Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: Plan To Eat - Online Meal Planning

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Brass Tacks: $4.95 per month -or- $39 per year ($3.25 per month)

So. Many. Features!!!  I love this service so much that I have been putting off writing this review for a few months now.  I can't begin to explain how great this service is.  It does everything that every other service does, except now you don't need 10 different log-ins to accomplish all of those things.  Plan To Eat does it all.

 - Bookmarklet App (like the "Pin It", for Pinterest) that allows you to easily import recipes from all over the web.  I LOVE stealing borrowing recipes from all over the internet!  And now, I don't have to print them out and lose them in a folder or stack of papers.  Here's a handy link for how to use it: http://www.plantoeat.com/help/kb/general/using-the-bookmark-to-import-recipes-from-the-web

 - Drag and Drop Meal Planning - drag recipes from your recipe box to your calendar and place them on whichever day you plan to cook them.  Days are further broken down into meals. You and easily switch and swap meals around any time you like.  The menu auto-saves and is never "set in stone" or "finalized".

 - Month View or Week View - shows you how many days of planning you prefer - I like to plan for 2 weeks, but then I might know a special day is coming up soon so I plan for Big Daddy's birthday dinner a month out so I don't forget to buy steak.

 - Print Menu - self explanatory - you CAN print the menus if you like.  I don't, I like to keep them editable just in case I forget to thaw chicken and need to shuffle pizza night around.

- Automatic Shopping List Generator: also self explanatory, but oh so awesome.  It sorts all of your recipe ingredients by "aisle" and you can arrange the aisles to match your favorite grocery store.  This keeps me from running back and forth!  
     
- Print Shopping List:  the print option is very customizable.  You can print small, medium and large fonts and try to cram everything on one page like I do.  You can opt to print a recipe key with your list, so you can reference what you're buying with what your cooking.  This is helpful if you need to make substitutions in a pinch, maybe the butcher is out of chicken thighs, but you know that you can sub chicken breasts for that recipe.
     
 - Pantry List: if you know that you already have chicken broth on hand, move it from your "shopping" list over to your "pantry" list.  I like to open PTE on my iPad and run through the house checking things off and moving them to the pantry.  Or if I see that we're running low on something, I ...

 - Manually Add Items to list: none of my recipes call for toothpaste, but I still need it on my list. 

 - Staples List: this is another handy list that you can keep so you don't have to add staples manually every time you make a list.  

  ** All of the lists are easy to maintain.  Check an item or several and tell them where to go:  handy "add to shopping list" and "add to pantry" buttons make it super simple.  And if you're only moving one or two things, you can drag-drop them, too!

 - Recipe Box:  You could possibly spend an hour importing each recipe, there are so many fields to choose from.  I personally am lazy, so I don't put too many details in mine.  But YOU can!!  From cuisine type, to serving size, calories, fat grams, time to prep/cook/total, notes, tags, 5-star ratings, etc.  The list literally keeps going... forever.  It all depends on how much information you need for your recipes.  Honestly, I should go through mine and add nutrition facts, but... I'm too busy finding new tasty recipes to try.
    - When you import a recipe from a website, it imports all the information contained within that recipe.  So, if you're copying a recipe that lists calories and prep time, Plan To Eat will input all that info into your recipe.  SCORE!!  But... sometimes it depends on who you're stealing borrowing from.
   - Not ALL recipes are importable.  I found a really good Crockpot Tenderloin recipe that I wanted to make, so I hit the PTE Save button and it couldn't find all the right information because the site was written in "blog with food porn pictures" format rather than "recipe card" format.  I still cut/copied/pasted the recipe into PTE, but it took an extra 30 seconds, le sigh!  (It was totally worth it and delicious)

I almost forgot.... FRIENDS.  Once you've started your FREE 30-Day Trial (and used me as your referral buddy) and you fall completely head-over-heels in love with Plan To Eat, you can convince all of your friends to join you.  THEN, you can link up with all of your friends and see THEIR recipe boxes and steal borrow their famous cookie recipe that you've been wanting for ages.  You can also link up with amazing Bloggers, such as myself, and see what they've got cooking, too. 

Deal Seeking Mom
Org Junkie
Organizing Your Way
Simple Mom
Keeper of the Home
Money Saving Mom
... and tons more!

Plan To Eat is a family business.  I love that!  I got one of their automated "How's your free trial going?" emails and being the silly person I am, I replied to it.  THEY REPLIED BACK!!  Clint sent me a little note thanking me for trying the trial and asked me to share this article when I posted it.  (That was back in September 2012, so I'm only a LITTLE behind. Better late than never!)  That means a lot to me.  I really appreciate these wonderful people and the amazing service they have built.

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