Why I Ditched Meal Plans For Real Plans (Review)

Heather Dessinger

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Need goalie strategies for a toddler that keeps trying to throw his copy of Llama Llama Red Pajama in the potty? Sorry, I can’t help you with that.

However, if you’re one of the mamas who recently told me your #1 struggle is getting real food on the table, read on. Today I’m going to share my absolute favorite tool for simplifying meal times – Real Plans.

It’s nothing like the rigid, one-size-fits-all plans I used to dutifully print out years ago. Nope, it’s more like having a personal assistant that…

1. Knows the quirks of your family’s food “do’s” and “don’ts”

You love (or hate!) eggs and your family member is avoiding “x” food – say, kumquats? No problem, you can include or exclude foods with a click. You can also create your plan based on your style of eating – Traditional, Paleo, Autoimmune Paleo, GAPS, etc.

2. Get’s your schedule, and plans accordingly

Maybe all you want help with is dinner, or maybe you want to double the portion sizes one night so you can eat leftovers the next day, or maybe Wednesdays are always crazy and you need a super-quick recipe that night.

Tell Real Plans about your needs and schedule, and it will figure out the details. (I LOVE this, because I only have so much mental energy and there are so many other things I would rather do with it.)

3. Creates a shopping list that you can easily access from your phone.

No more forgetting your grocery list! Also, it’s organized by where items are found in the store, so you’re not zigzagging and backtracking through aisles to get what you need.

4. Saves you money

Instead of going to the grocery store without a plan and buying a bunch of extra ingredients that  go bad before you figure out what to do with them, you’ll only buy what you actually need. Click here for more ways to eat healthy while saving money.

5. Writes out a timeline that tells you what needs to happen, and more importantly when.

It will remind you to thaw meat, start chicken broth, etc., so that you don’t head into the kitchen on a Wednesday night and realize something you need is still sitting in the freezer.

6. Gets along with your husband.

Earlier this week while I was in the barn checking on a mama goat, my husband made Korean beef satay. You guys, he knocked it out of the park – my kids were so sad when we told them they’d eaten it all!

Now, he’ll be the first to tell you that he didn’t learn to cook much before we got married, and with his schedule there hasn’t been a lot of time to play catch-up, but Real Plans makes it easy for anyone – regardless of previous cooking experience – to move beyond basic spaghetti and hamburgers and pull together a quick meal.

So how does this virtual assistant do all of these things, you ask?

Rather than give you a really long explanation, I’ll just show you . . .

UPDATE: After I created this video, Real Plans introduced 24 hour live chat. If you ever have a question, there will always be someone available to help you.

Here’s the official video created by my friend Antony. He’s the one I mentioned in the above tour that teaches tai chi.

How To Get Started

Real Plans is not for everyone. People with butlers named Jeeves plus grocery delivery service and a personal chef, for example. Also, people who love wasting money on ingredients because they planned to cook but didn’t have a viable strategy for actually getting it done.

On the other hand, it works beautifully for busy people who want to eat well and also have time to breathe. (And perfect their goalie skills, of course!)

Get started here for as little as $6/ month


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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding Mommypotamus.com in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

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42 thoughts on “Why I Ditched Meal Plans For Real Plans (Review)”

  1. Sorry to ask you here but are the shampoos and soaps in your book designed to be used in hard water or soft water areas ?

    • I have hard water but I think my recipes will work in both environments. I am tinkering with a shampoo bar that incorporates minerals and is specifically designed for soft water, but it’s not “there” yet. 🙂

  2. In the recipes are there specific spices listed with specific amounts? I have tried 2 menu services recently, both were VERY general about the spices even to the point of saying “add spices to your tastes” without even saying which ones. Now, I signed up to try new meals, so I had NO idea what spices belong in these new-to-me dishes. I still would love to try new meals and have a plan, just curious about the detail of these recipes.

    • Yes, most of the recipes are very specific, although some do say to add to taste. Fortunately, if there’s ever a recipe that doesn’t appeal to you for any reason, you can swap it out with a click. 🙂

  3. Ahhhhh I just have to say, so many people are jumping on this real plans wagon, but I can’t do it. I hate hate hate having to look at digital screens for everything. i dont have a smart phone and don’t want one! I don’t want to try new recipes all the time, but I also despise the idea of having to load my own recipes into the app thing. What if your phone dies? Or you lose it, or don’t have internet….or or or?? Anyway, I don’t usually make impossibly contrary comments like these, but I just had to pop in and say, there are more reasons than the ones you listed for those who don’t need it. 🙂 I like my cookbooks, I like to look in my cupboards, freezer, and plan my meals that way. I don’t think the app can do that.

