How to use Eat This Much

This how-to guide is a work in progress. We're working on making it more digestible, so if you have specific questions, you'll probably be able to find the answer more quickly in our Knowledge Base.

We designed Eat This Much to combine established nutrition strategies with modern computer power - to save you time and energy. We have tools to decide how to eat, pick recipes that match your preferences, and plan a whole day’s worth of meals, completely free! If you utilize our subscriber services, we provide tools to streamline everything from tracking and adjusting to grocery lists and leftovers, for entire weeks at a time!

This page will explain how to get the most out of our services whether or not you subscribe. You can read straight through each guide, or jump to relevant topics with the links below.

Note If you want jump right in and learn something without investing any more time, head over to the main page and generate a plan on the spot! If it looks nothing like your usual day, take a moment to figure out what makes it better or worse, and then use our features to tweak it until it looks like something you'd eat.


Weekly planner overview

The automatic planner is the central feature of Eat This Much, and it's the culmination of our goal to take control of the process of eating well. Sign up and enter your usual grocery day to receive weekly plans that take you from shopping to cooking with easy recipes.

Once you've got a good groove going, the workflow is:

1. Receive your weekly plan the day before grocery shopping day

2. Review the meal plans and grocery list, then go shopping.

3. Follow the plans and develop positive eating habits.

Using it the first time

1. Once you sign up, the weekly planner will automatically plan one to two weeks of meals for you to look over. The first plans may not be immediately what you want, so look them over to get a feel for how things look, and favorite or block foods as appropriate.

2. Update any other settings, such as food preferences or number of meals in a day, which you may have rethought since finishing the signup process. You can repeatedly regenerate the weekly plan to view the results of your changes as you update things via the "Regenerate entire week" button just below the weekly calendar).

3. Think about the foods you eat most often and what meals you prefer to have them during. Use the recurring foods settings to incorporate your most effective routines. Set the meals you want to utilize leftovers for. If you don’t want new suggestions during a particular meal set the foods you do want to recur and then change the meal type settings to “Only use recurring foods” for that meal.

4. Head to the grocery page and add foods you already have to the pantry. You can search for foods with the "Search foods" button and click to drag individual items where they belong. The generator will prioritize using these foods, but you will most likely still need to go grocery shopping initially to buy additional ingredients.

5. Rebuild the grocery list (via the button with that name) after filling out the pantry to deduct foods you already own. Your grocery list could, for example, ask for 2 sticks of butter. If you add 1 stick to the pantry and then rebuild the grocery list, it will then tell you to buy only 1 stick of butter.

6. Once you're satisfied with the plan, review the grocery list and go grocery shopping. If you’ve made any changes to the meal plans, make sure to reset the grocery list to match the new plan. The grocery list will automatically reset each week, so you only have to reset after you make changes.

7. Move the stuff you bought from the grocery list to the pantry. The amounts we ask you to buy reflect the quantity used in the plan, so adjust the amount in the pantry to match the package size you picked out. Foods will be removed from the pantry the day after you're supposed to have eaten them (either automatically when the weekly generator runs, or if you hit the "update pantry" button on the grocery list page). If things don’t go according to plan, add or remove foods from the plans and then update the pantry to send back unused foods for use in future meals.

Rinse and repeat until you develop a routine that works for you.


Tips

If you want to track your adherence as you follow the meal plans, click the "I ate this" button next to each meal.

If you eat foods that aren't on the plans, check out the shortcuts menu where you can swap meals, search for a different recipe you may have eaten, or even add in restaurant foods if you ate out. The nutrition for the plan will automatically update to help you keep an eye on your intake.

To keep making steady progress, update your weight frequently. Change your nutrition targets either using our calculator or another one of your choosing, and then regenerate your new plan.

Recurring foods

Recurring foods are available to all users, but their impact is the most noticeable when you're building a week's worth of meals at a time. You can either browse through your meal plans setting individual foods to recur, or go to the "Recurring foods" tab and drag foods from the sidebar into the specific meals you want them to recur in. Setting a food to recur "often" will make it appear significantly more than other foods, and setting it to "always" will add it to all plans.

