I don't dread meal planning anymore. Here's why ...

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Meal planning, schmeal planning. If you're living on a budget, you kinda have to do it. Unless you're living off a dollar menu at some fast food restaurant, it is reeeeeally hard to stay in budget if you just wing it every night. Bummer, right?

Meal planning is a necessary evil in my book. A dreaded day. It has always gone something like this:

8am: I realize I need to put together a meal plan. Sigh. Alright, do I plan out the next week, or the next two weeks? Or maybe I should be awesome and plan out a whole month . . . yeah that is probably not going to happen.

9am: The boys are fed, smiling, and playing. I sit down at the table with my calendar, pen pencil {never know when you'll decide to swap spaghetti & meatloaf nights!}, cookbooks, and Pinterest. I start thinking and someone inevitably starts screaming. Calm that child down, leave them playing, sit down, grab pencil, repeat screaming child sequence.

9:30am: I pencil in my off-the-top-of-my-head meals. The ones we eat all. the. time. Hmmm, probably should add some variety to our dinners . . . cue screaming child.

10am: I'm scanning cookbooks and Pinterest for dinner ideas. Ones that won't take all night to prepare or a million ingredients. Cue screaming child.

10:30am: Planning is done for the next 2 weeks. Now to make my grocery list. And cue screaming child.

11:30am: By now I've gotten the meal plan done and my grocery list is probably done as well {in between bursts of screaming and snacks}. And I still have to get out the door to actually go grocery shopping . . . is it bedtime yet?

. . .

One week later at 4pm while trying to get dinner started:Did I get this recipe off Pinterest or in my cookbook? I didn't make a notation, someone must have been screaming at the time. Cue screaming child clinging to my ankles.

The whole process for me is wrought with frustration and stress.  Could I perfect my system a little more? Probably. But the truth is that waking early to meal plan just isn't going to happen, and by the time the boys are in bed, I want to relax and meal planning requires some thought on my part. So, yeah, this has been my dilemma. A love-hate relationship. Mostly hate.

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That is, until last month when I stumbled upon Plan to Eat and the Heaven's opened, the angels sang, and a dove flew to me with a chocolate bar. Slight exaggeration there, I admit, but it certainly felt this way to my meal plan weary self!

Now, I've tried some meal planning services in the past, but our grocery budget is very small and the weekly meal plans were always way beyond our budget. That pretty much defeats the purpose of having the work done and the shopping list prepared for you. What I love about Plan to Eat is that I am entirely in charge of our meal plan. I pick what meals we will eat on what days, just as I normally would.

So, if Plan to Eat isn't doing the actual meal planning for me, what's the big deal? I'm glad you asked! Plan to Eat keeps my meal plan, recipe book, and shopping list all in the same place. No more guessing where I found that recipe or bringing up a new website every night--it is all right on my Plan to Eat dashboard!

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

My favorite feature? When I find a new recipe on a blog or on Pinterest that I want to try, all I have to do is copy the URL into my Plan to Eat recipe book AND THE RECIPE IS AUTOMATICALLY IMPORTED! Cue singing angels!

Y'all, I've seen a ton of recipes in the past that I've really, really wanted to try, but it never happened because I lost track of them or just didn't have time to bring up 10 different sites when generating our meal plan. With Plan to Eat, I can add them right away to my recipe book, put them in my quene, or add them right to my meal plan with minimal work and thinking {awesome!}.

Varying our meal plan is a hassle no more!

Oh, oh, oh, and then my shopping list is automatically generated based on the meals I've added to my planner. Want to shop once a week, every few days, every couple weeks, or once a month? You tell Plan to Eat the date range and it generate your shopping list based on your meal plan for those days.

Another feature I love is the recipe key on my shopping list. Have you ever been shopping and you realize you're coming to the end of the budget, but there is still more on your list? Then you have to try and remember what ingredients went to which recipes, and what you may be able to leave out {am I the only one who has had to do this?}. On my Plan to Eat shopping list, each ingredient is marked with a letter that corresponds with the recipe it will be in. So, if I need to find ways to save, it is really easy to decide whether my spaghetti sauce will really need green peppers or if I can get away without them.

I used Plan to Eat throughout the course of last month and my meal planning went like this:

8am: I realize I need to put together a meal plan. Sweet!

9am: Sit down with my laptop, look for some new recipes on Pinterest, and add them to my recipe book. Drag and drop meals onto my planner for the next two weeks. Generate my shopping list. Remove things like salt & pepper that I already have and print it.

9:30am: Done! Time for shopping!

Plus, I stayed way under budget for groceries! For April, I planned out the entire month with all sorts of new yummy-ness within a half-hour. I've already shopped for the month and I am still under budget for little things that come up (milk, bread, etc.).

I love Plan to Eat and it has made my momma life SO much easier {and might I add, made meal planning fun!!}.

Plan to Eat gives a free 1 month, no risk subscription--and they don't ask for any payment information to con you into forgetting to cancel before your trial is up. It's truly no risk! After the free trial, Plan to Eat is just $4.95 per month or $39 for the entire year--totally, totally worth the momma sanity savings! I love it, and I'm highly, highly recommend you check out Plan to Eat if you are looking for a better way to meal plan, looking to save time, or for an easy way to make dinners awesome!

Do you meal plan? How do you do it? Is it a joy or a frustration?

(Note: If I love something, I share it! This post has not been sponsored or compensated.)