I have found that if I spend Sunday afternoon planning meals for the next week and plan our homeschooling curriculum as well, plus make all of my "to do" lists, etc., I have spent probably 4 or more hours trying to stay organized. Fortunately, only two academic subjects need to be planned anymore, but they are the two subjects that take a lot more time for me to plan.
If my husband and children want to go visit someone on Sunday afternoon, or they want to go hiking or fishing or picnicking, I find that I need to give up the planning time. My family comes first!
Have I ever mentioned that I'm not real "quick" when it comes to things like this, the planning and the organizing?
Just about the only thing I do quickly is to type.
Yup. That's about it.
I love organizing and planning, but I have found over the years that if there is any noise in the house, I have a hard time focusing and concentrating. Combining this auditory processing difficulty with loving interruptions from my children makes it tough for me to do planning when the girls are awake, even though they are mature enough to kindly leave me alone if necessary. After they go to bed, I am often too tired to begin doing planning. So, I find that I scrape by on the seat of my pants most of the time.
Anyway, after several years of agonizing at 5:00 p.m. each evening about what we are going to eat as a family, I finally decided to give e-Mealz.com a try.
Here are my first impressions.
There are other meal planning sites out there on the internet, but e-Mealz.com is unique in one major aspect: they combine meal planning with the actual sale ads from the grocery stores. That way, families are able to enjoy a variety of meals planned purposefully for them to save a considerable amount of money.
I like this!
One thing I did notice on their website is that their grocery store plans (Kroger, Publix, SuperWalMart, ALDI's, and Ralph's) are not found in my area at all. Kroger, Publix, and ALDI's are east coast/southern U.S. grocery stores (from the little I know about them), and Ralph's is a California chain of grocery stores owned by Kroger. Most areas have SuperWalMart stores, but our location does not...only a regular, smaller WalMart. I rarely shop there, anyway.
However, e-Mealz.com also has an "Any-Store" plan as well. The sales will be more seasonal in nature, and the savings won't be as much as if you had a specific plan to go with a specific store, but you will still find yourself saving money using their meal planner, especially since you won't be stopping on the way home in the evening to pick up food from a restaurant!
Our local Fred Meyer store is owned by Kroger. Just because I was curious, I downloaded the grocery store sale ad from the Kroger grocery store website and compared it with the Fred Meyer sale ad in our local newspaper. There were some similarities in the ad prices, but a lot of differences. I thought it was interesting to see "catfish and fries" advertised with Kroger's family meal deal, while here in my state, you would never see catfish and fries advertised. It would be...fried chicken and spuds!
I went ahead and chose the Kroger meal plan to use with my family. Even though about three-fourths of the sale items on Fred Meyer's sale ad were different than the Kroger ad and meal plan, I decided to give it a try.
While grocery shopping this evening, I found that three-fourths of the items I purchased at Fred Meyer were either the same price or below the Kroger ad price. About one-fourth of the grocery items were priced slightly higher than the Kroger ad price. Amazingly, some of our more local, organic produce was priced similarly to Kroger's regular prices for regular, non-organic produce.
Here is the first week's meal plan that I chose:
Here are some of the changes I made to the recipes:
Stir-Fried Chicken Fajitas with tortilla chips and salsa: I'm using uncooked tortillas from Costco instead of regular tortillas. Yes, I'll cook them first! Instead of making my own salsa this time, I'll use our favorite pico de gallo.
Garlic Tilapia Over Pasta, with steamed broccoli: I will be using whole wheat pasta, even though the recipe didn't call for this.
BBQ Chicken with Baked Potatoes and Ranch Beans: BBQ chicken isn't our family's favorite, so I'll make Lemon-Pepper Chicken instead. I don't know what Ranch Beans are. I'm thinking this is another title for pork and beans. Anyone know? I think we'll just cook our chicken on the grill for this night.
Bacon Penne Alfredo with Garden Salad and Garlic Italian Bread: I found some nitrite-free, hormone-free bacon tonight at Fred Meyer! We only buy bacon about 3-4 times a year, so this will be a treat. We decided to do away with the Italian bread and just enjoy an extra veggie dish using up our vegetables from this week's CSA produce box.
Spinach Cheese Calzones with Corn on the Cob and a Hearty Salad: Instead of buying refrigerated pizza crust, we'll be making our own. I have a quick and easy recipe that we'll use. (Thanks, Janet!)
Footlong BLT with Potato Salad and Sliced Fruit: We decided to eat macaroni salad because it is easier to make and less expensive to buy pre-made, if a person chooses to do that. We'll just use a combination of fruits we have on hand to go along with our meal.
E-Mealz.com not only provides choices for specific grocery stores, it also provides options for different types of diets:
I cannot even begin to tell you how I felt when I unloaded and put away those groceries and realized that except for a gallon of milk or two this week, I wouldn't be needing to run to the grocery store at the last minute for an ingredient I still needed!
I will be even more excited to have dinner ready by 5:30 p.m. each evening, without having to rack my brain and try to come up with a recipe where I have all of the ingredients and it suits the hot weather.