If you want to only use recurring foods in a specific meal, the amount of variety you see in that meal reflects the number of recurring foods you add. For example, if you only add 3 or 4 foods, you generator will give you those foods day after day. If you add 10+ foods, the generator will try not to recommend the same recipe two days in a row (unless they're suggested as leftovers).

If you add a food to be often recurring and you're not seeing it appear ever, it might be because its nutrition values just aren't favorable enough to match your nutrition targets. You can try changing your targets or setting up that meal to only use recurring foods.

Leftovers

Leftovers are one of those obvious but still underrated strategies of successful eater, since you can quickly reheat a meal when you would otherwise not have time to cook. It also adds a little redundancy to the foods in your weekly meal plan, and this will help reduce the length of your grocery list. If you don't like leftovers, don't worry - you can switch them on or off from the leftovers page in your settings.

The leftovers system currently lets you choose two different meal types - one that leftovers should come from, and one that leftovers should end up in the next day. The default is for leftovers to be made at Dinner and eaten at Lunch the next day. The leftovers system will only use recipes that are suggested to "keep well" by our recipe builder, and the same recipe will never be suggested for two days in a row.

We're planning to add more leftovers options in the future, like setting one day a week when you want to bulk cook things for the rest of the week. For now, you can do that by searching for a recipe you like in the food bank and having it recur each day (though you'll have to check how much the total ingredient amounts are yourself via the recipe's info page or the grocery list).

If you want to delete a leftovers item in your meal plan, you currently have to delete both foods individually (the source of the leftovers and the leftovers themselves). We plan on improving this in the future.


The Generator

Finding foods you already know how to make that also fit all your nutrition goals is nearly impossible. Today finding new recipes is easier than ever, in fact there are probably more recipes available than you would ever have time to read. Choosing the right ones is a personal process, so we created the generator to show you foods that match your preferences. By doing all the monotonous searching automatically, the generator allows you to make more important decisions with less time spent just reading and researching.

Use the generator for free whenever you need to put together a meal plan with specific requirements, for coaching, presentations, advice, or just visualizing your next plan. Sign up for free to customize options based on your preferences and the ability to save a plan to access again later.

Make the generator work for you in 2 minutes

1. Tell us your nutrition goals and standard number of meals per day.

2. Generate a day based on your typical daily intake.

3. Regenerate individual meals to get new ideas that fit your current goals and routines.

Using it for the first time

1. You’ll have a chance to enter most of your preferences during the signup process, and you can click the ‘settings’ tab to edit them whenever you are logged in. If you’re not sure, or just curious, you can estimate your nutrition requirements from the main page.

2. Once everything looks right return to the generator page and get your first set of suggestions (by clicking the ‘regenerate’ button to the upper right).

3. Look over the plan to block any foods that you wouldn’t eat and favorite things that stand out, this will help us improve suggestions over time. If the structure of the day looks wrong, adjust the number of meals and meal type settings to get it just right.

4. Search for your personal staple foods, and enter any foods that you can’t find. Set recurring foods to match your routines or control variety in particular meals.

5. Regenerate your plan a few more times to see how it looks. Mouse over items to see more nutrition information, and regenerate individual meals or recipes to see the nutrition update instantly.

6. If you follow more than one set of nutrition goals (such as workout/rest days or carb cycling plans) add new nutrition profiles for each one.

7. Come back for more suggested plans whenever you make progress or change your goals, we’ll make it easy to update based on changes in weight or nutrition requirements.


Estimating your nutrition requirements

There are many ways to determine your nutritional requirements, from lab tests to online forms. We offer a nutrition calculator that estimates your resting metabolic rate based on your physical characteristics and then adjusts that number based on your goals and lifestyle. From the main page simply click the ‘not sure’ button to open up the calculator and then click ‘Calculate’ once you have entered your information. Suggested calories and macronutrient distributions will appear at the bottom of the window and you may apply these settings or simply click ‘close’ to enter different numbers.

