For some, menu planning is intimidating because there is a belief that following a menu plan will be restrictive and may result in food being purchased that will be eaten once and maybe not again because ingredients in the plan aren’t popular with the cook or the family. Well not all menu planning services are created equal and it’s to your advantage to research because you can end up saving money and finding an easy, flexible solution for enjoyable, healthy and tasty meals.

The reason why menu planning is so popular today is because of a few things:

• Busy cooks don’t have the time to figure out different meal ideas for their families. This is especially true for dinner meal-planning.

• Food costs are rising and menu planning offers a strategy for planning meals, according to a budget.

• We now know more about food and the effects of bad food on our bodies. Thinking consumers want to take steps to avoid foods that are unhealthy. Menu planning helps you to plan menus according to nutritional values that are beneficial for you and your family.

So how should you go about searching out good meal planning services for your household? Here are some factors to consider:

• Ease of use. No matter how much or how little you spend on a service, if it is too cumbersome to use, you won’t use it and that will be a waste of your hard earned money. Most good menu planning services offer a trial period. Take them up on their offer and try it out for the trial period then make your decision.

• Automated grocery shopping lists: make sure your menu planning service offers a feature that will generate a grocery shopping list for you. If you’re paying for a menu service you shouldn’t have to devise your own grocery list based on the ingredients in the menu.

A good menu planning service will ensure that the quantities of each item on your list reflect the number of people to be served that item in a given time frame (e.g., one week). So if you’re preparing two dinners during a week that both require, say scallions, your grocery list should indicate adequate quantities of scallion for those dinners – no more, no less. If you were to purchase too many scallions some might go to waste since scallions won’t stay fresh for long. Purchasing just the amount you need saves you money and our environment by reducing waste.

Dinners in a Flash http://www.dinnersinaflash.com is an innovative menu planning service known for its “waste-free” grocery list feature.

• Customization: You should be able to customize your menu planning service, as needed. Let’s say your dinner menu requires romaine lettuce but everyone in your family prefers arugula lettuce, a good automated dinner menu planning service will allow to you easily replace the romaine lettuce item with arugula lettuce so your recipe and grocery list reflects your preferences.

• Regularly updated recipe list: You want to use a menu planning service that reflects traditional and the most current recipes. Good menu planning services aren’t free so ensure that you’re able to access a rich database of menu selections for the services.

• Menu choices are sorted according to difficulty and preparation time: Many people rely on menu planning services because they don’t have the time to dedicate to planning and/or preparing meals. If you’re in this group, make sure you choose a service that gives you choice and includes meals, especially dinners that can be prepared quickly.

• Budget considerations: Identify the services you want to review and compare them based on the features mentioned above. Then determine which menu planning service offers the features that are important to you for the best price. Menu planning services shouldn’t be expensive. Look for customer testimonials and if possible, talk to current clients to make the best selection for your needs.

Dinners in a Flash http://www.dinnersinaflash.com is one of the leading online menu planning services offering all of the features above and more. Visit Dinners in a Flash to view their online video demonstrations and see a feature rich automated menu planning service in action.

Author's Bio: 

Julie Languille is a mom of 4 and the computer programmer who created Dinners in a Flash to solve meal planning challenges in her household. Today Dinners in Flash serves over ???? clients and offers access to over 2500 mouthwatering recipes. Visit Julie at Dinnersinaflash.com.