Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Plan to Eat with My First Giveaway!

Hello, friends! 


I'm baaaaaaack. 


And I have news. 


Are you ready for this?


I'm having my first ever giveaway!  Can you believe it? 


I can't either. The best part is that it's something I am very excited about. 





Meal Planning Website

You see, one of my biggest frustrations is dinnertime. I don't know about you, but it's the part of my day that just plain stresses me out. Usually we have just arrived home from school, with backpacks and homework and small dirty people everywhere I turn. They're all looking at me with big eyes, calling "Mama, my HUNG-wee! My hung-wee Mama!" 


Unfortunately, all too often my answer is "I'm hungry too, Daddy's bringing home pizza." 


Sigh.


Having my meals planned in advance is the only weapon I have to combat this dinnertime dilemma, especially since I've never been good at cooking without a recipe, but my meal planning leaves something to be desired. I've tried lots of different methods, lots of different recipe websites, lots of different shopping list programs. They all had aspects that I liked, but none of them "had it all." 


Then about six weeks ago, a friend of mine tipped me off on Plan to Eat and I signed up for the 30-day free trial. Within a couple days I was starting to get excited that this might be the website I've been looking for.

You may have heard of it because there's been a lot of internet buzz lately, but for those of you who haven't, here it is in a nutshell: It's a website that helps those of us who are not Type A, not born-organized, and are a little bit scatterbrained create a monthly meal calendar that would make even Martha Stewart jealous. It's true. She saw mine and turned green immediately. And for those of you who are Type A, born organized, and not even a little bit scatterbrained, this is going to rock your world too.  


Next to Pinterest, it's my new favorite website. And that's sayin' somethin'.


Here are some of the things that I *love* about Plan to Eat:


  • Clipping and saving recipes wherever I'm browsing, such as on All-Recipes or cooking blogs.
  • Quickly and easily entering my own recipes to create my virtual recipe book.
  • Dragging and dropping all those recipes onto a monthly calendar, including separating out meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I can also add "extra" ingredients for a meal right in the calendar mode and they will automatically go on my grocery list.




  • It will sync with my iCalendar program on my Mac (or with Google calendar) so my meal plan will show up on my calendar. 
  • My grocery list is automatically generated based on the meals and snacks that I'm planning to make that week.
  • I can create a "staples" list for as many different stores as I choose, so it's easy to add the basics to my list. This saves me time because I no longer have to type "milk, eggs and bread" every single week. I just click, click, click and my list is done. 
  • I can share recipes with my friends who are using Plan to Eat, and easily save their recipes in my virtual recipe book too. 
  • I can add the things I have on hand to my virtual "pantry", and then when I'm stumped for what to make for dinner, I click the "cook from my pantry" button~ it will show me every recipe I can make using the stuff I have on hand!
  • If I want to print my calendar, for either the month or the week, it will also give me the option to print each recipe I have planned. Do you know how amazing this is? Cooking has been a snap this week because I know that every recipe I need is already printed and ready to go. I file them in my recipe binder after I make them, and now they're all formatted uniformly and pretty~ like a real cookbook! 
  • While Plan to Eat doesn't have an official app yet (it's in the works), their mobile site works great and I always have my list at my fingertips when I go to the store. I was able to save the website to my iPhone's homepage, and it looks so official I don't even need a "real" app. If you don't have a smart phone, you can email the list to yourself and print it out before you head to the store.
  • You can save your meal plans if you choose. Say you wanted to make a menu that includes recipes using up garden produce, you could call it "Summer Produce Menu" or maybe "Quick and Cheap" You can do the work to plan out a menu one time, and then rotate it in as often as you wish. 

Phew, that was a long list. Intrigued yet? You should be. 


When you sign up, you get a free 30-day trial to experiment and see if this is something that you can really use, which is ample time to get a feel for all the features. Honestly, it took me about a week to really start liking it because it had so MANY features I got a little confused. Now that I'm used to it, I'm hooked. 


Now here's the fun part.


Plan to Eat has generously donated a one-year subscription for one of my lucky readers! I am so excited for you guys (and a little jealous that I can't enter my own giveaway). But wait, here's the best part... while there is only one official winner, everyone who submits an entry will receive a coupon code from me via email that gives you 25% off your subscription price! 


Say it with me: Cool. Beans.  (You remember cool beans, right? It was the weird phrase we used in the 90's that didn't make any sense, but somehow or another meant 'awesome')


Entering to win is SIMPLE, and you can do it up to three times:

  1. Enter using the Inlinkz tool I have here at the bottom of my post (ignore the part about needing a URL... you don't). If you are reading this in an email or through Google Reader you will need to click over to my blog to enter. 
  2. If you want an extra entry, you can Twitter or Facebook about this giveaway and then come back here and enter yourself a second time. (this is optional)
  3. Lastly, if you sign up for a FREE 30-day trial of Plan to Eat come back and enter yourself for a third chance to win.

The giveaway will be open for one week (closing Monday, June 6 at 9 pm PST) and I will announce the winner next Tuesday. You have three chances to enter~ hop to it!



In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that there is a referral program for Plan to Eat and if you click the above links I will get credit for referring you to them. However, I would never promote something I didn't love and use myself, and even if I got jack squat, I would still be writing this post. I think this website is da bomb. Hope you love it too!

9 comments:

  1. Girl, you totally rock! I would have NEVER KNOWN that something as cool as this ever existed if it wasn't for your awesome blog. ;) Thanks for sharing!! :D

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  2. very cool - this looks like something I could use, I have such a hard time coming up with meal plans...

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  3. I am 3 days into my free trial... not sure if I am as thrilled as you yet, but I have told several people about it and they are thrilled. Entering several recipes from my Eat Clean Diet cookbook if you want to share them. They are pretty yummy!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I felt the same way for about the first week. I'm not gonna lie: There is a bit of effort involved to get the most out of it. It only works if you have your recipes IN the program. I had a lot of mine already saved somewhere online, and those were pretty easy to cut and paste, but I did have to type in some and that took some time. I finally broke down and spent an hour or two putting recipes in, and now that I have about 60 or so in there, it's working a lot better for me.

    I will friend you on there and then we can share recipes. I'm glad you're trying it! I think you will like it once you get the hard part done.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Okay, that is a very cool tool. I would consider myself more of a Type-A personality, but I have never been a meal planner. Just a wannabe.

    I signed up for the free trial. I can see how getting started will be a little daunting, but once the bulk of my recipes are there, it could be really sweet.

    ReplyDelete
  6. P.S. I just sent you a friend request. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. So, I entered with the linky tool, shared on facebook, and signed up for a 30 day trial. :) Looks like a really cool site! I love that I can edit the recipes that I find online!

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  8. How fun. Jonathan introduced me to your blog and shared this with me this morning. So cool. I totally am going to have to try it out especially since I've been struggling tremendously with meal planning. It's a much bigger deal now that he is working full time and we are a one car family so my opportunities for grocery shopping are quite limited. Thanks!

    Btw, you might really enjoy this blog http://cookiebakerlynn.blogspot.com/. She's a great writer, a Christian mom, and a fantastic baker/cook.

    If you enjoy good deals check out http://www.how2coupon.com/

    ReplyDelete
  9. This menu planning tool looks like the most useful one I've seen. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

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