Meal Planning 101

Planning your meals is a great place to begin when opting for a healthier lifestyle. Learn more about how to get started with ACPNY Registered Dietitian, Jennifer Tao.

Brunette woman making a healthy green salad.

Planning your meals is a great place to start when opting for a healthier lifestyle. Think of it as your roadmap for the week to help keep you focused on your goal and how you are going to get there. Here are some reasons why meal planning is helpful:  

  • You’ve got a plan – when you plan your meals in advance, you are less likely to deviate and make less healthy eating choices. 

  • You are less likely to skip meals and over-consume calories from snack foods high in sugar and fat.  

  • There is food in the refrigerator, so you can make something at home instead of ordering out or purchasing outside foods. 

  • It builds confidence in the kitchen – the more practice you have putting something together, the easier it becomes and the more confidence you will have trying other meals.  

  • It saves you money – eating out can add up quickly. Cooking and taking leftovers for meals helps cut down on weekly costs.  

One way to help you save time is to cook larger batches of food and use the leftovers for another meal or to make another dish. For example: If you make a large batch of broccoli to have as a side, you can easily put leftover broccoli into macaroni and cheese or a pasta dish the next day.  


You can also freeze any leftovers if you feel you made more than you can eat. Freezing food is a great way to save you some time in the future while also keeping you from getting tired of eating the same thing every day.  


Healthy meals do not have to be time-consuming. Keeping it simple is okay, and sometimes having just a few key items at home is enough to make a variety of meals. One example: If you feel you do not have time to cook, you can purchase a rotisserie chicken that is already cooked. On the first day, you can eat the chicken whole. Then, you can use any leftover meat to turn into a chicken sandwich. If you want, you can also boil all of the leftovers to make chicken stock or chicken soup!