As of today, we’re starting a new feature here called Q&A Tuesdays. I’ll choose one question each week from my inbox to answer. Today’s question comes from Teandra:
I know you’re a huge Dave Ramsey fan and my husband and I are currently in FPU. I heard Dave suggest eMeals on the radio last week so I went to check it out. It’s $1.25 per week and feeds a 7-day dinner meal plan for 4 to 6 people $75/week, or a 5-day dinner plan for 2 people $35/week. I’m wondering if you’ve heard of eMeals and what you think of it compared to what you already do with your family.
I’ve heard of eMeals, but have never used the program before because I’ve been planning my own menus for so long that it’s hard to imagine paying someone else to plan them for me!
I did try out and review Stolen Moments Menu Planning service back in November and was thoroughly impressed with it. I’m assuming eMeals would be somewhat similar, though it’s less expensive and offers aisle-by-aisle grocery lists — which would be really helpful! However, it’s not as tailored for your family as Stolen Moments Menu Planning is and I also noticed they don’t offer that many different specific grocery store options.
Since I like to plan my menus based upon what I have on hand in addition to what’s on sale at the store, shop at more than one store, shop the marked-down section of stores and stock up when items are at rock-bottom prices, it’s hard to follow a pre-planned menu plan written by someone else. I also have been cooking the majority of our meals ahead on Freezer Cooking Day, so it seems like this would defeat the purpose of subscribing to a menu planning service right now.
That said, if menu-planning is overwhelming to you or you’re in a busy season of life and need to keep it simple when it comes to grocery shopping and cooking, I’d definitely give eMeals a try. It’s only $5 per month and you can cancel at anytime. You just might find that it’s a perfect fit for your family!
Have you used eMeals or another menu-planning service before? If so, tell us about your experiences — good or bad — in the comments. I’d love to hear.
PSST! If you’re considering signing up for an eMeals subscription to try it out, you can use coupon code savemoney to get $2 off a 3-month subscription, making it only $13 for 3 months — or around $4.33 per month.
Have a question you’d like me to answer for our Q&A Tuesdays feature? Email it to me and I’ll be glad to consider it for a future post.
Check out this article about e-mealz in ny times http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/12/cooking-tools-digital-meal-planning/
I debated yesterday and today about whether or not to even post this comment. (I’m not keen on “shameless plugs”.) Instead, I’ll let Crystal be the judge….
I took an interest in Meal Planning after two of my friends told me they were having a problem planning their meals around what was on sale in the weekly ads.
My goal was to develop a weekly meal planner that would feed a family of four three meals a day, plus snacks. The target budget was to stay below $100 (before taxes) and use coupons whenever possible. The most popular grocery store in my area is Publix, so I decided to use the sale ad from Publix each week as the basis of my plan.
As a result, I now post a weekly “Publix Meal Planner” on my website every Wednesday. It breaks down “what to buy” from Publix (along with coupon match-ups) and “what to make” for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (including step-by-step recipes). To keep the playing field even, the Publix Meal Planner does not take into account any stockpiled items – all the things you need to make the meals are listed for you to buy.
Each week I post this meal planner for FREE. (Call me strange, but it’s fun to have a new challenge every week.) What has surprised me are the number of e-mails I have received from people who are currently paying for a meal planning service and are shocked I don’t charge for mine. (I want to redecorate my guest bedroom so SHOULD I charge for this?!?!?)
The benefit of checking out the meal planner I create each week is that you lose nothing if it doesn’t work for your family. Even if you don’t have a Publix in your area, most of the recipes I post can be made for a low cost if you have a few simple ingredients stockpiled. If it does work for your family (as it does for my readers who keep coming back week after week) then enjoy!
I use the Stolen Moments meal plan service and I love it. I was finding that I was cooking the same things over and over again and I was getting bored and the kids were getting picky. With the meal plan I have I get breakfast, lunch, and dinner planned for me, which is great. I love knowing what to cook for the three meals. Occasionally there is something on the plan that I know my kids or my husband won’t eat, but I usually make it anyway, it never hurts to try new things. I have found in the last few months since I started the service that my kids are more willing to try new foods, and we have found some new ideas that I never would have thought of on my own. All in all I love the service and it is working great for us. I find cooking for my family much more enjoyable now that I don’t have to worry about figuring out what to cook.
Love emealz. I did it for a year and then used the meal plans I printed the next year. Easy to prepare. No weird ingredients like the fly lady body clutter menus. Kids ate them. Were stores I actually go to. Good for those on a budget – stays around a certain dollar amount each week.
