Meal Planning : Part Two, How to Use Pepperplate

July 18, 2015

This post is part of a meal planning series. If you missed Meal Planning : Part One, be sure to check it out!

Another obstacle I had to face after returning from the Peace Corps was the grocery store. The grocery store may not sound like a terrifying place to you, but let me tell you what... it's an awfully overwhelming place to people like me. I think there are other Returned Peace Corps Volunteers that would back me up.

My sweet, rural village had a few general dealers that sold staple food supplies, but our choices were limited. The produce truck came in once a week and the whole village would stop what they were doing to go find food on the shelves before it was wiped out. That's just how it worked.

And so, I became quite accustomed to my diet of pasta, oatmeal, eggs, rice, and beans. I'm certain I ate other things... but I think that about sums things up. Common produce included potatoes, tomatoes, onions, apples, bananas, and carrots. Fancy weeks brought us eggplant, avocado, berries, and zucchini. You get the picture - I just ate what was available and what I could afford (mmm... you better bet I saved my pula for mango season).

So, a full-blown grocery store paralyzed me. I would walk in the store and freeze. I just stared at all the food. The endless selections. And the produce that wasn't even in season. I used to make Michael go with me because it was so difficult to tackle, but I would safely say I'm out of that stage. Getting out of that stage took time and careful planning.

Allow me to introduce you to my favorite meal planning software, Pepperplate. This amazing program is the best part of meal planning and it allows me to enter the grocery store with a sense of purpose. It takes a lot of initial work, but it's totally worth it in the long run. Let's break down all the steps! (be sure to read my captions below the screen shots - they are easy to miss and have some useful information)

1. Gather all of your selected recipes (step one of meal planning). Anything and everything! I included appetizers, desserts, main dishes, sides, and even drinks (cocktails, etc). Start with your favorites and slowly add the rest.

2. Create a Pepperplate account. It's free and I've NEVER received any emails from them. It's worth creating an account.

3. Import your recipes.... either manually or by providing an URL. (I would do this on a computer or a tablet because I think it's easier to do this will a full keyboard, but you can do this on your phone as well).

You can sort your recipe lists by title, date, or filter them by categories. Handy! 

You can take any recipe url from PepperPlate supported sites and directly import the recipe at the click of a button!

If you have recipes from non-supported sites, you can just type (or copy and paste) your recipe in the manual recipe section. 
4. Once you have your meals saved to Pepperplate, go to the Planner section and plan out a few days/weeks depending on what you prefer to do. After your meals are on the planner, go back and add each day to the shopping list.

Once your recipes are saved, you can type recipes into spaces for dinner, lunch, etc. Underneath the date, click ADD TO LIST to add all ingredients for that day/meal onto the shopping list. 

5. The shopping list can be organized by aisle or by recipe. Play around with this to see which you prefer. Then, you can either print out a copy of your shopping list or download the Pepperplate app on your phone to view the list on your mobile device while you shop.

Your shopping list will display all ingredients you've added on the planner page. This view shows a shopping list sorted by aisle. 
OR you can view your shopping list by recipe... up to you! 
This website method is NOT for everyone and I fully acknowledge that. However, it really proves to work well for me, so I'm sticking to it. It is tedious to get everything entered into Pepperplate, but I am so happy to have everything consolidated in one place to make quick, easy shopping lists. Going into the grocery store with a list in hand helps me feel less overwhelmed and I save money as well (no more letting food go to waste or buying food that looks good in the moment).

Stay tuned for the next step in my meal planning series; creating a rotating calendar!

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