I struggle with finding time for everyday tasks like vacuuming, dishes, laundry, and grocery shopping. I would love to outsource these tasks, but I can't justify spending the money on a maid or laundry service. I actually researched grocery shopping assistants in the area, but I didn't find much and they all charge exorbitantly anyway.
Enter Plan To Eat (plantoeat.com). This handy website takes all the planning and calculation out of grocery shopping and streamlines the meal planning process. To start, PTE lets you put in your own recipes or choose from theirs. I started off with about 18 recipes. Once you have a set of recipes that you like, you can drag and drop the recipes onto a calendar to create a menu for each day. You can specify breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and even snacks. So far, I've only used it to plan dinners, but then my free trial only started a few days ago.
Once you've got a calendar full of recipes (I worked a week in advance) PTE creates a grocery list of all the things you need for your recipes. You can drag and drop ingredients into the pantry section if you already have the ingredients on hand. Pantry items are set to delete after 2 or 7 days (or never). Because I plan to use PTE once a week or so, I set the items to delete after 2 days. After you've finished your shopping list for items on your menu, you can then add grocery items that aren't related to your recipes. I added breakfast cereal, bananas, coffee creamer and toothpaste. PTE even breaks down your list into manageable categories like dairy, meat, produce and dry goods. And it provides a recipe key to let you know which ingredients go to which recipe. PTE has thought of everything.
Matt and I investigated PTE together. Occasionally he'd say something like, "I wonder how long the pantry items stay in there. Because we won't have egg noodles on hand all the time." A couple of clicks around the site and I had set the items to auto delete after two days. Then he said, "It's weird that minced garlic is considered produce. I'd put that in the spices section." A couple of clicks and voila, minced garlic is lumped in with all the other spices. PTE is completely customizable.
PTE will save me hours every month and will virtually eliminate the, "Any ideas about dinner?" conversation we have every evening. It's so easy anyone can do it. It will also save money. At $39 per year, PTE is completely affordable. If it saves me just one dinner out per year it has paid for itself. Who knew meal planning was so much fun!