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How to Meal Plan (For Beginners!)

meal plan beginners

What’s for dinner? This is a question you’ll no longer have to ask. Imagine it’s six o’clock and dinner’s already prepped and ready to go (every. single. night. of the week!). It’s possible when you meal plan.

As a heads up, I know what you’re thinking: meal prep is only for stay-at-home moms with three kids with cooking skills like The Pioneer Woman.

That’s not true! Meal prep is for ANYONE! Whether or not you’re single or married, have kids or not, you can save a ton of time and money when you meal plan. Meal planning can be making scratch made lasagna or hitting up the frozen food section and grabbing a lasagna.

Be sure to follow Best Money Class Ever on Instagram! You can watch how to meal plan (for beginners!) here, or click to watch below:

Let’s take it from the top with how to meal prep (for beginners!)

1. Plan your week

What’s going on for the week? Are you having an outdoor potluck? Got a Hinge date? Is it your birthday extravaganza weekend? I say this, because my b-dizzle is coming up and I love birthdays! First, you’ll mark out your plans for the week.

You can get your own downloadable Weekly Planner here.

2. Plan your meals

After you know what’s going on in your week, then you can use your meal planner to fill in what you’re having for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, dinner, and drinks.

Mark out when you’re eating out with friends or social events. Then, decide what else you’ll be eating for the week to get at the grocery store. For example, this past week I made a large batch of steel cut oats with brown sugar and strawberries for breakfast. For lunch I made grilled fish, brussel sprouts, and sweet potato fries. For dinner I whipped up a burrito with Mexican rice, beef, beans, olives, and cheese.

To plan your meals, look online for ideas and something easy!

3. Write your grocery list

Once you know what meals you’ll have for the week, then one-by-one go through the recipe and check your pantry to see if you have the ingredients. Write down what you need on your grocery list. Also include drinks, snacks, desserts, and other household items or toiletries you need (like toilet paper or detergent).

4. Grocery shop and only buy items on your list

According to market researcher Paco Underhill and author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, 60-70% purchases made at grocery stores are impulse buys. Grocery stores are setup in a way for you to add items into your chart and increase your purchases. This is also why planning your week and meals before you hit the store is super important.

Your grocery list is a secret weapon to avoid impulse buys! The trick is only by items on your list! I like to highlight each item as it hits the shopping cart to check it off. Here’s how I get groceries for $20- $40 a week.

Get your downloadable Meal Planner + Grocery list here.

5. Cook your meals

Lastly, let the cooking begin. Hit the kitchen and make your meals! Find a set time of the week to grocery shop and cook. I normally get groceries on Saturday and cook on Sunday.

With meal planning it’s upfront work, but then throughout the week, all you need to do is zap the food in the oven or microwave meals! You’re set for the week (most recipes are for 4-6 servings)!

You can meal plan without all the fancy kitchen gadgets. I live full-time in an RV with a teeny tiny kitchen. I still meal plan with only two gas burners and a toaster oven! Here’s how I decided to live full-time in an RV and RV life expectations versus reality.

Check out what it’s like meal planning in a RV here or watch below:

Try out meal planning with the (free!) downloadable Meal Planner + Grocery List here and let me know how it goes!

Say goodbye to squandering through the pantry and hello to meal planning.

Carly Best Money Class Ever

Hi! I'm Carly

Here you’ll learn how to pay off debt, invest (confidently!), and stress less about money!

I’m a Finance grad and creator of Best Money Class Ever, a 4-week live virtual personal finance class.  I paid off $35,000 of debt and saved $100,000 by age 26. You can pay off debt and build savings too!

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