For users with accounts, the calculator is based on your profile information and settings can be changed from the ‘profile’ page. Changing values inside of the calculator won't edit your profile, so feel free to use it to calculate your friend's nutrition targets. If you update your weight in your profile, you can change your nutritional targets based on your new weight from the ‘food preferences page’ by clicking ‘suggested macro changes’ or by revisiting the nutrition calculator. The new values will be based on your current weight and goals.

Improving generated suggestions

Once you’ve fined tuned your generator settings, you can further improve generated meals by blocking and favoriting foods, changing meal types, and setting up recurring foods. Blocking foods or food groups keeps them from appearing in future suggestions, and preset diets block appropriate foods automatically.

Individual meal settings allow you to filter meal suggestions based on time required, relative size, and whether or not breakfast foods are appropriate. Clicking the cog icon by meal names allows you to change the structure of a given day; meals of the same type will share settings, so you will have a separate meal type for every unique set of requirements.

Individual recipes can be favorited, increasing the chance that they appear in future plans and making them easier to find through the sidebar, or set as recurring for more direct control. Recurring foods are tied to meals, and can appear often (more frequently than favorites) or always (other recipes will only be suggested in addition to these). Recurring food settings are the easiest way to precisely control meal suggestions – setting a meal to only use recurring foods is equivalent to telling the generator to pick from a list you created for that meal and setting foods to ‘always’ ensures that you won’t have to manually add things you want to eat every day.

Adding or personalizing recipes

Custom recipes can be added through the sidebar by clicking ‘add new recipe’. Recipes are built from individual food ingredients, so you don’t need to know any calorie information about a recipe to enter it. If you need ingredients that are not currently in the database you can enter custom foods, which will require knowing the nutritional information. All recipes and foods you enter will be stored for access in the sidebar. You can edit items from the ‘more information’ screen (accessible by clicking the food image in your meal plan), allowing you to substitute ingredients, change directions for recipes, or alter the nutritional information.

Personalized items are kept on the same list as custom recipes for easy access, and personalized versions of recipes will replace the original in all future meal plans. If you delete a personalized recipe, the generator will go back to using the original.

Changing daily requirements, Workout Days vs Rest Days, or Carb Cycling

If you have particular nutritional requirements for different days of the week, setting up multiple nutrition profiles will allow you to quickly generate plans for each set of requirements. Subscribers can set a different target for each day of the week via the Weekly Layout page, while users with free accounts can save as many targets as they want and generate plans as needed. Targets can be set from the diet planner page, by clicking the drop down menu under ‘current nutritional targets’ and selecting ‘create new targets’. As an example heavy weightlifters often increase the amount of protein and carbohydrates on days they are exercising, but reduce carbs on rest days. Setting separate targets for workout and rest days automates the adjustments you would usually have to make between days.


Fundamental Concepts
Meal plan overview

There are two main ways to interact with Eat This Much: Setting up generator preferences and directly modifying daily plans. Generator preferences include how many calories to include per day, and the macronutrient composition of those calories. This allows you to create meals and daily plans based one whatever nutritional guidelines you follow while still matching your personal preferences. You can improve suggestions by entering specifics such as: foods you eat regularly or foods you avoid, your budget, number of meals in a day, and how much time to spend preparing each meal.

Once you’ve generated a plan, you can see nutritional information at every level from the whole day to the individual ingredients. Reorganize things by clicking and dragging, or mouse over to get more options. You can also regenerate suggestions for individual meals or recipes, and the program will do its best to find something else that fits your settings. Meals can be set to different types, each with its own options, so you can control where certain types of foods appear and the quantity suggested for each meal. At the level of individual recipes: you can set items to recur in specific meals, add them to a favorites list, block them from future suggestions, and substitute ingredients. Personalized recipes replace the original in future suggestions and can be found in a sidebar tab along with foods and recipes you have uploaded. If you are looking for something specific, the sidebar allows you to search all of our databases, including brand name and restaurant foods that are not normally suggested.

