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If you don’t meal plan or don’t know anything about meal planning, this is for you.
How many meals do you cook a week? Do you try to make a meal plan? Typically, I just buy the certain fruits and vegetables my kids will eat along with our usual foods.
Never in my life have I made a meal plan nor do I know how to make a meal plan. I don’t know where to begin to organize one. It must take a lot of work.
But I do love eating… and snacking… and eating incessant amounts of chocolate each week.
That’s why I started Whole30.
Yet, I had no meal planning experience when I started.
What’s helped me stick to Whole30 is I tried Real Plans meal planning online and love it. IT DOES ALL THE WORK FOR YOU!
It’s great not having to think about it and spend time thinking about what to make each week. Plus, you can customize it for your Whole30 eating.
Real Plans meal planning
Anyone would benefit from this Real Plans online meal planner, but you will especially love it if you:
- Want to get out of a food rut
- Don’t know how to meal plan
- Want to save time and money
- Want to stop thinking about food so much
- Have picky eaters or food allergies to contend with
- Are on Whole30 or other plan and want to know you can eat everything on the recipe
- Want your recipes all in one place
- Don’t want to spend your time meal planning
This meal planning tool is truly great.
You will never go back to not using a meal plan.
And the best part is you don’t have to waste time doing it. You customize what ingredients you don’t want to use, and you are done.
What are the benefits of meal planning?
There are benefits from trying to make a meal plan on your own but using Real Plans meal planning subscription online will make it amazingly effortless.
There’s more detail below, but here’s what I love about the meal planner from Real Plans:
Makes your life easier and more organized.
You save time.
You won’t need to decide what to make and eat.
Think of all the time you may be looking up recipes online which then leads to other online pursuits and soon you’ve wasted an hour on Facebook or wherever.
No more writing out a grocery list.
- You can easily omit ingredients you already have.
- It’s easy to add additional items you want to buy.
Helps you to stop thinking about food.
This will help you not think about food because you don’t have to plan out meals.
You will eat healthier.
This helps you save money.
Helps eliminate binge eating.
Remember, you will have a plan.
You will make and need to eat the food on the list because that’s all you will be buying
Your recipes will all be in one place.
- Easy to print out
- Shopping list for the week
- Timeline of what to cook when
You customize it.
- You can customize it and change it at any time
- Omit any ingredients your family doesn’t eat
- Omit any ingredients you don’t want to deal with (shellfish or mollusks as an example)
- Easily modify how many servings you want for a recipe
- Pick the exact days and meals you want recipes for
Example: On Sunday you want recipes for breakfast and dinner; Monday you want dinner; Tuesday is leftovers; Wednesday you want dinner; etc.
Some weeks you might want more meals or less; you can change whatever you want.
Maybe one week you want recipes for two breakfasts and three dinners but the next week you want recipes for one breakfast, two lunches, and four dinners. You can change and modify it to your life.
Start whatever day you want to; it doesn’t have to be on a Sunday. You can change it from week to week.
You don’t need to be high-tech to use this online meal planner. It’s super easy.
Different options for subscribing. You can try it for even a month.
There’s even a 30 day back guarantee if you don’t like it. There’s nothing to lose!
Meal planning for certain types of eating
If you are doing Whole30, are eating Paleo, are vegetarian, have lots of allergies, or are looking for dairy-free meal planning, Real Plans is for you.
If you have zero or many restrictions, you will find lots of delicious recipes in this meal plan.
I set it up for Whole30 approved foods and also omitted the following and still have so many easy and tasty recipes to make:
- Shellfish, mollusks, fish
- Mushrooms, tomatoes
- Nuts, seeds, coconut, all legumes
- Palm oil products (terrible for our planet)
- Gums, such as xanthan gum, cellulose, locust bean gum, carob bean gum, pectin, etc.
- Leavening agents
How does meal planning save you money?
So often, we buy a lot of what’s on sale, stockpiling groceries.
We stuff our refrigerator crisper full of produce only to find it days or weeks later, rotten.
We have the best intentions to cook or freeze that meat before it expires, but somehow we never get around to it, and it spoils.
Sometimes, we overbuy groceries. Often, we eat the non-perishables before the perishables and the perishables go bad.
Or we roam the store, making impulse buys that we never get around to making.
Bottom line: Meal planning saves you money.
Real Plans Meal Planner
A week into starting Whole30, I was sick of eating salads with chicken, sweet potatoes, avocados, and hard boiled eggs. (Those were pretty much my go-to foods.)
My kids are picky eaters plus we deal with allergies. Meals typically consist of some type of meat surrounded by fruit and raw vegetables. Therefore, meals were usually fairly plain and lackluster.
I was looking online at some Whole30 books and came across the Real Plans online meal planner. Thinking having meal plans, recipes and a shopping list would help me with Whole30, I signed up.
