More Than Meal Planning: Plan to Eat
November 17, 2011
About a month ago I signed up with Plan to Eat, just to give it a try. I was hoping it would help cut down on my trips to the grocery store and our ever increasing grocery bill (I blame the pregnancy cravings!). Now that it has surpassed my expectations and greatly improved our meals, I want to share it with everyone I know! My favorite part? It allows me to collect recipes from all over the internet and my home and keep them in one location!
Why do I need a meal plan?
I was never really into meal planning before this. The past seasons of our lives have allowed for more flexibility in the kitchen. Then we bought a house and things got a little stressful, too stressful to keep track of what was in the crisper. We also joined a CSA this year. We’ve always been huge veggies lovers, so we signed up for the family share of produce. Needless to say, it was more than the two of us could handle. Meal planning has helped me use more of our crop, but it has also helped me foresee what we will not use up so I can share it with friends and family, or preserve it.
The Shopping List:
My trips to the grocery store have become more efficient and economical too! I love how Plan to Eat divides up my grocery list into sections like: produce, meat, diary, canned goods, and baking supplies. I can add staples to the list as well, and there is a handy list to remind me of anything I may have forgotten. Everything I need for the meal plan is on the list so there are no evening runs to the store for that one forgotten item. I can also see the list and realize if I have gone over budget with my meal plan. Sometimes I get carried away with all the recipes I want to try and this reminds me to spread them out more and use more budget friendly recipes. Which reminds me of another awesome feature! You can make a list of what pantry items you would like to use up and Plan to Eat will help you find recipes using what you already have!
How much is it worth?
It costs about $3.25 a month but I feel the price is justified with use. There are recipe sites that can help with meal planning and grocery shopping for free, but I like Plan to Eat because it isn’t a recipe site, it’s a meal planning site. It’s main goal is to make it easy to add recipes from anywhere to aid in meal planning. I realized half way through the free trial that I had already gotten more use out of the site than I usually get out of a cookbook, because it made all those internet recipes more readily available for planning. Now I get more use out of my cookbooks too because I have added recipe ingredients from them and referenced the page numbers. I have always loved collecting recipes, now I can actually get some mileage out of them!
Plan to Eat also makes it easy to share recipes with friends and family. Sometimes with a recipe website you don’t really know what you will end up with. A recipe could be highly rated only to have extreme variations in the comments section that made the meal palatable. With Plan to Eat you choose who you want to share recipes with, and what recipes are not for sharing. You can also join the discussion forums to seek out like-minded people to share recipes with. This is especially helpful for those with dietary concerns, or families that are trying a new health-kick and are short on ideas.
Would this work for you?
Plan to Eat is not for everyone. I spend a lot of time on the computer so this website works for me. It’s my evening entertainment and I find great joy in adding to my recipe collection. If you prefer pen and paper, no worries. I will keep sharing my favorite recipes and more meal planning ideas in other posts.
Want a recipe now? This was a new one I tried this week. A great alternative to beans and rice!
Quinoa and Black Beans
Cook Time: 30 Min
Total Time: 35 Min
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
- 3⁄4 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 1⁄2 cups vegetable broth = one can
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans or 3 1/2 cups rinsed and drained
- 1⁄2 cup fresh cilantro optional
- 1⁄2 cup salsa optional
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.
- Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,
- Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans, salsa and cilantro. Cook until beans are hot.
Have you tried meal planning before? Do you think this site would be helpful?
P.S. I am not affiliated with Plan to Eat and can not be bribed into giving good reviews! I will always let you know if I will be reimbursed for your interest in something I’ve shared.