Once you have generated and tweaked your perfect plan there is an option to save it to your account, to be viewed and shared from anywhere. The front page will not clear if you navigate away, but diets not saved can be lost if you delete your cookies and do not have an account. Sharing your diet plan functions as a referral link and any friends who sign up through your link earn both of you a free month of subscriber services. Subscribers can plan out weeks at a time, save unlimited plans, print or email those plans, and create and manage grocery lists for their plans.

Signing up

Signing up is easy, you’ll only need an email address to get started for free. During the sign up process you will be asked for some optional physical information about yourself - fill this out based on your most current measurements, not based on your goals. This data will be used in our calculators and will be saved to your profile, although no one but you can see it. You’ll enter information about your diet preferences and nutritional requirements on the next two pages, but all of it can be edited later as needed. You will have an option to sign up for a free trial, but you do not have to start the trial right away, and can always come back to this screen. Once you’ve finished signing up, you will find yourself at the generator page – which will serve as the home page whenever you log into Eat This Much.

Planning vs Deciding

They say to avoid shopping when you are hungry to avoid bad decisions. Although this is a pretty intuitive idea, many people still wait until they’re hungry to decide what to eat. Every healthy meal choice wears away the amount of willpower left for that day. In other words, deciding what to eat spur of the moment doesn’t save much energy in the long run, and leaves your diet vulnerable to stress, social pressure, and life in general. Planning ahead means preparing yourself to be successful, instead of making every day as a test of your resolve. It may seem like a big time commitment, but Eat This Much makes planning easy and will actually save you time the longer you use it.

Calories

Although there are many different ways to represent how much food you should be eating in a day, large calories (often abbreviated kcal or Cal) are an easy way to compare the energy contained in different types of food. Caloric values are available for just about every food sold in America and most foods elsewhere. Dieting is much more nuanced than simply adjusting your calories, but as a general rule weight gain is due to a regular surplus of energy and weight loss requires a frequent caloric deficit. This is more intuitively stated as ‘For most situations, you will want to eat less to lose weight, and eat more to gain weight’ (within reasonable limits). The reason to use units of energy (calories) instead of units of weight (grams/ounces) is that not all foods contain equal amounts of energy. The three major macronutrients (Fats, Proteins, and Carbohydrates) have different amounts of energy per unit of weight (roughly 9kcal/gram, 4kcal/gram, 4kcal/gram respectively) as well as different effects on satiety, or the feeling of fullness.

Macros

Measuring the amount of the three major Macronutrients has become a popular way to classify different eating strategies. Macronutrients (often abbreviated as macros) refer to the types of molecules that make up all digestible food, and can be contrasted with micronutrients such as sodium, calcium or vitamins which usually appear in much smaller amounts. The different chemical structure of the three macronutrients means they are digested different and used for different purposes within the body, making this a useful way to classify food. The three major macronutrients are Fats, Proteins, and Carbohydrates (alcohol is technically a macronutrient but is not a major consideration is most dieting strategies). Macronutrients can be measured in gram amounts (The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 0.8-1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight each day) or as a percentage of total calories (The ACSM recommends keeping fats to less than 30% of your total calories for a day).

Prep/cooking time

Among the various options, you will have the ability to set the amount of time available to prepare each meal and whether or not you are capable of cooking. These numbers should refer to the time you have set aside to prepare the meal, and are not meant to include how much time you have to eat. If you plan to prepare a meal ahead of time, base this option on how much time you want to spend when you are actually preparing the meal. Preparation refers to all the actions that do not involve the application of heat such as cutting or mixing ingredients, while cooking time refers to how long the recipe will be on the stovetop or in the oven.

Nutrition calculator

Our calculator plugs your physical characteristics into the commonly accepted Mifflin St. Jeor equations in order to estimate your Basal Metabolic Rate (a measure of how many calories you burn at rest throughout the day). Calories will be added to this estimated BMR according to your activity levels (more activity, more calories needed in a day), body fat percentage (high body fat requires less energy per pound/kilogram of bodyweight), and goals (lower calories for weight loss, higher calories for weight gain).


