Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meal Plan Monday...on Tuesday

So I've been using Plan to Eat the last few months for the task that ranks way up at the top of my dreaded household responsibilities: planning meals, shopping and cooking. Ugh! It's been a bit of work getting it all set up. Actually they even list my stats on my account page:

Since I signed up on September 15 (here's how I decided to try it out) I have:
  • Spent 6.8 hours using Plan to Eat
  • Added 102 recipes to my recipe book
  • Meal planned 256 recipes and items
Most of that 6.8 hours was spent adding recipes and figuring out efficient ways to group items for meals. Today was the first day I feel like it really is getting to be a great tool at our house. I had a 20 minute window to get a grocery list ready for the next 7 days. In 15 minutes I had planned out--meaning put recipes on a calendar, printed a grocery list with every item (less those already in my kitchen) and printed a dated menu to post--breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack for the whole week~including a couple special items for a family Christmas dinner. Fabulous! Do you know how long that used to take?? Seriously, like 2-3 hours between interruptions!

Elena really loves the posted menu! She no longer whines around wondering what she should have for snack...just looks at the menu and pulls it out. No more *hard* decisions, phew!

The recipes not already in my PTE cookbook I imported from a website, taking about 30 seconds each (in this case from Taste of Home), including the picture. Each ingredient on the recipes I add to my planner go straight to my shopping list. The grocery list was sorted by aisle with little check boxes next to each item~love~! So after my lunch date I spent about an hour at Price Chopper breezing through the isles (well, kind of...I didn't have any children with me so it's all relative) and spent a measly $150 and some change. I'm not buying "just in case" items or guessing at what I need for snacks anymore, saving the moo-lah. Nice.

I've started a binder with all my PTE recipes, each in it's own page protector, that I'm planning on making my main cookbook. No more digging through multiple books and magazines every night--whoo-hoo! I added some tabbed dividers so I can file the recipes in the same manner as I keep them online, in ABC order of course. Right now I have to print them as I'm ready to use them...I probably just need to print as I add them...hmmm. Anyway, it's then simple to look at the posted menu, flip to the right section of the binder and pull the desired recipes out. The page protector keeps them clean and I set them up in my kitchen window while I cook.

Once I get really in the groove, I'm going to go back and add the approximate cost of each recipe. This, in turn, will give me an estimate for my grocery shopping as I add items to the list. Wow. That may actually be too much control-freak for even me!

So if you're still running around like a chicken with her head cut off every night for supper (or maybe breakfast and snack time too, like me), you might click over and give Plan to Eat a try with their free 30-day trial. It is a bit of time and work to get it going just your way, but way worth it in my opinion! Happy Homemaking!

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