Wednesday, October 19, 2011

E-Mealz: A Review for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Over the last year or so, I have been hearing buzz about "E-Mealz".  I have been curious to see what it's all about.  Could it save me, an avid couponer, even more money?  Could it get me out of my meal-planning rut that I've been stuck in for what seems like forever?  With a photo and endorsement from Dave Ramsey, (a trusted name in money management and debt relief) on their homepage, I was really interested to find out more.

First of all, what is E-Mealz?  It is a weekly meal plan service, providing you unique meals, 7 days a week, that correspond with the supermarket of your choice, based on the number of people in your family.  E-Mealz also caters to special diets, such as "portion-control", "gluten-free", "vegetarian", "low-fat" and "low-carb".  They really have thought of everything!  Because I live in the south and because I despise Wal-Mart with every fiber of my being, I chose the Family Plan for Publix Supermarkets.  If you like Aldi, Kroger, Ralph's or any other grocery store, they've got a plan for that too.  The reason some plans are store-specific is that E-Mealz goes the extra mile to plan meals around store sales.  So, if pineapples are buy one get one free at Publix this week, you might find yourself making Hawaiian Chicken on Monday and making tropical yogurt parfaits on Thursday as a side dish.

Each week, you just log in to E-Mealz, and click "This Week's Plan" or "Last Week's Plan".  Their new plans come out on whatever day corresponds with that store's new ad.  So for me, my new Publix plan was available to me on Wednesdays.

To view a full sample of a meal plan and a shopping list, click here.

The two ladies behind the company feel very strongly about getting families back to the dinner table together, strengthening relationships, and being good stewards with the money we have.  E-Mealz ensures that you will be able to cook affordable, delicious and healthy meals for your family, while shopping what's on sale and what's in season.  But don't expect to serve Lobster Thermidor.  We're saving money here, people. The meals have a lot of variety.  During the time that I reviewed this product (almost a month), I never made the same meal twice.  They ensure that you will spend $65-$85 a week on dinner meals for the entire family.  For the dinner-for-two option, expect to pay about half that. You will have to supplement this with breakfast and lunch items, but often, we had enough leftover portions from dinner that could be eaten the next day at lunch. 

Now, for those of you out there like me who use coupons, you can further increase your savings and add your coupons on top of the sale/BOGO items (which is what we couponers do anyway).  E-Mealz is just going the extra mile and telling you WHAT to make with all of those items you get for cheap or free.

What I really loved about the plans is that each meal plan comes with a corresponding shopping list.  Each thing on your list is numbered as to which meal it goes with.  So, if you're always on the go at dinnertime and know you'll be travelling on Tuesday, or running around with soccer practice on Thursday and needing to grab Chik-Fil-A drive through that night, no problem!  Just nix a few of your least-favorite meal options off that week's list and nix all the ingredients that are labeled for those nights.  For example, if you won't be eating at home two out of seven nights, cross off meal #2 and #6 if they don't appeal to you and cross off any ingredient on the shopping list with a "2" or "6" by it.  Or, by the same token, if your kids hate ziti (which happened to be one of our challenges one week), I just thought, fine!  I'll cross if the ziti, save myself some money and we'll have breakfast for dinner that night.  Problem solved.  It's a very flexible program.

The shopping list is also categorized by store sections to make for easy shopping.  It lists staples that you will need at the bottom of the list, so you don't have to buy "soy sauce" everytime you need two tablespoons of it.  Just check your pantry for these items.

I found the shopping and cooking process went very smooth with E-Mealz.  The meals were very simple (the recipes were easy enough to fit into a few sentences on the meal plan sheet).  They included a crock-pot meal with every week's plan, which I love.  Many sale ingredients were used twice in the week, but cleverly disguised.  I got absolutely no complaints from my family with E-Mealz. 

No complaints from this guy.

And what could be better than a great product or service at a great price?  E-Mealz bills you $15 every THREE months.  That's $1.25 a week for ALOT of bells and whistles. 

So, all in all, I would say that E-Mealz is a great planning tool for today's busy families.  I know that I was getting quite "sick of myself", planning the same old-same old every week.  This took the drudgery of the grocery store off my hands and into the hands of two very capable ladies at E-Mealz.  Thank you, girls!  The best of luck with your amazing business!  I'll be sure to spread the word......

Check out what the rest of the folks at The Old Schoolhouse Magazine had to say about this product here.

**Disclaimer:  I was provided a three-month subscription to E-Mealz to use with my family in exchange for an honest review, which I have provided here.


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