Top Meal Planning Services
Meal planning services have gained a lot of attention and traction in the past few years. The biggest reason for this is that our lives are getting busier and busier. While we all strive to put good and healthy food on the table, sometimes we simply don’t have the time.
This is where meal planning services come into play. There are many different companies out there that offer no hassle solutions to in-home cooking, and it can be a bit difficult deciding which ones to go with or which are best for you. Don’t worry, though, we have this dilemma solved for you. Here is a list of the top 3 meal planning services out there with a short description of each and what they have to offer.
– The Six O’Clock Scramble
– The Fresh 20
– Plan to Eat
Now keep in mind that these are not in any particular order. The order in which they appear on the list does not imply that one is better or worse than the others. Read on and use the information we provide to make your own decision based on your personal needs.
The Six O’clock Scramble
This meal plan service was created in 2003 by Aviva Goldfarb. The idea behind her recipes is that they can be made in 30 minutes or less while still providing the full nutrition needed to keep your family healthy.
It seems that this site is mostly targeted towards people who don’t exactly love to cook. It has a fantastic search function that gives you the capability of finding exactly what you are looking for. Judging from what we saw, most of the recipes take a short amount of time to prepare without the need to run to the store and buy a million ingredients that you don’t have in your cupboard. This makes it perfect for those who are in a hurry.
The site offers the ability to rate each recipe by the readers. This is an excellent feature because we can rely on reviews to help us decide what to cook. Besides catering to a variety of different diets, the site also offers plenty of nutritional information for each recipe.
The recipes were great but we had to make quite a few substitutions, so it would be nice if the site had some sort of a “real food” tracker or something to help make some of the ingredients more accessible. Otherwise, everything was pretty simple, with no crazy extra features and add-ons. If you are a fan of features and options this site might not be for you.
The Fresh 20
This site was created by a former Internet Marketing Exec by the name of Melissa Lanz in 2009. She quit her job in the pursuit of healthy nutrition for her family after finally getting fed up with takeout foods (pun intended). Many other people obviously feel the same way and her site has skyrocketed.
Since Melissa Lanz was an Internet Marketing Exec we expected a very prominent name brand and a clean yet crisp design from her website, which is exactly what we got. The site is very alluring. Something about it makes it super attractive. Perhaps it’s the great choice of colors or just an overall simple yet informative design.
The plan itself is simple, too. Every week you get an Adobe PDF file with a breakdown for five meals. You get an option of going with the Classic, Vegetarian, or Gluten Free style. The estimated cost of each meal is under $15 and there are generally less than twenty ingredients to create all five meals.
Most if not all of the food on the site looks simply scrumptious. The ingredients used are easily available, and you most likely already have them on hand. The number of needed ingredients is right on the border of perfect, meaning there aren’t too many needed ingredients but still enough to make the food delicious and exciting.
There were only two things we really wanted from the site and did not get. We would have loved to see some images of the food, obviously to show off how amazing it is, and perhaps a search function so we can go back and revisit some of the more memorable dishes.
Plan to Eat
This service is probably the most interesting we have encountered yet. It features a combination of already available recipes and includes the unique ability to add your own. This is super exciting because over the years we have collected a staggering amount of recipes and they can be hard to maintain. Whether you keep your recipes in your handy recipe book, which is falling apart or hardly legible anymore, or they are all swimming around in the back of our head, some of these recipes get lost and it is a shame. This is where Plan to Eat excels above others by letting you store all your recipes in one handy little spot and then even make weekly meal plans with your very own recipes and those of others. This isn’t one of those sites that send you the weekly meal plan; it is more of an organizer which gives you the possibility of planning with your own recipes. It was created by a married couple and they have used it to successfully revolutionized meal planning for everyone.
Here is the best part: you can add recipes manually, step by step the good old fashion way, or you could add them from over a 100 different websites and blogs. We all have that odd delicious recipe we cooked years ago once and forgot about because we found it on some website we no longer remember. Plan to Eat eliminates the need to sit down and copy the recipe down into your book! Just add the link to the site and the recipe will be pulled for you and neatly tucked away until you need to access it again. Once you have that recipe added and you want to incorporate it into a monthly meal plan, just drag it into the calendar and you are set. You will even get a shopping list which will include all ingredients you need to successfully cook all the meals you have planned for.
What’s wonderful is that you can work with ingredients that you have on hand or that are in season. Do you have a lovely farmers market that had a ridiculously good price on a bunch of tomatoes? No problem, adjust your weekly plan to incorporate a recipe that uses them. It’s really that simple.