We currently subscribe to e-mealz and so far we like it. We use the 2 person Wal-Mart plan and it works well for my husband, 3 year old daughter and myself. Usually there are leftovers for lunches or a quicker meal one evening. I typically don’t make every meal, and hardly ever make all the recommended sides. I substitute things I have on hand already, or that I know we would like better. I like it for main dish ideas.
When a meal calls for a box of frozen texas toast, or a loaf of french bread, I plan to start a loaf of bread in my bread machine to be ready when supper is.
It has definitely saved me some time and brain power, which is important to me now that #2 is on the way and brain power is in short supply! 🙂 When we both get home after 5 and have a child to spend time with, bathe and get to bed by 8, I don’t want to spend most of that time getting supper ready and on the table.
The Working Home Keeper says
Never used a meal planning service. Even with working outside the home full-time, I find it easy enough to plan our own meals. Since I know my weekdays are busy, I just plan simple meals using whole ingredients that I can make from scratch. I do my meal prep on the weekends to save time. Plus if I get in a meal planning rut, I just browse recipe sites for inspiration. Right now I’m finding inspiration in the seasonal goodness at our farmers market! Made the most delicious Creamed Chard & Spring Onion dish last night using local ingredients.
The Working Home Keeper
I am currently on a 3 month subscription but won’t be renewing. Although I was really excited about it at first and found a couple of recipes we will continue to use, lately it seems like the weekly list of recipes has nothing of interest to me. It may be that my family is too picky. Plus, I’ve changed from using Walmart for groceries to a store not included in their list. It’s a great concept, and I’m still trying to do weekly meal planning, just with recipes I find. Two free meal planning options are thedinnerspin.com and simplifysupper.com.
I am an e-mealz subscriber. What has been difficult for our family is to begin the process. It is not easy to try 7 brand new meals every week and use e-mealz that way. We do not have the time to test a new recipe each night. Also, I like to make somethings (ie. spaghetti) my way. However, I have enjoyed using it as a meal planning tool, and it is worth it’s price. I may select a few meals to try from the e-mealz menu to include in my meal planning. The one’s I like I can keep and always have handy (grocery list and approx. cost included). Very nice. I have quite a selection to choose from now!
Hope this helps!
Lisa Brown says
Wow – as a vegetarian, I often find myself repeating the same meals – I bet this service would be a lifesaver!
I’ve been using E-Mealz for a couple months now and I love it!! The grocery list alone is a lifesaver for me. I have the low-fat Wal-mart plan and we’ve only had 1 meal we didn’t like. I work 10 hour days, have a 4 year old and 6 month old and am very busy. This really helps!!
Our family knows the founder of E-Mealz, and she is wonderful! So if you are thinking about using E-Mealz, just know you would be supporting an entrepreneur Christian mommy!
Subscriber for 9 months. My weekly grocery bill from e-mealz, which led me to couponing, has saved me more than $50/wk. I love the shortcuts with a full-time job. Processed foods? Yup. Nothing says you have to do the Jiffy mix–we do that or substitute a healthier option. With the savings from meal planning and couponing, we’re eating far more whole grains, and stock up on organic, low/no sodium options. I think e-mealz skimps on veggies in dishes and challenge myself to add frozen spinach, corn, to as many dishes. I also refuse to do any more cream of chicken dishes. If it gives me a solid four meals my family will enjoy, I search online using what’s in the pantry or on sale and get a full seven meals. Definitely worth it.
In the beginning, it was a breath of fresh air not having to think about what was for dinner. I used e-mealz for 9 months. However, even though I loved the IDEA of it, in the end, it was NOT up to the standard my family and I like to have. I found WAY TOO MANY low quality, over processed foods and ingredients in their meal plans. A third of the meals were absolutely disgusting, a third tolerable and a third good. I just got tired of it. I am all for shortcuts, but not at the expense of nutrition and freshness. It will work for a lot of people, but not for us. We get quality AND stay on our budget.
@Nicole, If you like the idea of a meal planning service I would check out the Stolen Moments service. That is the one I use and I would say 95 – 99 percent of the ingredients are fresh. Occasionally she uses a prepackaged ingredient or canned fruits, veggies, or beans, but I have found with the canned stuff it is easy to replace it with the fresh, dried, or frozen version. She has even been able to work around my daughters slight soy intolerance by finding a good soy sauce substitute for me. I think it would def. be worth checking out.
I have a friend who loves this service and has been using for close to a year. She usually makes at least half of the weekly meals and it has really helped her get into cooking and stop spending so much on take out.
However, I agree with a previous comment about the types of ingredients used. I was put off by the inclusion of many processed ingredients like canned soups, prepackaged (salty) spice blends, and canned biscuits.
I don’t use Emealz, but I have a friend who loves it. She’s married, no kids, works full-time outside the home, and goes to school. It’s helpful for her because she doesn’t really have time to menu-plan and make out shopping lists on her own. She said it does save her money, and she likes the recipes.
