Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
I don’t use too many online organization tools, partially because I’m getting to the point I hate learning new things. I’m becoming my grandmother. Funny how that happens, but it’s true, I get frustrated trying to learn a new way of doing things. Yet, on the flip side, I love trying to find new ways to be efficient, so I am constantly facing a double edged sword. For me to adopt a new app or online way of doing things, it really means I’ve committed. And for me to commit, it means I really like what a new product can do. Plan to Eat (affiliate link) is one of those systems and I feel it’s provided enough of a time saving for me that I want to write an entire post about how it has helped me meal plan and save money.
All In One Place
One way I’m trying to live more on a budget is to meal plan and meal prep when I have time. It used to be on the weekends, but with baseball season, my weekends have vanished. Gone. Nonexistent. And when I find myself getting frustrated, I remind myself that someday soon, these days will end. So, I try to appreciate my crazy busy schedule.
Back to Plan to Eat. Okay, this has been a beautiful addition to my arsenal. It took some time for it to become a powerful tool for me, but the more I use it, the more effective it becomes. So, Plan to Eat is a web based program that helps you meal plan and create/organize grocery lists. In essence, you drag and drop your recipes on to the calendar. It will automatically generate your grocery list based on your recipes for the week.
The drag and drop of recipes into the calendar is simple and quick.
Your recipes are all in one location.
You can access your account from any computer or mobile device.
The mobile website is simple and crossing items off your grocery list is a breeze.
They have several how to video’s and simple step by step instructions to help you get started.
You can organize you grocery list by store.
The upfront work can seem overwhelming.
There is a learning curve. I still don’t use a lot of features.
This isn’t a free program.
You have to import your recipes – from other online sites or from your own library which does mean you have to type some recipes by hand instead of copying them over from other websites. I run into this because I use a lot of America’s Test Kitchen and often cannot find specific recipes online.
The Best Part
My favorite aspect, hands down, is the creation of the grocery list. Before finding this website, I would leaf through all of my recipes and try to figure out what to eat. I’d write them down on a piece of paper and then I’d cycle back through the chosen recipes and write down the ingredients I need. Now, I just add my recipes to my week and click on my grocery list. I can check off things I don’t need add other items that we need, and boom, grocery list made.
The Worst Part
The longest part was adding recipes to my database. They suggest you don’t do it all at once. I will bring my laptop to my kids baseball games. If there is no free wi-fi, I will turn my phone into a hot spot and connect that way. And, during those slower, down times I work on adding recipes to my database – from my Pinterest page or other favorite go to websites. Between that, and working one weekend during a heavy rainstorm, allowing all of us to stay home, I put in a solid chunk of recipes. From there, I just add in at least one or two each couple weeks (I meal plan 2 weeks at a time). It’s super easy to add recipes from other sites. I use a TON of Skinnytaste recipes, and copying from another site is literally copying the link and pasting it into the Plan to Eat box. It auto fills out the form and I rarely see a mistake (maybe twice in copying a hundred recipes).
I watched every one of their tutorial videos as I learned the program and I feel this is the key reason I didn’t get overwhelmed. When I have more time, I’ll watch some of the other video’s that cover features I haven’t utilized yet (freezer meal planning, meals in queue).
They also have a blog and I appreciate a few of the recipes and ideas I’ve pulled from here as well.
As a side note – when I use Plan to Eat, I’ve stuck to my budget about 90% of the time and the few times I’ve gone over were due to spontaneous out to eats. When I don’t use Plan to Eat, I think we’ve stuck to our budget about 15% of the time. And the quality of food has diminished dramatically too, which is frustrating on so many levels.
The set up does take time, but once your recipes are in there, it really is just drag and drop, editing your shopping list, and go. It’s one of the best tools I use to meal plan.