What is a Meal Planner? A Quick & Easy Explanation

Ever rummaged through your refrigerator, struggling to decide what to whip up for dinner? Or if you’re like me, most nights, you go straight to your phone on the Doordash app because you don’t have the mental capacity to think about what to eat, let alone cook. Well, my friends, this is where a meal planner can come in handy! But, what is a meal planner? A meal planner is a kitchen tool that helps you plan meals ahead of time for a day, a week, or even longer. 

In this blog post, I’ll go more in-depth on what a meal planner is, its benefits, and the different types of meal planners you can consider introducing into your daily routine.

Digital Recipe Book and Meal Planner
Digital Recipe Book & Meal Planner by Pixel Planner

What is a Meal Planner?

A meal planner is like your trusty roadmap for the week ahead! It helps you stay organized, as well as takes into consideration your food preferences, health goals, and cooking time. 

A meal planner breaks down your daily meals into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, allowing you to customize them however you want.

Whether you’re aiming for more veggies, less processed food, or trying out new recipes, a meal planner can help keep you on track. 

Benefits of Meal Planning with a Meal Planner

Now, let’s go over the main benefits of meal planning with a meal planner:

Save Time
With a meal planner, you can write down what you need ahead of time, saving you time in meal prep and grocery shopping.

Save Money
A meal planner can be a game changer if you try to stick to a certain budget. You’ll save a lot of money by avoiding impulsive purchases and reducing food waste. 

Healthier Lifestyle
A meal planner can ensure you get the right balance of nutrients, adjust portions to meet your needs, and even cater to specific dietary goals.

Reduced Stress
When you’re saving time and money with a meal planner, naturally, you’re also helping to reduce stress when it comes to meal times. 

Related: 8 Awesome Benefits of Meal Planning (for the Complete Beginner)

Types of Meal Planners

Now that you understand what a meal planner is and its benefits let’s talk about the different types of meal planners available that you can consider:

Physical Meal Planners
Physical meal planners are tangible planners that you can hold and write onto. They come in weekly or monthly formats and have breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack sections. You can jot down your meal ideas, create shopping lists, and even note important dietary info.

App-Based Meal Planners
App-based meal planners are super convenient, portable, and packed with features. You can plan meals, generate shopping lists, access countless recipes, and even track your nutrition. Some apps even allow sharing, making coordinating meals with family or roommates easier, and grocery shopping integration with services like Instacart.

A Plain Notebook
Sometimes, a simple notebook does the trick just fine! If you’ve got a notebook lying around, you can dedicate a page each day or week, write down your meals, and create your shopping list. It’s budget-friendly, customizable, and has plenty of room for creativity. 

Digital Meal Planners
Last but not least (and my favorite) is a digital meal planner! They are like a physical meal planner but in digital format. And just like a physical meal planner, they also usually include weekly or monthly formats and have sections for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

You can write your meal ideas, craft shopping lists, and track dietary information. What I love most about a digital meal planner is zero paper waste; everything can be done on an iPad, and templates are reusable. 

Every type of meal planner has its advantages, and finding the right one for you mostly comes down to your personal preference, lifestyle, and meal planning goals.

Your Questions Answered

What are the 5 basic steps of meal planning?
Meal planning involves five key steps that can make your life easier and more delicious:

  1. Identify your dietary needs and preferences, and consider any restrictions or goals you may have.
  2. Plan your meals for the week and consider factors like cooking time and the ingredients you already have. 
  3. Create a shopping list based on your planned meals to minimize waste and ensure you have everything you need. 
  4. While grocery shopping, stick to the list and stay on budget.
  5. Set aside a day for meal prep, whether prepping ingredients or cooking meals in advance. 

Are meal planners worth it? 
Yes! Meal planners are definitely worth it. They save you time and stress by simplifying the planning process and help with budgeting, reducing food waste, and promoting healthier eating habits. Using a meal planner can also lead to more variety in your meals and creative new recipes.

What does meal plan mean? 
A meal plan is a detailed guide of what you’ll eat over a week or a month. It’s like having a friendly companion that outlines each meal and snack for each day, with specific dishes and portion sizes tailored to your nutritional needs, dietary goals, and personal preferences. 

What is the meaning of meal menu planning? 
Meal menu planning is creating a weekly or monthly schedule of meals for yourself and/or your family. It involves deciding on specific dishes, recipes, and ingredients for each meal, considering budget, dietary needs, and personal preferences. A well-planned meal menu can help save time and money, reduce food waste, and promote a healthier and more balanced diet. 

Final Thoughts

A meal planner is a simple yet awesome tool in the kitchen for a healthier and more organized way of planning your meals while also introducing more variety and inspiration for new recipes. 

By setting aside one or two days per week to plan your meals, you can decide what you’ll eat and consider your dietary needs, budget, and personal preferences. This approach alone can greatly impact your health, finances, and overall well-being. 

Do you guys feel getting a meal planner is worth it? And if you use a meal planner, how’s that going? Let me know in the comments below!

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