Personally, I’ve never been able to find a meal-planning book or service that works for my family because we prefer not to eat meat. We do better just collecting good vegetarian recipes and planning our own weekly menus.
I no longer use Emealz, but as a new bride it was a lifesaver! It taught me how to create meals using ingredients that were on sale and how to cook quick and easy meals. Plus, I learned to use my crockpot! Although I stay at home now and plan my own meals, I would recommend the service to anyone who is new to cooking or meal planning. It helps break out of your rut to try new recipes and learn to plan ahead.
Lea Stormhammer says
Okay, so reading the post sounded interesting but the comments made me laugh. Why? I’m finding out again how just plain weird I am!
My mom worked outside the home and we grew a 1/4 acre garden (I didn’t eat a purchased veggie until I was in college!), grew our own apples, and made every.single.meal from scratch! I didn’t even know there was frozen pizza until I was married! 🙂 As a working part time/school full time mom of 2, I plan my own meals and cook from scratch every night. Once a month we get chinese take out and we occasionally (2-3x/month) use things like chicken nuggets or Kraft mac & cheese. I cook easy things and follow the rule my registered dietitian gave me (for our family!) – 1/4 plate each: starch, protein, veggie and fruit.
Meal planning is a snap: do I have a protein, starch, veggie and fruit at each meal? Yep. Meal done!
Rachelle M. says
@Lea Stormhammer, don’t think you are weird at all! We do the same here. I plan all the meals and yes based on what is on sale and what coupon I have. If I need a new meal. I might check out some other blogs. It is free and we are saving money. Love cooking from scratch too!!
I tried E-mealz for 3 months, and was not impressed. While the concept is a great idea, the recipes were not that good, and like some others have commented, they seemed to require alot of prepackaged ingredients. While is might be helpful for some families, it was not useful for us.
Jen Regan says
I have also used e-Mealz for 3 months and was very happy with it, but I think after 3 months I had enough information and new recipes to do it myself. My boys loved most of the recipes.
I used E-mealz previously for a few months, and I just subscribed again. I work full time outside the home, and although I don’t know that it saves me much money, but it does prevent the 5:00 stop at the grocery store on the way home trying to figure out what to cook. The Kroger plan through E-mealz is a menu based on what is on sale that week. I still use coupons and try to buy other things on sale, and then I will pick some of the meals from the weekly menu and combine that with other meals that I already have sthe tuff for at home. This saves me time trying to come up with a complete weekly menu on my own, but I can still incorporate stuff I have on hand or that my family really likes. Some weeks I may use most of the planned menu, and other weeks I may only use one or two of the meals or occasionally none at all. It’s worth it for me to spend $5 a month to have my menu planned for those busy weeks when I need it, and my family has enjoyed most of the meals.
Honestly? I tried Emealz when I was pregnant this last fall (I’m finishing up graduate school, and with my 2.5 year old son, the house, my husband, school, and other outside obligations, I didn’t have enough brain power to menu plan!), figuring it would really help with meal prep, would get my husband involved more in cooking, and I’d also get some menus in my binder for when the baby came.
Blech. That’s all I can say. If a recipe is catfish filets breaded in crushed potato chips, and you enjoy that kind of eating, go for it. We didn’t like anything that we tried, and I don’t consider cooking opening up a bunch of cans, combining them, and calling it a meal with a bag of salad on the side. I was not impressed. There are some really great quick cooking cookbooks out there that don’t use tons of processed foods that make AWESOME meals without the headache of lots of planning. But I certainly would not recommend Emealz to anyone that asked me about it.
Melinda Curtis says
I tried it and didn’t like the recipes, I did pick the low fat menu which is how I cook normally. I just seem to be able to find low fat recipes that I like more than the options on their menu.
Saving Dinner Menus
I personally use the saving dinner menus. Someone has already mentioned how much it has helped in her cooking. I started using about 2 months after I got married. I was pretty desperate since I had a husband that didn’t believe in microwave foods (the only thing I really knew how to cook.) I have been using it for almost 2 years now! It is such an easy way to get menus and even easier to make decisions about what to cook. I have had a few friends to think I am nuts to pay for a service ($30 a year) when you can get all the recipes on line for free. I only tell them that this is an easy and cheap way to figure out what to cook. I only have to see the weekly menus that is sent and pick out about 4-5 recipes I want to cook. I definitely would recommend it for anyone! My husband now believes that I am a great cook!
Melissa Fox says
This sounds great because I am always stuck trying to figure out what to cook. BUT, my husband currently has a really strict diet; low-to-no fat, high in sodium, no dairy, no liquids, least amount of liquid, and no more than 1 gram of sugar per meal if any.
