1. Why You’re Here
2. Here’ How This Works
1. Quick Start Guide (fill-in-the-blank)
2. The UK Roadmap (fill-in-the-blank)
3. Percolate Kitchen Resource Library
4. COUPON: 1 free month in Prep Sesh
STEP 1: MEAL PLANNING AND PREP
1. Here’s What You’ll Learn
2. 8 Types of Meal Plans
3. Dealing with Different Diets at Mealtime
4. Creating a Meal Prep Structure
5. Meal Prep Equipment
6. Meal Planning Services and Databases
7. The 5 Minute Meal Plan
8. How to Share Saved Notes in Evernote
[BONUS] Done For You Meal Plan #1
[BONUS] Done For You Meal Plan #2
[BONUS] Done For You Meal Plan #3
STEP 2: MASTERING ONE-POT AND ONE-PAN RECIPES
1. Here’s What You’ll Learn
2. Instant Pot 101: Common Issues and Troubleshooting
3. Sheet Pan Meals
4. Crockpot and Stovetop Meals
[BONUS] 80 One-Pot and One-Pan Recipes
STEP 3: SET ‘BACKUPS’ WITH PANTRY AND FREEZER MEALS
1. Freezer Meals Breakdown
2. Batch Cooking for Freezer Meals
3. Freezer Meal Kits
4. Safe Thawing Practices
5. Pantry Meals
[BONUS] 30 Freezer Meal Kits
[BONUS] 200 Freezer-Friendly Meals
[BONUS] 35 Pantry Meals
Meal Planning Paid Services and Databases: Are They Worth It?
There are plenty of meal plan databases out there- so many that I couldn’t possibly cover them all! But as a meal planner, home-based cook, and recipe lover, I’ve tried a lot of them. In this lesson, I’m going to cover the handful of paid platforms and services I think are the best.
Why paid meal planning services? Aren’t you supposed to be teaching me how to do this?
Even as a professional meal planner and cook, I still rely on paid services! I have a big recipe library of recipes I’ve developed and used myself, but there is literally an infinite amount of recipes out there in the world, and in a paid service, there’s a level of trust that the recipe you’re trying will work.
So, when I’m in need of something new, or different, or a recipe that I don’t already have in my own arsenal, I turn to the paid services I’m a member of.
Don’t take this to mean that you have to be paying tons of meal planning services and platforms just to find recipes that work. I’ll often join a paid service, pay the monthly fee, grab as many cool looking recipes I can, and then cancel my membership. I know, I know. Not the nicest. But this is business. And I make a point to recommend the best services to anyone I think will benefit.
A roundup of paid meal planning services
This is a section that may ebb and change as time goes on. Paid platforms change- some get worse, some get better. Below, I’ve gone a bit more into detail with the programs I know, use and trust. The list underneath is as exhaustive as I’ve been able to find- so if you feel like doing more digging, check out each of the options!
Please note: These are only services that create meal plans for you, not just recipe databases that populate grocery lists for you.
How do I choose!?
So many of these meal planning services off similar systems and meal plans, all within the same price range. So how to choose!?
The best part is, most (if not all) will send you free plans, trial weeks, and more “try before you buy” plans. Browse through the sites and see which layout appeal to you, which meal plans send the best looking recipes, and go on from there.
Two services I use and love
When it comes to meal plan services, I do a combo of my own 5 Minute Meal Plan and Prep Sesh, my membership-based “meal prep meets meal planning” service. Your mileage may vary with what works best for you, but I find that these two systems give me enough space to easily create a meal plan no matter what is going on in our lives at the moment!
I started this meal prep slash meal planning service for other busy parents I knew, and I fashioned it after the exact system I use each week to plan and prep our weekly meals. Our weeknights get a little hairy, and I found that spending an hour or so at the top of the week to just cut veggies, combine ingredients, boil potatoes, etc was saving me a TON of time during the week, and saving me money as well.
Prep Sesh uses a web-based app to help other parents plan their meals. You choose the recipes you’d like to make that week and add them to your weekly “plan”. The plan saves a grocery list, prep plan, and recipe list that you can print or view on-the-go on a tablet, phone, or laptop in your kitchen.
Learn more about the service here at percolatekitchen.com/prepsesh and sign up for 14 days for free ($5/month after that)
The Dinner Daily
This is a great service to try if you have specific dietary needs within your household. If you’re struggling with putting together a meal plan for your entire family when everyone has different allergies, needs, tastes, etc- the Dinner Daily creates meal plans that fit these!
There are two things I LOVE about Dinner Daily:
Once you choose your “local” store, they match you with menus that take advantage of sales those stores are having (they also give you EXTRA coupons to use on the rest of your groceries!)
If your local store has online delivery, they offer a one-click option to fill your cart with the ingredients of your weekly menu!
After you open your shopping list, if your store is compatible with the service, you’ll have an option to click “send to store”. In my instance, I use Stop and Shop locally. Their online delivery service is through Peapod. Once my menu is open, I can click one time to add the entire menu contents to my cart. You’ll also have the option to add or remove ingredients before this happens.
Great for: Families who want choices in their meal plans. Emeals gives options of different diets, budgets, schedules, and more.
Plans start at $5/month
Great for: Platejoy strikes a balance between customized meal plans and you creating the plan yourself, landing somewhere in the middle. It begins by taking the answers you give on a questionnaire and using those answers to recommend recipes that slot easily into meal plans, the ingredients for which can then be ordered via one-click to your favorite online grocery store.
Plans start at $8/month for a 6-month subscription
Great for: Those who want simple, straightforward meal plans. They come in two “flavors”: gluten-free, and classic. Offer a 14-day trial and 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Plans start at: $5/month
Great for: Those who like a cross between done-for-you plans and customizing your own options. The Six O’Clock Scramble focuses on family-friendly recipes that kid like, too.
Plans start at: $1.44/week
Great for: Great for beginner chefs who are still getting comfortable in the kitchen. Cook Smarts is a lower-cost option for customized meal plans with one-click grocery ordering and offers a selection of cooking tutorial videos and how-to’s as well.
Plans start at: $6/month
Great for: Busy people who are trying to eat more locally sourced, fresh foods without a ton of extra headache and preparation. The Fresh20 focuses on a split between freezer meals and weeknight meals, aiming for just one hour of prep at the start of the week to get you going.
Plans start at: $14/month
I love this service and speak about it at length. For the price you pay, you receive tons of recipes, meal plans, guides, tutorials, video walkthroughs, live cook-a-thons, labels, and tips. This is a meal planning service primarily based upon batch cooking freezer meals, although every recipe in the database also comes with instructions for cooking and eating on the same day.
If you’re interested in checking out the service, you can see what the inside looks like before you buy, and check out this video walkthrough I did of the Once a Month Meals service.
Once a Month Meals only opens their doors to new members on a sporadic basis. If you’d like to join or are interested in purchasing, you can join their waitlist here.
That’s it! Which paid services do you think you’ll try first?