I have to be honest. I am not a meal planner. I based my daily meal decisions on what I feel I want, what I have on hand, time to actually cook, what looks good at the store or what might be on sale at the time. Over the years I have tried several different programs, apps and easy meal plan guidelines to see if they would actually make my life simpler. Typically these services add more stress and much more expense to my week. They work if you can be that structured with your food and schedule each day. Don’t get me wrong I am most definitely a planner and get far more done and completed with success and ease with a plan however when it comes to food and a busy working lifestyle with kids I can’t ever seem to make traditional meal planning work here is why.
Most meal plans give you a full week of ideas, recipes and grocery lists. This is great if you have time to cook every meal 3 times a day, yes even those with batch cooking options still require a lot of advanced meal prep. For me there are days where I need food already done heat and serve, batch or freezer meals that are hot and on the table in 10 minutes or less. This is where a lot of my Make Ahead Meal options and strategies work wonders. Many of these services offer limited flexibility for specific diets, avoiding specific ingredients or swapping out meals for something you may not like. The grocery lists include everything making which is great but I often find myself double buying items I already had or trying to sift through pages to make a new grocery list for what I actually need. I tend to have much more waste with these programs, food for recipes I didn’t have time to get to, overbuying items, or for the services that ship you ingredients mass amounts of packaging waste. Yes, most of it is recyclable but it is still so much unnecessary waste. These easy meal planning services just never really worked long term.
For the past few months I have been testing out a new easy meal planning service called PlateJoy. I stumbled upon this custom meal planning service while searching for other things. I am so happy I did. I have to admit it is the best I have ever seen. Granted this may take some clients away from me, but I just have to share because it really works. If you want a consistent flexible real life workable meal plan this is it. I am always on the look out for new ways to make life easier and more enjoyable when I find the good ones I feel obligated to share with you.
Ok so here is why I love Platejoy:
Meals designed for your unique needs
They have a personalization quiz that creates a meal plan that fits your lifestyle and preferences. It lets you choose if you want specifics like to cut calories, reduce red meat, work with a special diet like gluten or dairy free, there is even a place to just say, I don’t like this ingredient so don’t include it. It also takes into account how much time you want to spend cooking and how many meals you want to prepare each week. For example if you want or don’t want leftovers or prefer batch cooking recipes. There are lots of options so you are always getting recipes that fit your needs, tastes and timeline.
It then creates your “Meal Queue” where you can see all the recipes that fit the requests you made in your personalization quiz. Note you can change your answers to see different recipes at any time so you are not locked in to a gluten, dairy, no meat, low carb diet if you don’t want to be or you can try out something new just for a week. The recipes in the meal queue are then chosen in combination to reduce the amount of food waste for your meal plan. However, you can also change your mind at any time when going over your designed meal queue to swap, remove or add recipes if see something your really want or don’t care for at the moment. Note that doing this may increase your food costs and waste but you are always getting recipes you know you will like.
You Have Control
You have control over how many recipes you get in your weekly meal plan. This is one of the main reasons I like this program so much. Each week you can update the kind of recipes you want for each category, choosing 0-5 breakfast, lunch, batch meals, dinner, snacks/desserts. This is key because depending on the week you can choose what you need. If its a busy week I will choose quick cooking meals with leftover options. If I have several lunch time meetings I will include less lunch options or if its a slower week and I have time to cook I will add extra recipes, more snacks, batch cooking and recipes that may take longer to complete. Each week you have control and flexibility. I have not found any another easy meal planning service that has done this so well.
Next it’s on to the shopping list, my other most loved option of the PlateJoy easy meal planning service. Before it creates your personalized shopping list it walks you though your pantry allowing you to check off ingredients you already have on hand. This is so helpful because its only creates shopping list with the things you really need. No more sifting through pages of grocery lists with things you already have. For me I have a pretty well stocked pantry so my lists are generally small with fresh produce, meat and some speciality items. I did once print out the whole list as if I have nothing starting from scratch it was a bit long but organized well and easily set me up for success. As you create the next weeks menu is also has a section to use up any ingredients you may have on hand. This way of shopping also cuts down on all the excess packaging of other meal planning services that ship ingredients.
Shopping Made Easy
The grocery list is organized by category with the amounts you need, suggestions for the butcher of how to have the meats cut and a recipe code if you want to refer back to the recipe that a particular ingredient is for or if last minute you decide you don’t want to make a recipe you can easily remove those ingredients from the list. If you want other items that are not for your chosen meal plan say you just want some more apples for the kids, need dish soap or paper towels you can add them to your list too so you are only shopping from one list. Personally I love grocery shopping and I like to choose my own thing especially produce, meat and seafood. I know this is not everyone. You may not love grocery shopping or don’t have time for it. Don’t worry, they have an easy access link with one click you can add your entire list to your instacart and have it delivered! Really they thought of everything.
There are many things I like about this easy meal planning services but no matter how easy something is to use it still must product quality results. The recipes are easy to follow and consistently produce delicious results. I think out of all the things I made after tying the service for weeks there were maybe 3 items that my family though were just ok. The majority of meals gave nightly inspiration and new family time favorites for our weekly meals. Many of the recipes my toddler even helped me prepare. He also enjoyed the variety of adult and kid friendly foods like these jerk chicken lettuce wraps.
Balanced Nutrition and Portion Size
Plate Joy also includes recommended portion sizes based on the calorie intake you requested in beginning profile making adjustments for more active individuals, those wanting to lose weight and even healthy child size portions. The nutritional information is broken out for each person for each meal if you are counting calories, carbs or just curious its all there for you. You can easily work it into any diet or fitness program you may already be enjoying or wanting to being. It truly sets you up for well rounded mealtime success.
Ok so I love it, I know this may take some clients from me but I had to share. Check out Plate Joy Here! You can use code IMPRESSIONS10 to save $10 on your subscription. If you have ever thought of trying a easy meal planning service or been frustrated by others in the past I highly recommend you give this one try.
Here are some of the great meals and snacks I made with Plate Joy
Sometimes I receive sample products to test and share my honest opinions about. I will ONLY promote products that I love and currently use myself. I feature these products as they have made my life simpler or more enjoyable in some way. I share them with you only as a resource to better support you in enjoying a simply delicious happy and healthy life.
All reviews are my own words and my own opinions. I share them as an expert in the field and hope these products work for you and bring as much joy to your life as they have to mine.
I will occasionally link to specific sites or include affiliate links to help you purchase similar or recommend products. Again, I will only feature items I currently use and think will truly benefit you and your family. As always it is my true effort to serve you please contact me if you have questions about this process, products I mention or would like me to consider your product for a feature highlight. I am happy to help.