I spend a lot of money on healthy groceries. It comes with the territory of a healing diet. But $1500 a month on groceries? That’s just too much!
(For reference, when we were eating a dairy free and gluten free diet I spent about $800-$1000 a month for our family of four).
I know that a healthy diet is always going to cost more, but it can be really hard when you have to choose between healthy food and other necessities (like a rent or mortgage payment).
That’s why any tool that can help reduce that grocery bill is going to make life so. much. better.
In this post, I’m going to share with you my favorite tool for saving time and money on groceries: Real Plans.
Why meal planning is awesome!
For years I meal planned for my family. I would spend an hour or two each Sunday night planning out our meals for the week. I’d make lists of ingredients we needed too. When I did this, the week went much more smoothly and we saved a lot of money. Meal planning helped me to:
- Save time (sort of) – Once I was finished with the plan (the part that took time) I didn’t have to spend any time figuring out what to have for dinner.
- Save money – With a meal plan and a list it’s much easier to stick to a budget. There’s also less waste which saves a lot too.
- Save my sanity – Figuring out meals on the fly is stressful!
But then I changed my diet. I started eating an AIP diet and my family was moving toward a paleo diet. I finally gave into the idea that I needed help.
(This is what I do. I struggle until I’m about to drop dead, then I allow myself to get help and I wonder why I let myself suffer for so long. Not the best system for sure!)
In case you’re new here, I’ll let you in on a bit of a secret — I’m very frugal. After years of overconsumption I found frugality and simple living and haven’t looked back. That being said, I really wrestled with the idea of paying for a meal planning service.
What if I don’t like the meals?
What if It takes too long to use?
What if it’s too annoying to use the app?
These are some of the questions I asked myself. But the little voice at the back of my head reminded me that investing in something that can save me time and money was (probably) a good idea.
Real Plans: Why I’ll never meal plan on my own again
Real Plans is a meal planning app created by Emily at Holistic Squid. Emily is a friend of mine and a fellow “real foodie” so I had a feeling that Real Plans would work for me.
Looking back, I can’t believe I resisted trying Real Plans (or any meal planning service) for so long. It makes my life so. much. easier. But there are some things that Real Plans does especially well:
Knows what real food is
One reason I was so resistant to a meal planning service was that I figured I’d have to do a lot of work to customize it for my real food (and then paleo/AIP) diet.
I was sure a typical meal planner wouldn’t know what coconut oil or coconut aminos were.
Real Plans is already well aware of the typical ingredients a ‘real foodie” has in their pantry and uses on a daily basis. This makes using the app easy from day one.
Can be tailored to our specific food needs or preferences
Since I eat an AIP diet and my family is sort-of paleo, I set my preferences to the AIP diet and add additional meals or ingredients as needed.
I can also tell Real Plans that we don’t eat certain ingredients (like shellfish, olives, or cassava flour) and it will choose meals based on our preferences.
Remembers our schedule
I can set our schedule and Real Plans remembers it and plans our meals accordingly. I typically cook breakfast and dinner, while we eat leftovers or quick things for lunch.
Real Plans can also choose meals for us based on how much time we have to cook each night. Most nights I prefer a 30 minute meal but sometimes, like weekends, I’ll make something that takes longer.
Organizes a shopping list
The hardest part of meal planning on my own was creating the shopping list. I would almost always forget something.
I’d try to organize by section of the grocery store but I couldn’t always remember where things should go (and then I’d forget them at the store because they weren’t listed in the right place).
Real Plans creates a COMPLETE list for me that is organized by section of the grocery store. I Can even add in extra items that aren’t used in the meal plan, like Larabars.
Tells me when to start dinner
One feature of Real Plans that is really helpful to staying on track is the Timeline feature. It tells me what to do and when.
For example, if we’re having a roast on Tuesday, Real Plans tells me to take it out of the freezer on Monday.
Takes almost no time to use
Real Plans takes my families needs and preferences and creates the meal plan for us. I often make changes based on what I feel like, or what we have too much of in the fridge (or garden).
But even when I change the whole plan, it only takes about 10 minutes tops.
How Real Plans saves me $300 a month (at least)
As I mentioned, we spend a lot of money on food because of our food sensitivities and preferences. That’s one reason I’m so adamant about learning to grow as much food as possible.
But making a plan consistently each week saves us at least $300 on our grocery bill each month. Here are some of the ways it does that:
- I don’t waste time I could be working creating a meal plan or thinking of something to make for dinner.
- I don’t buy as much “extra” stuff since I have a comprehensive list.
- I don’t have to go back to the store and get something I forgot (and then buy more extra stuff along with the forgotten item).
- I didn’t have to buy a new cookbook when I changed my diet. There were already plenty of recipes available from Real Plans.
A look inside
I made a quick video to show my favorite parts of Real Plans:
Here’s the official promo video which gives you a good overview of what you can do:
Ready to give it a try?
Real Plans is my favorite tool for saving money, time (and my sanity) while getting real, healthy food on the table.