As your meal planning begins, you are likely to have questions about how certain things work or how to set things up to best work for you. The Customer Success Team is available by chat or email for assistance, but for quick reference, here are the top 10 most common questions we receive in chat and where to find the answers to them.
1. 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 my 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 Real Plans has to offer!
Your meal plan will be generated for the current week beginning on the day of the week you chose as your weekly start day, so if you signed up on Monday, Dec. 18, with a weekly start day of Sunday, your Meal Planner will begin the week of Sunday, Dec. 17. This will allow you time to fully customize your Meal Planner and familiarize yourself with how it works before diving in, if desired. 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: How to Use Your Scrolling Weekly Meal Planning Calendar.
2. I hadn't logged in for a few weeks and noticed that I have blank weeks when I scroll back through my calendar. Why don’t I have meal plans for those weeks?
The Meal Planner is designed to create meal plans when you access the system, so it is important to log in regularly. This will help you make sure that the meal plans meet your needs and will also allow you to make any changes to your meal plans to make them best work for you.
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 scrolling calendar at the top of your Meal Planner to view your future weeks. Simply click on the right arrow to move to the next week. Click here to learn more about How to Use Your Scrolling Weekly Meal Planning Calendar.
You can also use our mobile app to quickly open your Meal Planner without having to log in to the web site. The article linked above will also explain how to access your weekly meal planning calendar from our app.
3. 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 support article to be sure your exclusions are being applied: How To Customize Your Meal Plan: My Diet.
If you are a Whole30 subscriber, be sure to click "Save My Whole30" after choosing your food exclusions to be sure they are applied. This support article will guide you through your Whole30 food exclusions: Setting Up Your Whole30 Reset.
If your exclusions have been properly applied but you are still seeing those foods in your Meal Planner, please visit us in chat so we can investigate.
In some cases this can happen with 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 recipes to keep this from happening.
When searching the Recipe Box, checking "My Diet" will show you only the recipes that meet your dietary preferences. You will still have access to all of our recipes, including those that do not meet your dietary restrictions, when the "My Diet" box is not checked. However, only recipes that meet your exclusions will populate in your Meal Planner, unless you manually schedule them.
4. 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. Unchecking "My Diet" and clearing all filters in the Recipe Box will allow you to search all of our recipes, so you should be able to find it there. Click here to learn more about Searching for Recipes in Your Recipe Box.
If you still can't find the recipe you are looking for, you may have turned variants off in Settings. If this is the case, turning variants back on will likely do the trick. Variants are different versions of the same recipe for the various diet types.
To learn more about this setting and how to turn your variants on or off, please check out this article: Advanced Settings - Fine tuning your Meal Planner and Recipe Box. You can always visit us in chat to help you find a recipe, as well.
5. I used to get weekly emails with my meal plans, but those emails recently stopped. What happened?
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 scrolling weekly calendar to view upcoming weeks, a meal plan will not be generated, so 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 by using the scrolling calendar on the top of the Meal Planner. Simply click on the right arrow to move to the next week. Click here to learn more about How to Use Your Scrolling Weekly Meal Planning Calendar.
You can also use our mobile app to quickly open your Meal Planner and take a look at it without having to log in to the web site. The article linked above will also explain how to access your weekly meal-planning calendar from our app.
You can also check your email settings to be sure you are still set up to receive weekly emails by heading to Settings > My Meal Plan > Advanced Settings.
6. 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. To tell that planner that you want to use leftovers, go to Settings > My Meal Plan (or Settings > 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.
If you only want to change the number of servings on an individual recipe because you want leftovers on a specific day, visit our support article: Adjusting Serving Sizes.
7. I have a very restricted diet and am not getting very many recipes. What can I do?
There are lots of 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. This support article will show you How to Get the Most Recipes on a Restricted Diet.
8. I have the Paleo plan, but some of my recipes say Whole30, some say DF, and others say AIP. What does this mean, and how do I know my recipes are all compliant with my diet type?
The Meal Planner generates meal plans for you based on the settings you have selected. It uses a combination of your selected diet type plus all of the food exclusions you have set for your personalized meal plan. Many of the recipes have different versions to serve various diet types, so some may say Whole30, DF, or GF, but all the recipes that automatically populate your Meal Planner will meet the dietary preferences you have entered. Click here to see what all the abbreviations mean and to see all the diet types we offer to be sure you have selected the one that works best for you.
9. I want to batch cook and prep ahead on the weekends. Can I set up my planner for that?
There are a few different ways you can accomplish this. The fastest and easiest way is to use one of our pre-made templates. When you are on the Meal Planner page on the web site, click Actions > Pre-made Templates. That will allow you to select the Bulk Cook Meal Plan option. If you click that you want to replace your existing meal plan, it will apply the bulk cooking template and generate a meal plan with all new recipes! If you select that you want to add it to your existing plan, it will add a new plan for bulk cooking, but it will keep the plan you already have. Essentially, you will have two sets of meals for the week.
Another option is to look at the meals on your Meal Planner and use our notes feature to make a note showing what prep you wish to do on the weekend days. Alternatively, some people like to move all 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 make a note on your Meal Planner: How to make a Note on your Meal Planner: One-Time or Recurring.
You can also use our Advanced Filters to schedule specific recipes, like Roast Chicken, on Sunday to have for meals throughout the week. Using tags like "Make-Ahead Breakfast" and "Freezable" will also help with this. Click here to learn how to use our Advanced Filters: How to Fully Customize Your Meal Planner using 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 serve 4 but only need to serve 2 for a specific meal, simply open the recipe card from your Meal Planner and change the number of servings there. This support article will walks you through changing your serving sizes for a particular meal: Adjusting Serving Sizes.
Changing the serving sizes from the recipe card in the Recipe Box by clicking on Actions > Modify ("Edit" from the app) will permanently change the number of servings that the recipe serves and 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.
We are always here to help you with your meal-planning needs and to support you in any way we can. Click here to see how to reach us and to learn the many ways we offer support to help you WIN at meal planning: How to Reach Real Plans Support.