24+ Free Printable Meal Plan Templates (Excel, Word, PDF)

free meal planner template

Meal planning is necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, a meal plan template is a planner document used to define the basic three meals breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a specific number of days.

Meal planning is an approach to spend some time on defining any number of meals for a defined number of days such as daily, weekly or monthly meal planners.

The meal planning is also taken as the approach to ask the question about what to eat once for a certain number of days, instead of every day, and then go to the grocery to make sure the availability of ingredients as per requirement.

It isn’t just limited to planning a few things. The template can be used to plan any type of food so one doesn’t need to spend money on restaurant food on the hour of need.

The goal of using a meal planner template is not to start from scratch for every meal. There are a lot of reasons for planning meals. However, the important thing is to make sure the grocery must be available for what has been planned out at a particular time of the day.

So, there are three simplest steps in the planning of meal using a meal plan template;

  1. Define the breakfast, lunch, and dinners (along with recipes if needed)
  2. Go shopping to buy the required ingredients.
  3. Prepare the ingredients for cooking.

What is a meal plan?

A meal plan is a plan that informs you what you are going to eat. A meal plan informs you what you going to cook every day. It fulfills your dietary requirements. Moreover, it can save your time and money. An organized meal plan makes your and your family’s lives happy and smooth.

How does a meal plan help family relations?

When you decide to make a meal plan then mostly you plan to cook at home. Hence, then you spend most of the time with your family. Your husband even your kids help you in cooking or cleaning. Recent research shows that the family members who help each other in cooking are closer as time wore on. So, in this way, a meal plan helps you.

The significance of using Meal Plan Template

There are a lot of reasons for using a meal plan template. The basic goal is to select the meals for a certain number of days and take steps for meal preparation.

The meal planning approach can be used for domestic as well as commercial purposes. However, weekly meal planning templates are used to plan three basic meals of a day for the whole week.

It helps in many ways to the planning. Talking specifically about the template. So, it’s compatible with MS Excel and Google Sheet. So, can be used without any professional skill of the tool. Also, compatible to use on desktop as well as mobile phones.

There are three major benefits of meal planning in terms of time, health and money.

Meal planning focuses on the approach to meal preparation ahead of time. Meal planning saves time by reducing the number of trips to the store for groceries. Also, a well-planned meal contains a grocery shopping list to avoid wandering randomly at the grocery stores.

Meal planning is also used to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It helps in planning healthy diet plans to eat the right food in the right amount.

Moreover, a list of ingredients prepared. Therefore, the buyer saves money by planning to buy on ingredients that are required to prepare the planned foods.

Key Elements of Meal Plan Template

There are different meal plan templates available to use. However, a basic three meal weekly template is the most commonly used one.

The date or week number for the planning week is written at the top. There are 8 subsections in the template. Seven for each day of the week while one for the grocery or shopping list.

The days’ sections are named by the name of the day. Also, subdivided into three further sections to write down the food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner separately.

Why do meal plans important?

There are various reasons why meal plans are important. At first, a meal plan is a useful tool for gaining or losing weight. When you balance out your quantity of supplements then it will help you with your energy level. You should make a meal plan so that your body functions perfectly and keep your body in peak performing shape. During planning your meals include all important nutrients into your day. If you don’t do this then you can face different weight problems because you are eating something of too much or too little. Hence, making meal plans ensure you that you are making everything right.

Furthermore, a meal plan can also keep you away from the things like soda and fast foods that enhance your calories and unbalance your body functioning. However, these plans are important because they help many people. If you plan it perfectly then it can work wonderfully for you. One more thing you have to do is to follow your plan strictly.

How important is meal planning for individual dietary needs?

Allergies are very common and meal planning can help you to avoid them. Fast-food restaurants can‘t provide you guarantee that their food is untouched by specific things. At fast food chains, common things like eggs, peanuts, and milk are added to almost everything. Also, it can be difficult to work around this in case you are vegetarian or vegan.

Thus, if you want to keep up a healthy and regular diet then a meal plan becomes almost crucial at this point. Animal meats are used in many fast food restaurants. If some restaurants can’t use animal meats, they use contain animal by-products so it would become difficult for vegetarian families to pick something up. Hence, a meal plan by planning ahead and organizing can eliminate these potentially stressful times.

How to avoid impulsive buys by using a meal plan template?

Advertising is all around you and all grocery stores take advantage of this. It doesn’t matter whether it is sales on specific items or big posters that promote a new cereal. You can also hear a soup advertisement playing on the television. All this distracts you from buying what you actually want. It can be a big bust to shop without a list as well as it is a powerful will to stick to the list. You can solve this problem by preparing a meal plan. It restricts you don’t buy something that you don’t need.

How to make a meal plan?

Let us discuss step how to make a meal plan;

  1. At first, review your schedule. Before deciding which recipe you are going to cook determines when you will cook. It will definitely help you to identify which recipe you should select for your meal plan. Have a look at your schedule and see when you have time to cook, also when you have the energy to cook.
  2. Secondly, select your recipes. There are billions of recipes on the internet so while selecting recipes you have to see the factors such as time and style, what ingredients you have available at your home, and sales and seasonality.
  3. After selecting the recipes plug them into your schedule in the times you have decided for cooking.
  4. The next step you have to do is to make a grocery list. See your recipes and decide what ingredients you need for them and what is available at your home.
  5. After finalizing your grocery list, go to the shop and buy the ingredients that you want for your recipes.
  6. In the end, you have your complete meal plan. You have to stick with it and edit it weekly.

When the meal plan is filled out then what to do?

Here are some tips that will help you to stay on track;

  • When you have someone rooting for you, it becomes a lot easier to stay on a meal plan. They encourage you and provide motivation. You can also convince them to do the same thing you are.
  • For your actions, hold yourself liable. It is important to do so in order to ensure that you do not try to hide it or cover it up. This, by sending into remission, may discourage you that you may give up.
  • Start telling yourself not to do these things like not buying extra things on your meal plan at the grocery store, don’t eat when you aren’t supposed to, etc. In short, you have to avoid the temptations present around you.
  • Learn the difference between hunger and boredom while on a meal plan. It is important to know whether you are eating just because you are hungry or just something to do to pass the time.

What are the health benefits of a meal plan?

Meal planning provides you with a lot of benefits including health benefits. Nowadays, many people eat out. They don’t cook at home. It is easier for them to just go to a fast food restaurant and get food for the family. Eating out for an extensive of time can lead to many health problems. When you draft a meal plan, you know what you have to make daily. Also, the fresh fruits and vegetables that you are using contain a lot of nutrients and vitamins as you are cooking from home.

Faqs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How to create a weekly meal plan?

1- Take enough time to plan
2- Check what you already have
3- Add some of your favorite meals
4- Use up your leftovers
5- Cook in bulk
6- Make your ingredients work

What are the principles of meal planning?

There are 5 principles of meal planning;

1- Adequacy
2- Balance
3- Variety
4- Moderation
5- Nourishment

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