eMeals Review: Meal Plans for $5 a Month

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Ever since I (Laura) got married almost two years ago, I’ve struggled to come up with an answer to the daily question, “What’s for dinner?” I know that some of you have, too, as evidenced by the discussion in the meal planning and frugal cooking Open Mic post.

Well, I think I’ve finally found something that will help me: eMeals. I’ve been subscribing to eMeals for three weeks now, and I (and my husband) absolutely love it. Here’s an eMeals review and overview of the service as well as a description of my experience with it so far.

Overview

eMeals is a meal plan subscription service. For a cost of $5 each month, you’ll be able to print a meal plan and grocery list each week. The meal plan can be customized according to a specific store, number of people, and diet restrictions (Weight Watchers points, low-carb, low-fat, and vegetarian).

My Experience

Right now, I subscribe to the Aldi meal plan for two people. When I first printed off the list, my husband took one look at it and said that he would enjoy eating every meal suggested!

Every Tuesday, I log on to my eMeals account and download a PDF file of that week’s meal plan and grocery list. I print it on one sheet of paper (front and back), put it in a clear sheet protector, and attach it to my refrigerator with a magnet.

The meals are simple, delicious, and family-friendly. Today, for example, I’m making a yummy Chinese pot roast in the crock-pot and will serve it with some stir-fry vegetables, rice, and dinner rolls.

I’m continuing to shop at Cub and Rainbow for the best deals every week, but I also swing by Aldi to pick up any ingredients I need that I don’t have stockpiled (mostly fresh produce and some meat).

eMeals Review

Pros

  • Your meal plan will give you ideas for side dishes as well as entrées. It truly is a complete plan.
  • The meals use up ingredients over the course of the week, so leftovers should be limited. I made a soup two nights ago that I served over baked potatoes last night. I never would have thought of that on my own!
  • The plans for specific stores are based on current sales at those stores, but since Aldi’s prices are pretty consistent week to week, I haven’t seen yet how this directly affects my plan.
  • The meal plan comes with a grocery list organized by section. If you subscribe to a plan for a specific store, the plan will also list the approximate cost of each item on your list.

Cons

  • A few items on the list are boxed or prepackaged (boxed rice, for example) to cut down on costs and to speed preparation time. If this isn’t for you, feel free to substitute those items with your own recipes.
  • The lists cannot be tailored (yet) to some of our local grocery stores, like Cub and Rainbow. However, you can get a basic meal plan that works at any grocery store.
  • Although it’s only $5 a month, it costs money.

Overall, this seems like an excellent and relatively inexpensive resource for those of you who struggle to come up with unique, delicious, family-friendly dinners every night.

To get started, head over to eMeals and check it out for yourself!

Your turn: What do you think of eMeals?

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Comments

  1. Angel P says

    I've used this service before and if you do it for a few weeks to a month or so and save a copy of your meal plans, you can stop the service after a short time because you'll have a bunch to choose from. I have a binder with master copies of all the meal plans in sheet protectors and I make copies of them if I want to use it as a shopping list. I have also gotten to the point where I have 2 weeks worth of favorite meals that I have written on the calendar and generally I just know what ingredients to keep on hand to make things we like. Meal planning can be like saving money with coupons or doing a budget. A little up front investment of time and energy and you can get a system in place to make things so easy.

  2. Theresa K. says

    I haven't tried it, but wouldn't it go against the concept of planning meals around current best prices? For years I've planned meals according to what we want and should eat, but it's harder to rein in costs that way. Through PYD, I've learned to wait and see what nearby stores are offering as loss leaders (meats, veggies, fruits, etc) and then planning meals around that. Are you saying that the Aldi plan customizes to Aldi's specials? I would be interested in trying it, if it did that cuz I'm an ardent Aldi shopper.

    • says

      Theresa, I haven't been subscribing long enough to see these meal plans reflect Aldi's sale prices (especially since Aldi doesn't really have sales like most grocery stores), but I'm guessing that when a big meat sale comes along (perhaps around Easter), I'll see it reflected in that week's menu plan.

      I get what you're saying about planning meals around prices. For me, though, it's better to have some meal plan (since I'm absolutely horrible at planning meals) than nothing. I've found that I haven't really had to purchase much yet to make the recipes because I've just been able to use the stockpile that I've built up. Even though the Aldi meal plan uses only ingredients that can be purchased at Aldi (with a few exceptions), I'm still doing some shopping elsewhere to get the really good deals. My hope is that I'll be able to use the deals I've stockpiled from a different store in an upcoming Aldi meal plan.

  3. Holly says

    Laura-

    I just discovered Kitchen Monki today! http://www.kitchenmonki.com
    It sounds really similar, but it's TOTALLY FREE!

    At just a quick glance, there are several options, including browsing the recipes, which have ratings, you can create a new recipe (so putting your favorite recipes online for easy access and generating the grocery list) plan a quick meal with key words and create a grocery list!

    You can even send the grocery list by text!!!

    They have several videos too, so check it out!

    So, I can't really compare to your E-Mealz, but to me, FREE is the key! I will be checking it out

      • Kris says

        Laura,

        Another good one is http://www.sparkpeople.com. It's great because it's free and it gives you meal plans based on your goals (weight loss, healthy living, etc). It gives you recipes and shoppings lists, plus you can add your own recipes and it will calculate the nutritional information. You can also customize your meal plans based on the recipes available. :)

  4. says

    Holly, thanks for sharing! This looks interesting. I guess what attracts me to E-Mealz is that I can customize the plan to make enough food just for me and my husband (my little guy is only ten months), and it TELLS me which meals to make. I've always been a rule-follower, so I like the structure it provides. This site looks like a good resource for someone who's open to being a little more flexible with his/her meal planning.

  5. Wendy Varner says

    Holly,

    Thank you for suggesting Kitchen Monki. I have been checking it out today. I was looking for a site that would help me put together some low carb dinners for my family that wouldn't break the budget. I was also looking for a site that would put together my shopping list. The site seams very user friendly. I am an avid sale / coupon shopper so I am going to see how I can work that in as well. I was finding that I was doing great with sales and coupons but wasn't coming home with items to make complete meals.

  6. Korene says

    Laura – do you still use E-Mealz? After using it for a while, did you find that you liked most of the meals? Are they nutritious?

  7. says

    Korene – Yes, I still use eMeals (they've changed the spelling slightly – I should update this post). Anyway, I no longer subscribe to new plans as I subscribed for almost 2 years and saved all of those plans to my computer.

    My family and I are working our way through the meal plans again and giving a thumbs up or thumbs down to the recipes. I just cross the ones we don't like off of my printed plans and keep them in a 3-ring binder for future reference. Once my kids get a little older, I'll probably resubscribe to the full family plan for a while.

    I am terrible at meal planning on my own so any meal plan (even if it's not 100% nutritious) is better than eating fast food or take out for me! We still use the Aldi meal plan for 2 (I have 2 small children) and what I like about that is that most of the ingredients can be found at Aldi which is where I do 85% of my shopping.

    They've expanded their meal plan offerings to include a bunch of specialty menus, including "Clean Eating," gluten free, low fat, "Portion Control" (aka Weight Watchers, but they can't call it that), low carb, natural & organic, and vegetarian. You should be able to find something that works for you.

    Hope this helps! :)

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