Eating a healthy and balanced diet is one of the best things you can do for yourself and meal planning is an effective way to stick to it. However, it’s easy to set yourself a meal plan goal but tough to follow through on it. One common reason people fail at meal planning is that they get bored with the routine of eating the same old recipes.
If you’re losing interest in your repetitive healthy meal plan and want to try something new, there is an unconventional option—ChatGPT. Yes, ChatGPT, the AI chatbot that can give you human-like answers using a simple prompt, can also help you plan healthy meals.
What You Need to Know About ChatGPT Before You Start
ChatGPT can indeed help you create a healthy meal plan. In fact, it can help you create anything you’d like, even an unhealthy meal plan. But before you use ChatGPT to help you build your meal plan, there are several factors of your meal plan you need to figure out first.
Meal Plan Preferences
First, you have to decide on what your goals are. Are you meal planning to lose weight, maintain your weight, or gain weight in a healthy way? Second, do you have any specific food preferences, allergies, or restrictions?
For example, you might be following a vegetarian diet, but you still want to avoid eating eggs. Additionally, you might be a strict vegan but simply can’t stomach eating mushrooms. The more details you feed ChatGPT, the more precise its recommendations can be.
Remember to take into account that ChatGPT is still only an AI chatbot, and you should be on the lookout for potentially incorrect information. In simple terms, don’t follow any advice without checking it first.
There are also some other additional choices that you need to decide on before you get started using ChatGPT.
- How long do you want your meal plan to be? You can choose one week, five days, one month, etc.
- How many daily meals do you want to plan for? Do you want to plan three daily meals and a snack, only for dinner, etc.?
- How many people are you cooking for? Are you cooking for a family of five? Are you cooking for two but want extra leftovers?
- How long do you want the cooking time to be for each meal?
- How much do you want the cost per meal to be if you’re cooking on a budget?
How to Use ChatGPT to Determine Your TDEE and BMR
Once you’ve decided on those particulars of your healthy meal plan, you can use ChatGPT to help with your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and total daily energy expenditure (TDEE)—if you don’t already know. TDEE is an estimate of your total calories burned daily.
BMR is the energy your body uses while at rest. Knowing these numbers are important to your particular goals. All you have to do is type “How do I calculate my TDEE and BMR?” into ChatGPT, and it automatically generates the needed equations and formulas.
How to Use ChatGPT to Create a Healthy Meal Plan
Now is the time you can start playing around with ChatGPT and see how it can help you come up with some healthy meal plan ideas. Remember to include all the details of your meal plan in your prompts. ChatGPT can give you a better response if you’re more in-depth about what you’re asking for.
In addition, you can even ask ChatGPT to include a full grocery list of all the ingredients you need as well as the measurements for each item.
Meal Plan Example Prompts for ChatGPT
Here are some examples of prompts you can type into ChatGPT to help you build a healthy meal plan. A healthy meal plan is different for everyone, so always add as many or as few details as you want.
- A five-day vegan meal plan for weight loss that serves two adults with three meals per day, has a 30-minute cook time, costs $10 per meal, and contains 1800 calories per day.
- Two-week vegetarian meal plan that caters to nut allergies, serves one, and includes three meals per day. No more than one hour of cooking time with an included grocery list.
- One-week meal plan with three meals, one snack, and no dietary restrictions.
Problems With ChatGPT Meal Plans
Keep in mind that ChatGPT is not consistent all the time, and the tool may generate factual errors that could mislead you if you don’t verify the information with other trusted sources. For example, in the previous screenshot, ChatGPT erroneously reports that the price of the breakfast meal is $4 when it is, in fact, $5.
Sometimes you can ask for a five-day meal plan, and it only ends up giving you four days. Moreover, the meal plans it generates sometimes include ingredient lists without instructions, and sometimes it gives you a recipe with the method only and without an ingredient list.
Plus, ChatGPT doesn’t work too well if you want to save money or live a zero-waste lifestyle. You can ask ChatGPT to create a month-long meal plan, for example, but it doesn’t automatically share ingredients across multiple recipes.
This can result in spending an enormous amount of money on groceries and lots of extra unused ingredients.
Better Meal Planning Alternatives to ChatGPT
While ChatGPT is fun to use to play around with possible meal plans, it’s not entirely reliable, and you should use it with caution. On the other hand, there are plenty of excellent meal planning apps available that can make your healthy meal plan easier to organize and keep track of.
The SideChef app can help you plan better meals and eat healthier. It is an app that creates a meal plan based on your dietary restrictions, cooking goals, serving sizes, and ingredients to avoid.
The plan can include as many or as few dishes as you like, and you have the freedom to swap out any recipe of your choice. Plus, it features a step-by-step cooking mode with voice guidance to take you through each recipe.
Downloads: SideChef for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)
Another example is the Eat This Much app, which also has some notable meal-planning features. One of the best is that it automatically generates a meal plan for you as many times as you’d like.
In addition, you can edit your meal plan to your liking by moving meals around and using suggested meal alternatives. The app even displays the total calories for the day alongside the calories for each meal and recipe.
Downloads: Eat This Much for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)
Can You Trust ChatGPT to Create a Healthy Meal Plan?
Basically, ChatGPT is a tool that can respond to natural language queries with text-based answers. The AI tool can assist you in creating a healthy meal plan, and it’s an excellent option if you need help coming up with meal ideas. But you shouldn’t solely rely on ChatGPT. For example, you can just use the recipes it generates as suggestions and then make changes to suit your taste preferences and nutritional needs.
Remember to verify always its recommendations with reputable sources. Even though ChatGPT is a big deal, it’s best not to count on it for error-free health information. After all, it’s an awesome AI chatbot, but not a professional dietitian.