I may have mentioned a few times before that I don’t really enjoy cooking…and by “may have mentioned” I of course mean “mentioned repeatedly”. Despite that (actually, because of that) I want to take a break from DIY for a second and talk about food.
4-6 pm is the hardest part of my day. It’s “the witching hour” for the kids, they are either cranky cause they didn’t nap or cranky cause they just woke up. Adam is getting home from work and I’m scurrying around picking up the house so it looks somewhat decent for him. Then, there’s dinner.
To be honest, the actually cooking part doesn’t bother me too much (as long as no one is crying at my feet). The absolute worst part of dinner – I might even say the worst part of my whole day – is deciding what to make.
I hate it so much.
Here is an extreme (but very truthful) peek into my dinner making…
4:30 hits and I think “dang, it’s time to start cooking.” 90% of the time I will have forgotten to defrost the meat, so I’ll pull out a rock solid package of something. Then I open up the pantry and stare into a bit, taking note of all the stuff. Then I do the same to the fridge.
I’m stumped, and I’ve already cooked all my normal meals for the week. So I go to the computer and start googling my random ingredients. I’ll type in something like “recipe including sweet potatoes, quinoa, cream of chicken soup, carrots, and ground turkey. Usually I’ll find something interesting that includes most of them, but also calls for things I don’t have…so I kinda make it up as I go along, substituting things that probably shouldn’t be substituted. It’s right about this time Adam will get home, come into the kitchen and say “whatcha making?” to which I respond “I have absolutely no idea.”
Now I know what the solution to this is…it’s meal planning. Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ll make it a week or two, then I’ll forget, then I’ll have to go grocery shopping without a plan. It’s a vicious cycle.
I’ve even attempted to make a meal planning binder. It was going to be 28 dinners (4 weeks worth), and each week would have its own shopping list. It was going to be the same rotating 28 meals…forever. So I started to carefully pick to 28 meals we wanted to eat for the rest of our lives…but I got about 12 meals in, burned out, and never finished it.
That was about two years ago. Blah.
Here is another fun fact about food…the one part of a household budget that is hard to reign in is food. I know that is so true for me and I bet a lot of y’all are the same way. Back when Adam and I were busting our butts to pay off our house our budget for food (including eating out and everything you buy at the grocery store) was $300 a month. I clipped coupons, shopped sales, split meals. Beans and rice, rice and beans. Then we accomplished our goal and I suddenly stopped being careful what I was spending on food. I was tired of counting every penny. Plus grocery shopping with two babies is hard, and taking my coupon binder and calculator into the store was the last thing I wanted to do (yes, I did that).
After being frivolous for a while Adam encouraged me to do a budget again. I added up our expenses and was horrified to find out we were spending around $750 a month on food. I don’t know what the average American families food budget is, but that felt really, really high to me. I was super bummed…not counting pennies had been incredibly nice.
I resigned myself to finishing my meal binder and eating the same 28 meals for all of eternity…which I would gladly do if it meant never having to figure out what to cook.
And then – one glorious day – I discovered eMeals, an online meal planning program. I had gotten the chance to try it out for free, so I snooped around the site to see what it was about. I thought it looked doable. Then I saw that Dave Ramsey endorsed it. I usually don’t care about who endorses what…unless it’s Dave Ramsey. Because everything that Dave says is pretty much solid gold. So I signed up.
…and my life was forever changed.
(all links to eMeals in this post are affiliate links, just so you know)
That sounds overly dramatic, but seriously, it’s amazing. I never have to think about what to make for dinner, my shopping lists are already made, the recipes are right there, I always have what I need, and I no longer have to throw away old unused food. I feel like a HUGE burden has been lifted. And the best part? My food bill has gone from (roughly)$750 to $500 a month, and that’s without any effort. No clipping coupons, scouring sale ads, or being the weird lady with the calculator. It’s beautiful.
So how does eMeals work?
Sounds nice, right? It is. Look at all the meal plans you can choose from…(you can change once a month)
You can even choose your grocery store and they will match up that weeks menu with that weeks sales to save you extra money. At least that’s what I hear…my grocery store (HEB) isn’t included. I’m really hoping they expand on that soon, but for now they have ALDI, Kroger, Publix, Ralphs, Safeway, Target, Walmart, and Whole foods.
They also have an app for your phone, and I use that exclusively. I’ve tried other meal planning programs, but they always required me to print stuff. We all know that that’s a terrible idea…printers never seem to work when you need them too. Here are some snapshots of last weeks meals, recipes, and shopping list on my phone…
There is a catch though… you have to pay for it. I know, I’m not surprising anyone. A one year subscription (dinners only) is $58… or $5 a month. Considering its saving my sanity and $250 a month, I personally think it’s a slammin deal. I’d pay a lot more than that actually.
If you are interested in trying eMeals for yourself, you can do that one of two ways. First, you can buy it (they also have three and six month plans). Just click on the image below and sign up (and don’t forget to download the app!).
Or, you can try to win it. eMeals has offered to give three readers a six month subscription each. To enter use the rafflecopter below (it loads slowly, be patient).