Simple Online Meal Planning

Yesterday I sat down as I do most Saturdays and made my grocery list for the week.  I have been going back and forth between ordering my groceries online and going to the grocery store, simply because I find the online store doesn’t have the organic selection that is available at our local store.  When I need to stock up on pantry items, condiments, household items, etc, I go online.  When I need meat, produce and veggies, I make a list and send my husband to the grocery store.

As I was writing my list this week, I was about halfway through when I realized I had no idea what I was writing down.  I was simply thinking of things without the actual meals I might need them for.  So I took to the internet in search of some help meal-planning.

Through Google, I came across the site How Does She Do It .com.  After registering (for free), I had access to some amazing tools that made writing my grocery list very easy.

The concept is very simple.  You search through the recipes on the site (which have been added by other users) and when you find one you like, you can save the recipe.  Once you have some saved recipes, you go into your Meal Planner tab and simply pick which days of the week you will be making those dishes.  When you are done, you click on your Shopping List and everything you need (including amounts) is on the list.

What I love about it is that the Shopping List is editable.  You can remove any items you know you already have and then add more items you need that may not have been included on the recipes.  Everything is added into a category on your list (ie: Deli, Canned goods, Meat, etc) which helps keep shopping a little more organized.  If an item you are adding isn’t in their database, it will simply be added to the “Other” category at the bottom of your list.
As I was playing around with the site, I started to notice how after a little use, you can make this application your own.  If you take the time to add your own recipes to the database, then next time you need to shop for that dish, you simply add it to your Meal Planner for the week.  I even noticed that one person had added a recipe called “School Lunches”, which was basically a list of everything they need to buy weekly to make their child’s lunch.  Unfortunately that particular “recipe” depended on making PB&J for some days but I plan to return to the site soon and add my own version of school lunches to the database that will include items that my kids enjoy, making my grocery list that much easier to write each week.

There were a few things that I would want to see improved.  One being the quantity/names of items that are automatically added to the grocery list – it would be nice if we could simply edit them, instead of having to delete and recreate should we want more of that item, a specific brand, etc.  The other thing is that it doesn’t let you change or edit the category that the items fall under – a drag/drop feature would be fantastic here so that we can set up the list based on how our grocery store stocks items.  Lastly is the mobile app.  What a fantastic idea to be able to bring up your list on your phone and to add items as you think of them while you are out.  However, the app is not reliable at this time and seems to crash a lot or not bring up your list.  So I simply printed my list for my husband to take the store.

Overall, a fantastic site.  I think that if they keep working on it, it can become huge.  It really was a time saver and helped keep my grocery list on task, only buying items we need for the meals I am making this week.  In addition, I am trying some new recipes.  Tonight I made the Tuna Patties recipe and my husband and kids LOVED them.  They were super-easy to make and all I had to do was add a salad as a side and we had a great meal.  I definitely recommend checking out the site!

xo J

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