Meal Planning made Simple! (Even Enjoyable!)

Meal Planning made Simple! (Even Enjoyable!)


Because eating real food should be convenient.


Whether you’re stuck in a rut for inspiration, in a tail-spin about learning how to be gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free, or just can’t find the time to cook, this is a game-changer.



Answer me this:


  • Do you have heart palpitations at 5pm everyday when you realise its 5pm and you have hungry little tummies to feed in 5 minutes?
  • Do you rush to the fridge with your mind racing as to what you could prepare, only to find that the veggies are oozy, the eggs have passed their sell-by-date, and the rice is finished?
  • Do you dash to your freezer to find your secret stash of delicious and nutritious previously-prepared meals only to realise that you were meant to have a cooking day last Saturday to replenish said secret stash?
  • Do you end up preparing the same thing day in and day out… because not having to ‘think’ what to cook everyday saves you quite a bit of time?
  • Do you end up getting take-outs or cooking from a box because you don’t have the necessary (fresh) ingredients, or the time, or the energy to prepare them?
  • Do you want to follow a gluten-, dairy- and sugar-free lifestyle but literally cant get your head around all the new ingredients and what to do with them?
  • Do you wish you could just be told what to cook today, be given the recipe, and the shopping list – with all you family’s specific food intolerances and dietary requirements accounted for?


Well then… you going to LOVE this!

I have been sent many requests by people asking for Mila’s Meals Meal Plans – a way for a family to follow a gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free diet daily, with all the planning and thinking taken care of, so you can just focus on (and enjoy) the cooking.


I must say, now that I find myself working full days – meal plans make so much sense! The thinking and planning of what to eat – really does take so much energy and so much time!


So, I set about creating a Mila’s Meals Meal Plan using all my own recipes (new ones and ones from my book ‘Mila’s Meals: The Beginning & The Basics’). I quickly realized that this was an enormous undertaking – it quite literally would have taken me the better part of a year to get right! To be honest, I would rather spend that time creating more recipes, than repackaging the ones that are already available.


As I was wondering how I could help make a ‘free-from’ lifestyle ‘do-able’ beyond the book I created, and without dedicating a year to creating a Meal Plan service – I stumbled across Real Plans (oh thank you thank you once again Universe!) Real Plans is a meal planner with super powers!

Introducing Real Plans

Real Plans is created by Emily (a.k.a. Holistic Squid, wife, and mom) and her techno-brilliant husband, Antony.


Her (& others’) delicious recipes + his technical brilliance = a meal planning service like none other


Real plans not only presents you with mouth-watering, nutritious, and simple recipes (over 1500 of them!), but you can customise menus, modify recipes, import recipes, shop with your smartphone, and plan weeks ahead or only shop for a day or two – it’s up to you.

Recipes catering to a variety of dietary requirements


Your subscription will give you access to a wide variety of meal plans including:


  • Traditional (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free and GAPS options)
  • Paleo (Primal, Keto, and Autoimmune Protocol options)
  • Vegetarian (Ovo-lacto)


For those of us with even more restrictive diets due to allergies or other health concerns. Real Plans allows you to exclude whole food groups (like shellfish, nuts or nightshades), and gives you the option to exclude specific ingredients, too. And then…TA DA! You’re presented with a complete week long meal plan— full of food that you CAN eat!

What you get with a Real Plans Subscription



  1. Customized weekly meal plans for your family’s unique diet
  2. Nutrition data for your meals
  3. 1,500 recipes from your favorite food bloggers (and the option to import from other websites, or manually add from your favourite recipe book)
  4. Dynamic Shopping List (with pictures!)
  5. Timeline: what you need to defrost / prepare / do, when!
  6. The free mobile app – access your meal plans and shopping list at the shops!
  7. 24/7 support from the Real Plans Team


Ahhhhh… the Shopping List!


This is a Real Timesaver and Money Saver!


Rather than being a static PDF, the Real Plans shopping list categorises everything based on how you typically shop at a supermarket. (For example, all the produce, spices, and bottled goods are all grouped together.) You can then check off anything you already have in your kitchen and add anything else you may need, and then take it to the store. Real Plans allows you to print, email, and open your shopping list on your smart phone.


By downloading the Real Plans App to your phone, you can call up your shopping list as and when you need it and tick the items off as you shop! It will automatically update. And no-more spending money on things you don’t need after leaving your shopping list at home!

The App


Everything is available on the app (or your computer) – your weekly plan, recipe box, shopping list – everything – with you at all times!

Does it include Mila’s Meals Recipes?


