Review Crew: Molly Crew: Simplified Pantry Review

Here’s a little something different from my typical curriculum reviews.  I had the chance to review a product for me!  I reviewed some products from Simplified Pantry.

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What is it?
Simplified Pantry provides products to simplify and streamline grocery trips and meal preparation.  This product provides the tools for cooking healthy meals using easy-to-find ingredients.  Simplified Pantry is for those with even the least amount of experience in the kitchen, providing step-by-step instructions for whole foods cooking.

What does it include?
I received the PDF version of 3 products:
Simplified Dinners – $12.99
Simplified Dinners Gluten Free/Dairy Free – $12.99
Paperless Home Organization – $3.99

Simplified Dinners includes a master pantry list of all the ingredients to keep stocked as well as recipes divided by type such as slow cooker, stews, and vegetable side dishes.

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Simplified Dinners Gluten Free/Dairy Free contains a pantry list of ingredients (with all those lovely specialty foods needed for a GFDF diet) as well as recipes that even include dessert options that are safe within Gluten Free and Dairy Free diets.

Paperless Home Organization provides tools and instructions for creating a digital home management binder.  The author recommends helpful apps and digital tools (that are free!) for keeping track of calendar events, tasks, to-do lists, ideas, and shopping lists.

How did I use this product?
I have a few confessions to make.  Here’s my first one:  I don’t use many menu planning products.  I don’t like using cookbooks or anything that provides shopping lists or pantry lists or planned out meal plans with recipes.  Why?  Because I have kiddos with some serious and extensive food allergies.  None of those products work for me!  Frustrating much?
So, I was excited to see that this product was designed for Gluten and Dairy Free families.  However, I was still very skeptical.  Our allergy list is so much longer than that!  We can’t have gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, seeds (sesame, flax, poppy, sunflower, etc), bananas, avocados, pineapples, mangoes, melons, coconuts, and kiwis.  If something is workable for our family, then I know I’ve found a rare gem.

I used the Simplified Dinners Gluten Free and Dairy Free version.  The first section contains helpful information for those with dietary restrictions.  Next, I skimmed through the pantry list and printed off the form.  I made a few changes to make the list allergy-free for our family.  I subbed out the gluten free soy sauce for the liquid aminos that we use and the peanut butter for the pea butter (yes, it’s made from golden peas) that we use.  I crossed out some of our allergy items like pineapple or almond extract.  All in all, there weren’t too many substitutions or omissions that I had to make.

Then I sat down and evaluated the recipes.  There were a surprising number of recipes that we could make.  And there were several recipes that we could make with a few slight modifications. 
Beef Roast – my hubby’s favorite!
Taco Chicken – I love Mexican food!
Herbed Beans – My kids love bean stews with cornbread!
There was even an idea for making quesadillas without cheese.  I had never thought of that before!

The last section has a sample menu plan with a blank menu planning form.  I filled out our weekly menu plan (and eventually it morphed into a monthly plan).  Then we had simple and easy to make meals every night.  Most meals called for only a few ingredients and were quick to prepare.  No processed foods and nothing out of a box!  They were yummy and healthy. 

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Now it’s time for my second confession.  I don’t have a home management binder.  I’ve started to make one 3 times and I’ve given up 3 times.  I don’t even finish and I quickly get overwhelmed.  So a paper binder has never happened here.  So, a paperless organizational system sounded somewhat appealing – except for the fact that I’m technologically challenged.  I really didn’t think that this product would work for me.  I am terrified of technology and I wasn’t sure I could convert to being an online organized gal.

I skimmed through this product and saw the free apps and the online organization ideas.  I downloaded everything and started getting it all set up.  It has step-by-step instructions.  I’m still working on it.  I’m still slowly using the apps more and more.  I haven’t given up my sticky notes completely yet.  But I see the benefits of keeping things in one place and online.  So, I’m not a complete online organizer convert yet; I’m still a work in progress, but I like where I’m headed. 

What didn’t I like?
 I would have loved a few more baked goods ideas.  But, those are neither simple nor super healthy so they don’t quite fit in with the product.  However, I love to bake and finding gluten free/dairy free baking ideas is difficult!  So, I always need more help in that area. 

What did I like?
I liked that I could use this product even with the multiple food allergies that I manage.  I was thrilled that it was workable for our dietary restrictions.  The product required minimal changes to work for us with only a few substitutions, and leaving out any egg-based recipe (ahem, omelette).  Finding recipes that are both gluten and dairy free can be a challenge at times.  But because the recipes are very simple, it was easy to tweak them to fit our allergy needs.

I loved the pantry list.  It’s easy and simple and with only those ingredients on hand, you can make so many easy meals.  It simplifies my shopping!

The recipes are really easy and they have great instructions.  I also thought the recipes were fast.  I could get them done even with a toddler on one hip and a screaming child in the middle of the floor.  My kids also assisted me with the cooking because each recipe only had a few steps so they enjoyed being my assistant.

The recipes are organized by type – beef recipes, taco recipes, stew recipes, etc.  So, I would just choose one item from each category for each day of the week.  Then I knew I had a good variety of types of meals for my week.  This greatly simplified menu planning!

For the paperless organization, the step-by-step instructions for using the different apps and online tools was invaluable to me.  I was so intimated by this product until I started reading through the instructions.  I needed that hand-holding!

What did I think overall?
Wow!  This product is aptly named.  It has simplified my grocery shopping, my meal prep and dinner preparation, and my menu planning.  Each recipe only calls for a few ingredients and has minimal steps for preparation.  They are fast and easy which is a huge plus at our house!  I was able to use this product despite our allergies.  But my favorite part was the way it was organized by category which made it simple to quickly find meals based on what we had on hand and also enabled me to plan a week of varied meals.  We’re excited to keep using the recipes and adding a few of our own to round out our monthly menu!

Discount:  Simplified Pantry is offering a discount of 30% until June 3rd when you enter the code TOS2013 at checkout!

See what the rest of the Crew thought about the product on the Crew blog!

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