Plan to Eat – Menu Planning Issues SOLVED!

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Four weeks ago I started using a menu planning website called Plan to Eat (my referral link). I would describe it as an incredible combination of ultimate digital recipe box, Pinterest, drag and drop menu planning, and instant shopping list. It is extremely versatile and easy to use. Recipes are imported from the web, can be pasted if you have them digital already, or typed in with bulk input if you have favorite cookbook recipes. As I have been using it, I keep discovering more features and it has blown me away. How has this been around so long and I’ve never heard of it? It must be shared with everyone I know. And because I want to rave about it’s amazing features…I decided a rare blog post was in order.

First things first, how much does it cost? This is always my first question, anyway. A monthly subscription costs $4.95 and a year is a bargain at $39. Not sure? You can try a month for free and you don’t have to give them your credit card so there is no obligation to continue after the trial. I can’t even imagine that you wouldn’t want to keep it up! If for some reason you decided to stop using it, all of your recipes can be exported.

I learned about Plan to Eat while reading the online resources that came with the book Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating by Katja Rowell and Jenny McGlothlin. In short, it’s a brilliant book. If you have struggled even with “picky” eaters that aren’t extreme it is a must read. I could write much about picky eating, but for now I will just say that because the authors highly recommend Family Meals as Step #3 we are working on our meal planning. For some reason, I haven’t ever been consistent with meal planning and this is changing, thanks to Plan to Eat.

Now to the good stuff…what makes Plan to Eat so great?

  • Recipes all in one place, easy to find. No more going to Pinterest, then to the blog and scrolling through the dozen photos before getting to the recipe.
  • Recipes can be shared with friends.
  • Recipes can be categorized, rated (1-5 star), tagged, sorted and searched.
  • Drag and Drop Recipes onto the day you want to make them.
  • Last week was really awesome…so you can copy and paste the entire menu plan from a specified date range to a new date range with just a couple clicks. What a time saver!
  • Food in the Freezer? Either you made extra and froze some, or you tend to make freezer meals. Click on your recipe to “Add to your freezer” (you can even select how many servings). Next time you are planning, you can drag a freezer meal a drop it right into your plan. The name of the item shows up with a little snowflake next to it so you know it is a freezer meal!
  • If you need to add just one item, like dinner rolls, to your meal. Click the + on that meal and you can either add an item and it will show up on your shopping list or add notes that will show up on your menu but not on your list.
  • Space for planning snacks and notes
  • Changes in the middle of the week? No problem, just drag meals to a different day any time!
  • Want to make only half of a recipe or double a recipe? You can change the number of servings for the recipe on your calendar and your shopping list will be adjusted accordingly.
  • Plan for a week, plan for 2 weeks, plan for a month. I recently realized that my life was much easier if my shopping falls during the week so last week I planned for 8 days and just like that I am avoiding shopping on the weekend.
  • Shopping List! All the ingredients show up in your shopping list. You can specify stores and many other things that I haven’t fully explored yet. Put you Plan to Eat account as a shortcut on your phone and any time you are out shopping just tap it to bring up your shopping list and you can check items off the list. No signal in the store? No problem, your list will still be there!
  • If you think of something else you need (even non food items) you can add an item to your list any time.
  • As long as the ingredient names are the same, your list will merge all of the recipes that need a particular item into a total count.
  • The categories for groceries can be edited and stores can be customized. This particular area, I haven’t explored or adjusted yet. I think if I made some adjustments here, the shopping list could be even better (but it’s already fabulous as it is!).
  • Cookie View!!! This is so convenient…from your plan you open the recipe that you are going to make and there is a button off to the side for “Cooking View” and the screen will show your ingredients and the steps AND it won’t let your phone or ipad screen lock! This is such a time and frustration saver. I can’t begin to think of all the times my hands were dirty while cooking and the screen locked and I had to wash my hands to unlock so that I could see my recipe. I love this feature!

After such a short time, mealtimes feel amazing. What are we having tonight, Mom? I check the menu and tell them and they are learning that they can look at it to find out. No more of that, “what will we have?” when it is already late. I already feel like I am wasting less food. I haven’t done this long enough to estimate the effect on budget yet, but you could potentially save money. There is a tag already set up called “Cheap” so you could search for your recipes that are cheap and make those all week long!

They have many instructional videos on the various features of the website so they make it very user friendly. If you are worried about trying to enter dozens of your recipes, don’t. They suggest starting out with just a few…like what you are making for the first week. As weeks go on and as you might find time to add a couple here and there, your collection will grow. I’m still adding, but it doesn’t seem overwhelming as I just add a few new recipes each week. If you decide to sign up, I will be able to share all of my recipes with you.  Keep me posted on how it is going, I would love to have more Plan to Eat friends!

