Meal Planning Basics
At the most basic level, meal planning is simply planning ahead what a meal will consist of. That can mean planning for your next meal. To be really effective, though, meal planning usually happens at least a week in advance.
This can be every single meal and snack, or it can be just the meals that overwhelm you the most. Or it can be anything in between. Because there are no rules, and the whole point is to make it work for you and to make your life easier.
The way it works is pretty straight forward (it's making it work that can be a challenge). Basically, you just decide what your meals will be ahead of time. Then you create your grocery list based on your meal plan and grocery shop according to your list and plan. This is how you make sure you have everything you need when you need it. You can enhance your meal planning process by using different methods, services, and planners, and by adding advance meal prep.
None of that is necessary though. You can meal plan simply using a piece of paper and a pen. Do what works for you.