Just For Moms: Meal Planning with PlanToEat
I’ve been meal planning, fairly successfully, for almost a year now. I tried it countless times in the past, but I was never able to stick to it. Something always came up; I forgot some important ingredient during my shopping trip (you need chicken for Chicken Cordon Blue!? What the What?!), I was tired, I forgot to thaw something out, or animal fries sounded way better than zucchini casserole for example. However, a dear friend of mine turned me on to this great website that did most of the planning for me, plantoeat.com. It’s a subscription service, but they allow you to test drive the service for 30 days, for free, with no restrictions. I figured that I could get a good feel for it and see if I’d really use it enough to justify the $4.99 a month fee.
The first thing I had to do was enter my recipes. This did not bode well for the site, since I do not have time to sit around and type recipes into a website, especially when most of the ones I use are already online somewhere. Well, they totally have that covered! Most major recipe sites, like allrecipes.com, kraft.com and tasteofhome.com can be imported. Even some of my favorite food blogs like ourbestbites.com and skinnytaste.com can be imported. When I do come across a recipe that can’t be imported or have one that is so old school that it’s –gasp– written down, they have a bulk entry feature. This saves lots of time tabbing between fields on the site’s basic entry form.
So, I spent about 20 minutes collecting and entering some of my favorite go-to recipes into my personal recipe book on the site. Additionally, and worth mentioning, you can also allow your friends who might also be using the site to access your recipes. This is great for quick sharing, or pot luck planning or even once a month cooking plans. Some other nice features of the recipe book are that you can rate recipes, add notes, and display how many times you’ve planned a particular recipe. If your computer is not portable or in your kitchen, you can simply print recipes in an easy-to-read format or access the mobile site on your smart phone.
One of my favorite parts of the site though is the “planning” part. After you’ve entered your recipes all you do is literally drag and drop your selected recipe onto the weekly calendar that’s displayed at the bottom. Then, and this is probably the coolest part, is that after you’ve planned what you want, breakfast, lunch and dinner if you prefer, you click on the handy shopping list button and it generates a shopping list for that week! It will combine items from different recipes to give you a total to buy. It categorizes them by aisle, which is totally customizable by the way, and it provides you with a recipe key so you know what recipe you’re buying which ingredient for while you’re shopping. You can even designate different grocery stores for different items, which is super handy for me, since I like to buy my produce at the farmer’s market.
Since I’ve signed up for my free trial 10 months ago, I’ve faithfully used this site to menu plan 90% of my meals. I’ve gotten a system down where I menu plan and check my grocery list on Sunday evening and shop on Monday. And the price?! Seriously, so cheap considering that all my recipes are in one place and I don’t have to spend the time creating menu plans and grocery lists from scratch, which was taking me forever in the past and was a major failure point pre-plantoeat.com.
There are a couple of things that I either don’t use or seem clunky, like the pantry feature or the recipe tagging system, but overall I feel that this tool has single handedly changed my ability to menu plan successfully. And, my husband is super impressed that I manage to get dinner on the table pretty close to every night of the week! Yay me!
For more information, visit plantoeat.com.
To learn more about Kara, view her bio.
Article by Kara Glithero, PhoenixBites Guest Contributor