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7 Surprising Lessons from Using
my Meal Plans

One of the things I’m super passionate about in my business is making my products as useful and user friendly as possible. Unless my customers get real value in their lives, I really don’t feel like I deserve to keep their money.

Which is why last week I decided to have a week of following one of my Soupstones meal plans.

With the relaunch of this relatively new service coming up, I wanted to see if I could discover any ways to make the Meal Plans even better.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy the experience.

You see, normally I’m someone who doesn’t like to follow instructions. I usually prefer to do my own thing.

But I was surprised!

Very pleasantly surprised at just how easy the whole shopping and cooking process was for me following the plan.

So this week I wanted to share my lessons from the experience. And here they are…

7 Surprising Lessons from Using my Own Meal Plans

1. It’s nice not to have to ‘think about dinner’.
These days I usually don’t start cooking dinner until after Fergal has gone to bed at 7pm. As much as I love thinking about food, it was actually a relief to just whip out my phone and check the meal plan and recipe for that night. And just start cooking without any deliberation.

2. Short shopping lists are the way forward.
Here at Stonesoup you know I’m all about keeping the ingredients in a recipe to the bare minimum, mostly to just 5 ingredients. And it gets even better when you look at it in terms of meals for a whole week. When I excluded the pantry items I already had, there were only 12 items that I needed to buy to have dinner for 5 nights.

3. You don’t need to go all over town to get ingredients.
When I lived in Sydney it wasn’t unusual for me to go to 4 or 5 different shops in 4 or 5 different suburbs to get my food for the week. I loved the thought that if I wanted I could get all 12 items on my shopping list in my local supermarket.

4. I could still enjoy the farmers markets.
The thing that I was most worried about in committing to following a meal plan was that I would be restricted and not able to enjoy shopping for ‘what looked best’ at the farmers market on Saturday morning.

Happily, I found I was able to channel the ‘spontaneous’ shopping into our weekend meals (which weren’t covered by the meal plan). So I didn’t miss out on the super fresh brussels sprouts or the broccoli which was labelled ‘best broccoli in the world’!

And I was also able to find the ingredients on my [short] meal plan shopping list without too much effort. Win. Win!

5. The Adobe Reader App is awesome.
For the longest time I’ve been a big fan of Adobe Reader for reading my ebook PDFs on my computer. But it’s only since I launched Soupstones Meal Plans back in January that I discovered the iPhone app. Using the app on a daily basis with my meal plan has given me a deeper appreciation for how useful the app is.

Basically, it allows you to edit any PDF and save your changes.

You can copy text and paste it into other apps or into a text message (perfect for sending shopping lists to your husband if needed!).

You can free write or type new text anywhere in the document. And you can cross out wherever you want (perfect for customizing your shopping list for the items you already have).

I also loved the bookmarks and internal hyperlinks which made for super easy navigation to whichever recipe I was after.

6. Meal plans can still be flexible.
Of course, my week didn’t end up exactly as planned. But fortunately my meal plan was able to cope!

My brother was meant be be staying all week but he ended up only being here Monday and Tuesday. It was easy for me to figure out what to do with the extra ingredients. But if I hadn’t known, I could always have referred to the ‘Waste Avoidance Strategy’ that comes with each recipe in the meal plans.

7. Outsourcing meal plans saves time.
One of the biggest hassles of doing a weekly meal plan is that it takes a lot of time to choose the recipes and write and organize the shopping list. I know because I’ve been pulling together a new Soupstones Meal Plan for our members every week since we launched back in January.

Outsourcing these tasks is a brilliant way to save yourself an hour or two each week.

What about you?

Do you think you could benefit from a ‘done for you’ meal plan each week? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

With love,
Jules x
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{ 11 comments… add one }

  • BERNADINE 20 May, 2014, 9:12 pm

    Good day,

    I think it is a great idea and something every working woman needs.

    Times have changed and time is precious. Time saved on planning the weeks meals can be spend with family.

  • Margaret Carmichael 20 May, 2014, 10:23 pm

    Is the program you mention in your current newsletter for editing PDF docs Air PDF?

    • jules 22 May, 2014, 12:32 pm

      Hi Margaret,

      No it’s called Adobe Reader. I’m not familiar wit Air PDF but sounds like it would work as well :)

  • Susan 21 May, 2014, 2:02 am

    I love the idea of having someone else do my weekly meal plans for me. If it were just me, I could do that. But my husband would not be amenable to meals that are even stranger than the ones he has to cope with now – he goes crazy if there are too many new food things coming at him.

  • Shauna Haddow 21 May, 2014, 4:26 am

    Ooooh, I never thought to try the Adobe Reader App. Glad you mentioned it.

    I love making all sorts of new recipes from different places, and coming up with my own variations, but I think I could really benefit from an easy weeknight meal plan done for me, so I can devote a bit more time to other things in my life. It sounds like yours is flexible enough to accommodate those times when I just want to make my own things, or decide on a last-minute dinner out. I think I’ll try your 14-day trial :)

  • Marcia 21 May, 2014, 2:22 pm

    It would be very helpful to have a healthy eating plan laid out and also not have to shop every other night because you didn’t get organized enough to make a plan and stick to it!

  • M.R. Stringer 21 May, 2014, 4:43 pm

    I clicked that first link “If you’d like to receive this extra post later in the week that will only be available to Stonesoup email subscribers, please enter your details below… It’s Free!” but was taken only to the same one re your free recipe book. I would very much like the meal plans …

    • jules 22 May, 2014, 12:31 pm

      Sorry for the confusion MR Stringer…

      If you’ve entered your details, you’ll receive an email with the extra post soon.

      Thanks for your interest!

  • Mary Chefy 22 May, 2014, 5:35 pm

    I’ve never heard about using Adobe Reader to manage a meal plan… currently I’m using Chef Plan http://chefplanapp.com but I’ll give your method a try.

  • Alex 23 May, 2014, 5:28 pm

    We ended up using your idea of a meal plan from when you were blogged about them in 2011 – honestly, it made things more structured for us, we reduced the amount and the cost of the shopping we did and also took a good hard look at what we were eating! Since that time we have been sitting down on Saturday morning and writing up the meals for the week on the calendar on the fridge before we write up our shopping list and head out.

    I can’t recommend it enough to anyone. We thought we were pretty organised when it came to meals/timing etc back then but have really honed our skills to make the planning fast, sensible and realistic. Love it. thanks Jules.

  • Lisa 26 May, 2014, 5:30 pm

    Will be starting a job that is going to involve shift work. This sounds ideal.

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