Simplify Meal Prep and Get a Handle on Your Grocery $ With Plan to Eat
Hi everyone! I’m Ken and Sandy’s daughter, Kara. Mom taught me well and I’ve always planned my meals and grocery shopping. But, with young kids and a career, I struggled to stay on top of things. Without a plan, dinnertime would arrive and I’d try to decide what to make while the kids were getting cranky and I had to dig through the freezer for something quick to thaw. In those moments, the task of cooking became a real stressor. But it didn’t have to be that way.
About 6 years ago, I got fed up with the normal routine of searching through my cookbooks and recipe cards or scouring the web for new ideas. I wanted a place to keep all of my recipes in an easy-to-search format. I tried making a personal cookbook using a 3-ring binder to save copies of all my internet recipe finds. That quickly got overwhelming. I like to find new recipes. I love to browse for a specific ingredient (like Elm Run Farms Round Steaks!), save the recipes and search some more.
After testing a variety of apps and scouring the web for options, I finally found Plan To Eat. Now, before you ask… no, Elm Run Farms doesn’t receive any referral credit for this blog post. I’m sharing this info in hopes that busy people everywhere can use this tool to plan their meals to eat healthier while managing their grocery dollars.
This web-based program allows me to quickly save recipes and drag them onto a calendar while automatically populating onto my personalized Shopping List. The recent update of the Plan To Eat app has further simplified the process.
I can quickly save recipes by clipping from the website or copying the URL. There’s also an option to enter a recipe manually. Each recipe is labeled with a course, cuisine, main ingredient, tags and more. Tags can be customized for easy searching later. I’ve used tags when I follow a new meal plan (ahem… diet) and want to sort all of the recipes associated with it. It’s also convenient to tag recipes that are gluten free since we have several members of the family who eat gluten free and several who don’t.
When I start meal-planning, I typically look in my freezer to see which Elm Run Farms meat options we already have on hand. I plug them into the meal plan by using the search function to search for that type of meat and dragging the chosen recipe to the calendar. I can also add ingredients if I plan to serve fries or frozen veggies or something that doesn’t require a recipe. This adds the ingredient to my shopping list! Another handy tool is the Note box available for each day. I can add the class/sports/practice/event scheduled for that day/evening to be sure I plan a meal that fits the schedule. I fill in the remaining dates with some favorites and some new recipes, depending on how much time I can spend that week.
Once my meal plan is full, typically 2 weeks at a time, I look at my shopping list. The program adds the ingredients from all recipes so I delete the items I already have on hand. Sometimes I move items to a different store. Each store is divided into categories, and you can assign certain foods to certain stores to make shopping at multiple stores easier.
At the store, the app shows a simple checklist of items. My daughter loves to check off items as we put them into the cart and I have less impulse buys which helps keep my grocery budget in check.
There is a yearly subscription fee to use the service. It saves me so much time that at this point it’s a no-brainer. Head over to www.plantoeat.com and see if the service would make life easier for you. If you already use Plan to Eat or a similar service, leave a note in the comments section.