Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Trial by Food

So you read recently, in my article Budget Busting Meal Plans, that I was starting to use a new meal planning program called eMeals. Every Wednesday the system sends me seven new meals with a grocery list and recipes for my convenience.

Saturday morning I printed out my shopping list and compared it to sales and coupons from local stores. I headed out early to beat the rush and purchased all the items needed for my week of meals. I decided to take out two of the meals since we are rarely home for meals on the weekends but saved the recipes in my book to try later.

#1 feature I love: the shopping list has each ingredient listed not only by measurement needed, but also by meal number! So if I decide the third meal will not be used I can just cross out those ingredients. Also on the iPhone App if I click "skip meal" then it will auto remove those items from the shopping list for my convenience.

Monday night we took the program for it's first spin. Our recipe was for some Chipotle Meatballs on Brown Rice. I must say the recipe did not taste all that great. Basically it was Onion, Tomato, Chili Peppers, and rounds of meat over brown rice. There was no taste aside from the Tomato (which we aren't huge fans of as is). So this first meal is NOT going on our "try again" list.

A little hesitant I figured we would try for a second meal - I mean we paid for the program, we might as well use it right? Well night two was a little more forgiving on the flavor side.

Pork Chops with Balsamic-Strawberry Sauce with Baked Green Beans and Bacon. Is your mouth watering yet?

I'll share the recipe HERE for your convenience, but it's a good one! 

Tonight will be meal #3 and rice and beans aren't usually my favorite but we said we would try as many of them as we could.

So far I am enjoying the meal plans. It does take some of the stress away but I think what I like most is that it's more inventive than anything I could come up with. I get stuck in the rut of making the same meals over and over again and never attempting new techniques or flavors. These plans give me not only fresh ideas that I never would have thought of, but make, seemingly, more difficult techniques easy.


  1. When I tried e-meals I found the same issue - the meals were rather bland and really not very inventive. A piece of chicken with some sauce and mashed potatoes type thing. If you don't find e-meals to be a good long term meal planning solution for you, I found a different one online that offers the same features of preparing your grocery list as you plan your menus, but allows you to set up your own recipes. It is at The feature I love about it is that it puts a handy button on your toolbar and whenever you come across a recipe online that you like, click the button and it loads it directly to your menu planning. I scour the internet for recipes that have ingredients I have on hand right now, load them to my planner, and am ready to go. Or I search for new recipes (like gluten free) that I want to try, click the button, it loads to the planner, sets up my grocery list and off I go. It also has a menu sharing option that if you know others using Plan To Eat, then you can peek through their recipes and add them to your planner. It cost me about $15 for the year (with coupon) and I use it to plan two weeks at a time, print off my menu calendar to post on the fridge and I absolutely love it. The only feature that it is missing that e-meals offers is that it doesn't link through to my grocery store to make recipes using the weekly ad coupons.

  2. If you're looking for more tasty meals, go with Simple Gourmet or Classic :)

  3. I think the problem was it was a recipe neither of us would normally gravitate to. I did enjoy last night's Pork Chops and I may swap around some meals to remove the ones we wouldn't like.

    Thanks Auntie Lois for the suggestion. I will have to check out Plan to Eat.