Monday Meal Planning: Why I’m Trying Out A New Real Food Meal Plan Subscription

Why I'm Trying Out A New Real Food Meal Plan Subscription | Growing Up Herbal | I've finally found a real food meal plan subscription that looks just right!

Meal planning is a struggle for me. Plain and simple. I’ve never really liked it, and it doesn’t come naturally to me.

However, I have seen serious value in doing it. Not only do I know what’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but it helps us to save money by eating at home more often and wasting less food.

I suppose the real struggle I have with meal planning comes down to finding the time to do it. I’m talking about sitting down with a blank calendar, cookbooks (or online recipes), a grocery list… all of it, and planning it out. It just takes me way longer than I’d like.

Today I wanna share some of my real food meal planning experiences with you (the good and the bad) as well as a new real food meal plan subscription I’ll be trying in 2016 (granted it works, and I stick with it). If you struggle with feeding your family healthy foods or if you feel lost by this whole process (as I sometimes do), join me as I share this new journey with you. I hope it helps us both, mama!

Meal Planning Made Easy… Or Not

Why I'm Trying Out A New Real Food Meal Plan Subscription | Growing Up Herbal | I've finally found a real food meal plan subscription that looks just right!

I’ve tried a lot of different meal planning methods over the years. I’ve read tons of blog posts and ebooks on how to make meal planning easier or quicker. Unfortunately, it’s always the same. I start off motivated, and I’m really consistent for a while. Eventually, my motivation wanes. But, I push through the time it takes and the frustration it causes me, and I do the work. Why? Because of the benefits I’ve seen. So, I think to myself, “I WANT to do this, but it seriously shouldn’t take me this long,” and then I end up more frustrated with myself. I then decide to simplify my life and go back to the quick and easy way of doing things before (which usually means less healthy foods).

I used to think that sharing my meal plans here on GUH would keep me accountable to doing it in a healthy way. It worked for a while… until it didn’t any longer.

Hallelujah! A Real Food Meal Plan Subscription

I can’t remember how long I pushed myself to make my own meal plans before I realized there were real food meal plan subscriptions out there.

The first meal planning service I subscribed to was great! I tried it for free and loved it. Unfortunately, I didn’t stick with it. Probably because I wasn’t ready to pay money for someone else to plan my meals for me. It just didn’t seem right to me then.

Now, I’m busier, and I need help. Working online, homeschooling, managing my home, and everything else I do requires time, and sitting down for 1-2 hours a week to plan meals is not where I want to spend my time. (Yeah, that’s seriously how long it takes me sometimes! Don’t judge me! I know it has to be easier, but it’s not… for me at least.)

However, I want my family to eat healthy food. I want to be able to prepare our foods properly. I don’t want to spend a fortune on food.

So after trying several different real food meal plan subscriptions (some free, some paid), I’ve finally found one I can really get behind and try. Let me tell you about it.

Frugal Real Food Meal Plans

Why I'm Trying Out A New Real Food Meal Plan Subscription | Growing Up Herbal | I've finally found a real food meal plan subscription that looks just right!

Tiffany over at Don’t Waste The Crumbs is a great real food blogger. Not only does she make real food recipes, but she prepares the foods properly and helps you save money at the same time.

So, when I found out she had a new meal plan subscription – Frugal Real Food Meal Plans, I signed up for the 14-day free trial to see what it was like. 

Guess what? I loved it!

It’s a bit different than most of the other meal plan subscriptions I’ve tried in the past, but that’s a good thing.

Below you’ll find some of the ways it’s different that really sold me on this particular meal plan subscription.

1. The Meals

In Frugal Real Food Meal Plans, you get 7 dinners a week (as opposed to 5 with most other meal plan subscriptions) as well as 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 3 desserts a week (compared to none without paying more). That’s a lot of meals.

And if you feel like you can’t eat them all, that’s okay. You can skip them or you can make them and freeze them. And yes, she tells you which ones work well for freezing.

You can also substitute ingredients freely in this subscription which is nice. For example, some of the meals are vegetarian which works great most of the time, but when veggies burgers show up on the menu, I know my man isn’t a fan so I’m sure to make him a beef burger instead while the rest of us enjoy the veggie burger.

Now as far as dietary restrictions go, I feel like this plan is more traditional. You’ll find a variety of meat dishes, vegetarian dishes, gluten-free dishes, etc., but the plan doesn’t cater to any one diet specifically. It’s simply real food. This fits my family great since we don’t have any food allergies and we’re not strictly vegetarian or paleo. We like a good mix of everything.

2. Shopping Lists

All shopping lists are already prepared for you. Just print them and mark off what you already have so you don’t buy extra.

The idea is to shop once for bulk ingredients that you’ll use during the month first and then shop weekly for the fresh produce you’ll need.

I love doing this because I can buy most of my health food ingredients via Vitacost or Amazon and then head to Earthfare for healthy meats. When it comes to weekly shopping, I browse local grocery store ads online for sales and then head to Walmart to get my produce since they will price-match other stores. I also head to Earthfare to get any “dirty dozen” items that I can’t get at Walmart.

Doing it this way cuts down on my time spent grocery shopping, buying extra food that eventually goes bad, and missing out on sales. So far, I’m loving it!

