budget, so considering a timeframe is vital. 

These basic principles can help you get started. Remember, there is no set defined way of doing this. The idea is to work with the diet you want, plan, and ensure they work for you and your lifestyle. It may take a little time to get things on a solid track, but once they are, you will find meal planning an easier route on many levels.

Meal planning prep at home.

If all of this planning is too much for you, I make it even easier for you. All of my healthy eating programs have weekly planners, shopping lists, and recipes completed for you. You simply just have to print or download, shop, and cook for each week. I have you set up for succesful healthy eating. You can purchase one of my programs here:


Let’s Discuss Meal Planning Tips & Ideas!

I hope you found value from these tips on meal planning prep for the week. So hurry, and download the free weekly printable template today. Let me know in the comment section below.

I would also love to hear what you think, or take a photo and tag me @Eat_Your_Nutrition on Instagram. I love seeing your photos. #EatYourNutrition #LauraVillanueva

If you like the meal prep containers, try these containers that I found on Amazon here.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I will make a small commission if you purchase through those links (I’ll earn some coffee money ☕ which I promise to drink while creating content that you will enjoy). I only recommend products that I trust and absolutely love! 

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Certified holistic nutritionist, nutrition and wellness author, weight and gut health specialist. I teach women how to discover effective ways to become the healthiest version of themselves.

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