The Meal Planning Boot Camp Day 2: The Menu Planning Process

By January 20, 2015Meal Planning Boot Camp

(If your just joining us, welcome to Meal Planning Boot Camp. Each day this week I’ll post a lesson and a homework assignment. Click here to read the complete overview.)

Well Done Recruits!

Great job making it through day 1.

I’m proud of you, but…don’t think I’m going easy on you now. If you haven’t finished yesterday’s homework, go do that before moving on. I want you to have at LEAST a dozen recipes by the end of the week in your Recipe Book. It will help you make the most of PTE.

No use trying and not going all out, right?

Lesson 2: Meal Planning

Today we are going to look at the planning section of Plan To Eat. This is where all the goodness happens. Even though I love how simple it is to enter recipes, it’s the planning part of the site that makes me sing its praises.

Call me a nerd, but I think it’s really fun to be able to drag and drop recipes onto the calendar to plan my week. And when I discovered I could SAVE that week’s meal plan and then just drag and drop an entire weekly menu…I wept softly.

Wait…no I didn’t. Drill Sergeants don’t cry. Alright, forget that. Get to work. Here’s today’s video lesson:

(RSS and email readers, click here to view today’s video lesson.)

Homework

1. Enter at least 5 more recipes. After yesterday, you are a recipe entering ninja-ette. (After you enter 25 recipes, you officially become a ninja. Patience, grasshopper.) Today, I want you to enter at least 5 more. The goal is for you to have enough meals to plan an entire week. Drop and give me 5.

Tip: I even have Leftovers and PBJ and Cereal as recipes in my Recipe Book. We do eat those often, so I just drag and drop and save them in my weekly meal plan. If you are pressed for time, feel free to enter simple “recipes” like that for today’s assignment.

2. Make a Menu Plan. If you have enough recipes to meal plan for a week, go ahead and do that. Be sure to save it as a Menu so that you can use it again later. If you don’t have enough recipes entered yet, meal plan as many days as you can and save that as a Menu. I want you to at least practice meal planning via the drag and drop calendar. I also want you to practice creating a menu plan – that is where the secret power lies.

Bookmarklet Help

Here is a video and instruction from the Plan To Eat site on how to install their handy dandy bookmarklet. It may vary a bit depending on your system, browser etc.

And here is information on how to install it on a mobile device.

Check In

When you complete today’s homework, please check in by leaving a comment. Did the menu planner make you weep with joy?

If you have any questions, please leave those in the comments as well and I will do my best to help. If you have suggestions or ideas feel free to help other recruits by chiming in on questions in the comments. Click here to join in the discussion.

Get to work. No time to play. Tomorrow we talk about Shopping Lists. This stuff ain’t for pansies. Dismissed.

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Comments

47 Comments

  • Avatar Callie says:

    Done entering recipes today and done making my meal plan! I love your idea about putting in the simple meals that don’t require a recipe. Also — great idea to create a “recipe” called Leftovers and just dragging it to the day instead of having to type in Leftovers each time! Thanks!

    • Avatar Erin says:

      Yes I do too,.,, the simple recipes that don’t require a recipe… I added some snacks like string cheese and an apple…. I’m using this to not only help me plan but keep track of calories. Oh you Kat and Plan to Eat are both an answer to prayer. Sincerely I mean this.. thank you God for these bright, caring people!
      Thank you too Kat for taking the time to clarify about your video… I will keep you in my prayers to feel better.

  • Avatar Jane Hutcheson says:

    Done with day 2! Thanks for the walk-through. Even just seeing someone else’s recipes (yours) got me excited about getting out of my meal rut (I think I rotate between 4 meals–YIKES!!!)…I’m having fun looking through some of my forgotten but favorite recipes. My husband and kids are going to be thanking you in the upcoming weeks:)

  • Avatar Laura Kane says:

    Homework done, will add more recipes tonight! Please feel free to add me as a friend for recipe sharing! PTE ID: laurakane1108

    Thanks so much for this, its helping immensely!

