I was recently contacted by the owners of Relish! Menu Planning website to see if I was interested in reviewing their website. I have *long* been trying to get better at menu planning, so of course I jumped at the chance. They provided me with one month's access to their site so I could really get a feel for how it worked. Below is my review!
Being good at menu planning is a skill. You have to set aside time to plan out your weekly dinners and shopping lists, and sticking to it can be tricky. When I've done my own weekly menu planning in the past, I've been *so* happy with the results....I love knowing that I have a week's worth of delicious dinners planned, and that my one or two grocery trips have procured all the ingredients I need for the week. It's a satisfying feeling. However, I'm not great at remembering to do it, and even when I do remember, sometimes picking recipes can be overwhelming. Enter Relish!, the meal planning website!
Their concept is simple: have a list of varying recipes that subscribers can pick from, then compile the recipes (and the shopping list!!) into an easy to print PDF format. Their execution of this idea is fantastic. To begin, there is a list of 15 or so dinner recipes, and you check off the five you are interested in. There are vegetarian options, seafood options, and traditional meat options ( they even have a gluten-free menu planning site!). Then, you can go print off the menus and best of all, the shopping list! The shopping list is wonderful; the ingredients are separated into sections that include things you probably already have in your home, things you may have in your home, and then the rest of the ingredients. Each ingredient also has a letter designation next to it that corresponds with the recipe that it's for; that way, should you decided not to make a certain recipe, you can easily find the ingredients and cross them off the shopping list.
Each recipe has been tested and tried to make sure it's tasty. There are kid-friendly options as well as lower-calorie recipes, and nutritional information is provided for each recipe. There's even a way you can save your favorite recipes so you can add them to any weekly menu! Also, there's a freezer recipe section that allows you to print out recipes that you can stock in the freezer. I'm telling you, the layout and design of this site is really great.
The two things that I thought could be improved upon are recipe variety and also good use of leftovers. For frugal use of leftovers, maybe something along the lines of being able to choose roast chicken as a meal, and then have a subsequent meal made from the leftovers, like chicken enchiladas, soup made from the stock of the chicken bones, etc. Or have grilled steak one night, and then choose a steak salad recipe for another night. As far as recipe choice, I would have like slightly more options to choose from. The selection is still pretty good, but a few more would have been even better. Sometimes I found myself choosing meals that didn't sound all that appealing just so I could finish out my 5 recipes.
All in all, though, I think this is a good website with a great idea and wonderful execution. And.....Relish! has provided me with a one year subscription to their website to give away ($58.80 value)! Awesome!
Here's the skinny: How to enter: leave a comment on this post telling me what you are making or having for dinner tonight (I'm a total food voyeur and I'm always looking for ideas!). I'll close comments at 11:59 p,m. mountain time on November 20th, 2009 and I'll have random.org pick a number for a winner. I'll email the winner (so leave your email in your comment or make sure I can access it via your profile!!) and they will have 48 hours to get back to me, if they don't, random.org will draw a new number. One comment per person, and entry is limited to those with US shipping addresses. Good luck!
***Comments are closed and a winner has been chosen! Congratulations to number 10, I'm Anitra!!***