Now if you look at labels it is HARD to find something without any sugar in it- same with diary.
(In July he will have surgery again and be allowed to eat whatever exept things with seeds and dairy. He has Crohn’s disease and recently had a perforated bowel. Right now he has an illestomy bag and his body is quite sensetive to different foods)
Does it allow you to have strict restrictions like that?
There is a site called menus4moms.com They have dinner plans with grocery lists and all recipes for FREE! Why pay? I used this site for about 2 years after I was first married. I had no ideas on what to make for dinners! This was very helpful and now I’ve learned to cook better and prepare my own menus.
I subsribe to E-mealz and really like it right now. My husband and I have only been married a year, and we both work full time, so this is a great resource for me to find new recipes while planning my weekly meals.
We don’t cook all of the meals (3-4/week), and some recipes we like and others we don’t as much. I’m writing down all the meals we like! 🙂 We are only two people, but we actually do the family plan, which works great for us since we have leftovers and eat them the next night, or for lunch the next day.
I combine the E-mealz list with coupons, and also stock up on items that are at rock bottom prices. I’ve found that many times I have 75% of the ingredients already on hand in my stock pile. but since I’m also stock-piling while doing my normal grocery shopping, my totals come out to about the same as if I needed all the ingredients for my meals. Although there are some weeks I hardly have to spend any money!!
We may not use E-mealz forever, but for right now the planning and variety aspects are really worth it to us!
I’ve also used Leanne Ely’s Saving Dinner Menus, and really loved them. My Mom hated to cook, and when I got married, I basically only knew how to cook spaghetti! After years of struggling through trying to figure out what to cook and how to cook it, I subscribed to Leanne’s menu (specifically did the Body Clutter-Low Carb menu because my daughters and I have discovered that we can’t eat gluten, and it had great substitutions for extra veggies instead of a starch).
Most everything is made from scratch, and relatively simple, without an overabundance of ingredients. I subscribed for about a year. I am now comfortable making up my own recipes, and planning for our family. Definitely recommend these services for those short on time or that need to learn cooking/planning skills 🙂
I spend way to much using ezmealz. having to add breakfast, lunch and snack items make it too much money for me. Using coupons and starting with what I have in the pantry is way cheaper for me. It is nice to have the menus, but I can get recipies online. I dont think it is worth it especially for the Aldi menu. You can go to the Aldi website and get free recipies for all Aldi items. You wont get the prices, but you can make that for yourself.
I just looked at their site. My family would never go for a simple meal like soup and chips for dinner, or french toast with bacon!!
I have never used a service like this, and don’t think I ever would. I like to prepare meals that I know my family will like. We’re not big on a lot of “new things”. For those of you who have no time, like me, homeschooled my daughter AND worked out of my house 5-6 hours a day, this helped me tremendously: I got an ebook once that had me write down 30 meals we usually have, including side dishes, etc. I then made a different menu for four different weeks. From there, make a set grocery list for each separate week. That way, we have a large variety and they don’t repeat! For meals we love, like spaghetti, I put that in every week. Then not only do you have your meals always planned, I just print the grocery list (I put them in my computer) for the correct week, cross off what I already have, and go shopping. This has been a huge time-saver for me. It takes a while in the beginning to set this up, but well worth it!
@Julie, I would like to know the name of that e-book? This looks like something I would love to try, but not sure I understand all of the details. Thanks for sharing.
@Michelle, My computer crashed since I got it, but I’ll look through my papers and see if I can find it. It was through a link on MSM way back… her name was Suzanne something! I’ll try to find it. Otherwise, you could email me directly and I’ll try to explain more!
@Michelle, I found it! If you sign up for their emails (little savings snippets) they send you the meal planning e-book for free. This is the link: http://www.econobusters.com/Free-Menu-Planning-E-Book.html
@Michelle, link is here! http://www.econobusters.com/Free-Menu-Planning-E-Book.html
I have subscribed to both meal planning sites. Though I was subscribed to EZ Meals ( I found it through Dave Ramsey also) for several months, I made only one or two of the recipes. I tried both the Point Plan & the Wal-Mart plan & I paid extra to try the holiday plans. I tried Stolen Moments when you posted about it in November and took advantage of the special offer. Stolen Moments clicked for me!
1. Stolen Moments are all I have-I need to be able to assemble and cook a meal or snack during those moments between carpooling, homework, sports and relationships.
2. I want semi-homemade to completely home made because it is less expensive & higher quality. I want the option to insert convenience items like canned goods/refrigerated dough when I want to, but I don’t want to feed it to my family as a regular choice.
