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Meal Planning With eMeals: My Honest Review

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Inside: Meal Planning With eMeals: My Honest Review - does eMeals get rid of the stress, hassle and wasted time that happens when I try to make a menu?

I stared at the magnetic menu board for what seemed like 30 minutes.

So many dishes we both liked, Hungarian Goolosh, sour cream enchiladas, and chicken stir fry and I had fixed them all multiple times before.

So why couldn’t I decide on 7 meals so I could make up my grocery list and go to the store??

It was exhausting.

And to be honest, I’ve been bored of the same meals again and again.

Meal planning with eMeals: My honest review if eMeals saves time, money and hassle... |Cook With a Shoe

So, I started on the computer.

Next thing I knew an hour had vanished, busy finding new recipes to try and I hadn’t even made up my grocery list.

My head throbbed. Why was this so hard?

I have a love – hate relationship with menu planning.

I love a plan for dinner and how a menu keeps my costs down at the grocery store.

Not to mention, it removes the temptation to go grab something quick so I don’t have to cook.

But… I hate coming up with dinner ideas for the week and it takes me 1-2 hours a week to make a menu plan and grocery list.

Doesn’t even count the time to shop.

There’s got to be an easier way.

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Spanish Slaw

Verdict: I thought this was really tasty and the slaw was a really nice compliment to the dish. Pretty easy to throw together. Made several leftovers. 

Hubby: Liked it. But not all the leftovers of slaw. 

Cost: $9-$9.50 - Used grass-fed beef. 

Time: 45 minutes

I’ve heard of eMeals for years. 

I never wanted to pay for it before… money was tight and I’d rather put every extra dollar towards a savings goal.

And to be honest… I thought I should be able to handle meal planning.

But in the last month, when I realized how much time I wasted and how I disliked the entire process, I decided to give eMeals a try.

Simply to save my sanity.

Below is my honest review of eMeals.

Meal Planning With eMeals: My Honest Review

Pork Tenderloin Lettuce Wraps

Verdict: I cooked the tenderloin in my trusty Instant Pot- so that was easy. The carrot slaw came together quick. 

It was a nice light, summery meal. The slaw flavors went nicely with the pork. But... it was messy. That part I didn't like.  I ate it the next day as a salad instead.  

Hubby: Liked the pork. Didn't eat the leftovers. ​​

Cost: $3.25

Time: Hands on, about 20 minutes. Cooked 9 -10 hours.

I wanted to evaluate 

  • the ease of use of the app
  • if we liked the suggested meals
  • how quick the cooking time was
  • if it really did save me time planning menus and grocery shopping
  • and the big thing, can I stay at or below my regular grocery budget

What is eMeals? 

eMeals is a subscription based menu plan and sends you a new menu each Wednesday.

You do get a free 14 day trial period and you can pick from 22 different meal plans.

Once you pick your meals for the week, eMeals will create a grocery list for you.

You have the option to send the grocery list to a couple stores, Walmart and Instacart in my area, for pick-up.

I didn't do this... I'm not sure I want to let someone else pick my apples and lettuce ...yet.

If you decide to continue on with the subscription, the best budget option is $60 paid upfront for 12 months.

eMeals Meal Plans

  • Clean Eating
  • Quick and Healthy
  • Paleo
  • Budget Friendly
  • 30 Minute Meals
  • Slow Cooker
  • Kid Friendly
  • Classic Meals
  • Gluten Free
  • Vegetarian
  • Heart Healthy
  • Low Calorie
  • Low Carb
  • Diabetic
  • Portion Control
  • Mediterranean
  • Simply Gourmet
  • Vegetarian
  • Better Homes and Gardens
  • Dr. Axe
  • Eating Well
  • Paula Deen
  • In addition to all these dinner plans, you can get plans for breakfasts, lunches, and special occasions. 

    Picking a Meal Plan

    While I liked how there were options for everyone and there were a few matched my desire for real foods...

    I was a little overwhelmed by how many options there were to choose from. 

    I glanced at maybe 4 different menu plans, before I settled on the Clean Eating plan for 3-4 people, to ensure leftovers.

