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 menu board for what seemed like 30 minutes. There were so many dishes we both liked and I had fixed multiple times before.
So why couldn’t I just decide on 7 meals so I could make up my shopping list and go to the store??
It was exhausting.
And to be honest, I’ve been bored of cooking the same meals again and again.
So, I started searching on the computer.
Easy ground beef recipes. Easy chicken dinners.
Next thing I knew, I had spent an hour coming up with new recipes to try and I hadn’t even made up my grocery list.
Ugg! I felt like crying. Why was this so hard?
I have a love – hate relationship with menu planning. Love knowing what I will fix for dinner and how a menu plan definitely 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 a menu for the week and it takes me usually 1-2 hours a week just to make a menu plan and grocery list.
That’s not even counting the time to go shopping.
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.
It’s a subscription based menu plan and they send you a menu every single week.
I never wanted to pay for it before… money being tight and having so many money dreams I was trying to fund with every extra dollar available.
And to be honest… meal planning was something I thought I should be able to handle.
But in the last month, when I realized how much time I was wasting and that I really disliked coming up with menus, I decided to give eMeals a try.
Simply to save my sanity.
Below is my completely 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.
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 that 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, it will instantly create a grocery list for you.
There is 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 hand off my grocery shopping just yet.
If you decide to continue on with the subscription, the best budget option is $60 paid upfront for 12 months.
eMeals Meal Plans
Picking a Meal Plan
While I liked that there were options for everyone and quite a few that definitely matched my desire for real foods - I was a little overwhelmed by how many options there were to choose from.
That's why I just glanced at maybe 4 different menu plans, before deciding on the Clean Eating plan for 3-4 people, to ensure leftovers.
Since I just came back from vacation and the fridge was pretty bare, I decided to do a menu plan for two weeks and do a major grocery shopping trip.
Initially, I signed up online using my computer, but quickly 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 very 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.
Adding the meals I wanted, just took a simple tap on the screen, instead of automatically having them all added at once.
I really liked that I was able to select which meals that I wanted, and it wasn’t a automatic add everything set up.
As I picked the meals I was planning on making, instantly the ingredients were added to the shopping list.
Looking through just a couple meal plans, picking one, selecting the meals I wanted, and automatically creating my grocery list took about 15 minutes.
YES! So far, saving time and headache coming up with ideas on what meals to fix!
eMeals Shopping List
I liked the ability to 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.
You could check it all off if you already had the item. I started doing that, but decided I didn't need to- you know, saving time and hassle.
A quick glance through was sufficient to know if I had the item.
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. 🙁
Cost Breakdown of eMeals
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. Considering that I was pretty lean on everything anyways and I got two weeks worth of food, it wasn’t out of line for what I normally spend.
I spent $92 on my second grocery trip using eMeals.
Overall, I spent $365 for the month on everything. My normal monthly budget is $325.
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!
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.
The meals all had a lot of veggies, very similar to how I cook anyways, and there was always a recommended side dish as well.
Most of the meals were good. Nothing spectacular, but tasty. A few were absolutely amazing.
There was just one meal, spaghetti, that we didn’t really care for, but I tried to create my own sauce with pureed tomatoes instead of buying spaghetti sauce, so it was my fault.
I’m not a huge fan of spaghetti anyways. Though I would love to have a great homemade spaghetti sauce recipe that’s easy to make.
It was an adjustment to stop and look at the app on my phone to find out what I was cooking and how to cook the meal.
The first few days, I forgot to look until dinner time, so that was a pain. But that’s totally my own issues.
You can totally print out the recipes on paper. But… I am trying so hard to get rid of paper clutter, so I kept looking 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 cooking 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 on that one.
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 am a great one!
Just before my free trial was up, I went into the app and changed to a 2 person Paleo plan.
Switching plans as often as you want, is a huge benefit in my book.
It allows you to see which menu you would like for the week and to be able to try new things.
This time, it took me maybe 5-7 minutes to select the plan and meals I wanted, automatically creating my shopping list.
And when I went to the store, knowing how the app took some time to move the items to the completed list, it worked better this time.
With as fast as the rest of the app is, this part is pretty slow.
Am I keeping eMeals?
- It did save a lot of time and headache coming up with the menu and the grocery list- 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.
- 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.
If meal planning is stressful for you and you'd rather spend the time doing something fun - instead of spending hours coming up with a menu.
And if you want to get your grocery spending under better control. It always goes better and you save more money when you know what you are going to fix each night for dinner.
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, getting rid of the menu planning headache and spending less on groceries, the price is insignificant in relation to the freedom having eMeals plan your menu and make your grocery list for you.
Now, my menu planning and creating my grocery list takes me 5-10 stress-free minutes a week. Hallelujah!
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