3. Though I am an excellent home manager, I have fallen quite short in the menu planning area. Kate’s service through Stolen Moments has given me the gift of planning breakfast, lunch, snacks & dinners. I have tried the weekly and the monthly options, both worked well for me. The menu arrives in my inbox & I switch a couple of the meals around to fit our weekly schedule. During Christmas vacation, I created my own little spreadsheet to copy and paste her menu into so I could easily switch the meals to suit our schedule, & I added the weather forecast & our family calendar per day. I post this on the fridge & my husband and kids LOVE IT! I do not hear any more questions about meals, nor do I have to field the great # of questions about schedules & weather.
4. The make ahead & freeze option in Stolen Moments is like gold for me. No matter how much planning I do, there will always be days/times each week that no amount of planning can cover what I encounter. To have items frozen & ready to use for after school and dinner is invaluable to me. It takes me NO EXTRA EFFORT to create these snacks/meals for the freezer, as it is done during the Stolen Moments that I’m already preparing an item for that day/week, so it is not a time or energy strain for me – & in fact buys me free time daily, especially during the 2-4:30 hours in the afternoon when every second counts for me.
5. Her make ahead & freeze lunch sandwiches revamped our hectic morning schedule. It had never occurred to me prior to using Kate’s plan, that I could make 50 sandwiches ahead & freeze them for school & work lunches. Let me just say, that this tip alone has saved me a small fortune in not having to do dishes & clean counters every morning, give out emergency lunch $$ because we are running too late to make lunches, & I don’t fret over school tardies due to trying to slap together a pb&j. It also affords me the luxury of avoiding unwashed little boy hands in the peanut butter jar every morning. I don’t run out of lunch supplies any more & have to make emergency trips to the store, because it is done ahead of time & I always know what I have on hand, thanks to Kate’s suggestion. My husband & kids even now get a variety of lunch sandwiches we didn’t have the time or money for before, because we’ve had the budget & time to experiment with all kinds of sandwiches & burritos to freeze ahead.
6. When I evaluate the cost between EZ Meals & Stolen Moments, there is no competition for this mom. Hands down, I would pay the price for Stolen Moments over EZ Meals because it is worth the difference to me in the money & time saved throughout my month. When I signed up for Stolen Moments, MY GROCERY BUDGET WENT DOWN from well over $1000 a month to consistently under $500 for 6 people (and 3 are teenagers!). Our dining out budget before Stolen Moments is too embarrassing to mention here-it put us in credit card debt because I was so bad at menu planning & getting a dinner on the table. Our dining out budget now is under $200, & we choose when we use that money rather than our schedule & lack of planning choosing it for us.
7. I have never been a baker-didn’t care for it & the necessity of being so precise in order to get the recipe to work. I didn’t want to deal with what seemed like a hassle to me. Stolen Moments inspired me to give it a try. I have failed at more recipes than I’ve succeed, in terms of bread, but the muffin recipes have saved my bacon in feeding my kids after school. I make an extra big batch of whatever the muffins are that week/month and freeze them. I pull out the servings to defrost per day or week based on our schedule. My family has liked EVERY SINGLE recipe so far & I like that I can feed them something healthy, balanced & filling for pennies when they are at their most famished. There is no kitchen mess or cooking & we can get right to homework, sports and enjoying relationships. LOVE the muffin recipes. I have used the muffins for after school snacks, long drives & emergency breakfasts.
8. Kate’s program is teaching me slowly how to “fish for myself.” Rather than continuously being in need of a menu planning/shopping service, I have found that since starting Stolen Moments in November, I have developed skills for myself based on the tips & tricks Kate offers. I believe I will be completely self-sufficient in recipe gathering, menu planning & shopping frugally within a few more months. Kate’s program is teaching me what I’ve needed even more than a menu plan & shopping list. I believe she is equipping me with a viable life skill that I desperately need to manage my troops. I can’t thank her enough for freeing me up to have more relationship time with my husband and kids, to enjoy them & enjoy some down time for myself. The Stolen Moments plan has served to build in me a confidence & ability to soon be able to complete this task on my own, & has been well worth the small monthly fee for her plan.
A lengthy answer to your post, but I wanted to make sure & tout my praises for Kate & Stolen Moments. I’m so thankful for the service. It has benefited me in more ways I can list here, but these are the most noteworthy & would be most likely to apply to your readers.
Blessings to each mom as you maneuver your way through the meal time struggles. I pray you have as much & even more success than I have experienced this year!
@Jennifer, I agree, I love Kate’s service. It has been a life saver for me. I like you have developed a new found love for cooking from scratch. We are even starting our own garden this year, mostly because I don’t feel nearly as overwhelmed with the simple job of cooking as I used to, I can now put my energy into something I have been wanting to try for years.
