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WHY USE A MEAL PLANNING APP?
Back in the day (read: before marriage and children) I used to print out recipes for the week I wanted to try and had a HUGE binder, neatly organized by category. The foodie that I am, I kind of enjoyed it, but this was definitely time consuming.
Though I truly love to cook, as a mom and busy entrepreneur there were some days (weeks even!) when meal planning just seemed undoable.
While I always seemed to have breakfast covered (smoothie anyone?) lunch and dinner were usually the meals that tripped me up.
After waking up with and taking care of my daughter, working on Blender Babes, household chores, errands, trying to squeeze in exercise, etc; my brain is often fried.
Most of the time at the end of the day all I want to do is curl up on the couch and do absolutely NOTHING. Then I end up ordering take-out.
But take-out is usually not a healthy dinner when 1) you have children, and 2) you're trying to lose weight and/or stay on track.
While "take out" is certainly an option, we all know that it can get expensive, in addition to sabotaging our health goals.
Let's face the truth, if you really want to eat healthier it’s always best that you prepare your own meals.
So…what does one do when the meal planning is on YOU but you don’t have it in you to even think about what to prepare?
To make sure I hold up my end of the dinner coverage bargain (he’s got clean up and trash), I’ve had to find some resources to help me “get ‘er done” regardless of how busy, stressed or tired I am.
The most amazing resource I’ve found to help not only me figure out what to cook, but also my clients, is the online meal-planning tool called Real Plans.
Side Note: I did a ton of research and tried A BUNCH of meal planning apps and programs and Real Plans was THE BEST BY FAR!
Why? Because it has way more options for customization, so you can really dial-in creating automated meal plans that fit you and your family's schedule, preferences, diets. It can even count macros for you!
Founder Blender Babes
"I've used Real Plans personally for years now and loved it soooooo much, I reached out to them to see if I could contribute recipes - so now you can find and add over 300+ Blender Babes recipes to your meal plans!"
P.S. If you get Real Plans reach out to me via email and I will set you up for success! xo
The Real Plans website and mobile app help take the guesswork out of the age-old question I used to dread, “what’s for dinner?”
And... it’s super easy for me to meal plan from my phone whenever I have a few minutes to spare!
With Real Plans you have access to over 1500 recipes that suit every type of diet and situation – which is perfect for the Blender Babes community since we have many different types of lifestyles and diets in our tribe.
HOW REAL PLANS WORKS
Once you purchase a Real Plans subscription (annual is the cheapest of course and it's estimated you will save $50/week in groceries. That's $200 per month!), you sign in to your dashboard and tell Real Plans a little bit about yourself and what you like to eat (or DON'T eat!).
Then you select how many people you typically serve.
You also adjust the number of breakfasts, lunches and dinners you eat per week.
Having friends over? This is an awesome tool as the recipes and shopping list can easily be adjusted within the meal plan or app.
ADVANCED SETTINGS AND SCHEDULING
There's also "advanced settings" and "advanced scheduling" which helps you get even more granular on that.
For example, we do Sunday night dinners at Grandma/Grandpa's house most weeks so I never meal plan for Sunday.
Do you want to always make enough for leftovers? Lunch the next day? Um, yes please! Save me that time! It's like meal prep during the week instead of on the weekend!
Like smoothies for breakfast? Got that covered. AWESOME RIGHT?!
You can also list all of the types of appliances you have and then search for recipes by that way.
If you have dietary restrictions (or even plain ol' dislikes), you then choose what’s most suitable to your preferences.
You can also choose which specific diet type you want. The options cover from traditional, mediterranean, vegetarian, pescatarian to dairy-free, gluten-free, paleo, keto, AIP, GAPS, Kosher and more.
WEIGHT LOSS HELP AND MACROS
If you're looking to use meal planning to help with your weight loss goals, there's several ways that Real Plans can help.
Aside from all the dietary options to choose from (mediterranean, keto, etc.) they also have several different "ADD-ONs" from top food bloggers (like me! yay!) as well as Whole 30.
