Review:  Plan to Eat

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat
I kept seeing Plan to Eat advertised on blogs that I regularly follow and it was being raved about.  But I already use Pepperplate and it’s free and does the job.  I recently saw that Plan to Eat was offering a 30 day free trial though.  So I figured it can’t hurt to at least try it out since it won’t cost me anything (they didn’t even ask for my credit card to charge me after the 30 days is up).  Plus I could still keep Pepperplate regardless.Well, I have to say that while I’m still in my trial of Plan to Eat, I’m hooked and plan to pay the $4.95/mo (or $39/year) because I’ve decided the features and ease are worth it for me.  Pepperplate lacks a lot of features I wish it had and although I’d keep it if I were on a really tight budget since it is free, I’m going to choose to “splurge” a little and take Plan to Eat out of my grocery budget.  Here’s why, in case you’re interested in trying it out.

  • Super easy to import recipes.  Pepperplate has a bookmarklet as well but a lot of websites (especially lesser-known blogs) aren’t supported.  So I have to manually type everything in.  It gets old, especially considering how many recipes I want to try out these days.  I have only had maybe 5 times (out of the over 100 recipes I have imported) when the recipe didn’t import.  But it was still really easy to just copy and paste into the bookmarklet’s sidebar.
  • The recipes are automatically organized for me.  By this, I mean that the app is so smart that it knows if the meal is a breakfast dish, dessert, main dish, etc.  It categorizes it, saving me time.
  • Tagging is easy.  In Pepperplate, you can tag recipes but that’s basically the only way to categorize and it’s all manually.  With Plan to Eat, you have 2 options.  One is to select the main ingredient, such as chicken, and then later you can search for chicken recipes.  The other is to type in your own tags (this is in addition to the main ingredient drop-down menu).  So I can choose main dish as the type of course, main ingredient as chicken, and tag it as a casserole.
  • Searching for a recipe is easy.  This is due not only to categorizing and tagging but also because it knows the ingredients you have in each recipe.  With Pepperplate, I can only search by tags; I can’t type in “diced tomatoes” and all the recipes with that ingredient will come up.  But with Plan to Eat, I can.  This is HUGE for me.  Sometimes I have an ingredient on hand I want to use up but don’t know all my recipes by heart.  This search function is super helpful.
  • The ingredients are categorized by aisle really accurately.  When the recipe is imported, the ingredients are added obviously but it also categorizes them by a typical aisle (eggs=dairy, for example).  This is a feature Pepperplate has too but often times it doesn’t guess correctly, especially with less common items.  Plan to Eat is smarter.
  • It doesn’t crash (yet).  Pepperplate has a tendency to not sync, stop working, need to be refreshed often, etc.  My husband said it’s often the difference you get with a paid vs. free app.  I’m finding the cost for less frustration may be worth it.
  • I love the planner.  Pepperplate has a planner too but when you’re adding recipes, it refreshes the screen each time.  It also only allows you to see a week at a time.  Plan to Eat allows you to look at the whole month but shrink weeks if you want.  It’s also a drag-and-drop style which is not how Pepperplate works (it takes a lot longer to add a recipe with Pepperplate).
  • I can queue recipes I want to plan.  This is helpful in the event I have a recipe I know I want to make (or my husband requests) that I need to add to the menu for the next week.
  • I can save a menu to use another week.  Pepperplate has this too but I haven’t really used it.  But since it’s easier in Plan to Eat I may give it a try.  If you’ve had a week’s worth of good recipes, you can just basically save that menu for another week so you don’t have to plan it all over again.
  • I can see how often I’ve planned a recipe.  This is really neat.  It remembers if I’ve made Kielbasa Tortellini Alfredo 5 times already vs. something else only once, or not at all.  This will be nice over time so I can make sure I’m mixing it up.  My husband will often say he misses having a certain meal and I don’t even realize I haven’t planned it in the past few months.  So he may end up liking that I have this feature too.  :o)
  • I can plan breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.  Pepperplate has those options too but does lack the snack option.  It’s something I like having, especially now that I’m making more food from scratch.  Plus I don’t always remember what I have on hand so it’s nice to just have a visual of what I can feed my kids for a snack that day.
  • There is a cooking view option.  I didn’t think I’d care too much about it but now that I’ve used it I’ve loved this feature.  It lets you click through the steps so you can just see one step at a time.  It highlights the ingredients you need for that particular step too.  It’s very clean-looking.
  • The shopping list is very user-friendly.  It’s organized by aisle and you can alter them if your store is a little different.  You can also add different stores so you have different lists for different stores (in the event something is on sale at one store, for example, or you purchase all your produce from a farmer’s market).  If you want to print it instead of going to the website on your phone’s browser, it gives you different layout options.  Pepperplate has a tendency to waste a lot of paper because of the layout whereas Plan to Eat is able to fit it all on one page.  It also puts your planned recipes on the sidebar along with a key to show you which ingredients are for which recipes.  This was a huge selling point for me.
  • Keep track of items in your pantry.  I haven’t used this yet and don’t know if I will but my husband and I have tried in the past to keep a manual list of all the items we have so we don’t buy what we don’t need because something got shoved in the back.  I’m more organized now so this doesn’t happen that often.  But I can see it being helpful, especially if you have a large pantry that you keep stocked well.  There’s the option to hide the pantry or show it via the settings. If you show it, you can put it what items you have on hand and keep track of them, including how much of the item you have.
  • Referral opportunity.  It’s always nice to have the potential to earn a little side cash (probably very little but hey it’s still something).  Like a lot of things these days, if you refer someone to Plan to Eat and they sign up, you can get something for it.  Just an added bonus, but not a reason to be pushy.  :o)
If you’re interested in learning more about it, try the trial like I’m doing.  There are other features I didn’t mention and it’s always best to just play around on the website yourself to decide if it works for you or not.Here’s a referral link to get you to the free trial to try it out or you can click on the image at the top of the post.  Both will get you there.  And always look for a coupon code before officially signing up (for anything online!).  Often times there’s some kind of code you can use and it can’t hurt to at least take a few minutes to look to save some money.

Happy meal planning!

I’m assuming you know that I didn’t get paid to write this review but just in case…I really didn’t.  Just like sharing the companies/apps/products that I’m a fan of in case it helps someone else out.  :o)

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