Thursday, September 24, 2015

Meal Planning Made Even Easier! Plan to Eat (plus a free giveaway!)

A few years ago, I did an entire blog series about meal planning (you can catch up here, here, here and here). Most of the ideas I shared back then I still use today, but there is one new tool that I recently started using that has cut my meal planning time in half. Introducing, Plan To Eat.


Plan to Eat is a meal planning website. You can upload your favorite online recipes with just one click of a button. From there, you can drag and drop your recipes onto a calendar to plan your weekly menu. And then, this is the best part, Plan to Eat generates your grocery list for you! YOU DON'T HAVE TO WRITE A GROCERY LIST!!!

To give you a better idea of how Plan to Eat works, here's a quick little video for you:

So, in case you can't already tell, I love Plan to Eat and here is what I love about it:
  • It is easy to upload recipes. For most online recipes, it is just one click of a button. However, even for recipes I have in cookbooks, typing them into Plan to Eat takes only a few minutes of my initial time, and then it is stored in my account forever - I never have to re-enter it!
  • Speaking of your account, even if you decide to quit Plan to Eat (although I have no idea why you would), they save all of your account information, so if/when you come back, all the recipes you uploaded are still there waiting for you.
  • Meal planning has never been easier! I start by looking at our family calendar and using the notes feature on Plan to Eat to note any nights that we are not cooking at home. From there, I just drag and drop recipes into the menu planner. I like that I can put recipes into my queue to save for later and that I can plan breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks if I so choose.

  • Plan to Eat makes a grocery list for you!!! I know, I said this before, but it is worth saying again and again. Not only does it generate a grocery list, it also divides that list into categories such as Dairy, Meat, Baking, etc. And that's not all, folks. You can designate each item on your list to a particular store and Plan to Eat will remember your preferences. For example, if you always buy your chicken at Costco, you can designate chicken to Costco and it will always go on your Costco list! I have lists for Costco, Trader Joe's and the general grocery store and it. is. fabulous. 
  • To make grocery shopping even easier, I created a recipe called "Weekly Staples". It really isn't a recipe at all, just a list of the staples that we purchase weekly at the grocery store -- things like milk, yogurt, fruit, etc. I make sure to drag and drop it into each week's planner and instantly all those weekly items are added to my grocery list.

Update: I have learned that Plan to Eat has a Staples list feature already on their website. Not only is this feature easy to use, it serves a great reminder for those easy-to-forget items that are not listed in your recipe ingredients. Check out this video for a quick tutorial of how to use the Plan to Eat Staples feature.
  • It's affordable! In fact, I would even say it is cheap! To help entice you, Plan to Eat offers a free 30-day trial. I did my trial in January and after day seven I was hooked and signed up for the full year subscription for only $39. That's less than a latte a month. If you aren't sure you want to commit to a full year, you can go month-to-month for only $4.95 per month.
With all of the things I love about Plan to Eat, there are a few things I would change:
  • There isn't a pantry feature. That means, every time a recipe calls for salt, salt gets put on my grocery list. I wish there was a feature where I could list the items I have in my pantry and they would not get added to my list. I did email Plan to Eat about this and they responded by saying they used to have a pantry feature, but it has since been removed. They explained that they would rather give costumers a complete grocery list than assume the customers have certain pantry items that they may not actually have. It get their reasoning, but I still wish for a pantry feature.  *Update: A reader gave me a fabulous suggestion that solved my pantry problem! I created a grocery store called "Pantry" and designated all my pantry items to that store. When making my grocery list, I can quickly scan my pantry store, save the items that I need and easily delete the rest. This has been a perfect solution for me!
  • Grocery items get listed multiple times. For example, if one recipe calls for "olive oil" and another recipe calls for "extra virgin olive oil" and another recipe calls for "good olive oil" (I'm looking at you, Ina Garten), all three kinds of oil will be listed on my grocery list. Update: Plan to Eat to the rescue! This video will walk you through how to easily edit your shopping list to prevent repeatedly listing the same ingredient multiple times. 
  • For both of these issues, I have found that it is easy for me to quickly scan my grocery list before printing and simply delete the items that I do not need. In my opinion, the time I save using Plan to Eat is well worth the few seconds it takes me to delete some unnecessary items from my grocery list.
If you are ready to give Plan to Eat a try, then I have good news for you! The kind folks at Plan to Eat are giving one Everyday Organizing reader a FREE ONE YEAR SUBSCRIPTION to Plan To Eat! Woohoo!

You can enter to win via the Rafflecopter below. Your last day to enter the raffle is Monday, October 6, 2015. And remember, even if you don't win the big prize, everyone is eligible for the FREE 30-day Plan to Eat trial! So, head on over to Plan to Eat now and get signed up!


a Rafflecopter giveaway