Meal Planning/Prep 101

I am known for being quite the planner. I plan my workouts, I plan time hanging out with friends and family, I plan activities at work, and I especially plan my meals. Every week I sit down and map out a plan for what I am going to cook for the week. I believe that this practice has really helped me to be successful in my weight loss. Every week I know exactly what I need to eat and there is very little wiggle room. This helps me to stay on track and not get caught up in cravings.

So, in hopes of inspiring you to start meal planning I wanted to provide a Meal Planning/Prep 101 post. I will walk you step-by-step through my meal planning/prep process. By following this process it should help save some money at the grocery store and to stay on your healthy eating plan!

Step 1: Find a good way to record your meal planning

I prefer to use pen and paper for this step. But you could easily use an app or computer program to record your meal planning. You need to have somewhere you can have a weekly calendar and a grocery list. You will be referring back to this record frequently to know what to buy and when to prep and eat your meals.


Step 2: Start by reviewing the upcoming week

What days are you going to the gym? What days are you going out to lunch with a friend? What days are you working late? Record all of your events so you know where it might be easier to cook and where it might be easier to prepare things ahead so you don’t have to do any serious cooking.

Step 3: Find recipes you want to make for the week

Go on the search for some recipes you want to make. Look through old recipes that you have made that you love. Search the internet for new and exciting recipes that you haven’t tried. Break out those cook books. Look at old favorites…that might not be so healthy… and figure out how to convert them to your healthy lifestyle. I usually pick 3-4 recipes per week. This is because I am only cooking for one and I am ok with leftovers. But, the amount you will need to cook will be determined by your needs.


Step 4: Decide when you want to cook and eat each meal

I tend to cook on Sundays and Wednesdays because that is what works best with my schedule. Also, I do the most complicated or time-consuming cooking on Sunday, leaving the easier things to do during the work week on Wednesday.

Next, decide when you are going to eat what. This will be dictated by your schedule you already established and when you are cooking certain things.

Step 5: Make a grocery list

Once you know what you want to cook, make a list of the things you will need at the grocery store. Check your freezer and pantry first to see if you have any of the things you need. Make sure to record the amounts of everything you need as well. This tip will help you to not over purchase…or under purchase for that matter!


Step 6: Go grocery shopping

I always go grocery shopping on Friday or Saturday, so I am ready to start prepping on Sunday. But schedule your shopping for whenever works best for you. To learn more about actually going to the grocery store you can read my previous post – Ideal Grocery Shopping.


Step 7: Start following the plan you have set up

Once you have all the food you need it’s as easy as following the plan you have already set up! Cook when you plan to cook and eat when you plan to eat.

The only thing I would like to stress here is flexibility. I realize that everything up to this step seems pretty much written in stone…but it’s not! If your plans change last minute that is OK! You can always freeze leftovers for later use or shift cooking by a day. Just make the plan work for you! If something changes it doesn’t mean you have failed 🙂

I hope that this step-by-step meal planning guide will help you to achieve your healthy eating goals.

What questions do you have that I haven’t covered here? What meal planning tips do you use? Let me know in the comments below or hit me up on Facebook or Instagram @mybeautifulideal!

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