A week into using it, and it’s saving me a lot of time figuring out what to buy and make.
Also, I do not enjoy making grocery lists so it’s been great in that it auto-generates an easy-to-follow list.
Update: I’m now on Whole 30 Day 26 and am loving the variety.
Tips for Real Plans meal planning set-up
What’s great is you can make changes at any time. Here’s what I went back to change after I submitted it.
- I originally asked for too many meals.
- Exclude ingredients my kids are allergic to (certain oils, nuts, eggs)
- Omit ingredients I know nothing about (gums, shellfish, mollusks)
- Exclude foods my kids have issues with (tomatoes, mushrooms)
Also, they offer so many recipes with different ingredients, so if you don’t like something, omit it:
- Omit foods you don’t like
What’s awesome, then, is that everyone you are cooking for will most likely eat everything you make! (Well, we can dream….!)
And really, start with what you know. This doesn’t need to be a time for you to do everything at once. That’s when it becomes overwhelming.
Remember you are signing up for Real Plans to make your life easier.
You will probably save money on your grocery bill and also eat healthier.
There’s even a timeline which tells you what to do when, based on the meals you chose. Meaning, if you are making a Real Plans entree and side on Monday night, it might tell you to defrost your meat (if frozen) the night before.
Signing up for Real Plans meal planning online
I was already a week into Whole30 so I wasn’t sure if I would benefit from it for the entire 30 days.
What I learned after signing up was that you can access a rolling four weeks of meal plans — you can go earlier in the month or later.
Meaning, no matter when you sign up in your Whole30 daily journey, you will still get excellent value with Real Plans.
Getting started meal planning
This meal planner is easy to set up and will get you thinking about your current habits. I signed up and jumped right into filling out the information.
Had I known there was a Getting Started section, I would have looked it over first.
It’s something to consider, especially when you are trying to decide what days of the week and for what meals you want recipes. You have to consider the times you might eat/serve a hard boiled egg and a salad, and the meals for which you will eat leftovers.
I set up my Real Plans account via my laptop. After you create your password, you select which part of the world you live in:
- Northern Hemisphere
- Southern Hemisphere
Then you select your timezone. Next, you select what measurement system you want to use:
This is all to tailor recipes and foods to your region, which makes it so unique to your situation.
It gets better…. then it asks which shop you buy most of your groceries from.
When it generates your shopping list, it tells you how many of your ingredients are available at your favorite/most-frequented store. Each time I’ve generated a shopping list, 100% of the ingredients/products on that list were available at my store.
After the background info, it gets more in-depth with your situation. It asks how many meals a week you currently cook for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I answered 3, 3, and 4 but I wasn’t really sure how to account for making lunches for my kids.
What is your cooking style?
Next, it asks what your cooking style is. I love this question. It’s really trying to figure out who you are and where your strengths and possible interests are. Paraphrasing, these are the range of choices:
- Do you mostly eat out/carry-in?
- Are you a novice in the kitchen, mostly using packaged foods?
- Do you cook some easy recipes?
- Are you more of a confident cook using pre-made food/shortcuts?
- Are you a seasoned pro in the kitchen, cooking from scratch most often?
It was interesting to think about myself in this way.
What appliances do you own?
This next question was also interesting…. It takes advantage of what you already have instead of having you buy more appliances. It asks you to name which of these you have:
- Slow cooker/crock pot — Yes!
- Pressure cooker — I bought one once at Costco and had it sitting unopened on my washing machine for three months before returning it.
- Sous vide — I don’t even know what this is. (Actually, I just looked it up and there’s no way ever in my life, under any circumstance, would I ever use/do this.)
Next, it asks when you want to start your Whole30 journey.
I’m already five days into this Whole30 program but I answered that I’m starting tomorrow, on my Day 6. Ideally, you would purchase the Real Plans Meal Planning Tool before you start Whole30 but it doesn’t matter.
The next question was interesting. It asked how long do I want to do the program for? The answers go all the way up to 180 days; however, the most you can set it for when you purchase the one month subscription is 30 days.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t access more recipes than that– you can!
The next question was worded strangely. The Real Plans question is: Do you have additional food exclusions to add?
This question came out of nowhere, so the word “additional” was strange. Definitely click “yes” so you can review them.
I clicked “yes” because there are foods one of my children is allergic to, so I want to omit them. This is the list (with definitions) for the foods and food groups you can eliminate. You can get more information on their website.
While I have no idea how to cook with many of these food categories, especially things like ghee and gums, this could be a great chance to learn.
(Note, two weeks into this recipe-thing, and I’m still not interested in figuring out what to do with ghees and gums so I’m sticking to the tasty meals I’ve been making.)