3. Prep List

The “Frugal Real Food Meal Plan” subscription also comes with a serious prep list.

I recently tried prepping food ahead of time but ended up wasting a ton of the food I’d bought because I prepped it too early. Talk about beginner failures, right?

This prep list is different. It tells you what to do, and which days to do it on. 

My favorite part of having a prep list is that it keeps me accountable and on schedule with preparing our foods properly.

Some things that the prep list reminds you to do include:

  • soaking beans and grains
  • making homemade yogurt
  • making homemade bread
  • making pantry/fridge staples

4. The Recipes

The next thing I like about this meal planning subscription compared to some of the others I’ve tried is that it’s a PDF and you can download it to your computer, tablet, and phone.

Some of the other subscriptions I’ve tried in the past were online only which meant you had to download or print individual recipes which aren’t really convenient in my mind.

Plus, I live WAY up in the mountains where DSL and cable internet don’t go yet which means I have satellite internet and data limits. Downloading everything as a PDF keeps me from using a ton of data cooking.

Only Time Will Tell

So, some of you may be thinking, “I make my own meal plans, and it doesn’t take me all that long. She must be making it harder on herself.”

Well, you may be right. I know a lot of people who make meal plans, and it works for them. And yes, I probably am doing something that’s making it harder on myself, but I’ve yet to figure it out. And I’ve tried, trust me. 

So, seeing how other meal plan subscriptions have worked for me in the past, I feel that this is what is best for me right now in order to achieve the kind of diet I want my family to have.

I’m grateful that these subscriptions are out there and that they’re getting better and better. So far, this is the best one I’ve found for my family. Only time will tell how it will truly work for us, but you can expect to get monthly updates from me on how it’s going.

I’m a bit excited (and truthfully a little nervous) to share this with you. This should be a simple part of life, right? Only it’s not for me. But, vulnerability aside, I think there are other natural mamas out there, like myself, who struggle with meal planning, eating healthy foods consistently, and saving time and money. So, not only is this new feature a way to keep me accountable to trying this subscription out for a year (unless I majorly hate it, but I doubt that will be an issue), but my hope is that it helps you if you’re struggling as well.

If you think this is something you’d like to try, CLICK HERE to check it out and sign up to get the free 14-day menu to see if it works well for you.

Have you ever tried a meal planning subscription before? What did you like, or not like, about it? Share with me in the comments below!
  1. Jill York says:

    This sounds so great! Checking it out!

  2. Jessica says:

    I used Tiffany’s meal plans for several months last year, and only stopped because I spent so much time away from home. The only time I had at home had to be filled with homeschooling instead of cooking, but let me tell you, I LOVED her plans. They were delicious, fun, and generally easy if you have time in the kitchen (cooking from scratch simply takes more time). And she does it cheap. So, I hope it works for you! Perhaps in a different season of my life I will go back to it. And BTW, her plans are for 4, but my family of 5 had plenty of food (with 3 growing boys).

    • Meagan says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, Jessica. I’m glad you loved the plans! So far everyone has been happy with the taste of the food. I do see that there’s more time spent in the kitchen, but mostly (at least at this point for me) it’s spend prepping for later meals… which I’m assuming means later meals will be quick. I’m okay with that, but we’ll see how it works out for our lifestyle. We have 6 in our family, and so far, amounts are working out pretty well too. I’m excited to keep going and see how it continues to go for us. Thanks again!

  3. Katie says:

    Hi Meagan,

    You say that you have tried a lot of meal plans and I was wondering if you’ve ever tried Real Plans? It seems like you can really customize it, but all testimonials are either from their site or people that know them. Was just looking for an unbiased opinion, that’s all.

    • Meagan says:

      I have tried Real Plans, but it was 1 or 2 years ago so I can’t speak for the way it is now. It was pretty customizable when I did it, and we really enjoyed a lot of the recipes there. I didn’t stick with it for a few reasons.

      One, it’s online only and not something you can download to your tablet and access offline. You have to either print off all the recipes or be online to access them, and that doesn’t work all that well for us. First, I hate printing tons of recipes. I try them and only print them if I like them and they’re something we’re gonna stick with. Next, we live in the mountains… way up in the mountains, and we only have satellite internet which has data limits so I don’t keep all our devices connected to wifi all the time. That makes having to log in on my phone or iPad every day when I’m cooking dinner a pain.

      The next reason we didn’t stick with it was because a lot of the recipes (at least the ones I saw at that time) called for ingredients that aren’t all that common here or weren’t that available to me. Now I live in a small town so that could have had something to do with it too. I felt like a lot of what I was cooking were foods we wouldn’t commonly eat. Many of them were also time-consuming and a bit expensive.

      Now, I did really like it when I tried it, and it may be one of those things I try again in the future. They’ve done a bunch of upgrades on it so I really don’t know what it’s like now. At this point with the Frugal meal plan subscription, I feel like it’s a lot of work because of how much you have to prep so I haven’t been super consistent with it either. Go figure.

      There are pros and cons to all of them. I feel like I really just need to make meal planning work for me on my own, but the meal plan subscriptions are helping me because they save me time and they slowly teach me how to do it myself. I hope this was helpful to you. My biggest piece of advice is to try the different ones for 2-3 months before committing to one for an extended period of time.

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