Fun Friday: Dinner is Served

It’s March and we’re in a spring cleaning mood here at A Beautiful Blog. All month long we’re featuring stories on how to have more order and balance in your life. Today’s post is from Leslee Stewart who has unlocked a new way to simplify dinnertime.

By Leslee Stewart

One of the questions I dread most each day is, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” Many times I find myself unprepared for my family’s nighttime meal. The busyness of my day gets in the way and before I know it, it’s 6 p.m., the kids are hungry, my husband is hungry, I’m hungry and our options are cereal or sandwiches. Yuck.

I really like to cook, I just don’t like all the planning and list making that comes with it. But recently I discovered an online tool has revolutionized my meal planning – and my grocery bill. It’s called emeals.com.

Here’s how it works:

You tell emeals.com where you buy groceries (Publix, Wal-Mart, Kroger, Whole Foods, etc.), how many people are in your family (1-2 or 3-6), and what type of meals you prefer (classic, low-fat, low-carb, gluten free, portion controlled, etc.).

Every Wednesday, emeals.com publishes your weekly meal plan – seven meals plus sides – along with an itemized grocery list, including prices per item. The grocery list is organized by food type and lists the corresponding menu number it is to be used with. Total weekly food cost for a small family plan (1-2 people) is about $40-$60/week. Weekly food cost for a large family plan (3-6 people) is about $75-$90/week.

The meals come with easy-to-prepare instructions and are really delicious. My family has feasted on chicken piccata, pumpkin pancakes, beef stew, pulled pork and more. The portions are generous and we almost always have 1 or 2 servings left over. Each week’s menu usually includes one crock-pot meal, a “quick-fix” meal, and a Sunday dinner meal (like a roast you put in the oven in the morning before church and have ready when you return home). I’ve also found it easy to substitute menu items with some of my family’s favorite meals. If there’s something on the menu I don’t think my family will like, I simply cross it off the menu and then cross off the corresponding menu numbers on the grocery list.

The great thing about emeals.com is they do their best to plan meals based on your preferred grocery’s weekly sales. For example, we shop at Publix (who doesn’t love their weekly BOGO sales?!). My weekly meal plan and coordinating grocery list from emeals.com feature many of that week’s BOGO and sale items at Publix.

Emeals.com is a subscription-based service. I chose the Publix, Low-Fat Plan for a family of 3-6 people. For a 3-month subscription it cost $21, including tax. So for $7 a month, I’m getting someone else to do all my meal planning, grocery list making, and price checking.

I have been using emeals.com for about a month. Each week I’ve used the plan my grocery bill has declined. Before emeals.com, I was spending $150-$175/week in groceries. Now my bill averages about $120/week, including buying weekly staples like milk, bread, lunchmeat, juice and extra fruit and veggies. Plus if you add coupons, your savings could be even more each week.

Thanks to emeals.com, at my house, dinner is served.

Learn more at emeals.com.

Leslee Stewart oversees communications for GFC Beautiful. She is a wife, stay-at-home mom of two boys and former communications executive. She openly admits she owns too many throw pillows, loves junky old furniture and can sing all the parts of Bohemian Rhapsody.

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