I love the e-mealz program…I go into the store with my list and brands and pricing all right there in front of me. I also like the variety and feel like I am not preparing the same thing over and over for my family. My family gives it the thumbs up:)
I did EZmeals for a while, but was not impressed. It used a lot of packaged foods that I don’t like to buy (like pre cooked bacon and boxed toast) and the recipes weren’t anything special. I gave it up.
Nony (A Slob Comes Clean) says
Like you, I love planning my own meals (maybe I have control issues), but as a “Couponing Counselor” to many, I’ve accepted that many people just don’t want to use coupons due to the time involved and the phase of life they are in. One such friend started using e-mealz about a year ago and absolutely loves it. For her family of six, compared to when she used to not meal plan or use coupons, she is saving tons of money.
If you think about it, just making a list is supposedly proven to save you money at the store, and so having your meals planned for you has to help a lot.
I am currently using E-Mealz and love it! I’ve tried in vain to plan menus before, but I guess I just don’t have the creativity or know-how to do so. We currently subscribe to the Aldi meal plan for two and have enjoyed almost every recipe on the menu plan. I’m still using my meal plans from over a month ago (while saving the new ones that come up) because my husband and I don’t eat five home-cooked meals a week (especially taking into account leftovers), so I’ll probably cancel for a little while and start it back up again once I want some recipes. I would highly recommend it!
I love the idea and tried to follow them menu for 2 weeks. But there was too much “packaged” items such as canned soup or packaged seasoning. It was way too salty for us and there is no easy way to adjust the recipes. I still have 2 months of menus left and I have just requested the low-fat menu and that seems to be better in terms of salt level.
I have been an e-mealz subscriber for maybe a couple months now. Lately, I haven’t liked the menus quite as much as I did in the beginning. I subscribed to the Kroger family plan and the low-fat any store plan. So I pick and choose between those two. And I also add some of my own when I’m not thrilled with enough of their meals. But I’ve also noticed that quite a few of the meals aren’t really healthy, and I’m trying to get our family eating healthier. (Like some meals don’t even have a veggie, although you could easily just add a veggie, I suppose.) I also have found that sometimes I buy some things for a specific meal and then for whatever reason end up not making that meal and have wasted food I bought. I’m not sure if I will renew my subscription or not. What I DO like about it is that each meal easily feeds our family of 6. Sometimes that can be a challenge, as most meals/recipes are geared toward families of 4. I am still learning this whole meal planning process, and I just started the Dave Ramsey thing about 3 or so months ago. But meal planning DEFINITELY helps the budget, whether you use a service or do it on your own… it prevents that, “oh, crap, I forgot to thaw out some meat, guess we’ll just pick up something or order pizza.” And I have stocked up on pasta (whole wheat) and pasta sauce for “just in case”… those times I forget to thaw meat out or forgot to plan a meal or whatever…Normally I prefer to put some meat in the pasta sauce, but in a pinch, I would rather have whole wheat pasta without meat than fast food or pizza delivery, etc.
While I liked the concept of EMealz it didn’t end up working for our family. We used it for about 9 months. In those 9 months many of the dishes reappeared every other or every 3rd week making some of the meals a bit overused. Also, some of the meals didn’t fit our liking. Lots of fish and breakfast items for dinner.
On the other hand, this tool was a great jumpstart for me to perfect and modify the art of meal planning with meals that our family enjoyed.
Thank you for answering my question! We did end up signing up and so far it’s been great for us. My husband gets home cooked meals every night and I don’t have to worry about being creative or having all the ingredients on hand. It’s also helped us eat more healthy and the meals have been delicious! (we do the vegetarian plan) There are always leftovers that we take to work the next day. Thanks for the suggestion of ‘stolen moments,’ i’ll have to check it out. Also, I used the coupon code dave, and I got it for $12.50 instead of $15.00.
I did use E-mealz for three months. And I personally did not find it to be that helpful. What I liked the least about it was that if a week goes by and you forget to download your menu / shopping list for that week, they don’t let you get it! Since I was paying for their service, I figured that option should be available, and it wasn’t. They also don’t send out email reminders to let you know that a new menu is available. Given my extremely busy schedule, an email reminder is something that I really appreciate. Without a reminder, I would forget to check for my menus, and I would miss out on them. So overall, it wasn’t worth it for me.
Andrea Q says
@Vanessa, Good to know! Thanks!
Kelly H says
@Andrea Q, If I recall correctly, you actually have 2 weeks to download the menu- the 7 days your menu is “active” and then 7 days after that. It might help if you wrote it down on your calendar? Or maybe you could set up a reminder on your cell phone. The customer service is really awesome, too. I’ll bet they would help you out somehow if you told them your situation.
