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Learning how to meal plan? Here’s how to create a meal plan from start to finish in a way that works for your family (and all their dietary needs).

how to create a meal plan (with free printable meal planner)

What to Expect:

  • What is a meal plan?
  • Why should you create a meal plan?
  • How much time should you spend planning your meals in advance?
  • Do you need a personalized meal plan?

What is a meal plan?

A meal plan is a guide to help you figure out what to eat and when.

A meal plan is a great way to get into better eating habits, lose weight, and save time and money. It can also help prevent chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Get my printable meal planner here:

Why should you create a meal plan?

It’s important to plan ahead for your meals so you have plenty of time to shop around and prepare food on your own.

There are many benefits of planning meals in advance, whether you choose a weekly meal plan or monthly meal plan.

A meal plan has so many benefits that you cannot get from just eating random food. With a meal plan, you know what to eat every day and can keep track of your caloric intake. You will not have to worry about whether or not you are getting enough nutrients because all the food is pre-planned.

Planning meals in advance can be beneficial to maintain a healthier lifestyle and cut down on the amount of food that is wasted in the home. This way, you can make sure that all your ingredients are fresh and nothing is past the expiration date.

You can also include leftovers in your meal plan so that you don’t waste food.

One big advantage of meal planning is that it makes grocery shopping easier. You won’t have to worry about forgetting anything because you already know what you need and how much of it.

Planning is important in order to avoid late night trips to the grocery store. It is also a good way to stay on top of your fitness goals.

A meal plan ensures that you are eating the right foods and in the right proportions for your body type. It also allows you to save money since you won’t feel the need to overspend on healthy food that you won’t end up eating.

With a meal plan, like one of these 21-Day Fix Meal Plans, it’s easier to stay on track with your goals, and it helps if you want to lose weight or gain muscle mass.

21 Day Fix Meal Plan

How much time should you spend planning your meals in advance?

I recommend that you spend at least 30 minutes per week (or one hour per month) doing meal prep for the whole week.

However, meal prep is typically the icing on the cake of meal planning.

The actual meal planning process should only take you 15-30 minutes. Watch my video to see how to create a monthly meal plan in less than 15 minutes.

How do you create, stick to, and update your meal plan?

The key to a healthy lifestyle is a healthy diet. A healthy diet will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to stay in top shape and will also contribute to weight loss if desired. The first step is creating a meal plan that you can stick to and update as needed.

When creating your meal plan, you should take into consideration what type of food you prefer, how many meals you need per day, what time of day you prefer cooking, and how much time you have available for cooking.

You should also consider your eating habits – do they change depending on the season or date? Do they depend on mood? Do they depend on external factors like whether it is weekday or weekend?

Do you need a PERSONALIZED Meal Plan?

Should your diet (or meal plan) be different than everyone else’s?

Your diet depends on your needs, wants, and habits. A meal plan can help you create and follow a diet plan that works for you.

Your meal plan and diet should be individualized to suit your specific needs. You have to know how many calories you need, what vitamins and minerals your body requires, as well as any nutritional deficiencies you may have.

The best way to find out what works for you is by experimenting with different foods. A he3althy meal plan is the perfect way to test (and stick to) your diet plan.

However, feel free to use a meal plan template that fits your dietary needs (and schedule).

For example, during our busy farm season, I have to make meals for the guys in the field, so I typically fill my monthly meal plan with huge pulled pork or BBQ chicken recipes to quickly make sandwiches and subs for the guys’ dinners.

Also, my kids have food allergies, so I love using MyFreezEasy’s Big 8 Allergen Free Meal Plans.

How to Make a Meal Plan

Meal planning can seem like a task that is too difficult to tackle if you are not sure where to start. This is especially true if you are busy with work or school and have little time for cooking.

There are plenty of tools and apps out there that can make it easier for you to plan your meals, but here are a few simple steps you can take to get started.

First, think about what types of foods you like the most, and which ones will be easy for you to find at the store. Make a list of your favorite recipes (and where to find them for easy preparation).

Once you’ve done this, consider your schedule.

  • What days of the week do you have more time on your hands?
  • Do mornings make it easier for you to cook breakfast before work?
  • Would it be better if dinner were ready when you got home from work?
  • How far in advance do you want to plan?
  • Does your schedule change frequently, or do you have a set schedule?

Use a printable meal planner or meal planning template to create your meal plan.

Add your schedule to your meal planner and then add your favorite recipes to your planner based on how much time you’ll have to cook each meal.

Get my full Organized Kitchen Binder here to organize your meal planning.

CONCLUSION/NEXT STEPS

Now that you know exactly how (and why) to make a meal plan, it’s time to get started making a weekly or monthly meal plan.

Don’t forget to grab my free printable meal planner below (or get the full Organized Kitchen Binder if you’re ready to take your meal planning to the next level).