I’ve never been good at meal planning.
It takes a certain kind of person — someone who’s far more organized than me. That’s why I need all the help I can get.
Last month, my friend Emily Bartlett and her husband Antony rolled out a new meal planning app called Real Plans.
I’ve been using it since then, and all I can say is … WOW.
This is everything I always wanted in a meal planning service.
You see, here’s how “old-fashioned” meal plans (from a couple years ago) used to work:
You’d sign up for the subscription service. Once a month, you’d get an email with that month’s meal plans. It’d be sent as a printable PDF.
Sure, you’d get recipe ideas and shopping lists. But what if you didn’t want a particular recipe? What if you wanted to add in your own? What if you wanted to change the ingredients so it didn’t have onions (because your son loathes onions)?
You couldn’t do it. At least not easily.
You had to print it up, then write in all the changes by hand to customize it. Then you’d have to print up the shopping list and cross off all the things that didn’t apply.
After a few months, you’d gotten a lot of tasty new recipes to try. But for the amount of re-working you had to do, the subscription was no longer worth it, so you canceled it.
All those problems are solved by Real Plans!
I’ve never seen an app that’s this versatile.
Here’s how it works now.
I login to my Real Plans dashboard, and I see this at setup:
I immediately get to pick how many people I’m serving — and all the recipes inside are adjusted accordingly!
I can select whether or not we have special restrictions — like dairy-free, gluten-free, etc.
Then, once I click “Update,” I’m logged in and taken to the week’s menu:
Now, the REALLY cool stuff happens!
I can permanently customize any recipe to remove or add ingredients & instructions, just by opening the recipe and selecting MODIFY.
And those changes?
Immediately get saved to my Shopping List.
A shopping list which lets me check off ingredients I already have, and which easily switches over to a MOBILE VIEW so I can take it with me to the grocery store!
And when I’m sending my hubby to the grocery store? I can actually snap photos of the EXACT brands I want him to buy, and they’ll be right there in the Shopping List details for the item.
And if we go to multiple stores — like Costco, HEB, and our local farm-to-market store The Monument Market? We can organize the item list by store!
To top it all off, I can add recipes that aren’t in the meal plan service — my own family favorites. And they’ll automatically be parsed and added to the shopping list, too.
I just have to copy & paste my favorite recipes from my own files, or from my favorite food blogs.
These recipes will be saved to my Recipe Box and can be inserted into any future meal plan.
How cool is that?
And when we try new recipes? We can rate them so we know if we want to try them again.
You guys, I have barely scratched the surface of what this app can do!
It is just so versatile, so user-friendly.
Now, because it’s not just an app, but an online computer program that creates new menus (with recipes!) for you each week, it is a subscription service.
Needless to say, I think it’s worth it. I paid just $6/mo for a year long subscription.
And did I mention it comes in Paleo, Traditional Food, and Vegetarian subscriptions?
There’s something here for everyone, and it does EVERYTHING I need and more.
(photo courtesy of deposit photos)