  • Avatar Jess says:

    First Menu planned…it’s a rough shell, but a great start! Thanks!

  • Avatar Becky says:

    Done! Having too much fun with this!

  • Avatar Jan says:

    Fabulous! That’s all…

  • Avatar Leann says:

    Day two assignment completed…. the only issue I keep having is that it is showing an “oops message” at the top when I input recipes but I cannot figure out what that is. Everything is going in and there have been no glitches on my recipes, planner, etc… It just shows that message at the top right and then tells me to contact them. I have over 50 recipes in now and a full week of menus planned and I am ready for tomorrow! I love this plan so much!!!

  • Avatar Jennifer says:

    Am loving it! Thanks so much!

  • Avatar Jodi says:

    Loving Plan to Eat! I entered in 5 more meals today. I did simple ones today like spaghetti and sandwiches. It was so easy to make a meal plan. I can’t wait to enter more recipes and really get going with this!

  • Avatar Corrynn Bradford says:

    OMG!! I love the PTE site!!! I got so excited I put in 15 recipes and it took me no time since most of them were from sites!!!!

  • Avatar Tamara says:

    I need to enter some more breakfast and lunch “recipes” (my go-to’s that don’t really need recipes), but I’ve got a week and a half of dinners planned!

  • Avatar Aimee says:

    Done with Day 2. I LOVE the freezer option! Thanks so much for pointing that out! Can’t wait for day 3.

  • Avatar Emily says:

    Love the menu feature- and I like adding simpler recipes. Looking forward to Day 3:)

  • Avatar Jen Thompson says:

    I think I’m more excited about the grocery list feature than the meal planner! I consistently need one more thing from the grocery. Would you be able to show a screen shot of how your calendar looks with meals added to it? Also, when you put in cereal for a meal or PB&J, do any ingredients show up on your grocery list?

    This has been a great start. Thanks!

  • Avatar Katie B says:

    I’m not gonna lie, I had a little extra time today and I’m now best friends with the menu planner. I planned 3 full weeks of meals! I can’t wait to see how the shopping list feature works…if it’s really all this easy in practice, it will be revolutionary for our family’s shopping/cooking/eating!

  • Avatar Diane says:

    Lots of recipes added, menu created, trying not to let my perfectionist side take over (deep breath…progress over perfection). Question as we approach the shopping list day: how to you take sales into account when planning out your menus on PTE? I’m thinking about it as my local grocery is running their 10 for 10 sale this week. I’ve noticed they tend to put the same things on sale at similar times. Maybe I could make a 10 for 10 menu using those ingredients? Thoughts?

  • Avatar ramaresfamily says:

    This is my second time to make a menu. Thank you for sharing some tricks!

  • Avatar Edwena says:

    Mission accomplished!!! Five recipes added and 1 menu plan made.

  • Avatar Sarah says:

    More recipes added and a super-basic menu created. I am super excited about the shopping list, since there seems to be one more thing that we need!

  • Avatar MrsAmyB says:

    Going well here too. Thank you!

  • Avatar Marylynn says:

    The saved menu feature is great. I entered more recipes and got next week planned and saved as a new menu. So nice to have that done – now I can take it easy this weekend!

  • Avatar Wanda says:

    Day 2 – Homework completed. I am loving this!!! I get excited about organizing my life. I’m not cooking anything this week….just entering recipes and doing what I’m told. I mean, Kat didn’t say to actually cook something. Right???? LOL

  • Avatar Diana says:

    I got several more recipes entered including those basic snacks and lunches (sandwiches and granola bars etc.). Played around with the planning section and got part of a week planned.

  • Avatar pollyw says:

    I have to say, I am loving hanging out with you (virtually) while we learn all of this.

    As I said in my earlier comment, I am using a different menu planning app, but your instructions are showing me how to use its features in ways I wouldn’t have even discovered if you hadn’t shown the videos about the other plan. Thank you so much! You are a fun teacher (oops, drill sergeant)!

  • Avatar erin says:

    Day 2 – I’ve become a recipe adding addict! Now if only I can muster the time and skill to follow through. Between this and “going Paleo” I’m being forced to start really cooking for the first time in years. It’s time!