@Kelly H, Thanks for the tips, Kelly! These days, my husband does a lot of the cooking, so we don’t really have a need for their service anymore. As for reminder options, email just works the best for me because I am guaranteed to check it! Thank you for taking the time to respond. ;0)
Conceptually, it seems like a great idea. When I looked at a couple of the sample menus I was unimpressed. My idea of homecooked food does not include cannned cream soup, instant rice or canned biscuits.
But then again I live in a household of four with two very good cooks and only one part-time job. We have the time to menu plan and cook true scratch meals.
@Chris, I’ve thought that too. My husband suggested that we should consider trying it, but when I looked at the sample menus, so much of it seemed to be prepared or processed foods and not only are those not very healthy, but I don’t think they taste very good either, which is why I’ve been a little more hesitant in trying it.
@Chris, that was my thought too. TONS of sodium too. We don’t eat super healthy, but this is just a little too processed for me. I like Saving Dinner but I try to meal plan on my own mostly.
I have been an e-mealz subscriber for about a year now. I work full-time and am not a great cook. To be quite honest, I’m not a great grocery shopper either. 🙂 My husband is the cook but he works full time and if we don’t have a plan, it’s very likely that come 7:00 we will both be looking at each other saying “What’s for dinner?” We do the Points Menu for two and it is still $60-70 per week. Dianne’s idea of doing 4 menus is a good idea- we always have tons of leftovers.
I would DEFINITELY recommend E-Mealz. I currently subscribe because I am one who found meal planning way too overwhelming. I admire those who can meal plan on their own, but if you can’t like me, this is the way to go. Plus the shopping list is such a great tool. We’re on a such a budget, that I can eliminate what doesn’t fit and still know that I’m making good, creative dinners. And the recipes are also super easy for remedial cooks such as myself.
Andrea Q says
I have never heard of this service, but I might try it. Thanks for the coupon code!
I have really enjoyed e-mealz. I usually pick 4 meals out of the 7 listed and then go through the list to see what I have in my stockpile. I still shop multiple grocery stores and buy things with coupons and stockpiles. Because I still do all of those things I usually spend about $30 on the weeks dinners and use the rest of my budget to purchase other great buys. I work full time and having a menu plan and grocery list is a HUGE timesaver and helps me try recipes that I might not have tried before.
@Dianne, that sound like a great way to do it! The convienence and more flexability!
Thanks for posting this! I wondered how it would work mingled with couponing! Although there are only two of us we work full time and are full time students, and i didnt want to cut out saving money through couponing. I’m glad to see that it worked when you tailored it to your needs! Saving money AND better organization in my life?? This sounds heaven sent!
Autumn Stan says
I have been using E-Mealz for about 2 1/2 months now. I’ve really like having a list of meals to choose from each week, which has eliminated a lot of frustration at 5 o’clock every day. Most of the recipes have been things we enjoy, and they are all SUPER simple, so for those who haven’t had much cooking experience, it’s perfect.
That said, I don’t feel like it has really saved me any money, and I don’t plan to continue my subscription. I have been careful about sticking to my grocery budget for quite a while, and I haven’t seen a reduction in my spending. Also, I have a lot of my own recipes that I like to use, but don’t get a chance to when my menu plan is made for me.
For a working mom, or just someone who is in a busy time of life and doesn’t have time to menu plan and shop lots of sales, this is an invaluable service!
Angela D. says
I haven’t ever tried a meal planning service, partly because I’ve found so many bloggers who plan their weekly menus and are willing to share the recipes for free! The other reason I haven’t tried it is because it seems like there are always at least a couple of meals that I know my family just would not eat. I’m not going to try a recipe if I know it is going to flop so that would require adjusting the menu and grocery lists anyway. My husband also works late at least a couple evenings a week so we don’t need a full 7 day menu. I do need to get better about doing my own meal plans based on the recipes that I find online that I think my family would be willing to try.
I’m an e-mealz subscriber. I think what they do is great for those of us who lack organization in general, or have a hard time getting a plan together. The one or two weeks that I stuck to the plan and made the meals, I think I had more compliments on my cooking than ever before! (They’re very simple and very tasty.) We chose the low-carb plan because we have no problem adding carbs to meals, so I thought that would give me the best meal ideas. However, I haven’t found it to be cheap, since the low-carb meals are meat-heavy (although they have lots of great salads and sides that are simple and tasty). I’ll certainly be saving my menus for future use, but I’m considering switching to a different plan (like vegetarian) or unsubscribing once a full year is done, since we’re trying to stick to “rice and beans” until we’re debt-free! It certainly is a time saver and helps you get out of a cooking slump if you’re in one!
