When I first thought to start doing reviews of different online meal planning services I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I knew there were lots but what made each one different? Since you know I believe there is no one way to meal plan and everyone has to find the method that works best for them I’m hoping that by reviewing a variety of services it will help make that choice a little bit easier.
This week, I’m reviewing Plan To Eat. Have you ever found a recipe online and maybe even set up a virtual recipe box at that site (Allrecipes, Taste of Home and My Recipes all have them, among others). But then you need to remember where you saved that recipe. And then you find one in a magazine you want to try. Or maybe you have a recipe box full of family favorites that you want to remember too. Oh, and that shelf full of cookbooks. What about those? What’s unique about Plan To Eat is that you can combine all those recipes in one place!
There are a couple of options for adding them to your virtual recipe box (along with the recipes that are included by Plan to Eat). You can manually enter your family favorites (or other printed recipes). Or you can take them from a blog or other document source and enter them in one big batch. But here’s the really cool part. You can take a recipe from a website and type it in (or cut and paste as I did) and it the program will automatically pull in the recipe—ingredients, instructions and picture with a simple click of your mouse!
Next is planning your meals. Once you log in you will have access to all the recipes in your box and you drag and drop them to the day you want to prepare them. There is a space for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Other (say a special party or event or snack). Plan for a week or plan for a month (or more). It’s your choice! You can change the recipe quantity to your needs, too. Does it normally serve four but you need it to serve six? No problem, just change that and the program automatically updates the quantity of ingredients needed.
Once you have your recipes added, select Shopping List and it will generate a list for all your recipes. Shop for a week or two weeks—you choose. Also, adding pantry staples to your list is easy with just a click. You can import the recipe to an email to shop from your smart phone. Add specific stores and move items around. Does only one store carry your favorite brand of yogurt? Need something from a wholesale club? No problem. Move an ingredient to the specific store and generate a custom shopping list for each store where you shop.
Here’s a snapshot of the features:
Cost: $4.95/month or $39/year
Free Trial: Yes, 30-day free trial
Format: Online, fully customizable to your preferences.
Frequency: As often as you want.
Photos of Recipes?: Yes, for many.
Nutrition Data for Each Recipe: Yes (be sure to click that preference though)
Generate Grocery Lists for Each Recipe/Menu? Yes–generate for a week, two weeks or more!
Forum: Yes, quite active. Great place to ask questions and share ideas.
Blog: Yes, reguarly updated and new recipe ideas.
Notes: Currently cannot import directly from most blogs but can us the ‘Bulk Input’ option to quickly add recipes.
I have to say, the flexibility of this program is terrific! If collected your own recipes or have links galore out on the web, gather them all up and centralize them here. Take some time to play around—after all, you’ve got 30 days risk-free to decide if it works for you!
Plan To Eat is giving one lucky reader a ONE-YEAR subscription to it’s service. Here’s how to enter:
PRIMARY ENTRY ***THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED!***
1. Leave a comment why a meal planning service is appealing or how you currently keep track of recipes.
EXTRA ENTRIES (do one or more of the following)
2. Become a follower of my blog (link is on the left of this page)
3. Like Meal Planning Magic on Facebook
4. Email subscribe to my blog.
5. Vote for my blog at Babble.com’s Best Mom Food Bloggers (I’m currently on the second page, #51 but hopefully your votes will keep moving me up!)
Remember, leave a comment for each entry. Only one entry per person per method listed above. If you are already a follower, “like” this blog on Facebook or subscribe to my blog, you can still have an extra entry–just mention that in the comment. Good luck!
Congratulations to our winner, #21, Jody!