Full free planner walkthrough

Notice

This walkthrough is a work in progress. For a much quicker version, go to the meal planner page, click the "Help" menu in the very top right corner of the page, and go through the "Generator walkthrough."

In this document I’m going to show you how to get started using our site with an account. A free account will let you plan an entire day’s worth of meals and see relevant nutrition information, while subscribers can plan weeks at a time and customize each day. After reading through this document, you should be comfortable: generating and editing a daily plan, customizing meal types, entering custom foods, saving a diet, and.

Let’s generate a meal plan to get comfortable with all the features. If you filled out everything during sign up, you should see your preferred macronutrient breakdown and total calories near the top under the label ‘Current nutrition targets’. Just for practice create another nutrition profile, for a lower carb paleo style diet, without using the preset options. Start by clicking on the name of the current nutrition profile, (by default it is set to The Usual, but you may have changed this during the signup process) which will drop down a menu with a button saying ‘create new targets’ at the bottom. This menu is where you can access all the nutrition profiles you’ve created.

Once you’ve clicked the button, a popup will appear with all the various fields you can customize. The name and description are just for your own uses, so for now let’s name our profile ‘Simple Paleo’ and enter a description like ‘learning to generate meals’. Enter an appropriate calorie number, based on either your own knowledge or our nutrition calculator. You may have noticed that you were unable adjust your macronutrients before entering a calorie amount. This is because there is a direct conversion between grams of food and calories (detailed above), so a mismatch between calories and grams will confuse the generator.

Now you can adjust the macronutrient composition of your diet by typing in a range, or adjusting the sliders. Because nothing is truly exact in the world of nutrition (labels only represent the average lab tested values, most of our food isn’t weighed to the gram before eating), having a range for these values allows for some useful ‘wiggle room’ in your plans. It’s not uncommon to hear about a diet with extremely specific macronutrient requirements, then find out that the majority of people either give themselves some leeway or eat the same combination of meals every day for weeks. Both of these are valid strategies, and have yielded real results, but our algorithm is geared towards the former. You can set very narrow macronutrient ranges, or even set specific percentages of your diet for each macronutrients, but computers are very literal and you will see a decrease in variety of meals and potentially some strange combinations. If you’re having trouble getting diets that work for you, setting larger ranges is a good way to get more options – which you can then customize to your liking. If you set a range that has no combination of values that would fit your calorie requirements, a warning will pop up with an option to ‘increase/decrease your minimums/maximums’ to match with your calorie target. The adjustment will change all macros equally (based on calories), to preserve the general ratio you had specified.

To make a low carb plan, slide the minimum value for carbs much lower, something like 50 grams, and then raise the maximums for both fats and proteins by another 50 grams. Depending on how strict you want to be, you can also increase the minimum for fats and proteins, to ensure that they outnumber carbs. The last 3 options are for less prioritized nutrition factors, and are by default either off (sodium and cholesterol) or set very conservatively (fiber in this case). Although the generator will preference recipes that meet these restrictions, they won’t always be exactly right, for the sake of giving you more options and variety. You’ll have to review meal plans to make sure they fit your requirements before trying them out, but we’ll provide detailed information at all levels of organization to make it easy for you.

At last we’re ready to generate a meal using our ‘simple paleo’ profile. You’ll notice the name of the nutrition targets and your macro ranges displayed at the top of the screen. Between these numbers and the regenerate button you’ll see a drop-down menu for the number of meals. This will not affect the nutritional content of the suggested day, but will have some effect on the available recipes. The generator tries to get at least 200cal in each meal, so having too many meals will cause each of them to contain relatively less food. We’ll get into options for controlling the size of the individual meals a little bit later so just set it to 5 for now. This will allow for the regular breakfast lunch and dinner combination most people are used to, with two additional snacks.

