Eating with a gluten-free, lactose-free diet is only successful if there is planning!! I cannot emphasize this enough. At our house, if meal planning does not happen, we are forced to make quick, unhealthy eating decisions as we scour the menus of “safe” restaurants in our area. Planning does not have to be time consuming or scary, though. I have a few secrets that are inexpensive but VERY effective.
The first secret is a website called Plan to Eat. This website allows you to store and save your favorite recipes, plan when to prepare those recipes, and it will auto generate a shopping list based on your meal plan (seriously, this has saved my life). You can sign up for a free trial (at the time I signed up, I got a free month trial), and if you like it enough (which is likely), you can pay a few dollars per month for the service. Seriously, it is worth EVERY penny!
To set up my Plan to Eat, I spent an entire day adding all of our favorite recipes from the physical cookbooks that I own. Even though it took some time adding all of those recipes, I do not have to open those cookbooks anymore. The best way to add recipes, however, is by getting the browser extension. With this extension (free with subscription), I can search for recipes online, find one I like, and click “Add to Plan to Eat” on my browser. Plan to Eat then uploads and saves the recipe to my profile. It is as simple as pinning something on Pinterest. Seriously. WORTH EVERY PENNY.
Once I have recipes in, I can click on the “Plan” tab. This allows me to drag and drop the recipes on to whichever day I want to make that recipe. It’s that simple!
When I have my meals all planned, I can click on the “Shop” tab to see an autogenerated grocery list! I can break the list down by which items I need at different stores or can keep the list as is. I can remove all the items that I have in my pantry and can customize the time frame for the shopping list (say, I want the list for the next two weeks or the list for today). When I go to the store, I can pull up this website on my phone and click on the items as I add them to my grocery store cart.
Before Plan to Eat, I spent hours each week going through all my recipes (scattered from Pinterest to my physical bookshelf) and compiling shopping lists. I got overwhelmed at the thought of tackling this task every week and often found it was easier to eat out or go to the grocery store every day than to meal plan. Now, I can spend a few minutes planning, checking my grocery store list, and going to the store (or asking Joe to go to the store on his way home).