While I am not (yet) a recipe partner, you can import ANY of your favourite recipes into your personal Real Plan! Simply go to your Recipe Box, click “import”, add the URL of your favourite recipe and Ta Da! It gets included in your Real Plan!


(Yes, this means I am going to have to get busy uploading a whole lot more of my recipes to my website so you can import them directly from there – I’m on it – promise!) Alternatively, there is the option to add the recipes manually.



Why am I promoting other people recipes?

My goal and motivation is to provide the best healthy resources available, and to make a “free-from” lifestyle do-able. The resources and recipes do not have to be mine – that would be limiting for you, and would add a lot to my already very long to-do list. Knowing you are well catered for, takes a lot of (self-imposed) pressure off me 🙂


Real Plans is a subscription-based service.

They have 3 payment options:


  • monthly – $14/month (±R190/month)
  • quarterly – $11/month (± R160/month)
  • annual – $6/month (±R85/month).


10 day money back guarantee with Whole30 plans and 30 day money back guarantee for all other plans.  Subscriptions renew until canceled. Cancel any time




Watch this video to see how it works.

Have any questions?


Read the Real Plans FAQ here.

Meal planning is the crucial link to healthy eating, money saving and time well spent.


For those of you who are new to a gluten-, sugar- and dairy-free lifestyle – these meal plans are the perfect way to reduce the overwhelm as you learn about new ingredients and have to replace the old-favourites with new ones.


For those of you who have been on this journey for a while and are running out of ideas – or your little ones are just refusing your masterpieces – these meal plans will provide you with new meals for everyday of the year!


And for all the working Mama’s out there – your time and your energy is precious. Spend it joyously in the kitchen with your kids – not racing aimlessly around the grocery store, or panicking in front of the fridge.

I wish you much joy in the kitchen and little tummies full of delicious and nutritious food!




Please read my affiliate disclosure here.

Catherine Barnhoorn

Mom to Mila, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and author of 'Mila's Meals: The Beginning & The Basics'.


  • Kelly Jennings

    15.07.2017 at 10:42 Reply

    This looks so amazing

  • Nicole Naicker

    15.07.2017 at 11:00 Reply

    #milasmeals an awesome prize love to win Thank you for the opportunity

  • Ella lob

    15.07.2017 at 12:31 Reply

    What a great idea!

  • Carolyn Augustus

    15.07.2017 at 13:18 Reply

    I would definitely use a meal planning service. Being a shift working mom, a meal plan would take the pain of struggling to plans meals out of the equation.

  • Lauren B

    15.07.2017 at 13:45 Reply

    Planning is my sanity when it comes to sticking to some kind of budget feeding my twins a “free-from” diet 🙂

  • Zoë

    15.07.2017 at 13:54 Reply

    As a family of 6, meal planning is important. My 3 boys never let me get away without having a plan. One meal is finished and they are already asking about the next. I just wish this wasn’t so expensive.

    • Catherine Barnhoorn

      17.07.2017 at 11:33 Reply

      Hi Zoe – with the annual subscription it works out to R81/month – which I find do-able. I know meal plans have saved me far more than that in unnecessary spending at the grocery store. I was not able to find a more affordable one that offered as much as this one did. xx

  • Deoni-Lizel van Niekerk

    15.07.2017 at 14:05 Reply

    Nothing short of amazing!!! Love everything you do and stand for!!

  • Sharmon Reddington

    15.07.2017 at 14:35 Reply

    This sounds like it will make life sooooo much easier LOVE

  • Rozan Hamilton-Nixon

    15.07.2017 at 14:55 Reply

    Super idea!

  • Lizanne

    15.07.2017 at 14:57 Reply

    I do a basic meal plan, but this service looks amazing. I am actually trying to arrange with my husband to get it!

  • Marijke Crafford

    15.07.2017 at 15:40 Reply

    Meal plans work great for busy moms and this looks like a great plan to make it even easier!!

  • Lizelle

    15.07.2017 at 17:05 Reply

    Great service on offer, I love everything that has a app

  • Karlien Pretorius

    16.07.2017 at 07:00 Reply

    Brilliant! I would love to give this a try.

  • thea lennox

    16.07.2017 at 19:20 Reply

    Absolutely love it

  • Rehana Seedat

    16.07.2017 at 20:46 Reply

    Great service on offer. Would love to try Real Plans App

  • Bianca Rael

    16.07.2017 at 21:09 Reply

    This looks amazing! Could be a total game changer! Think I’m going to give it a try 🙂

  • Debbie Knighton-Fitt

    17.07.2017 at 09:12 Reply

    I live by my meal plans – you should create your own exclusive app 🙂

  • Tania Brewis

    17.07.2017 at 11:18 Reply

    Fabulous! Will have to give it a try ;o)

  • Anonymous

    17.07.2017 at 11:42 Reply

    This is definitely something I’ll look into!