    • I love that you used the word contrary, Monica! It’s an underused word. I *suppose* there might be other reasons than not having a personal chef, but I’m not 100% convinced you wouldn’t love it if you tried it. I was super reluctant to myself, but it has simplified things so much for me that I’m glad I did. Then again, maybe you feel about cookbooks the way some people about vinyl records. 🙂

      • I’m glad you liked the word! 🙂 I just really like books and I don’t utilize digital resources. I have all your ebooks, and printed the Nourished Baby and DIY cleaning recipes. I use those two. But the beauty recipes sits on my computer and never gets looked at I’m sorry to say. Hmmm….personal chef…..i really need one tonight! No motivation to cook dinner and not much to choose from in the pantry and fridge.

    • Real Plans has an option to email and/or print your plan – I always do this every week as a back-up. You should try it – it’s awesome and we NEVER waste food anymore because we buy what we eat and eat what we buy!

  4. Hi Heather – Just wondering how the imported recipes work with the timeline? Is the timeline smart enough to know when I need to defrost meat for an imported recipe for example?

    • For meat and grains it will automatically tell you to defrost or soak the ingredients prior to the time you schedule the meal. You can also add your own custom timeline instructions to imported recipes when you edit them. 🙂

  5. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Real Plans. This is such an easy but comprehensive plan and app. We’ve been using the system a month or so and love it. Very easy to trade out recipes and they are delicious. Love the mobile app that 3 of us share so that everyone can see what’s on hand in our home and what we need at the store. ..and what’s for dinner.
    As lovers of good Indian food, I have to say you have rocked our world with the slow cooker chicken Tikka Masalla recipe….it was better than any we have ever had anywhere (and we’ve tired a lot of Indian restaurants and recipes).
    Thank you for such an amazing program, Real Plans far exceeds many other meal planning systems we’ve tried.

  6. That’s really awesome. I’ve tried meal planning the old fashioned way (writing it down on paper), but it has always failed because my husband will decide he’s in the mood for something else and use up ingredients, that I had reserved, for his whim. It’s very spontaneous to say the least; but if he’s cooking, I can’t really complain. 😛

    Does this program track inventory? If the week’s worth of recipes says to use 7 eggs, and one buys a dozen. Will it remember and carry the remainder over for the next week? Part of successful meal planning is not wasting ingredients. Does this mean a manual inventory has to be done before each shopping/planning?

    Does this have to be used on a smart phone? Can one use a desktop and print a grocery list? The smart phone is convenient, but they only support the leading two app stores — alienating the rest.

    Something I think would be cool for the future is a way to track how much ingredients cost. It would a be economical if I knew I could put real food on the table for $6/mo and be able to see that I’ve saved myself $50/mo on not wasting food. One could also tailor the dishes to meet their budget.

    • Good questions!

      Shopping list: You can print of PDFs of the whole plan, shopping list or individual recipes. You can also email the shopping list to yourself, or access Real Plans directly via your phone’s web browser to see your shopping list.

      Tracking prices: Since Real Plans is available everywhere and prices vary a lot based on location, they decided not to track individual cost. Instead they rate recipes by comparative cost using 4 $$$$. (Like Yelp, when you rate a restaurant). A lot of users use this to stay budget friendly. Plus, you can substitute an ingredient in any recipe you like – even the subscription ones – so you can really customize it to your needs.

      Tracking inventory: They tested it and found that most people felt it was too time consuming. However, Real Plans is so versatile that you can search for new recipes with whatever ingredients you have left and see what else you can make. 🙂

  7. Thank you! I have been thinking of trying a meal plan service but hadn’t found one that looked right for me. This might be it! I love how you can customize everything and import recipes. And it was very helpful to see exactly how it works in your video. 🙂

  8. Did you have to purchase the “Upgrade to Paleo Mom Recipes” and the “Upgrade to Nom Nom Paleo Recipes” and the other upgrades in order to see all of the recipes that you had available to you in the video? Just wondering, if I don’t select any of the upgrades, will any recipes be available or would I have to enter all of my own recipes?

