One of the most sure-fire ways to go from dud to stud in terms of your eating is meal planning, but it can seem like a daunting task only for those Pinterest-perfect girls who effortlessly rock razor-sharp eyeliner and can DIY anything into a masterpiece. Well, lucky for you, I have found the most amazing solution (and no, it’s not one of those pay-through-the-nose-for-preplanned-and-delivered-meals services; it’s actually free. Completely free. No-nonsense, no-strings, no-nothing free).
Just to get this out of the way, this post is completely my opinion. I’m not being compensated, I don’t get a kickback (there isn’t even a paid version of this service), I just want to share with you something that has completely changed the game for me.
It’s called Pepper Plate, and I’m in love with it.
What is PepperPlate?
PepperPlate is an app and website that allows you to save all your favorite recipes to one place and add them to a weekly meal plan, creating an itemized shopping list that you can take with you to the store on your phone. It makes the process of meal planning so much easier than my old method of creating an outline of meals each week then going in and grabbing ingredients to throw on a shopping list. This does all the legwork for you – all you need to do is import your recipes.
How to Get Started
The first thing you need to do after signing up for an account (which can be done with a single click by using your Facebook) is to download the bookmark plugin, which allows you to pull recipes from almost any website just by clicking a button. If the plugin can’t figure out the recipe, it’ll open a sidebar where you can easily copy and paste the ingredients and instructions. It’s so simple.
I try and find new recipes on Pinterest most weeks so I build up my library of recipes on PepperPlate. This way, if I’m in a pinch, I’ll have a variety of recipes to choose from and throw together into a plan.
This is how I do my meal planning every week:
1. I start by looking at my local Fresh Thyme ad (my favorite grocery store ever) to see what’s on sale this week, then I go on Pinterest and find any recipes that look interesting to my PepperPlate. See that little “add to PepperPlate” button up at the top? Just click that.
2. Either a little window will pop up saying the recipe’s been added, or a window will pop up asking you to input the information. It’s easy. Just type in the title, copy and paste the ingredients and directions, and you’re good to go!
3. Once I have any new recipes imported into PepperPlate, I scroll through my list of recipes and click on the ones I want individually. From there I can select which ingredients I want to add to my shopping list (which is nice, because I don’t end up with 5 pounds of salt on my list every week). I can also add recipes directly to my weekly plan from inside the recipe, but this feature is a bit clunky, so I prefer to add the recipes a different way.
4. To actually add the recipes to the meal plan, I navigate over to the “Plan” page and enter each recipe where I want it. All you do is click on the space for the meal and day you want that meal scheduled, type in the recipe name, and click on it to add it.
A really nice feature is that you can add just plain text, even if it doesn’t link to an actual recipe. I do this a lot if I’m planning on leftovers for lunch or doing something super simple that doesn’t require a recipe, like chicken breasts and veggies.
5. I always, always check and make sure the app has synced my grocery list before I get off my computer and go shopping. Of course, the one time I didn’t, my entire list got magically deleted and I had to start from scratch. In the middle of the grocery store. With a hungry husband on his way home. Not fun.
6. Voila! I’m done! Wasn’t that easy?
It can take a little fiddling around to get used to the site and app, but once you do, it’s a breeze.
Now, here’s the thing. PepperPlate is completely free (there’s not even a pro version – they give you everything for free, straight-up), but that comes with a couple quirks. There are a couple bugs, but they’re nothing major, and they’re 100% worth dealing with for how amazing this thing is.
- The “search” feature doesn’t work. You’re supposed to be able to search for ingredients or recipes (for example, type in “chicken” and all the recipes using chicken pop up), but every search says “no results found”. I contacted support and this is a known issue they are working on.
- If you don’t make sure your list is synced to your phone before you get off the computer, you can potentially have it mysteriously deleted. It’s happened to me once before, and I learned my lesson. Just double check before you head to the store, and you’ll be fine!
- The tool that allows you to add recipes to your plan from inside the actual recipe is very clunky. It refreshes the page every time you select the date, meal time, and confirmation, so I prefer to just keep a separate tab open with the plan page pulled up so I can easily add any recipes I’ve added to my shopping list.
I haven’t used this tool much, but it has the potential to come in really handy. PepperPlate has the ability to create menus and save them. For example, you can create a Christmas Dinner menu, add all your recipes and create a shopping list ahead of time, then just add your menu to your meal plan when you’re ready to shop. I haven’t messed with it a lot, but it looks awesome.
That’s pretty much it. I’m in love with this thing.
Have you used PepperPlate before? How do you like it? Let me know in the comments below!