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Real Food on a Budget

Homeschool Meal Planning & Pepperplate Review

meal planning feature2This post is a draft I’ve had for awhile and is great in response to the WordPress Daily Post: Leftovers Sandwich“. I was originally going to write this post as two seperate posts but after deciding that the two really go hand in hand I decided to go long form and wrap them together. Now it is seeing the light of day as a longform post. Cheers!

When kids are in public or private school breakfast and lunch are pretty much set in stone. Dinner prep time and dinner eating time are also pretty set even if the time varies depending on the time of year for certain extra curricular activities or holiday events.

As a homeschooling mom I have found that lunch time just gets squeezed in when we’re starting to feel hungry. This usually leads to odd throw together meals or the realization that there is not enough bread and the only other option is to quickly thaw some from the freezer. The munchkins and I take a thirty minute break from school work/activities and have lunch. I do try to have things wrapped up between 12 and 12:30 for lunch but that doesn’t always happen. Meal planning has not only saved on our food budget it has helped our day to day schedule. On days when Math time has run a little long or we have lost track of time while reading our latest novel, meal planning saves us time on lunch prep. When you can predetermine your preparing meals isn’t so time consuming.

For some dinners I try to make extras so we can have leftovers for lunch the next day. This works great with slow cooker meals. Other days I try to make lunch quick and easy without using processed food (at least not as much). What use to be store bought corn dogs is now hot dogs with homemade batter. Ramen noodles is now lo mein using spaghetti noddles with quickly mixed  teriyaki sauce.

Here’s a list of a few things I try to rotate.

Breakfast

  • boxed cereal with fruit and a glass of milk
  • oatmeal with frozen berries and milk
  • yogurt with fruit and toast
  • diced ham and cheese omelettes topped with salsa
  • cereal and scrambled eggs
  • pancakes and eggs, bacon or ham

Lunch

  • leftovers
  • pb&j sandwiches with apple slices
  • lo mein noodles with a vegtable
  • chicken salad sandwiches
  • tuna salad sandwiches
  • pb&j on graham crackers with a fruit
  • macaroni and cheese with a salad
  • chef salad
  • homemade Lunchables

Dinner

  • shrimp scampi with broccoli
  • spaghetti
  • slow cooker chicken noodle soup
  • slow cooker chili
  • pork roast with potatoes and carrots
  • sliced pork and mozzarella cheese hoagies
  • meatloaf, mashed potatoes and a vegetable
  • taco night

I’ve tried out several meal planning apps that are web based and/or mobile device compatible and I have come to love Pepperplate. Pepperplate is available as a free online app and it is mobile friendly. Pepperplate is available for the App Store, Android, and Amazon Kindle devices. The android app has a tendency not to open on my Lenovo Ideapad tablet, but the web version works flawlessly on the tablet. Pepperplate is compatible with most recipe sites allowing you to save the url of the recipe to your Pepperplate account via a bookmarklet or you can copy and paste while the full Pepperplate website is loaded in another tab. The recipe importing is almost instant.  If the website you are visiting is not compatible you can copy and paste all of the recipe information into a simple to use form to import to your list of recipes. This feature will also import a photo of the dish.

My favorite feature of Pepperplate is the meal planner. After you have loaded several recipes into your Pepperplate account you can click/tap on the planner link and start adding recipes to your calendar. You can also add recipes to the planner via the Pepperplate page for each recipe in your account. Each day on the planner calendar is split into morning, midday, and evening. I wish it had a seperate section for snacks, so I decided to included those with lunch plans. I designate them with this symbol: (s).  After our meal plan is set for a week or two I print it and post it on the refrigerator.  I think meal planner sharing is an excellent option that is missing from Pepperplate. I know quite a few other bloggers that would love to put they’re meal plans on display on the web. For now a screen shot will have to do. Click the image for a bigger version.

Pepperplate - Planner

Pepperplate also has a shopping list feature that allows you to import your recipes. When multiple recipes use the same ingredients it calculates how much need total for all of the recipes. This function is great and can let you easily determine if you need to purchase the bigger packaging of something or if you can get away with just buying the smaller one.

Overall Pepperplate is a great app especially if you use the meal planning feature. It has a few hiccups every now and again but for the price of FREE you can’t beat it. By combining it’s powerful features with some simple meals, and a good slow cooker your family will stay full and your budget will be intact.

Ready to add to Pepperplate? Check out some of my favorite recipe sites.

  1. Food Network
  2. All Recipes
  3. Betty Crocker Recipes
  4. My Recipes
  5. Sew Homeschool recipes Pinterest Board
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About 2aprilkids

Hi, I'm April Momma. I am a stay-at-home mother of 2 awesome kids and like all moms I wear multiple hats. Most days I'd like to think I wear all of them well at all times but that's a joke. I get by the best I can and that's the truth. Aside from being a mother I am a wife, pretty good cook, good intermediate seamstress, musician, music lover and blogger.

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About 2AprilKids Momma

Hi, I'm April Momma. I am a stay-at-home mother of 2 awesome kids and like all moms I wear multiple hats. Most days I'd like to think I wear all of them well at all times but that's a joke. I get by the best I can and that's the truth. Aside from being a mother I am a wife, pretty good cook, good intermediate seamstress, musician, music lover and blogger.

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