Friday, October 21, 2011

tools: Plan to Eat

As I struggled with this wave of cooking ennui, I started to look to friends and blogs for ideas and thoughts on recipes, meal-planning structure, shopping frequency... all of it.  I found some great resources, but my favorite one came from I'm an Organizing Junkie in the form of a meal planning tool.

Plan to Eat has jazzed up the whole routine and I am loving it!  I started with the free 30-day trial, and by day 4 I was convinced that this would make the difference.  It's been wonderful.

The recipe importing is ideally straightforward and easy to use.  When I have a recipe on paper I type it in and then it's available for planning at any time.  If it's an online recipe I can use their bookmarklet to import it directly into my recipe stash at Plan to Eat.  This is making my recipe and meal-planning blog-surfing so much more productive and worth my time.  I am not printing off recipes to try to use later - just click import, change anything that I know I don't want in my version of the recipe - and it's done.  Simple.

I love the drag-and-drop planning structure.  Recipes are displayed on the left-hand side (and you can search through them, or filter them as you find helpful) and then when you've selected a recipe for dinner on Thursday night, drag it over to Thursday night.  Love it.

Then the customized date range on the shopping list searches your planned recipes and culls out a shopping list, sorting items by departments (which you can label in a way that makes sense to you) and then also sorts them by store.  So handy.

The ability to friend people within the site means that you can easily swap recipes with friends with accounts, or you can look for people on message boards who are trying to follow a similar diet track.  This has been so helpful for me as I try to get better at finding lower-carb options for our family.  I was browsing through the friend posts and saw Weight Watchers, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Organic-focus... lots of options.

I recommend taking the tour and seeing what you think of Plan to Eat.  Let me know if you sign up and want to be friends so that we can swap recipes.  It's a beautiful site and the simple, cornflower blue (classic kitchen color) design makes me feel organized and ready to plan.  Check it out!  I bet you'll love it.

Update: Tim is right - he mentioned in the comments that I left out a key feature in my review.  The meal plan can be published as an iCal feed and imported into a Google calendar, Outlook, etc.  We use Google calendar as a family and it has been great to have our menu for the evening available at a glance.  It's a handy feature.


  1. You didn't mention my favorite feature - the option to publish your planned meals as a iCal feed, which can then be imported and displayed in Google Calendar, Outlook, etc. I haven't asked "what's for dinner" in a while, because it's already there for the next few weeks in the official family calendar. :D

  2. I NEED this in my life! Thanks for sharing!