    Samantha Herbst

  • Jackie Katzen

    17.07.2017 at 14:16 Reply

    the meal plan app sounds like a great idea, I would use it

  • Yolika Muscat

    17.07.2017 at 15:13 Reply

    Busy Moms absolutely need to plan meals ahead! Saves us from so much anxiety!

  • Michelle Van Rooyen

    18.07.2017 at 09:27 Reply

    Great app, it makes planning so much easier. Peace of mind when planning ahead

  • Gresham Madhan

    18.07.2017 at 11:50 Reply

    Great for us dad’s as well. Very informative

  • salim yusuf

    18.07.2017 at 12:33 Reply

    Great Ideas!

  • Nooreen Agherdien

    18.07.2017 at 15:48 Reply

    Meal planning is such a great way to keep healthy to not reach for the next or fastest thing available, and this app seems amazing and super helpful

  • Melissa de la Croix

    19.07.2017 at 10:11 Reply

    I think I need this to keep track of if we get enough protein in or not. And other nutrients too

  • Shaaista Mahomed

    19.07.2017 at 10:49 Reply

    i am very much intrigued by this, a s a working mum to two kids ( a 3 year old and a 7 month old, both who have special dietary requirements, i think this app will be so helpful! Thank you 🙂

  • kamilah francis

    20.07.2017 at 11:22 Reply

    Meal planning so important and I love your ideas it’s great and makes preparing healthy nutritious meals easy!

  • Thercia Khoza

    21.07.2017 at 22:53 Reply

    I am learning that proper planning is vital. One can never go wrong. If I plan and plan correctly I would save on wastage and be within budget for my food. Thanks for sharing. Valued words of advice

  • Angela Hausner

    25.07.2017 at 23:37 Reply

    Planning is everything when it comes to eating balanced meals and avoiding last minute convenience shops. Will check out this app

  • Kerry West

    28.07.2017 at 09:14 Reply

    Fantastic little app! And a great way for super busy woman to stay health organised! What we put into our bodies affects absolutely everything, from our mental health to getting oxygen to our cells in order for them to perform at their best, even to our sleeping patterns, but unfortunately in this day and age convenience and stress/ tiredness seem to trump health. This little app will help eliminate making bad choices and educate you along the way!

  • Casey Esteves

    04.08.2017 at 19:06 Reply

    Great idea and love the app, but i prefer searching the net for recipes and meals that intrigue me, it helps me research food that is healthy and I prefer to be hands on. Think this is brilliant for someone who doesn’t have the time or patience to plan meals, but I actually enjoy it.

  • Fareedha Khan

    08.08.2017 at 15:47 Reply

    This would really help me because I eat 5 small meals a day.

  • Nicole A

    10.08.2017 at 15:34 Reply

    This is quite an awesome idea and tool. I’ll definitely look into this. With kids this would make life a lot easier.

  • Mary Bosman

    11.08.2017 at 06:45 Reply

    Don’t currently use a meal plan but it looks like the solution to ensure a well balanced diet is followed 🙂 Will have to check out the app!

  • Aimee Gavin

    11.08.2017 at 08:45 Reply

    Oh wow! This is exactly what I have been looking for! Keen to try it out! I just hope I will be able to find all the ingredients in our small town..

  • Elet Potgieter

    11.08.2017 at 09:55 Reply

    L O V E

  • Victoria York

    12.08.2017 at 09:02 Reply

    This is amazing, I def need this in my life!!!

  • sasha

    14.08.2017 at 19:23 Reply


  • Anusha Naidoo

    14.08.2017 at 21:19 Reply

    Planning is absolutely essential for eating well balanced meals .Will check this app.
    Thank you.

  • Ayesha Bayat

    14.08.2017 at 22:26 Reply

    Lovely ideas!

  • Cathy Badenhorst

    15.08.2017 at 14:06 Reply

    this looks amazing and will definitely give it a try as feel that having a proper meal plan will help me stick to it

  • Riétte van Tonder

    15.08.2017 at 22:35 Reply

    With food prices being what they are, meal planning is essential!

  • Rahzeema West

    17.08.2017 at 10:58 Reply

    Meal planning is always a must!so u have mo excuses

  • Elmarie van huyssteen

    17.08.2017 at 11:42 Reply

    Very useful app and to keep tummies full yet healthy

  • Daniela Cardoso

    17.08.2017 at 23:28 Reply

    I would definitley use a meal plan as it provides me with structure and I can plan meals ahead without getting stressed about what to cook

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