Another option is working with macros, which is much better than the dreaded "counting calories".
I work with macros with many of my clients who have been struggling to lose weight or keep gaining back the weight they lost previously, when old methods don't seem to be working anymore.
Real Plans includes a Macros add-on to help you keep track of and count your macros easily. Real Plans will automatically create meal plans for you based on your preferences and your macro settings, which can easily be adjusted at any time (for example 30% carbs, 35% fats and 35% protein)
You probably won't need this add-on forever. Once you've done it for a 2-3 months you'll get the idea of what's working and how to eat and you can remove the add-on and save a little bit of money.
MEAL PREP HELP SAVES YOU TIME
Real Plans can also help coordinate your cooking schedule for the week.
Got a couple of jam-packed days ahead and will not be able to cook at ALL? Not a problem!
Real Plans can help you leverage your time better by determining which dishes/meals you can make ahead of time.
If you’re super busy and leftovers is your only option, Real Plans can adjust a recipe so you have enough food for another meal or two.
GROCERY STORE INTEGRATIONS
Real Plans is serious about being a kitchen help-mate or virtual assistant to those of us who really need it!
One of the things I love is that you can input which grocery store(s) you most frequently shop in and organize your shopping list based on what items you buy from certain places.
If you’re like me and frequently shop in multiple stores, the grocery store function will keep things straight so don’t have to run back to the store because you forgot something!
Also, Real Plans integrates with INSTACART so you get your groceries delivered right to your door!
This has been a life saver for myself and clients with super busy schedules, as well as during the pandemic.
You can also add ingredients you need in general that aren't on your meal plan to your shopping list, so it's all inclusive to pick up everything you need.
You can print out your shopping list or conveniently have it using the Real Plans app on your phone (iphone and Android)
SEARCH AND MODIFICATION
As mentioned, breakfast isn't that difficult for me to navigate.
With what to make for dinner often leaving me scratching my head, I really like that Real Plans has a bevy of options to choose from AND tons of ways to search by.
Sometimes I search by ingredient - need to use that chicken in the freezer!
Other times I search by course, or by amount of time to cook, or by appliance used (need to use my Instant Pot more!)
Even if you’re not a fan of particular ingredients or feel a dish would taste better with your secret sauce, customization is big at Real Plans.
You can easily add or remove anything you want from the recipes and create your own modified version.
IMPORT FAVORITE RECIPES
Want to add family favorites or your mom's famous dish? No problem! You can also add in your own dishes if you like.
In your recipe box you can import recipes by url or by adding it manually.
Personally this is a huge feature for me and my clients. I create recipes that I don't put on this website and thanks to the INCREDIBLE food bloggers out there, I can add (and maybe even modify) recipes I've been saving to my Pinterest boards forever, and haven't even tried yet.
This has truly been the way that I FINALLY try all the recipes that I save - whether from Pinterest, Instagram or email newsletters.
MEAL PLAN AND SHOPPING LIST
Once you’ve selected your meal(s) for the day or week, Real Plans creates a timeline and shopping list for you.
Another cool aspect of their shopping lists is that you can check off items as you shop.
If your grocery shopping typically consists of sorting through multiple sheets of paper, you’ll more than likely love Real Plans’ shopping list feature because everything is all one place and on their app!
And that’s what makes Real Plans such a great service – it’s designed for efficiency and convenience.
If your recipe idea bank has run low and you’ve been making the same things over and over again, Real Plans has a bevy of meal ideas that have been “kitchen tested and family approved.”
In fact, the company was founded by mommy blogger and acupuncturist, Emily and her techie husband Antony.
As my workload has increased over the years, I’ve tried several meal plan subscriptions. I can tell you firsthand that Real Plans is the best I have used, and I am so proud that my community can now add Blender Babes recipes to their weekly meal plan!
Not only are the meals delicious, but there’s a variety of flavors for the most discerning of palates.
Add to that technology that helps make personalization easy, with Real Plans you have a meal planning app and tool that makes getting healthy, delicious meals on the table easy and as stress free as possible.