    • For my current week about half of my menu has a veggie side dish included. I think it’s probably because I select the shortest prep time possible, so Real Plans is taking that into account. It’s easy to add in a side dish wherever you want it. We typically just do oven roasted veggies and a salad or something simple. 🙂

  9. Hi Heather

    Thank you so much for the amazing content and care that you put into your blog here! I’m a 30 year old guy and I want to blog about similar topics but from a dude’s to other young guys. Are you aware of any male voices in this blogshere that you’d recommend I look into? (Suggestions from others would be appreciated also!) Thanks again!

    James T. Gordon

  10. I’m very tempted now that I’ve seen your video – thanks! I’m just starting GAPS and noticed you said it covers GAPS but it didn’t show as an option – is it an option? Appreciate GAPS Intro probably isn’t on there, but it’d be great if it offers Full GAPS. I think this is exactly what I need to keep me organised and on track. Thanks again 🙂

  11. Great video.

    Is there any way to plan out more than one week at a time? I’d love to get my shopping down to every 2 weeks.

    Could I plan based on meats I’ve got in my deep freeze? Or things thati know are going on sale? Sort of reverse planning. That’s what I do more and build meals from that.

    Do you feel like the recipes require obscure ingredients/spices? I did another plan prior and felt like my grocery budget skyrocketed buying so many special ingredients.

    I appreciate your reply and great quality content!

    • Yes, you can plan out a month at a time if you’d like, and you can search for recipes to put in your plan based on what you have in the freezer. There are a TON of recipes available through Real Plans so I can’t speak for all of them, but I haven’t come across many recipes that call for obscure ingredients. There are a few I didn’t have much experience with and hadn’t purchased for that reason, but they were easy to find. 🙂

  12. We’re a family of 6 and I hate meal planning, but I love Real Plans!! Just joined a month ago and I’m totally hooked. I’ve used other meal planners before, and they don’t even come close to Real Plans!! The main difference between Real Plans and the others is the customization. I love that you can change up the recipes (ingredients/servings) and that you can tell it what foods you don’t eat. Plus it’s so easy to switch out meals if you get something that doesn’t appeal to you, AND it all gets populated on your shopping list which you can break down by store… it’s amazing. I just imported your Banana Walnut Muffins into my recipe box. So easy 🙂 You do need to double check the ingredients, to make sure they import correctly, but they make that easy too!!

    I do spend more than 5 minutes a week planning, but that’s just because its so much fun to tinker around with my menu on Real Plans!!

  13. Is there an “add to freezer” option? I’m cooking for just me so I’d like to be able to make say the roast chicken and then keep an inventory of what’s in the freezer and add those meals in the following weeks. Thanks for posting this, very informative.

  14. Wow, I’m definitely switching to Real plan after this article. I travel a lot and meal plans are hard to keep track of when traveling.

  15. Is there a way to try this out before purchasing? And if not is there a commitment to it? I’m so willing to try it id just want to have the option to get out of it if it ends up not working for me 🙂

  16. I enjoyed your how-to video. I was about to cancel my real plans subscription since I haven’t used it in 3 months since I joined. I’m going to give it another try. I am wondering about the price. Your post says try it for $6 a month. I’m paying $15. ??? Just curious.

    Thanks for the how to video! I’ll give it another try.

    • I think the $15 price is month-to-month ($14+$1 for additional recipe blog). A year’s committment breaks down to the basic plan over 12 months

  17. What are your thoughts on using milk kefir regularly as a probiotic composted to supplements? For adults and children.

  18. Hello,
    I am interested in signing up but have concerns about the following:

    1. Lengthy grocery lists for recipes
    2. Keto/ Low Carb friendly recipes?

    I have utilized some meal-planning apps in the past that have been great but the list of ingredients needed for the recipes was often pretty long and I have a limited income. Is this the case with this meal planning app? Also, does Real Plans offer low-carb or ketogenic recipes?

  19. Hello Heather,

    I would like you to check this out, I want you check the legitimacy of the allegation before ordering from their website.

    Best Regard

    • Hi Rochell, I reviewed the site and what I can say is that I have been using Real Plans for years and have had an amazing experience. The statement that it took hours to get help from their tech support doesn’t make sense to me because they have live chat available.

  20. So I see you have to upgrade to get access to blogs like nomnom paleo. The upgrades seem like the really good blogs… but then real plans becomes expensive. How are the recipes choices if you don’t upgrade??!