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Many aspects of our lives are stressful right now and whether you’re a long time meal planner or are currently feeling flung into this process, meal planning in times of tension can be challenging. Our daily lives are different than usual, so your old “on repeat” meal plans might not be working right now. Or maybe you’ve been going to the grocery store simply to get the essentials until you have time to get your life sorted out. 

No matter your circumstance, we’d like to share some of the ways you can use your Plan to Eat account to make the best out of your current situation. We want to help take meal planning off your “things to stress out about” list.

8 helpful ways to use Plan to Eat

1. Use the Staples list as an inventory.

Perhaps you’ve been to the store in the past couple weeks and stocked up on some basic non-perishables and pantry items, and now you’re not sure how you’re going to keep track or effectively use all this food. 

We recommend using the Staples list as an inventory system for your kitchen and pantry. You can fill up your Staples list with all the food in your fridge and pantry, to create a record and tally of what you have. Then when you use the last of something, you can quickly transfer it from your staples list to your shopping list, so you can restock. 

This is an effective way to keep track of what you have and what you’re using on a regular basis. It can also help you to use some items that could otherwise get pushed to the back of your shelves. 

Learn more about the Staples list.

2. Use the “With Ingredients” filters to find recipes with what you have on-hand.

If you are looking to use up multiple ingredients, you could add them into the “with ALL ingredients” filter and the program will display the recipes you have in your account that contain those items. This is a great way to start using up any perishable foods you have before moving to non-perishable and pantry items. 

On the website, you’ll find the “With Ingredient” filters on the left sidebar of your Recipe Book. The With ANY Ingredients filter will display recipes containing any of the ingredients that you add to the filter. The With ALL Ingredients filter will display recipes containing all of the ingredients that you add.

Learn more about the different search and filter options.

3. Use the Queue!

The Queue is a place where you can segment a smaller portion of your recipes for quick access. 

4. Create new and custom tags.

This can be a great way to share your favorite recipes with your Plan to Eat friends! Once your recipes are labeled, they will be able to search for your specific tag and then save the recipes to their account too.

5. Try something new!

Our current situation is creating a lot of changes to our daily lives, kids might be out of school for an extended period, you might be working from home, and our favorite restaurants are closed or limiting customers. Even with those changes, we don’t have to give up on fun, new recipes! If you’re spending more time at home, it could be a great opportunity to try a recipe that takes longer than 30 minutes to prepare. Or you can find recipes that get your kids involved in the kitchen to help stave off boredom for everyone. 

New recipes can be found easily within your Plan to Eat account! The Challenges tab, and the Plan to Eat Blog (found in the Friends tab) contain a variety of recipes to help you try something new and fun! We even have an entire Challenge related to freezer meals called “Make Ahead Meal Plans”.

 6. Freezer/batch cooking.

An extended stay at home can be a great time to prep for the future. Batch cook some of your favorite weeknight recipes for quick meals once life gets back to normal. Use the Freezer feature to keep track of what you’re making and how much. 

This can also be a great opportunity to batch cook and share a meal or two with someone who might need a little extra help right now.

Learn how to use the freezer on our desktop app or mobile app.

 7. Add recipes for homemade hand sanitizer or cleaning products.

You can use Plan to Eat to add “recipes” for just about anything that include ingredients and directions; like, homemade crafts, personal care products, and cleaning supplies. And remember to create a new category and/or tags for these items so you can find them quickly in the future!

8. Take advantage of the Grocery Delivery feature!

This new feature can help you reduce the number of times you need to go in-person to the grocery store! Learn more about Grocery Delivery.

If you’re a long time meal planner, a few quick changes to your routine can help make the process easier. If you’re new to meal planning, we’re here to help! We hope meal planning can become something fun for you and your family right now.

We wish everyone good health and safety in this uncertain time! As always, please contact us at [email protected] if you have any questions.

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3 Responses

  1. I’m using my Plan to Eat account with my friends to help us take care of each other during this difficult time. They have downloaded the app and we keep a running list by household (instead of by store) of the items we each need. Since we’re trying to limit trips to the store to the absolute minimum, this allows one person to shop on behalf of several households at one time. We drop off items at each other’s doorstep for no-contact delivery. It’s simple to reimburse each other using Venmo or PayPal.

    We just learned yesterday that someone in our neighborhood has tested positive for COVID-19; we’ve invited that household to add items to the shopping list as well.

  2. A very helpful blog post; thank you. I have now renewed my subscription to Plan to Eat after a bit of a break from it and it has been a fantastic tool to help me reduce how many times I need to go to the supermarket – planning is the key, especially in these worrying times! I am so impressed with the functionality of this app, thank you Plan to Eat team 10/10. 🙂
    Kind regards

  3. That was helpful! I’m a long term meal planner but wasn’t familiar with some of these features in your app. Thank you.

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