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What’s for dinner?
That’s probably the most asked question in any household. I know it is in mine. And half the time I had no idea how to answer it. I just ended up frustrated and scrambling to figure out something at the last minute. I would usually just end up ordering pizza. But now that we’re trying to eat healthier that’s just not an option for us. So what’s a family to do? How do we eat healthier, stay on budget, and get dinner on the table with ease? A great meal plan app! And it has to be one we’ll actually use.
The Food Struggle
A huge factor in my struggles with what to make for dinner had to do with diet. It was so much easier to put food on the table when I wasn’t concerned about what I was eating. And when I started watching my family’s diet it became a huge headache. I felt like I was constantly thinking about food! What to eat? Is it healthy? Does it have too many added chemicals? Am I getting balanced nutrients? I hated having to plan ahead because it was such a struggle and then adding grocery shopping to the mix and I was completely overwhelmed. And honestly I felt like, just get me a dang cheeseburger I’ll deal with the consequences later. That’s when I knew I had to do something to solve this problem!
The Meal Plan App
After trying so many things to make mealtime easier, and doing TONS of research. I started looking into meal planning apps. It seemed to be the best solution to my problem. The key factors I looked for in a meal planning app were what helped me choose the right one. Because let’s face it there are a ton of apps out there.
- Cost: It shouldn’t cost too much to be able to create a meal plan.
- Keep me on budget: One of the biggest problems I had was the cost of groceries and trying to keep to my budget.
- Ease of use: Let’s face it if it’s not easy to use you can be sure I’m not going to stick with it.
- Functionality: My ideal meal planner had to do a ton of things for me. Create a calendar I can print out, keep track of my recipes, help me eat healthier, give me a grocery list I can print out, be able to print out my recipes, and track my dietary needs. Plus I absolutely wanted to be able to easily add recipes from other websites.
Why Should You Meal Plan?
Some of the biggest issues families face when it comes to mealtime are:
- Food Waste
- Spending Too Much at the Grocery Store
- Getting a Healthy Diet
- Time Limitations
- Not Getting Quality Time
Studies have shown that when families regularly used a meal plan these issues were either greatly reduced or completely fixed. Check out these great tips from the Mayo Clinic about how meal planning can save you money and help you eat healthier.
The Answer to My Meal Planning Struggle
After much research and even a couple of free trials with other meal plan apps, like Cinderella, I found my perfect match. Plan to Eat. It hit every requirement I listed above. The cost was one of the lowest out of all the apps I tried for the functionality you get. It was super user-friendly. And I loved all the amazing features. Plus I could easily add recipes from websites that met my dietary needs.
Features of the Plan to Eat Meal Plan App
- Affordable: $4.95 a month or $39 a year plus you get a 30-day free trial to test it out!
- User-Friendly: Whether you use the phone app or the desktop everything is very intuitive. I had no trouble navigating the different features and getting help when I had any issue.
- Customizable Grocery List: When you add recipes to your calendar the items you need are automatically added to your grocery list. If there are items you already have you can easily delete them from the list. You can also add staples like laundry soap, pet food, diapers, etc… So your list is your complete shopping list and you’re less likely to overspend. You can also customize what store you shop at!
- Recipes you actually eat: I love that with Plan to Eat I can add my own personal recipes or recipes I find online. With many meal plan apps, you usually have to use their recipes. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty picky so this really is an amazing feature! Plus you can add recipes that are for your specific diet. Whether you’re on Paleo, Whole 30, Keto, or any other diet you can customize it to fit your needs.
- Stay on Budget: With all of the features included in Plan to Eat you are guaranteed to stay on budget. With other apps, you may be saving money only buying the groceries you need. But it’s not savings if you’re paying more for an expensive meal plan app.
A Meal Plan You Can Stick To
I won’t lie, I have the hardest time sticking to a change of habit. That’s why I was really hoping Plan to Eat would be easy enough that even I could stick with it. And you know what? It is! Now, I know meal planning isn’t for everyone. But if you’re really serious about getting your mealtime and budget under control, it’s definitely something to make your best effort doing.
Plan to Eat asked its users about how using the meal planning app changed their lives when they stuck with it. Check out their answers here, you might be shocked by what they found!
The great thing about Plan to Eat if you’re still unsure if you can stick to a plan is that they offer a 30-day free trial. That was one thing I noticed that was impressive about them versus the other apps I tried. They had the longest free trial. Most of the other apps only had 7 or 14-day trials. In my opinion, that’s not really long enough to get a good feel for if the program is right for your specific needs.
How to Get Started With Meal Planning Today
So, when’s the best time to get started with meal planning? Now! Let’s face it we all play the when/then game. When we go grocery shopping next week I’ll start then. Right?!? No, you can start now. Start with what you have in your pantry. It’s a great way to ease into meal planning and figure out what your family will love to eat. Plus, you can play around with the app and add recipes like crazy. At least, that’s what I did.
- Take stock of what you have in your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator. Write down a list of your inventory. You don’t have to list everything, just the basics. ie: meats, fruits & veggies, staples.
- Bookmark a bunch of your favorite recipes online that are simple to get started. Pull out your family’s favorite recipes in your cookbooks. Start with easy recipes and nothing too fancy. Nothing complicates meal planning more than elaborate recipes.
- Get your Plan to Eat trial to give yourself 30 days to at least try it out. Why not? There’s no commitment.
- Check your sales papers for your next grocery trip and find out where you can get the best deals on the basic ingredients you need for your recipes.
- Don’t forget to give yourself left-over nights. Those are the best.
- Utilize your crockpot or Instant Pot.
- Short on ideas? Check out one of my favorite resources for recipe and weekly meal plan ideas Thriving Home. Rachel & Polly also have an amazing cookbook called From Freezer to Table
The most important thing is to keep it simple. Getting overwhelmed is what you’re trying to avoid by meal planning. Remember the whole point is to make mealtime enjoyable again. And never dread hearing the question, “what’s for dinner?”. Don’t be afraid to try new things and note what works well for your family. And most of all you can utilize the time you save and enjoy dinner with your family again.