This week I tried out a new meal planner called Build A Menu to prepare my shopping list. I’ve used E-mealz in the past but ended up cancelling my subscription, simply because I wanted more flexibility in my meal plan.
I like Build a Menu for this reason. Instead of giving you a meal plan that you download and print, take it or leave it, it allows you to choose the recipes you want from a list.
Creating a meal plan is a good use of my time since there are so many benefits of doing so, but sometimes it’s nice for some of the work to be done for you! This week I was feeling busy and mentally drained, so I really enjoyed using the site to save time and energy.
These recipes are based on ingredients currently on sale at the grocery store you choose, meaning you will save money using these recipes. Currently those offerings include Kroger, Whole Foods, WalMart, Safeway, HEB and Fred Meyer, as well as “any” store. That’s somewhat disappointing for me since I shop at ALDI and Publix almost exclusively. The good news is they will begin to offer Publix lists in May.
I was a bit concerned about using the “any store” recipes since I was planning on shopping today at ALDI and they have less selection than other stores. But, no worries. I found every ingredient I needed for the meals.
You can choose up to 7 main dish recipes (as well as side dishes, snacks, lunch and breakfast and a special kid’s recipe) in several categories: Family friendly, Low carb, Gluten free, Vegetarian, Low fat/Diet, and Paleo. There are also a smaller selection of recipes in these categories: Slow cooker, Grill, Manly meals, Super salads, and Crowd pleasers (feeds 8-10).
The site also tells you approximately what the recipe will cost to make, another feature that can really help you save money on groceries.
I like that you can immediately click on the recipe to see the ingredients. This way you know you’ll like it before getting locked into choosing it. I always click to preview the recipe to make sure it doesn’t call for any junk or convenience food ingredients. So far I’ve been happy with the healthfulness of the recipes I’ve selected. They’re “clean”, whole foods recipes with pronouncable ingredients. The only boxed items were the pasta. (In contrast, I found that some of the Emealz recipes were too junky for my preference.)
Once you choose your recipes you can then print them out, as well as a separate shopping list. I found the site very easy to use, and it took me only about 15 minutes to create my first menu. For me it’s a time savings not having to pore through Evernote or my cookbooks.
I like that the site gives a portion of its proceeds to charity. At $8 a month, it costs a little more than some menu planners but I think it’s worth it for the benefits I mentioned above.
Here’s what’s on the menu this week, a la Build A Menu:
- Thai Basil Chicken (Side: rice)
- Fish Tacos (cabbage slaw)
- Cheesy Broccoli Pasta (green salad)
- Slow Cooker Pasta Figioli (ciabatta loaf)
- Beef and Pasta Vegetable Casserole (strawberry shortcake)
I could have chosen more recipes, including breakfast, but I was in a hurry to get out the door grocery shopping. You can give Build a Menu a spin for free to see how you like it.
Linked to: Org Junkie