While he behaves fairly-well-for-his-age in restaurants, we are definitely at a stage, Kid-wise, where cooking and eating a nice meal at home is much more relaxing than going out. Add in the benefits to our budget and our waistlines, and you'll generally find us cooking dinner, even on Friday and Saturday nights.
But making food at home requires much more planning than plunking down in a booth at our favorite restaurant. Which is where Plan to Eat comes in.
Plan to Eat is a simple meal planning service. You can import recipes, create meal plans, and automatically generate a shopping list, all in one easy location. In short, it's so much more organized than that file full of bookmarks and pins lingering in the dark recesses of your computer! (C'mon admit it, we all have 'em!)
The company, which is a family endeavor, is based on the philosophy that the best food--the healthiest, the most local, the highest quality--is prepared at home. But "[w]ithout a way to plan and organize, we will often not have what we need in the pantry to make good food for our family."
Clint, the creator of Plan to Eat, recently answered the following questions from me:
Me: After taking some time to play with your site, it's obvious that a lot of thought went into putting it together. What inspired you to start Plan to Eat?
Clint: Like many situations, my wife inspired me to start Plan to Eat. About 5 years ago she had just started meal planning and asked me if I could find software or a website to help — which I figured would be easy. But after a lot of searching, I couldn't find anything that matched her vision. So then she had the crazy idea that I could create a meal planning application for her. I had been developing websites for a few years and figured I could, worse case scenario, learn something new from the experience and apply it to my current job. I had no idea that 5 years later we would be running a small business helping people all over the world plan their own meals!
Me: I've been meal planning for my family for a long time, but seriously, the "shopping list" function has blown my mind. If you need a cup of flour for one recipe and two cups for another, it adds it all together and organizes it by what part of the store it's in, all without me having to even think about it. What is your favorite specific function of Plan to Eat?
Clint: I'm glad that you appreciate the shopping list on Plan to Eat! Writing a shopping list by hand can be very tedious and time consuming, and automating this process was one of the main reasons we created Plan to Eat. So I would say my favorite (most practical) feature is the shopping list, but there are so many other features we have added over time based on customer feedback; like the ability to import recipes from the web using our bookmark, or being able to drag menus that include multiple recipes and events to the planner in one step.
Me: A lot of my friends are counting calories right now. How does Plan to Eat help with that?
Clint: With Plan to Eat you can view nutritional data, like calories, and cost per serving for each recipe on your planner including a compiled total for each day. This makes it super easy to plan your week based on nutritional data. We also recently starting working with a registered dietitian and have a lot of really great features we hope to add soon.
Me: Are there any other new features that are in the works for Plan to Eat?
Clint: We have a very long and exciting todo list and the majority of our current features started with customer feedback. My current focus is on our documentation and tutorial videos and then further optimizing Plan to Eat for mobile and tablets. A few new features in the queue (that I can talk about) include; automated nutritional calculation, better cost tracking, a place for blogs to feature their recipes in Plan to Eat, and a completely new redesign that will, among other things, make it easier to find, share and plan recipes.
Clint has generously offered one My Bit of Earth reader a free year of Plan to Eat. To win, leave a comment below with you favorite, busy night, go-to dinner. I will randomly draw a winner Wednesday night.