Saturday, June 1, 2013

Primal Pal: Customizable Paleo Meal Planning Service

I am really excited to share this awesome meal planning service with you today! You know I am a sucker for anything that is going to save me a little time in the kitchen...especially if I can still make tasty, Paleo recipes in the process. I've been aware of the good folks at Primal Pal ever since they named What I Gather as one of the "Top Ten Paleo Recipe Blogs You Haven't Heard of Yet" (thanks, guys)! Well, now I've been using their meal planning service for the past few weeks and I love the flexibility and easy-to-use features. Let's take a look, shall we...

After signing up, you'll log in with your username and password. The first screen you will see is the Dashboard, which is full of super-helpful information on how the meal planner works. I still refer back to this even after using it for a few weeks!

The best way to get started is to dig through the recipe database and add your favorites to "My Recipes". You can choose breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, dessert and side dish recipes. When you add recipes to the "My Recipes" section, you can easily access them when it is time to plan out your meals for the week. If you are avoiding dairy, nuts, fish, etc. you can also set your food preferences and Primal Pal will alert you of any recipes that contain your restricted items.

Then it is on to your weekly meal planning calendar! This is the part that super organized people like me love. :) I start by browsing through my favorites that I have saved in the "My Recipes" section and just drag and drop the meals I would like to prepare this week. You can also browse the full database and sort by course, cuisine, or cooking time. Or you can search for recipes based on ingredients you may have on hand at home and want to use. I usually leave a few meals blank to allow for dining out and leftovers. I even add a few special snacks to have around the house each week, like fudge or muffins.

This next feature is awesome. Once you have planned all of your meals for the week, Primal Pal provides you with a customized shopping list based on your chosen recipes. Many of the items are staples that you may already have so you can go ahead and check those off before printing your shopping list.

When you are ready to get cooking, just log in to your meal planner and click on the recipe you'd like to prepare. This will bring up a screen with a picture of the recipe, ingredients list and directions. There is also a link to the original recipe. The recipe shown below is from yours truly!

That is pretty much how it works. I love that I am in control of choosing the recipes and that I can always have my favorites close at hand. The shopping list is a HUGE help, too!

Ready to give it a try? There are a couple of ways to get started. You can try the "Free Paleo Meal Plan Friday" featured on the Primal Pal Blog each week or if you are ready to dive right in, you can sign up for a monthly membership. You'll get a free 10-Day Trial to test it out and monthly prices start as low as $7.50 per month! Click the banner above to get started and definitely stop by to leave a comment letting me know how you like it!