    Since the fridge was pretty bare, I decided to do a menu plan for two weeks and do a major grocery expedition.

    I signed up online with my computer, but switched to the app to select the meals.

    The app was easy to load onto my iPhone (they also have an Android version) and was easy to use.

    I liked how easy it was to scan the different plans – with the current week’s menu loaded – and pick which one I wanted to use.

    Once I picked the Clean Eating plan, I could see both the current week’s menu and the previous week’s menu which was helpful and allowed me to create my two week plan.

    A simple tap creates the list

    I liked how I was able to select which meals I wanted, with a simple tap on the screen, and it wasn’t a automatic add everything set up.

    As I picked the meals, the ingredients were added to the grocery list.

    15 minutes was all it took to glance at a couple meal plans, pick one, select the meals I wanted, and create my grocery list.

    YES! So far, eMeals saves time and eliminates a lot of hassle.

    I could add other items, besides the ingredients listed for each meal, onto my shopping list.

    You just tap, Add Item, and then type it in.  There is a library of items already in the app and often the add-ons would populate.

     The shopping list categorized the items into Produce, Bakery, Canned Goods etc, for organized shopping.

    Staples were listed below, by what each meal used, which was nice.

    The app calculated the total items needed.

    For example, since I was using bell peppers in multiple meals, it told me to buy 5 peppers and even had a note listing which meal would be using the peppers. 

    At the grocery store, I had the app open and just tapped the screen as I put my groceries in the cart, which would move the item from the active shopping list to the completed items below.

    It was nice that the items didn’t completely disappear as I checked them off. 

     

    One thing I didn’t like was when I tapped the item, nothing seemed to happen.

    So I tapped the check box again, and by this time the first item moved to the completed list and the second tap moved a second item as well.

    This could be my older phone. But it was slightly annoying, especially since the app was really fast in all other uses.

    However, I was able to uncheck the item from the completed list and it would move it back to the active shopping list, so that was redeeming. 

    I did end up overlooking/forgetting a couple of items because they had moved to the completed part of the list by accident. 

    Another thing I didn’t like, there was no real easy way to remove a meal from your shopping cart once the list was created. 

    Edited to add… while in the current week, you can go back to the screen where you pick the meals to add to your shopping cart and re-select the meals you want added. You can’t do this for previous weeks. 🙁

    Did I Spend More at the Grocery Store?

    I did spend a little bit more on meat than normal, and some specialty items like capers, which I never buy.

    My first grocery bill was $129 for two weeks worth of groceries. I started with a bare pantry and got two weeks worth of food, it wasn’t out of line for what I spend.

    I spent $92 on my second eMeals grocery store trip.

    Overall, I spent $365 for the month on food. My normal monthly budget is $325.

    I can’t blame the increase because of eMeals, because I stocked up on sale items.

    And like I said, the first trip was on the heels of vacation where the fridge was empty!

    I can't chalk it all up to an increase just from using eMeals, because I did end up stocking up on a few things as they were on sale. 

    And like I said, the first shopping trip was on the heels of vacation where the fridge was empty!

    Note of caution, eMeals does recommend pre-packaged food - 16 oz of chopped carrots or a bag of frozen broccoli flowerettes, but you will spend less money if you pick out your own items. 

    Verdict On The Food

    I had so much food!!

    Seriously, for just the two of us, the 3-4 family plan made a lot of food.

    We had tons of leftovers plus all of the groceries for two weeks - the fridge was crammed full.

    My 11 days of planned meals stretched into 15 days of meals with all the leftovers.

    Most of the meals were good. Not spectacular, but tasty. A few were amazing.

    We didn’t care for one meal, spaghetti, since I tried to create my own sauce with pureed tomatoes instead of buying spaghetti sauce.

    I’m not a huge fan of spaghetti anyways. Though I would love to have a great homemade spaghetti sauce recipe.

    Did dinner get on the table any faster? 

    I had to stop and look at the app on my phone to find out what was on the menu and how to cook it, which ate up time.

    The first few days, I forgot to look until dinner time, so that was a pain.

