As your meal planning begins, you are likely to have questions about how certain things work or how to set things up to meet your needs. Here are the top 10 most common questions we receive.
1. What is simple meal planning?
Our simple meal planning lets you really take control when you meal plan. It allows you to select all of your own recipes and even make meal plans with as many (or as few) recipes as you need without the constraints of having to stick to what is scheduled on a calendar. Since there is no calendar involved, you can cook the recipes on the days that best fits your life.
Not only that, but it allows you to save your meal plans. That means if you have a plan that was a family favorite one week, you can name that plan to make it easily identifiable, and then it will be available again in the future.
Who will love simple meal planning?
- Anyone who doesn't want to commit to a set schedule of recipes
- Someone who needs to plan for multiple diet types within their household
- Anyone who wants to shop more than once per week to ensure their produce is as fresh as possible
- Someone who wants to choose all of their recipes to satisfy the picky eaters in their household
- Anyone who wants to save a meal plan so that they can use it again in the future
2. Why does my meal plan start today? I don’t want to start until next week. Doesn't that mean I'll lose a week of meal plans?
As soon as you sign up, your Real Plans subscription is active, giving you immediate access to your Meal Planner, Recipe Box, Shopping List, and all that Real Plans has to offer!
If you are using calendar meal planning, your meal plan will be generated for the current week, beginning on the day you signed up. As an active Real Plans subscriber, you will always have access to the current week and three future weeks. When one week ends, a new one is generated, so you are not losing any weeks of your Meal Planner. Click here for a detailed explanation.
3. How do I add snacks to my meal plan?
If you are using calendar meal planning, the Meal Planner includes rows for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. But we understand that sometimes you may want to add a snack as well, so you can manually add snacks in your Meal Planner. What we recommend is to add the recipe for the snack to the meal time closest to when you want to have the snack. For instance, if it is a mid-morning snack, you can schedule the recipe during the breakfast meal time. If you don't need a recipe for the snack, and just want a reminder of which snack you plan to have, you can also add a note in one of the meal times instead of entering a recipe.
If you are using simple meal planning, you can browse the Recipe Box and add any snacks you may like to have in your current plan by dragging the recipe to the plan.
Looking for some good snack ideas? Select Snack in the Course filter in the Recipe Box to find snacks that meet your dietary restrictions.
4. Why are foods I excluded showing up in my meal plans?
This is usually a result of not applying or confirming your changes when making your food exclusions. Please refer to this article to be sure your exclusions are being applied.
If you are a Whole30 subscriber, this article will guide you through making changes to your Whole30 food exclusions.
If your exclusions have been properly applied but you are still seeing those foods in your Meal Planner, please send us an email at support(at)realplans.com so we can investigate.
In some cases this can happen when recipes are imported and the database doesn't recognize an ingredient. It is important to make sure ingredients are recorded in the correct category when importing a recipe to keep this from happening.
When you search the Recipe Box, toggle Show recipes within my diet to on (green) to see only the recipes that meet your dietary preferences. You will have access to all of our recipes, including those that do not meet your dietary restrictions, when the toggle for Show recipes within my diet is off (white). However, only recipes that meet your exclusions will populate in your Meal Planner, unless you manually schedule them.
5. I saw a recipe in my meal plan for this week, but now it's gone and I can't find it in the Recipe Box. What happened to it?
If you recently changed your food exclusions, it is likely that the recipe you cannot locate contained an ingredient that you recently excluded. Toggle Show recipes within my diet to off (white) and clear all of the filters in the Recipe Box to search all of our recipes. Click here to learn more about how to find a recipe in your Recipe Box.
6. I used to get weekly emails with my meal plans, but those emails recently stopped. What happened?
Weekly emails are only available when you are using calendar meal planning. Since the Meal Planner is designed to create meal plans when you access the system, it does require you to log in periodically to take a look at the meal plans that are generated for you in order to make sure that everything is to your liking. If you do not log in during a calendar week or use your calendar to view upcoming weeks, a meal plan will not be generated. Consequently, you will not receive an email with that week's meal plan.
If you prefer not to log in every week to review your plan, you can log in every two to three weeks to quickly view all of your upcoming plans. Use the calendar at the top of your Meal Planner to view your future weeks. Click on the right arrow to move to the next week. Click here to learn more.
You can also use our mobile app to quickly open your Meal Planner without having to log in to the website. Click here to learn how to navigate the calendar using the mobile app.
7. That looks like a lot of cooking! How can I use leftovers to reduce the amount of cooking I have to do each week?
If you want to reduce the amount of cooking that you have to do, you can use leftovers for some of your meals. If you are using calendar meal planning, you can tell the planner that you want to use leftovers. Click the gear icon in the upper right corner of the website (this is where you access your Settings) and then select My Meal Plan (or Whole30 Meal Plan) and check the box that you want to include leftovers in your plan. When you save this change, all of the meals that you have scheduled for dinner will show double the number of servings automatically.
Click here to learn how to change the number of servings on an individual recipe when you want leftovers on a specific day.
8. I have a very restricted diet and am not getting very many recipes. What can I do?
There are several ways you can increase the number of recipes you get in your Meal Planner. We recommend not excluding foods for which you have a good substitution or foods that are on our Top 20 Ingredients List.
You can also modify and import recipes for more variety. For more ideas, click here.
9. I want to batch cook and prep ahead on the weekends. Can I set up my planner for that?
One way to set up batch cooking when you are using calendar meal planning is to look at the meals that are scheduled for you for the week so that you know which ones you want to prepare on specific days. Alternatively, if you are using calendar meal planning, some people will move all of the recipes to the day that they want to prepare them and then make a note on the day that they plan to eat each one. Click here to learn how to add notes to your planner.
In calendar meal planning, you can also use our Advanced Filters to schedule specific recipes, like Roast Chicken, on Sunday to have for meals throughout the week. Use tags like Make-Ahead Breakfast and Freezable to help with this. Click here to learn how to use our Advanced Filters.
10. I changed the serving sizes on a recipe from 4 servings to 2, but it didn’t change the ingredient measurements in the recipe. It still shows the same amounts for fewer servings. Why didn’t it change?
If you normally cook for 4 but only need to cook for 2 for a specific meal, open the recipe card from your Meal Planner and change the number you cook for there. This article explains how to change the number of people you cook for at a specific meal.
If you change the number of servings on the recipe card while you are in the Recipe Box, it will permanently change the number of servings that the recipe makes, but it will not change the measurements. This can be compared to opening a cookbook and crossing out "Serves 4" and writing in "Serves 2". The measurements are not changed. The main reason you might want to modify a recipe to change the number of servings permanently is if the recipe says it serves 4 but you found that it made 8 servings for your family.
If you need assistance, please send us an email at support(at)realplans.com.