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3 Ways to Easily Think of Meal Ideas When Meal Planning

Meal planning is a simple process that involves thinking about what you want to eat ahead of time and writing it down. Then you make a grocery list and stick to the list when purchasing food. Lastly, you cook and eat the meals you planned.

The problem is that a lot of people struggle with the thinking about what to eat part. If this is you, I’ve got you covered. Here are three ways to easily think of meal ideas when meal planning.

Easily Come Up with Meal Ideas

1. Keep A List of Go-To Meals

Keep a list of recipes and meals that you like and feel confident making. These become your go-to meals and make meal planning a lot easier. All you have to do is go to your list and pick a meal to make. I keep a list for every meal of the day, breakfast, lunch and dinner.

If you are new to cooking and need to find recipes, you can find quality recipes created in a test kitchen on websites such as,, and Pinterest is also a good place to browse for new recipes.

2. Have Weekly Themed Meals

A fun way to come up with meal ideas is to have themed days. By having themed days, you have a frame of reference for thinking of meals. It can be helpful for the themed day to match the day of the week such as “Meatless Mondays” or “Taco Tuesdays.”

Example themes:

  • Meatless/Vegetarian
  • Mexican
  • Italian
  • Thai
  • Seafood
  • One-Pot Meal
  • Bowls
  • Leftovers
  • Comfort Food
  • Breakfast for Dinner

3. Focus On Food Groups

An important strategy when meal planning is paying attention to the food groups you are eating each day. If your goal is to get two servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables each day, plan meals and snacks around this.

To achieve your goal, you can plan something like a banana at breakfast, carrots with lunch, an apple for an afternoon snack and a salad with dinner.

This is a way to come up with meals that ensures proper nutrition. As you are meal planning, ask yourself if you are getting all the nutrition you need. Double check to see if you are planning to eat food from all 5 food groups each day (grains, protein, dairy, fruit & vegetables).

If you want more meal planning tips, download the Meal Planning Guide for Busy Professional Women. It includes:

  • Why Should I Meal Plan?
  • 6-Step Meal Planning Process
  • How to Think of Meal Ideas
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Online Grocery Shopping
  • Meal Prep
  • Leftovers
  • Eating Out
  • Meal Delivery Services
  • Ready-Made Meals

If this post helped you, share it with your friends on social media.

Samantha Shuflin, MS, RDN, LDN is a Chicago-based registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) with a master’s degree in nutrition. She helps busy professionals thrive through nutrition & wellness.



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