We met on a little island when I was 14… and now we have two kids.
My name is Paula and my family and I live in mainland Alaska during the school year where my husband John is a teacher. When school is not in session we move off the coast to a small island where we fish. The kids have been out there since they were one and three every summer. It’s a great life!
Why we started using Plan to Eat
During the school year our lives are hectic with four schedules and things going on.
John often manages much of our recipes and meal planning, but when he started graduate school on top of his full-time teaching job, the kids and I took much of that on as a way to support him. John is amazing and has a strong cooking muscle while I can struggle with boiling water, so I needed a tool to make cooking really easy for me. That’s when we started using Plan to Eat.
What I love about Plan to Eat is the Cooking View. I’m a step by step person and it allows me to focus on one step at a time and simplify cooking!
Meal planning before Plan to Eat
Before Plan to Eat we were meal planning at the spur of the moment and I’d find myself scrambling to figure out what we had and what we could do with it. We have super busy lives managing four schedules and we constantly run into the struggle of what’s for dinner — just over and over.
Our lack of meal planning added one more point of stress to the day. John would come home from work and put a lot of effort into just thinking about what he was going to be making for dinner.
Now that we can set up a whole week and have all the shopping done, it takes the stress and the time away from needing to manage all of it on a daily basis. It also removed impromptu shopping trips from the grocery store. It’s all done and it has saved so much time.
How we meal plan
Plan to Eat is the one place that we consistently come back to when our week is running on track.
We usually “PTE” together, which just means that we sit at the computer and talk about the week. I’ll be at the computer and John will be in the kitchen checking what proteins we have in the freezer and what we have on hand. As we get the list done I’ll stay on the computer and he’ll double check whether we already have it or need it.
We’ll also notice when the kids have activities coming up and we can plan around them, usually from meals that we’ve already put in the freezer.
If we have enough left over I’ll put one in the freezer for a time when we don’t have time to cook. There was one really stressful time that the entire week was planned from the freezer and it was so great because everyday we’re just pulling something out.
Just a few months ago we had so much going on that there was no way to pull it all together. So I made the meal and we were eating in the hallway of the high school during the event, but at least we were eating a meal! Normally I would have just planned it on the fly assuming that food would magically appear, but when we have to look at our calendar and sit down together as a couple we really catch what’s actually happening. It feels like a real gift that way because we are actually present for the things we need to be while fueling our family, which is huge!
Anytime during the week if we need an item from the grocery store, we’ll put it in the Plan to Eat list because we know that when we go shopping it will be with us.
I love that! It’s a really great point that we all return to that keeps us on track.
What’s key for us in Alaska is that, like most Alaskans who hunt and fish, our freezer is full of protein. We also have CSA boxes for fresh vegetables delivered as much as we can, which is available even in the winter here, so we have a supply of fantastic ingredients in our inventory.
Plan to Eat helps us use the proteins and vegetables that we already have by searching for and planning recipes around that inventory.
This makes meal planning efficient because so often we’ll put in our whole week and our shopping list will show that we need 150 items, but after going through what we already have, we really only need a handful of them. This saves us money and time at the stores.
Because of this we rot so much less food. Not that we still don’t occasionally, but boy do we rot less of it! We’re better managing what we have.
The whole shopping portion of the app really keeps us focused as we’re in the grocery store. So often it’s easy to just start grabbing things impulsively, but Plan to Eat provides a nice list to follow and it really cuts the shopping time down. You can just click it and know it’s taken care of, check out, and you’re done. I love that feature!
I also love that two people can be working on the shopping simultaneously. This past year, when we were buying food for our annual fish camp, we planned our whole summer in Plan to Eat. I was in the store and John was in a separate town preparing for the trip, but we were both working on the list together.
In the weeks that we plan, we’re able to eat together more than in the weeks that we don’t. Plan to Eat totally saves us money, it keeps me on track, and I would consider it one of the foundational tools of our family.