September 29


There is no such thing as a perfect meal plan

By Laura Nunemaker

September 29, 2021

There, I said it. Sure, I like the idea of putting together a perfect meal plan and enjoying healthy meals without a care because I know exactly what I'm going to eat for each meal.

But real life butts in. Situations change. Last minute plans happen. Sick days occur.

I used to be more loose about how I planned meals for the week. I just wrote up a list on paper of a few dishes that I would make that week.

But when the pandemic struck I really wanted to limit my grocery trips. I tried to plan a week or more at a time. It is not easy getting a week's worth of food into an RV fridge, let me tell you. Especially when you mainly eat whole food plant based meals.

So I was on the search for a meal planning tool. That's how I found Plan to Eat. I talk about it a bit in this 'first impression' post.

I didn’t grow up exposed to meal planning. I almost always went to the grocery store with my mom and she rarely had a list. She just bought stuff. As a result, I remember our cabinets and refrigerator being stuffed and food going bad regularly. So I’ve had to figure that out on my own. Up until

First Experience With Plan to Eat

And guess what? I'm still using it!

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

A perfect meal plan is flexible 

I'm a sucker for those shots of a whole week of meal prep all ready to put in the refrigerator or freezer but it doesn't work for my lifestyle. Neither does having every meal for every day of the week set in stone. I need a little more flexibility and I bet you do too.

colorful meal prep container in refrigerator with fruits and vegetables.

Photo by Ello on Unsplash, edited

It's true, there is no perfect meal plan, but if you're using the right tool, you can make your plan work for you on the fly. 

There are two features that Plan to Eat has that make my meal plans flexible. Here's more about those features plus some ideas on how you can achieve flexibility other ways.

Drag & drop

When I meal plan, I don't even worry too much about what I'm going to eat which day anymore unless I have ingredients that will spoil quickly. I set up my plan and then move the meals to when I want to make them on a day to day basis.

For example, today I'm sitting at a cafe. We just had lunch. I didn't plan for that at all. So I just moved the meal I had set up for lunch today to another day.

Sometimes dishes make more or less than you are expecting. Or, you eat more or less than you thought you would. For example, I made chili for dinner recently. It usually makes four full servings but I guess we were hungry because there aren't two servings left! So I'm going to make the 2nd meal I had planned as a chili mac instead. And I added that note to my meal plan in Plan to Eat.

An alternative option

By the way, you don't have to use a program like Plan to Eat to have flexibility. It does make it dead simple, though. Instead you can set up your own spreadsheet. Or, go analog and use a dry erase board. Both options will make it pretty easy for you to make changes.

An iPhone app

The Plant to Eat iPhone app is fully functional. You have access to everything there. When I'm making a recipe, I use the app on my phone. It's much easier than using the computer. And waaay easier than what I used to do - pull out the cookbook or hunt down the recipe online. You do have to get the recipes into Plan to Eat though, and that takes some time.

The shopping list feature works great from the app too. It's easy to add items to the list when you're thinking about it, And now I use the app shopping list at the grocery store marking things off as I get them.

An alternative option

Again, you don't have to use Plan to Eat to make all this work. You can use Notes (or the equivalent on a non-iPhone) to keep your shopping list. You can even use it to store your most used recipes. And, if you share cooking and shopping with someone else, you can share the notes so you both have access to the shopping list and the recipes.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

What's stopping you from meal planning? Are you afraid it will take too much time? Do you think you won't do it right? Does it seem too rigid? I'd love to hear what's holding you back.

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About the author

Meat-free since 1996. Cow petter. Former vegan bakery owner. Full-time traveler for 5 years, usually in an RV, but not always. Half of VeganRV. Instant Pot lover. Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate, Completed January 2022, eCornell and T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies

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