Next, you will want to click any specific ingredients or variations of the ingredient. As an example, I typed “coconut” and clicked to omit any ingredients containing coconut of any kind. There were over 30 coconut ingredients listed (toasted coconut, light coconut milk, coconut oil, etc.).
Being I excluded “coconut” from my original ingredients list, none of them would have probably shown up, but I wanted to be sure. I also listed a few additional specific ingredients I want omitted.
Now you get into the “When” section. The first question just asks what day of the week do you want to start your meal plan. I answered “Sunday” even though I’m filling this out on a Friday night.
It asks how many do you want to serve. Well, should I ask for six servings even though I’m in a family of four so that we have some leftovers? Maybe I should ask for eight servings so we can eat each meal two times in a row? I answered with “six.”
The next part is meant to be easy and simple but stressed me out. It’s asking what meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and what days (Sunday – Saturday) I/you/we want meals for.
I didn’t realize I would be able to change this at any time, whenever I wanted to.
How many meals do you want?
If you ask for 21 meals to get all of these great recipes and ideas, you are going to have a massive shopping list and wasted food which won’t help you at all.
I really didn’t know what to do, so I scattered it around a bit, planning for leftovers and some other types of foods — figuring I could throw together a salad with a can of tuna or whatever.
Really, this “How many meals a week” question is very interesting.
While I feel like I’m in the kitchen all the time (I strongly dislike being in the kitchen) I don’t know how many meals I’m actually cooking vs populating a plate with handfuls of this fruit, this vegetable, this piece of pork from the slow cooker from two days ago, etc.
Getting the Real Plans meal plan
Holy cow! I just submitted my plan, and within seconds, the Real Plans Meal Planner created my entire meal plan calendar of food and recipes.
A window popped up before I clicked in it to see more. It suggests watching a video to get the maximum value of this and to save “so much time.” I will watch it later.
Meal planning with Real Plans — awesome things
- I did notice when I clicked on a recipe that you have the option to change the quantity for that meal. So mine automatically sets to six servings but for any meal I want, I can go in and change how many people (more or less) I want, and it will reset the amount of each ingredient. That is absolutely amazing!
- As an example, on Friday, there is Magical Chili. I know I would like that meal to last a few days because it’s easy to reheat and just eat, so I’m changing it to eight servings.
- It’s easy to click on the Shopping List and wow! It’s broken down by section (Produce, Bulk, Canned/Jarred Goods, etc.)
- And, it shows that all 54 ingredients would be available at Fry’s Food so I won’t have to go running to different stores. I wonder if I answered “Costco” how that would work.
- There is a Timeline section. In this section it TELLS YOU EXACTLY WHAT TO DO ON EACH DAY. I am in love with this section!
Real Plans meal planning support
- Phone consultation: With your Real Plans subscription, there is a 15 minute phone consultation that you can schedule online. I haven’t done it yet but I will soon. I was waiting to see if I had questions after using the planner, and so far I don’t.
- Chat: There is also a Chat function for questions at any time.
- Help section on website
Give a Real Plans Whole30 Gift Subscription
How to make a meal plan
If you’ve ever wondered about how to start meal planning or to do it better, Real Plans meal planning online is for you.
Also, most likely, you don’t want to think about food so much, right?
I’m finding that setting it up to give me recipes for six meals a week is working for our family.
The shopping list is manageable, and it’s enough food. Also, it hasn’t been boring to eat.
I feel like I’m making and eating restaurant-quality meals! I’m so proud of myself and am thrilled even my kids are trying new foods. The combination of spices and using easy things like garlic, cilantro and limes have really given us new flavor combinations.
We still have lots of other meals to fill in the gaps (cereal and fruit for the kids for breakfast, salads, leftovers, etc.). I didn’t include eggs as an ingredient because I can make those in a variety of ways and also use them to fill in on days I’m not making a meal.
There are different plans you can choose from. I choose the Whole30 meal planning but there is also Paleo, Vegetarian, Keto, GAPS meal plans, AIP meal planning, and more.
Benefits of meal planning
In addition to learning so much while doing Whole30, I also came away with an more organized way to shop and cook for the rest of the year.
Before using this online meal planner, I didn’t think in terms of “ingredients” and didn’t use recipes.
Not because I’m a natural cook but rather because it wasn’t an habit or interest. I don’t own any cookbooks, nor do I peruse Pinterest or other sites looking for recipes. Frankly, I can care less about it. That’s why using this online meal planner is great.
I have my routines but by no means am I terrifically organized, especially when it comes to meal planning and making shopping lists.
Not being a meal planning person, I love this Real Plans meal planner and highly recommend it.
Busy moms and everyone will find it easy to be organized and prepared for the week. Also, you will have much less food waste because you will be using up the ingredients making all the recipes in the meal plan.