3 easy steps to help you plan your meals and save you time and money

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What CookPlan Is All About

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What CookPlan Is All About

I'm a web programmer, and one day I was home visiting my mom. I asked her if she had any website ideas, since it's fun for me to think up websites and build them. She thought a minute, and then said "Yes". Now, a little background on mom - she is a professional home-maker. She's raised 13 healthy, happy, and now adult children. She's very good at meal planning ... she had to be. In telling me her website idea (what is now CookPlan.com), she told me a story.

A friend of hers, Janet, also the mom of a large family, had been talking to her, and mentioned that she might have to get a part-time job. My mom asked Janet how much she spent of food in a month. After a little calculating, it turned out to be a large sum ... over $1000 per month. Janet described her shopping habits. She would decide on what to make for the day, and then go grab some groceries. At the store she might see some good deals, and pick up some extra items, and maybe some stuff for the next day. Going to the grocery store as a several-times a week event.

My mother explained to Janet that by changing her shopping habits, she could save a lot of money. Here is what you do:
First, sit down with your family and ask them what they like to eat for supper. They will likely give you a nice list of meals. Then ask them how many times a month they want to eat each of their favorite meals for supper. Now you have a good starting point for what to make and how often.
Second, grab a calendar. Decide what meals to make on what days. For instance, you might make Spaghetti next Monday, Grilled Tuna on Tuesday, etc. Leave at least 1 day a week empty for leftovers.
Now create a list of ingredients that you'll need for the entire month. You can cross some items off based on what you have around the house.
Fourth, go shopping. Some items you can't buy too far in advance, but you can pick up most things in one shopping trip. Since you've planned for the whole month, you know what to buy in bulk.
Finally, follow your meal plan. One time-saving tip is to prepare an ingredient that you need for multiple meals all at once, then then freeze what you don't need right away. For instance, if you need diced chicken for several meals, you can cook up a lot of it, and store the extra in the freezer till you need it. Next time you make a meal with it, there is that much less prep.

Janet tried my mom's meal planning strategy. She started just by planning suppers, but soon was planning breakfast and lunch the same way. It paid off ... she cut her grocery bill in half, and eliminated the need to get a part-time job. Since she went to the grocery store so much less, she no longer spent much money on all those extras that can slip into a cart.

CookPlan.com is my mother's meal planning brought to life. It's meant to make the meal planning steps easier. There are three main pages in CookPlan to help. The first page is all about getting those recipes you want to make into CookPlan.com, by adding your own recipes or finding and copying recipes that other's have added to the site. The second page is for choosing recipes you want to make, where you ask yourself what meals you want to make over the next week/week(s). (If you are going to make Spaghetti a few times, you only need to select it once on this page). The third page is where you put the recipes you want to make into a calendar. Then you can print a nice neat shopping list by week / weeks / month / etc. The shopping list will be nicely organized to make your trip to the store easier and faster.