  • Avatar Tamara says:

    Yeah! More recipes added and I have a meal plan. Talk about progress!

  • Avatar Shirley says:

    The video won’t play in Safety Mode on YouTube. Its only supposed to block inappropriate content, and it played yesterday’s video just fine. Weird. So I guess I’m off to explore the menu planning portion on my own. Wish me luck! 🙂

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Shirley,
      I double checked the video settings and there aren’t any unusual settings…I’m not sure what the issue might be. I’m so sorry.

  • Avatar Aleshia says:

    I had put off doing my “homework” yesterday fearing it would be too time consuming and difficult. But you were right, PlanToEat is AMAZING!! I got busy today and did it. I have over 30 recipes in my recipebook, without breaking a sweat. That FTE bookmarklet is a LIVESAVER! Loving this!!

  • Avatar Heather says:

    Hi Kat today’s mission accomplished and I am loving PTE more and more. I was wondering if there’s a way to change the date format to Australian? I’ve had a look in settings and cana’t ee it there (found time zone etc) – I find it a bit confusing when the recipe has been added to the planner and the confirmation window comes up, in US date format.
    Also, do you know if there’s a way to make a meal more than one ‘course’ – ef both a lunch AND dinner option? – I have a few recipes that fit into both categories.
    Thanks

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Heather,
      Hmmm…I don’t know about the date options. I think that might be a good question for their support desk. However, I DO know how to categorize meals to different topics – use the tags feature. Just use lunch or dinner in the recipe and you’ll then be able to sort accordingly. I’ll share about tags in the Q and A video tomorrow.

      Great questions!

  • Avatar Heather L. says:

    Forgot to comment yesterday . . . I finished assignment number 2! Thanks Kat!!

  • Avatar Tana says:

    Completed!

  • Avatar Laura says:

    I’ve been so inspired by this boot camp! I’ve also been playing with the “recipe tags” and since I have a mix of Low Carb and regular recipes as well as the cleaning solutions that I make at home, I’ve been tagging the LC recipes with “Low Carb # net carbs” which will help me in planning carb controlled meals! By having a “cleaning solutions” tab, I can capture any supplies in my grocery list. Anything that I don’t have the nutrition information in, I’ve put a tag – needs nutrition info so that when I have time, I can go back and plug in what I need. I also added categories to sort into that mimic my personal cookbook. LOVING this! THank you for inspiring and helping us!

  • Avatar Carol Marks says:

    I’m planning for baby #4 this coming Spring & this is JUST what I needed! I’m SO excited and got a ton of recipes inputed yesterday during that precious quite time that only comes when littles nap =)
    I am having a hard time finding you & your recipes through Plan to Eat though. I’ve even read their help articles but am techie challenged evidently.
    Also, any help you could provide to linking up a gmail calendar would be SOO helpful. I clicked on the link, but felt like I was reading a foreign language. Problem solving with computers is not my gifting =)

    • Avatar Kat says:

      I’ll be sharing about the Friends section (and adding friends) tomorrow. I’ll also have a Q and A video about the calendar. Stay tuned…

  • Avatar Dawna says:

    Day 2 complete, menu planned and I even went shopping with the aid of the shopping list that was created from my meal plan. I am so in love with this program!

  • Avatar Joellen says:

    I am a day late but I am finished!!! SO excited!!

  • Avatar Tris says:

    Assignment done! Love the bookmarklet. It’s so easy to add and save the recipes.

  • Avatar Colandra Shead says:

    Ok, I’m still a day behind but all done! I’m loving this! Very excited!!!

  • Avatar Pamela says:

    Meal planned! So excited! Thanks Kat!

  • Avatar Meredith says:

    I’ve been using PTE for 2 years and love it, but this video just changed my life! I hadn’t noticed the new freezer sections, I didn’t really “get” saving menus, and I had no idea I could view my meal plan in my google calendar. Just last week and went to cook dinner and realized it was a crock pot meal, whoops. I am practically giddy!