For the first five years of our marriage, this is the conversation around 4pm:
Husband: Is there a plan for dinner?
Me: Umm…I’m not sure. Do you have a plan?
Then we choose between frozen pizza or sandwiches.
This meal “planning” of ours was a disaster. Kids certainly did not make it any easier.
When I was expecting our third bambino I asked a mama friend, with five kids, what her best advice was regarding his arrival. I was pretty anxious he was going to show up and turn our whole world upside down. Her advice? “With two, you can still wing it most days. With three, you need a plan.” She was absolutely right, especially in the kitchen.
Meal planning has always been so overwhelming for me. Choosing recipes with picky eaters in mind, figuring out the best type of calendar for our family (made more difficult with a husband in the fire service), and the dreaded shopping list creation. It was all just too much. I asked some friends for suggestions and no one had a solution for what I needed. I wanted a website or app where I could choose recipes, add them to a calendar and have it pull the shopping list for me. It sounded impossible.
But guess what…it actually exists! Plan to Eat! My meal planning dream come true!
First, I signed up for the 30-day free trial. Within a few days I was hooked and knew I would get a membership. At $4.95/month or $39/year, it’s a steal considering the amount of spoiled food we were wasting by not having a plan. After I logged in, I immediately started adding recipes. You can add them three different ways.
1) Installing a recipe clipper bookmark. This one’s my favorite because if I’m checking out cooking websites and find something I like, I click my PTE bookmark and it pulls the entire recipe from that page and adds it to my Plan to Eat recipes. So easy!
2) Import recipe from a web address. This just means you can add a recipe directly from a web address. Also super easy!
3) Input recipes by hand. This option is for those favorite recipe cards you having sitting in a binder you rarely open. Takes a bit more time, but totally worth it for Grandma’s Monkey Bread or my Auntie Jo’s raspberry jam bars.
Once I’ve added my recipes, I pull the ones I want into the calendar. You can plan for as many days as you like. Along with standard meal periods, they also include snack periods, which is very helpful with preschoolers underfoot. Once you choose your date range for your plan, the system pulls the entire shopping list and organizes it by aisle at the store. You can even add other items that aren’t necessarily part of a recipe (yogurt, cereal, etc.).
Here’s a video that walks you through the process so you can see how easy it is.
Warning: you might become completely obsessed with this service. It has made my meal planning so efficient and easy. If I use this meal planner, then order groceries from Vons it is like a magical meal fairy has visited my kitchen to make me look like Supermom. Amazing.
Another great perk is that they offer a referral program, so when you refer your friends, it banks a 20% commission based on the subscription they choose. For example, if you refer a friend and they sign up for an annual subscription, you get $8. Commissions are paid each month via PayPal, so this is a great way to pay for your own subscription or make some extra cash.
Now, here’s the best part. Plan to Eat has one sale per year after Thanksgiving.
They offer 50% off of their annual subscriptions, Friday, November 25th-Monday, November 28th!
So, start your free trial today, check it out all week and if you like it, sign up during the sale next weekend. Let us know what you think in the comments!