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Leap Day Time Capsule

imageSince I haven’t blogged in 2 years, what better time to pick it back up than on Leap Day? We opened the time capsule from Leap Day 2012. Ginger was 6, Liam was 4, Genevieve was 19 months. I had printed a list of questions and the answers are sweet and funny. The most important rule in our family must have been “NO JUMPING ON THE BED” written in all caps by both Ginger and Liam. Their favorite toys were their stuffed animals and Liam hoped that in 4 years he would be playing video games (no such luck there). One of the questions was “What do you usually pray for?” and Liam wrote “Wyatt”. What makes that so sweet is that Wyatt was still a few weeks from being born at the time and it reminded me of how excited he was to be getting a cousin (and another boy in the family!). And to top it off, Wyatt is in town today so they get to play together tonight after school.

This morning, Genevieve helped me make a new list for this year so we can add them to our time capsule. Our “Time Capsule” is just a shoebox that appears to be Liam’s small Valentine’s box from preschool in 2012!  I’m including our question list for anyone else that wants to do this and so that I will be able to find it in 2020!  Leap Day Time Capsuleimage

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Watts Mill Waterfall

I cannot believe this has been right under my nose for so long and I never knew anything about it! A while back I read an article with a list of waterfalls in the Kansas City area. When I realized how close this one was to home and to Price Chopper, I knew it was on our “must do” list for summer. We were running an errand today and I realized it would be on our way home. It’s definitely worth a look and because of its location so close to I-435 and State Line Rd, KC friends are bound to be driving by at some point. The mill foundation is still there, some signage, and picnic tables. After reading more about the mill, it has me thinking we should also visit the Trailside Center! I should also mention the absolutely amazing July weather that we have had that made this an even better outdoor adventure!

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The kids also were delighted to find a couple of shells (Ginger is holding one in her hand).

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There were plenty of great rocks to look at! You can see in the distance a goose coming across Indian Creek, he was looking for food and we had none. If it weren’t for his arrival we would have been exploring even longer. He was a little bit bold for me to let the kids stay around.

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Spring Delights

Two wonderful things about Spring:
1. Children playing outside!

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2. New life! Leaves unfurling, flowers blooming, fruit!

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My little football player

Liam came home from school and put on his pads and Clay Matthews jersey. Since having a snack, he has been throwing and kicking away in the backyard. I think he is just adorable and I love that he is outside having fun!

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Cave Spring

Over spring break we had a fun outing to Cave Spring Historic Site and Nature Center. We went with Mom and friends, which made it even more fun! I can’t recall how I “found” Cave Spring, but once I did I wondered if I had been before. After talking to Mom, turns out my memory was correct and we had gone more than once as kids with friends. The great thing about the cave is that it is small, but you can go inside! The kids loved exploring. They spent quite a bit of time searching on top of the cave for the tiny opening that was letting in light. Finding it was rather exciting!

There was also a waterfall, which appeared to be rather dry. But, it will be interesting to go back in spring or summer to see if there is more water.

We also enjoyed the cabin ruins. It seems they were dismantled after WWII, leaving only foundations and chimneys. Lots of them! The kids found snail shells around all the stones and thought that was just wonderful.

If you live in Kansas City, enjoy hiking, history, and easy adventures with kids, this is a must do. And if you don’t particularly want to hike, the cave is SO close to the parking lot that you can just go see it alone and have fun.

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20140325-215251.jpgIsn’t the tree with exposed roots cool?

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The Best Zoo Trip Ever & my Redheads

This year I decided we would try the Sky Safari at the zoo for the first time ever. Ginger and Liam are old enough to ride alone and I could ride with Genevieve. On the trip back, Ginger an Liam turned back to me and shouted, “Thank you for bringing us to the zoo!” And Liam added, “it had been the best day of my life at the zoo ever”. Boy, way to make my day!!!

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As we were leaving, they had to say hello to the polar bear. As they were watching him, I was struck by how red Ginger and Liam’s hair can look in the sunlight. Even next to Genevieve’s hair. So precious!

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Ice Skating with Clifford!

Last weekend we crossed of a final winter “To Do”…ice skating. With the added bonus of skating outdoors at Crown Center with Clifford! It was Genevieve’s first time to skate.

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Genevieve and Liam needed a bit more help than Ginger so I didn’t get as many photos of Ginger. Because Genevieve was new to this, she took more breaks and got to talk to Clifford at least three times.

20140301-140024.jpgI happened to see Liam and Ginger holding hands and skating together, but by the time I got out my camera they had lost their balance.

20140301-140038.jpgA friend of mine also happened to be skating with her kids, her oldest went to preschool with Liam. She is so sweet and told me to tell the kids to skate like little ducks with their feet at an angle and it helped SO much. She even skated around with Ginger. I am so thankful because that really helped them out and by the end of our skating time they were all able to skate without holding on to someone or something 🙂

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Winter Fun

Warming their cold toes after sledding on this snow day!

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School Sweetness

Ginger brought this home from school. I love that she said Genevieve was always talking about Jesus! Made my day.

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