Having the right tools at your fingertips is key. I have tried many ways to menu plan as I figured out what works for me, everything from basic handwritten lists to fancy spreadsheets with formulas that showed me how many containers I had left as I planned. Ultimately, I ended up wanting something that was easy to use on my iPhone and iPad, so I turned to my favorite planning app, Menu Planner for iOS.
It has a huge variety of features, but they don't get in the way so you can use as many or as few as you like. It can be used as a basic way to just type out your plan, or can be extended to include attached recipes and shopping lists created from your plan. There are so many possibilities to really take your 21 Day Fix meal planning to the next level!
Putting in your meals is as easy as tapping Add Meal, choosing the type (Breakfast, Snack, etc) and then tapping the + symbol to add an item. Type the food or meal name, and then you can just click Add as one-time use, or select the recipe or food that comes up (it's all customizable - to add a food or recipe name, just click the + sign on the top right and select which to create.
To list out the containers for each meal/snack, I use the iOS symbols that match up with the container colors (found by clicking on the emoji icon on your keyboard). Just click on the dots next to the meal name and choose Add Note, then type in the containers used. To see a quick overview of the day's containers, tap on the sort button on the bottom and it shows only the meal titles and notes.
This is probably my most-used feature. I repeat a lot of what I eat, particularly things like breakfast and snacks, so it makes meal planning fast. Also handy for copying over leftovers from the night before. Bonus that it brings all the notes with it, so you don't have to retype the containers. To use, just tap the three dots to the left of the meal and select to Copy or Move, and it'll open up a little calendar to select the day to copy/move to, along with a preview of what's already planned for that day.
It's handy to be able to have any recipes you need at your fingertips, so I also use the Recipe section a lot. There are two ways to add recipes - you can type them in yourself, you can import full recipes from the built-in web browser (only works with more major sites), or you can import just the link so it brings in the recipe title and links you straight to the page. Not only does it make it easy to view your recipes when prepping and cooking - they link right from your meal plan - it also provides great meal-planning inspiration by perusing your recipe book after you've got a collection in there. You can add to your plan right from the recipe book, and see the last time you had something.
Viewing Your Plan
There are daily, monthly and weekly views for your meals that makes it easy to see what you've got in store for making a shopping list - the iPhone and iPad are set up a little differently. My favorite view is the iPad's weekly view - it lets you see your entire week on a single page with the containers in the notes listed. From here you can also print your plans if you're more of a paper person. Tip - the notes aren't included in the printed copy - use a screen shot of the weekly view then print that.
There are lots of other features, from creating shopping lists to tracking your pantry stock, but that's how far I take it. Perhaps this year I'll take it up to the next level!
For more app recommendations, check out my Top Apps for 21 Day Fix Success post.