Honesty is my top priority as a blogger. I tell it like it is — whether people like it or not. And the same is true when it comes to product reviews: you’re going to hear exactly what I think of a product. In other words, I’m not going to write a glowing review unless I find a product to be exceptional.
Last week, I wrote a fairly negative review of Plan to Eat. I had planned to try out the service and use it for a month before writing the review. However, when I logged onto the site to set up my account and figure out how to use it, I was left very frustrated with the site. There were little-to-no instructions on how to use the site and the only way I could figure out how to input recipes in order to test out the shopping list and menu-planning features was to type up all the recipes completely from scratch — which I really did not have time to do.
It seemed tedious and time-consuming and definitely not a product I felt comfortable singing the praises of. I kept wondering if I was missing something major somewhere because I just couldn’t figure out how to make it work. I scoured the site for step-by-step directions and tutorials and found none. So I finally gave up trying to make it work and just decided to share my experiences in my review.
At any rate, come to find out, I was missing something really big. Reader Mandy wrote to me yesterday and said:
I just read your blog post about Plan To Eat. I just wanted to point out that there is a VERY easy way to enter recipes from websites. If you simply cut/paste the URL of the webpage with the recipe in the top box (the same place that you enter the search info if you want to do a search), it will import the recipe beautifully for almost all the websites I’ve tried it with (and I’ve imported over 100 recipes).
If for some reason that doesn’t work, you can hit “bulk entry” and just one or two cut and pastes, and the recipe is there. You are right that the site doesn’t do a good job of tutorials. I guess I’m just lucky that it only took a few minutes to figure it out for me. I guess I have looked at so many meal planning sites and programs over the last 6 months that I can figure things out quickly I will say that I have found what I was looking for in Plan to Eat though.
I logged into my account yesterday and looked for what she was talking about. Sure enough, right there in the header was a place to input recipes from a web address. I have no idea how I failed to find this the first time around — and I felt like a total dork for the review I wrote. It’s very apparent I’m a complete know-nothing when it comes to techie stuff!
At any rate, I spent a long while messing around with my account yesterday and I’ve totally changed my mind about Plan to Eat. In fact, I love the service! Once I figured out how to input some of my favorite recipes in it, I was able to see how it had some amazing features and would be an invaluable menu-planning service and grocery-list-making help.
It does take a little bit of time to input your favorite recipes, but using Mandy’s suggestions, I was adding recipes at about the rate of 1 per minute — much quicker than I ever could do if I were typing them up from scratch.
After inputting some recipes, I was able to quickly plan a mock-up menu with just a few clicks of a mouse. Then, once I had my menu planned, my grocery list was automatically created for me! (With a few more clicks, I was able to go through and easily delete the items I already have on hand and didn’t need to buy.)
I don’t know about you, but I’m always stumbling across recipes online that I want to try. Up until now, I’ve not found any system for collecting and cataloging these recipes. Well, I got all excited after I figured out how Plan to Eat worked yesterday because now I have a place to input and save all these wonderful recipes I find online.
No more searching in vain for a recipe link that I saw somewhere and then misplaced; I can immediately just add it to my recipe box on Plan to Eat. And then I can easily incorporate these recipes into our menu plans — all with just a few clicks.
In addition, once you built up your recipe collection, you can see at-a-glance if you’ve incorporated a recipe into your meal-plan and how often you’ve done so. I thought this was an especially cool feature as I sometimes can get into a rut in menu-planning.
Another really helpful feature is that you can easily divide your grocery list up by store. Plus, you can keep track of what you have in your pantry.
There are many more features I could tell you about, but I’ll have to save those to share later. The basic thing I wanted to make sure and communicate is that I was completely wrong in my assessment of Plan to Eat. It’s a really wonderful tool that I think many, many people could benefit tremendously from. In fact, I like it so much that I am seriously considering switching my entire menu-planning process over and using Plan to Eat exclusively because I think it could revolutionize my kitchen and meal-planning organization.
Interested in trying out Plan to Eat, too? Well, there’s good news: you can sign up for a completely free 30-Day Plan to Eat Subscription right now!
(And you are more than welcome to get a good laugh out of how un-techie I am for not being able to figure out how to use this service earlier. But I did I talk to the creator of Plan to Eat and was promised that step-by-step tutorials are at the top of the priority list. Not that probably anyone else besides me needs them!)