I look forward to providing you with an update each week as to how the previous week's menu planning went, and what we thought of the meals and recipes that were provided.
I think that this will be fun!
UPDATE ~ April 2013:
We have used eMealz several different periods of time over the last several years. As of 2013, there are a ton of additional options from which to choose! There are more store options, more dietary options, there's just a lot more!
We finally decided not to continue using eMealz mainly because we liked being able to have the flexibility to use our own family recipes that we love, as well as recipes from Trim Healthy Mama, which has helped our family lose a ton of weight with interesting, fun, and new recipes. But eMealz.com is still a wonderful option for a lot of families!
I was provided with a three-month free subscription to eMealz.com in order to write this honest review for you, my readers. No other compensation was provided.
8/28/2010 04:20:30 am
Hey, this sounds pretty cool! All the above mentioned grocery stores I have here in Fort Worth!! I will be checking out the website for sure!! We eat out way too much and going to the grocery store with unplanned meals becomes expensive and still missing items to make even one meal!!! Thanks!
8/29/2010 03:07:16 pm
Leslie, I know what you mean. We don't eat out very often, but I find it stressful to plan something at the last minute, and then dinner gets so late, especially if I do need to run to the store for something. I'm hoping that we really like this program.
8/29/2010 03:07:53 pm
I have wanted to try this. Thanks for your review. Maybe I should ask them if I can review it too. :)
8/29/2010 03:09:12 pm
Tina, I think you should! They were very open to having me review their program. Just wish their plans specifically covered a Pacific NW store - would be even better!
8/29/2010 03:09:56 pm
Seems like a cool concept..... I wish they had a 30 day free trial, because of my work schedule I am not sure how well it would work for me...... Would like to try it out first, you know!!
8/29/2010 03:10:35 pm
Leslie, a 30-day free trial would be nice, I agree. However, on their website, they do have sample meal plans you can look at and see if the recipes would go along with what your family likes to eat. The recipes won't necessarily match sa...les in your area, but if your experience was anything like mine was yesterday, the prices were so similar that even had I purchased the tilapia yesterday and then purchased the chicken and hamburger meat, it would have been about what the menu planner showed for the dollar amount spent for those 7 days of dinners.
8/29/2010 03:11:23 pm
Thanks! I like the concept, just didn't know if it would really save me money or not.
8/29/2010 03:12:00 pm
Do you like tilapia? Every time I've tried it or fixed it, it just tastes like dirt to me. Not worth the money, IMO.
8/29/2010 03:12:39 pm
The menus you chose seem pretty heavy on the potatoes. Is that common to their menus? We know we eat more carbs than we should, out of necessity, but we don't have potatoes very often (even though I could eat them every day...yum!).
8/29/2010 03:13:27 pm
Kristina, I agree...we chose to have macaroni salad instead of potato salad with the BLT's that we made at my mom-in-love's home at the coast yesterday. I didn't even have any mac. salad for myself. But baked potatoes are very healthy unl...ess we pile a ton of junk on them that is high in fat. So I don't have a problem with eating baked potatoes. I'll have to look at future menus to see if they also include 2-3 menus with potatoes each week.
8/29/2010 03:14:24 pm
That is so neat they let you review it, if I had my blog up and running maybe I sholdl see if they would let me review the gluten free?
8/29/2010 03:15:01 pm
What price did you pay for the nitrate/nitrite free bacon? I buy mine at Sherms for about 3.29 on sale :) E loves it for breakfast!
8/29/2010 03:15:44 pm
Hi, Jayne! The nitrite-free bacon was that box with the light gray and red box...I paid more than you do; it was $4.99 at Fred Meyer. What brand of the bacon do you get at Sherm's? We rarely eat bacon from the store; we usually buy canadian bacon from a whole smoked pork loin we order at a local butcher, although it isn't nitrite free. I don't eat it anymore; just the girls and Elmer. It's too salty for me anymore.
8/29/2010 03:16:59 pm
Jayne, I do think if you had your blog going with some posts on it, they would consider you doing this, especially because their gluten-free version is brand new - just began at the beginning of August, from what they told me on the phone. ... They would definitely want some media coverage or blogger reviews on the gluten-free portion of their program.
8/29/2010 03:17:58 pm
OK, maybe I will see if I can get the blog going. That would be cool if I could review it :)
8/30/2010 02:05:00 pm
This sounds like so much fun if we had more stores here. I have found that with alot of these type things=store coupons, coupons,in store savings, that we don't have anything in this area for those type of services on the computor. Anyway, I was looking at the anystore meal planner with this one and it gave 7 days but only 3 receipes written out. Is that for everyweek or do they have 7 days worth written out? I don't want to order if I can't get a weeks worth of receipes. Would you be able to check into that Julieanne?
8/30/2010 03:42:02 pm
Dana - Hi there!
Dawn @ Guiding Light
9/16/2010 05:00:23 am
I was "checking in" at your other webiste...getting another set of Lessons for Latina Christina Level 1 and thought I'd stop on over at your blog. What a great post!!!
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Hi! I'm Julieanne!