Now that we’ve completed all the options at the top of the page, click the regenerate button to see how it goes. In less than a minute the generator should populate the bottom of your screen with five individual meals selected to meet our requirements. You can see how well the generator did by taking a look at the pie chart and various nutrition information on the right-hand side of the screen. This information relates to the day as a whole with similar information available at the meal and recipe level elsewhere. There is also a count of net carbohydrates, which refers to the amount of carbohydrates excluding fiber which is not digestible. Estimated costs are based on the value of all the ingredients used in this day combined, but do not reflect the total amount needed to buy normal quantities of each ingredient. The more often you cook food for yourself the better this price reflects the actual cost to you, as some ingredients may go bad if you don’t cook for an extended time. Clicking the “micronutrient stats” button will expand a block of text showing the gram amounts of all nutrients recorded in our database.

If you turn your attention to the meals and foods on the left side of the screen you’ll notice that the first three meals are labeled breakfast lunch and dinner by default, with the last two meals set as snacks. Let’s assume you eat a snack before dinner and then a similar one at night. Reorganizing a plan is as easy as clicking and dragging the foods where you want them to go, but it’s a good idea to take a little time to set specifications for each. Let’s start with dinner by clicking on the word ‘dinner’ above the third meal on your screen or the small cog shaped icon next to it. This will open a window where you can customize the specifics of the next dinner meal that you generate, either by regenerating the entire day or just this meal.

We’ll leave the name of the meal alone for now, and turn our attentions to the meal size. This drop-down menu contains five options, which are relative to each other and the total amount of calories you set for the day. If all five meals are set to normal meal, the generator will do its best to show you five meals with all the calories equally distributed. The meal sizes represent 25% increments in size, such that the smallest meal is only half or 50% the size of a normal meal and the largest meal is 1.5 times the size or 50% larger than the normal meal. The sizes are relative, therefore if you set every meal to be a huge meal but do not change your total calories, there will be relatively little variation between the amounts of calories in each meal. Let’s aim for a big (but not huge) dinner, since we’re going to have snacks as well; click the small black arrow and select ‘big meal’ from the drop down menu.

Next, we’ll set the available time for this meal, corresponding to the total amount of time you have to prepare and cook your Dinner. For the sake of this exercise assume you enjoy taking time to prepare a nice dinner, and set the timer to ‘Lots of time’. The buttons underneath this selection refer to whether you will have access to cooking implements. Selecting ‘Can cook’ will allow the generator to pick recipes without taking prep time vs cook time into consideration. Must cook will only return recipes with at least some cook time, and can’t cook will allow for any recipe that doesn’t involve cooking and has prep time less than your ‘available time’.

Breakfast foods are a divisive topic, some people wish every meal was breakfast while others gag at the idea of having friend eggs after midday. To manage these differing expectations, recipes can be tagged as breakfast foods, and their availability can be set individually for each meal. I’m pretty easy to please, so I’m going to take the middle road and allow all types of foods in my dinner.

The number of persons allows you to multiply the size of a meal to accommodate cooking for others, without going off your plan. As of now, this option merely multiplies your dinner by the number of people – so it’s not ideal for couples or families with vastly different nutritional goals or preferences. If you want to use one account to create a plan for multiple people, the best option is to add their individual caloric requirements together and then simply divide each meal appropriately after cooking. Let’s save this meal type for now, and go over recurring foods in a separate example.

Now let’s generate another meal plan, with our new dinner in the correct place. Set the 4th meal (probably listed as ‘snack’ for now) to dinner using the cog icon, and then switch the final meal of the day to ‘dinner’ and the third meal of the day to ‘snack’. Once the order is correct, click ‘regenerate’ to get a plan that fits the ‘simple paleo’ nutrition profile, but has meals setup the way we want. Take a minute to click regenerate a few more times and observe what changes and what stays the same, such as number of recipes and calories per meal. Generating several meal plans like this is a great way to see what eating on a specific type of diet will look like, especially if you’re considering making a big change or starting a new program. As you look over suggested daily plans, try clicking the ‘heart’ icon to favorite recipes that sound appetizing. If you see something that you don’t ever want to eat, hovering the mouse over that recipe will bring up four small buttons, and the universal ‘no’ symbol allows you to add that recipe to a list of blocked foods, that won’t be suggested in the future. Over time, you’ll build your blocked and favorite lists and the generator will give you less and less suggestions you won’t eat.