    You can print out the recipes on paper. But… I’m trying so hard to get rid of paper clutter, so I looked at my phone for the recipe.

    I thought the recipes were pretty easy overall to cook. They didn’t have a ton of ingredients and cook time was on average about 30 minutes.

    Unless of course, I forgot to pull meat out of the freezer. Then dinner took longer.  Again, I’ll shoulder the blame.

    Overall, I felt like I spent less time cooking and the mess was better than I do on my own lol.

    My motto is, If a messy kitchen means a good cook, then I’m a great one!

    Round Two

    Before my free trial was up, I went into the app and changed to a 2 person Paleo plan.

    The ability to change plans as often as you want for free is a huge benefit in my book.

    The app allows you to see which menu you would like for the week and to be able to try new meals.

    This time, it took me maybe 5-7 minutes to select the plan and meals I wanted, and create my list.

    Am I keeping eMeals? 

    • It did save a lot of time and headache coming up with the menu and the grocery list- Major win!
    • The app was easy to use, except the slowness at the store – 90% win!
    • I liked how the meals included side dishes. 100% win!
    • The food was good. We both ate it and liked most everything – 95% win
    • I spent about $65/week for my groceries for these meals, which wasn’t bad at all. – 98% win!
    • I can stock up on meat when there’s a sale to help reduce the bill even more.
    • Or forgo the pre-packaged items to save money. 
    • The cooking prep time was reduced and there was less mess on most nights. -100% win
    • Using the app to look at the meals and menu plan is getting better as I have become used to this new method.

    The time and hassle saving benefits of eMeals definitely was worth it.

    As well as making it super easy to get out of my cooking rut and try new things.​

    And we both liked the food. 

    So, because I am able to cut off about 7 hours of time a month with far less frustration, plus coming in pretty good cost wise, I will be continuing with eMeals.

    I had the money to pay for the entire year at once, which is the cheapest option of $5/month.

    But if you didn't quite have $60, it wouldn't be that hard to save up the money over a couple of months.

    eMeals has allowed me to break free from the rut of tacos, stir fry, and soup.

    And we both liked the food.

    So, because I’m able to cut off about 7 hours of time a month with far less frustration, plus I stayed on budget, I will continue with eMeals.

    I had the money to pay for the entire year at once, which is the cheapest option of $5/month.

     But if you don’t have $60, it wouldn't be hard to save up the money over a couple of months.

    If meal planning is stressful for you and you'd rather spend the time doing something fun, read a book, or take a nap - instead of the hours coming up with a menu...

    And if you want to get your grocery spending under better control. You save more money when you know what you’ll fix each night for dinner.

    Try eMeals for free

    You get 14 days in your trial period and can pick any meal plan. Not to mention change to another one as often as you want.

    For $5 a month, to get rid of the what’s for dinner headache and start to spend less on groceries, the price is insignificant in relation to the freedom of having eMeals plan your menu and make your grocery list for you.

    Now, my menu plan and my grocery list takes me 5-10 stress-free minutes a week. And I’m no longer bored with what I’m eating. Hallelujah!

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    About the Author

    Hi! I’m Charissa. I was able to pay off all my debt, pay cash for my husband’s education, and build up my savings-all because of using a budget. I love to share all the budgeting tips I’ve learned with you so you can have a successful budget too! Read more…

    Valerie
    2017-10-04 07:51:10
    Thanks for the insightful review! I’ll be signing up today!! Looking forward to trying something new to get me out of my meal planning rut too!
    Erin
    2017-10-05 17:28:46
    Thanks for the in-depth information. I wasn't interested before but now that I see they have low calorie and low carb options as well as slow cooker, I may take a second look.
    Charissa
    2017-10-05 19:56:58
    Valerie, it is definitely helping me get out of my rut of fixing the same meals every single week! And haha, I would have never bought okra on my own, but my husband said he liked it and wanted me to buy it again.
    Charissa
    2017-10-05 19:58:39
    Erin, you are welcome! I'm glad this was helpful. I was really surprised at how many meal plan options there are - and if the menu on one plan doesn't look good for the week, I just switch to another one.