This time last year, at the suggestion of a friend, I was directed towards a meal planning website – Plan To Eat. It piqued my interest as I love to meal plan but I rejected it soon after as it was not a free site. If you see my previous post regarding spending on digital services etc, you’ll know I am not a fan.
I also dismissed it on the basis that I felt like it was one of those sites where a free app or site probably existed to do the same thing as the site, but for free. Also, there was the undeniable truth that my meal planning system at the time was hard to improve upon… an A4 refill pad from Poundland. You see? Why would I look for anything else?
However, I couldn’t let it lie and I began frantically searching for other sites and downloading app after app to see if I could find something to suit me and for many reasons, they failed to a) inspire me to use them and b) link in with any other of my resources… Curiosity got the better of me and I signed up for a trial. (Note: I was at a wedding when I signed up and despite the ceremony only being over, I was rather tipsy – good financial decisions are never usually made in this state of mind, but what can I say, I got lucky.)
The two main sections of interest for me are the meal plan calendar which lets you slot in plans for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks with another note section for notes for the day. Each field has the option to write in a meal description or a note – i.e. ‘Dinner at Mums’ or ‘Fruit & Toast’ . You can view this by month or week and it’s easy to print a copy out for posting on the family board for reference.
The other main section is the recipes section. This area is so good and only gets better the more you use it. Here, you can add your own recipes and tag them with your own tags – for example, I can search my results by recipes that I have tagged ‘Work Lunch’ when I’m deciding what to make for the week ahead and I need some inspiration. You can classify each recipe by cuisine type and each recipe comes with an easy print option that puts everything onto one handy page.
For those who use the Chrome browser, there’s an amazing browser extension that plonks a handy button to the left of the address bar, allowing you to click it once and import a recipe from the webpage you’re on – from that side panel you can schedule the recipe right into your meal plan. It is worth noting that the recipes section saves a copy of the recipe rather than just saves a link to the recipe – this means that you can save recipes from sites that take recipes down after a while and you won’t lose them.
Did I mention that you can add ‘friends’ who also use the site and view each other’s recipes? If you do sign up, feel free to add me – “insomnimum”
Where this site wins however, is the integration between the recipes section and the meal planning section. In an easy to navigate tool bar down the side, you can search your recipes by ingredient, tag, cuisine etc and just drag/drop into your meal plan. It really makes planning a breeze.
So, could it be better?
Yes, but not by much. Ideally, I would like an iPhone app so I can meal plan more easily on my commute. I get a kick out of meeting deadlines early so if I could meal plan on the bus home on a Friday evening, I’d thoroughly enjoy the smugness.
I’d also like the site to look a bit prettier and I’d like the outputs to look a bit nicer. I print my meal plan and put it on my fridge, and it ain’t that pretty to look at and the rows are a bit difficult to read clearly.
However, my subscription to the site is undoubtedly worth the money and even more so because of their Black Friday deal! From November 25th to Nov 28th Plan To Eat are offering half price annual subscription- $19.50 (£15) but this can be bumped up even further as if you sign up for a free trial, and then an annual sub, you’d get month one for free and the sub would only kick in after your free trial had ended – so 13 months for the price of 6 effectively. See Full details here