If you want to have more direct control over which foods appear in each meal type, setting recurring foods is the easiest way to do this. We’ll customize the structure of breakfast and lunch to see how to use recurring foods for a variety of purposes. If you’ve been playing around with the current plan, regenerate a fresh plan first, so you have all 5 meals with their normal amount of recipes. Now add whatever is currently listed for lunch to your favorite list by clicking the heart, and then use the ‘x’ icon to delete that recipe from the daily plan. Deleting a recipe simply takes it off the screen, and has no effect on future searches unlike the ‘ban’ button.

Now click the magnifying glass icon to open up the sidebar. The sidebar allows you to navigate all of our databases without leaving the main generator page. The search results update in real time so foods will appear as you are typing. Search ‘egg salad’ too see what this looks like and then choose a recipe you like and drag it onto the lunch meal. Once the recipe is on the generator screen it will behave like the other items. You can view nutritional information about it and change settings with the buttons on the left. Let’s drag a couple more foods into lunch and then set them all as recurring by clicking the circular icon. Once you click the recurring foods button, a menu will pop up with relevant options. You can choose which meals to set this recipe to, as well as how frequently it should appear. Selecting often will cause the generator to slightly favor this recipe over others when creating meal plans, while selecting always means that this recipe will always be generated into this meal. This is similar to the lock function that was available on the old version of the site.

Drag several recipes into lunch and set them all to recur. Instead of clicking the big orange regenerate button, try using the smaller white button with the same icon to regenerate one meal at a time. This will bring you a new set of suggestions for that meal, leaving everything else in the plan untouched. Notice that even though recurring foods were set to ‘often’ they probably won’t appear in the next several refreshes. As your list of recurring foods grows you’ll see familiar recipes more often. If you want a recipe to appear in all plans, the ‘always’ recur option will work better. This is commonly used for breakfast, when you don’t have a lot of time and are not interested in trying anything new.

Let’s open up the sidebar and search for a breakfast food like oatmeal. Drag a recipe onto breakfast and set it to always. Now you’ll see that recipe appear in breakfast every time, whether you regenerate the meal or the entire day. To take this a step further, repeat the process and add several different recipes to recur always. This will override anything else the generator usually does, so breakfast will always include these recipes and the rest of the day will be smaller. If you want to have a small list or rotation of foods for a meal, click the recur button again, and change all the foods to ‘often’. Then open the meal options for breakfast and check the box marked ‘only use recurring foods’. Now refresh breakfast and you’ll see that all the meals are created as some combination of the recipes set to ‘often’. Different combinations of these settings can be used to very precisely control what foods will be suggested for each meal.

Now we’ve covered everything you need to know to build meal plans from scratch using the generator and our database. If you have your own recipes, or want to make changes to recipes that are suggested to you, you can create custom recipes and foods.

Click the small blue circle next to the image for any recipe to bring up the more information page, where you can see nutritional information about this particular recipe and change its settings. Nutritional information is shown in the same format as the main page, with the ingredients in this recipe displayed like the recipes in the meals. By default all the information will be based on the whole recipe as it was entered in our database, clicking the ‘1 serving’ button will update the information based on a single serving. Beneath all that are the directions for this recipe, with a button to show the micronutrient content below that.

Click the large blue button at the top of this window to personalize this recipe. From this window you can change all of the information related to this recipe, to reflect your personal experience or preferences. Ingredients can be deleted by clicking the x next to their image, and new ingredients can be dragged over from the side bar. This is a great way to substitute different sweeteners or oils if you have restrictions against common ingredients. After you click ‘save changes’ you’ll be taken back to the recipe information screen, where you can set your recurring food as a favorite or repeating food. All of your personalized recipes and foods can be found in the sidebar with their own category. This makes it easy to substitute recipe’s you’ve spent some time on into new plans.