I did e-mealz for three months. I might do it again in the future. The prices are fairly accurate. The problem is they are only for dinner. You also have to purchase breakfast, lunch, snacks, etc. So here I was thinking “I’m only going to pay $50 a week for groceries” wrong. If you are super busy and need quick meals, it is a good idea.
We have been using E-Mealz for about 6 months and it really is worth it to us. My husband is home from work earlier than I am, so he handles the dinner cooking responsibilities. This has made life SO much easier for us, we know what we’re having for the whole work week, so we don’t just stand around at 5 o’clock and say “what do you want?” for 30 minutes (which would inevitably wind up with us going out or getting fast food). The menus are tasty, and everything is laid out for you in the shopping list (for the store of your choice), so it’s pretty hard to screw up.
I have to say that the biggest thing I like about it is how much it is saving us, time wise and money wise. We have a list, we stick to it, and since we’re not buying a bunch of unnecessary stuff we *might* use, we have everything we need once our shopping is done and DO use it. I definitely recommend it if you don’t have the knack for meal prep and planning (like us..lol), it has been a tremendous help for our family.
I have not tried a meal planning service but I think that this sort of service would be very helpful for a working mother. For a very small fee, the working mother gets a meal plan plus her grocery deals lined up for her. My mom worked when I was growing up. It is sad to think of all the meals that we ate out. We had a lot of drive-thru! Even when we cooked meals, we did not have a meal plan and we did not pay attention to sales. It seemed like every meal from the grocery store was Hamburger Helper. If my mom could have used a meal planning service, it would have improved our family life and saved us a lot of money.
As a stay at home mother, I take the time to plan my family’s meals and I keep our grocery budget low with sales and coupons. If I ever do return to work, I intend to find a meal planning service to save myself time, money, and heartache!
I tried E-mealz a while back and enjoyed having a list and menu options. I found, however,that the meals weren’t really in line with our “eating style” if you will (ie: didn’t like a lot of the recipes). But through the process, I did find several keepers that even my kids liked! I did it for 6 months.
we are currently subscribing to E-mealz. I like not having to plan my meals but as stated in an earlier post by the time you add you breakfast/lunch items to the cart you are spending more than I typically like to spend weekly. I will finish out our subscription but will not renew b/c planning my own w/ coupons and the weekly flyers have proven much more beneficial. I have to say though, I am at home full time BUT if I worked outside the home I would love this plan.
I like Leanne Ely’s Saving Dinner weekly menu mailer.
My husband suggested E-mealz back last year after we’d had our first child and I was still working part-time (taking the baby with me), as I was running out of inspiration for meals and I had never learned to plan a menu. We used it for about six months, I think, before I canceled our subscription after quitting my job and devoting more time and attention to saving money by deal-hunting and menu planning over a longer period of time.
I personally found that E-mealz was just what I needed at that time in my life. While it wasn’t super cheap, I still saved money over what I had been doing by using the same ingredients for a full week of meals. And I suddenly had a full menu for each supper, rather than just a general idea for a main course. Plus, we really enjoyed several of the meals included in the plan and eventually incorporated them into our own menu planning. I found that having to follow a plan really taught me to be more disciplined in the kitchen and also helped me prepare to do my own menu planning, a task I’d never really considered. I always had the mindset that we should cook whatever we felt like eating and felt like it was necessary to be flexible that way, but since we tried using a menu and it worked, having a list of meal options was obviously just what we needed…
Instead of planning and shopping by the week now, though, I’ve incorporated aspects of the same planning into preparing for a month’s worth of meals, which has cut down my shopping time and budget substantially and which also gives me more time to look for good deals on components of our meals. It also allows me to streamline more effectively and gives each week more variety.
About two years ago, I used E-mealz for almost a year. We did the meal plans for 2 because our girls were only 5 & 2 at the time and weren’t really big eaters, and we almost always had leftovers. Our family liked most of the meals and they didn’t repeat meals very often until we reached that year mark. I had saved all my plans and grocery lists, so I cancelled just to re-use the ones I already had. I work full-time and just don’t have time to plan meals routinely. I loved the fact that I didn’t have the “5:00 stare” when I got home from work. I liked the service and would recommend it for families who don’t have time/don’t want to do their own meal plans.
I tried E-Mealz for 3 months, using two different plans (Low-Carb Any Store and the Aldi plans). I enjoyed the recipes more than I thought I would but after adding in lunch and breakfast items to our cart, I spent more at Aldi than I would while planning our own menus. If you are new to cooking at home, a work-outside-the-home mom, or an inexperienced cook, this service would be worth double the cost. The recipes are quick, easy and very tasty. If you already keep your food costs below $100/week for 4 people, 3 meals a day, you most likely won’t save money but you may save time.