Last year I wrote about the Plan to Eat Meal Planning website and how much I love it. I also signed up to be an affiliate - that's how much I liked it! (There's only one other product I've done that for: Truth in the Tinsel. I'll probably write about that one next week.)
A year later, I'm still using the program regularly, and I still highly recommend it. So much so that I got a funky app thing that hangs out at the top of my blog and reminds you about the Black Friday sale coming up. I know, I know! Fancy and sort of annoying, hard to decide.
So what is Plan to Eat?
"Weekly meal planning, recipe sharing, and shopping list making in one." It's true: it makes your shopping list for you. After the subscription price, there's no app to buy; just a very nice mobile site that you can link to on any smart phone. Mr. Cyrus and I have different phones that don't talk to each other (not sure what that says about us), but we both have the Plan to Eat icon on our home screens, which means my meal planning goes like this:
- Plan meals on computer by dragging and dropping either menus or individual recipes.
- Pull up automatically generated shopping list on my phone. Walk around kitchen double checking which ingredients I need, and marking off what I already have.
- Text husband and beg him to go to the store so I don't have to load up all the crazies and go myself.
- He's used to this by now, so he replies, "Update the shopping list, and I'll go on the way home." I say, "done!" and he pulls up the list on his own phone.
If only the food would cook itself. But you can see - this is something we actually use that saves time and energy for our family.
Here are two things that I do on the website that make it more useful for me.
- Make a Breakfast/Lunch baseline. Like many people, we typically eat the same types of things for breakfast and lunch, so I created a one-week menu with entries for breakfast and lunch. Some entries are recipes and some are just notes, like "granola." (Our meals might look strange to some of you since we're gluten free and don't eat a lot of bread.) I'm including a screen shot of this menu, but I can't actually share the full menu with you unless you are a Plan to Eat subscriber.
|for a clearer image, go directly to this photo on flickr|
- Make dinner menus. Create a few easy menus for those weeks when you can barely think, let alone meal plan or cook. I mean easy to prep, easy to cook, easy to shop for. Once you've done this (instructions on the site), you can drag your Breakfast/Lunch Baseline onto your planner, then drag your dinner menu on as well and you're done. I haven't used the menu feature as often for dinners, but you can see a few menus I created on the left side of the screenshots. Below are two one-week dinner menus I have made. Again, if you want the full menus, you have to be a subscriber but I can share individual recipes.
If you are thinking about purchasing a subscription, next week is definitely the time. Yearly subscriptions will be half off for Black Friday and the weekend, regularly $39/year.
Another resource to get you started:
Kat at Inspired to Action put together a Meal Planning Boot Camp, which is really helpful for getting up to speed with Plan to Eat. The main drawback in my opinion is that you have to have your recipes in Plan to Eat in order to plan them. There is a widget thing that allows you to add recipes easily online, but if all your recipes are in cookbooks, you have to enter those by hand. However, I have been able to look up some cookbook or magazine recipes online via my dear friend Google and then import those in using the widget thingy, and that saves some time. (Directions for the widget thingy here.)