Now you’re ready to use all the features of Eat This Much. Enter your favorite recipes, set your staple foods to recur, tweak the meal types until they are just right and soon you’ll be able to quickly find plans that work for you. As you edit suggested plans, blocking recipes and saving your favorites, the suggestions will only get better. If you want to get a little more serious, sign up for a free trial of subscriber services to use these same tools to create weekly plans with grocery lists.


Frequently Asked Questions

Notice

This FAQ section is a supplement to our main FAQ section with just a few of the more common questions.
How do I prevent a specific meal or day from generating?

To remove a specific day

If you regularly travel and want to exclude a specific day from the weekly plan, simply remove all of the meals from that day in the "Weekly layout" section of the settings. On the road every Saturday? Delete all of Saturday's meals. (This is specific to the subscription weekly planner). To remove just one meal, create a nutrition profile with the calories for that meal subtracted, change the desired day(s) in the weekly layout to use that profile, and then delete the meal from those days.

If you're not traveling regularly but know you're going to be somewhere with unpredictable meals next week, it's probably easier to just delete those days from your diet planner after they've been generated. Just use the calendar to navigate to the days you'll be traveling, click the "Diet menu" button (next to the "Search foods" button), and select "Delete this diet".

To remove a specific meal

Maybe you eat out for lunch every workday and don't know what you're going to have - you just want the diet planner to fill in the gaps in the meals you're more in control of, like breakfast and dinner. Unlike removing a day from the weekly layout, you can't just remove a meal from the day because the generator will still try to meet your nutrition targets by adding more calories to your remaining meals.

The solution is to estimate the nutrition you think you're going to have for that meal so that the generator will correctly compensate in the rest of the meals. Either create a "custom food" with the estimated nutrition, or if you commonly eat at a specific restaurant, try looking up what you order in our database and adding it as an "always" recurring food. Then if you don't end up eating that thing, swap it out afterwards to keep accurate track of your intake.

How can my significant other follow the meal plans with me?

We have some basic family meal planning features at the moment - when you're configuring a meal's settings (by clicking on a meal's name), you have the option of setting a number of people to plan for in that meal. When the weekly planner generates your grocery list, it will multiply the amount of ingredients by the number of people selected.

However, your significant other probably has different nutrition targets than you. The easiest thing to do is to add your nutrition targets together and the split the portions on your own. We're planning to improve multi-user support in the near future, but for now you'll just have to bust out the scale and do some messy division. This works best if you and your significant other are able to eat the exact same thing for every meal. (The hard part for our algorithms is getting nice portion sizes on everything)

Example: A couple wants to eat every meal together, but he wants to eat 3000 calories for every meal and she wants to eat 1500. Just ask the generator for 4500 calories and then split all of the meals in a 2:1 ratio.

I missed my grocery shopping day. How can I get back on track?

This is simple - just visit the grocery list page and rebuild the grocery list for the rest of the current week. Then start following the meal plans as soon as you can.

If you miss your grocery shopping day, you might have also missed a few days of the meal plan. Remember to delete stuff you don't eat and add what you do so that the planner knows what to remove from the virtual pantry. Don't worry about telling the planner you ate foods that you never had in the pantry - it will ignore whatever it's not already keeping track of.

I ate something that wasn't in my meal plan. What should I do?

Don't panic! The best thing to do is just add what you actually ate to the meal plans and remove anything you didn't. Even if you don't eat what the planner says, it's still a good idea to keep track of your intake. Open up the Food Bank via the "Search foods" button and search for what you ate. If we don't have it, you can add it as a "custom food" or "custom recipe".

There are two big benefits to updating your plans to reflect what you actually ate. First, if you eat too much for lunch (for example), you'll know to cut down on your portions for dinner. Just how much should you cut down your portions? You don't want to regenerate the meal because the generator might use foods that you don't own, so the best thing to do is just eat a fraction of what you were originally planning to eat, or swapping it with a smaller meal somewhere else in your plan.

The second benefit for keeping your plans accurate is that your pantry will keep track of the ingredients you didn't eat, and then the generator can incorporate it into your future meal plans and modify the grocery list for the upcoming week. We're working on getting the algorithms to be more efficient about grocery use, so keep an eye out for it in future updates.