Every week the hubs and I have the same conversation (sometimes it’s nice and other times it’s downright stressful) and it usually starts with “Hey honey – what do you want for dinner this week? It’s time to go shopping!”
Then comes the look of agony from both of us and the longing for the other one to make a decision. We both work full-time and we have our 2 fun-derful children who never stress us out after work (we can all dream right?). I actually love to cook but I hate to meal plan. Neither one of us mind shopping, we don’t even mind taking the kids…but neither of us plan well. And to make it even better – we have different shopping tactics. I really need a list to shop with or else I feel overwhelmed. He could go into the store and buy whatever is on sale and come home with plenty of food. It actually stressed me out to shop with him if we don’t have a list because I feel like I’m just wandering around and I can never remember what we already have at home.
So last week while we sat here making our list I tweeted to the world that I needed someone to make my list for me!! With 4,900+ friends online I should be able to get some good meal ideas, right? Actually I had a few really good ideas but I had the BEST tweet ever and I didn’t even believe it when I saw it. One of my local Twitter pals pointed me in the direction of e-mealz. She (Lauren) explained that it was a pay service that she used and that she would share a coupon and a referral link with me.
I have to admit I was skeptical – I HATE spending money on stuff like this. I feel like 1) I should be able to handle this myself, and 2) if I pay someone to plan my meals I will end up hating what they plan. But I checked it out. I cannot even begin to tell you how much meal planning stresses me out each week. It’s such a time killer – I spend at least an hour just planning the meals. On a good day I’m asking my 7 year old to tell me what he wants to eat this week and on a bad day I’m searching aimlessly on several recipe sites for meals that will make all of my family happy. I guess what I’m trying to say is that IT WAS TIME FOR A CHANGE!!
The first thing I noticed was the price – e-mealz is only $15.00 for THREE months! THREE MONTHS!!! And to make it even better my friend shared a coupon code with me (code = DAVE) making the meal plans only $12.50 for the 3 months. How on earth could I possibly go wrong spending $12.50?? So I did it – I signed up, printed off last weeks meal plan, and now I’m S-O-L-D!
First let me start by saying there is a meal plan for everyone. You can choose from the Wal-Mart plan, the Publix plan, the Vegetarian plan, the Weight Watchers plan, you name it…there are over 20 plans to choose from! We picked the Publix plan because unlike many of my friends I don’t have time to ‘shop around’ and use coupons. I am much more relaxed when I go to the same store each week and know where to find the Mac-n-Cheese if I need it. If you pick a specific store (like Publix or Wal-Mart) e-mealz will coordinate that weeks meals with items that are on sale. What-What-What – – - yes, the meals are designed around that weeks sale ads!
Each week (ours are loaded on Wednesdays) you can download a PDF document with 7 meals (with sides), ingredients, baking directions, and a shopping list! You can also print off last weeks menu so essentially you have 2 weeks worth of meals when you sign up.
We tested it out last week. I looked over the shopping list and marked off the items we already had at home and made a few minor changes (Chicken with Mustard sauce…ick!) before we headed to the store. Oh wait…I must tell you that I didn’t go to the store last week…my husband did! I had a birthday party to take the kids to so instead of tagging along he actually chose to do the shopping. After about 10 minutes of planning (cross checking ingredients we already had on hand) he was out the door with the list.
It’s now been a full 6 days since we first tested e-mealz and I’m in love! Most of the meals for a family of 4 are larger than what we can eat in one sitting so there are always leftovers for lunch or a second meal. I made the recipe for baked ziti and ended up dividing it into two meals. Now I have a second batch in the freezer ready for next week (or whenever)…all I have to do is defrost it the night before. Our meal plan had one crock pot meal and one 30 minute meal … but I have to be honest with you - none of the meals were complicated. They were (mostly) meals that we would make anyways; or at least something similar. I just printed off next weeks meal plan and I’m just as pleased with the menu.
I know I sound like a crazy woman but I’m really excited to have found e-mealz…it may have just saved me from being admitted for having a mental breakdown! SERIOUSLY…I love it that much! Or maybe that will explain just how badly I hated meal planning. Either way, if you are looking for easy meal ideas for busy and frugal families you really should check out e-mealz!
What about you? Do you enjoy meal planning? Do you and your partner/spouse/etc shop together? Who’s responsible for planning, shopping, and cooking in your home? Am I the only one who stressed out over this stuff?
P.S…if you sign up for e-mealz and you use the links in this post to sign up I will earn a few bucks with their affiliate program. Once you register you can sign up to be an affiliate too so when you rave to your friends about how awesome e-mealz is you too can earn a few bucks! If you do sign up I greatly appreciate it and hope you enjoy the program as much as I do. While I am an affiliate I was in no way prompted to write this review or post. In fact e-mealz has no idea I’m even writing this today! I was just that excited that I had to share it with you.
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