Friday, October 14, 2011

E-Mealz New Review


Many families, whether they homeschool or not, have had to reassess their spending habits lately and one area that is usually scrutinized is the grocery and food budget. If this is the case people look to different sources to assist them with spending less, without compromising the quality of what they are used to. One resource which may help in this quest is E-Mealz. E-Mealz is a subscription menu planning and shopping service. No, they won't do the actual shopping for you, but they will plan meals and prepare a shopping list. So if this sounds like it might help you read on.

How E-Mealz Works

E-Mealz offers menu plans for various dietary needs such as gluten free, low carb, low fat, portion control, and vegetarian. The menu plans are also written for specific stores such as Wal-Mart, Kroger, Aldi, and generic plans which can be used at any grocery store. The majority of menu plans are written for families of 4-6 people, however, there are several choices available for families of 2 people.

Sample Menu Plan and Shopping list

Upon signing up the user selects the store they wish to shop and if they have any specific dietary concerns. Then on a set day each week they have a new seven day meal plan available to download and print. This meal plan includes a dinner for each day of the week and a shopping list. The dinner is a main entree and one or two sides. The shopping list includes everything needed to prepare all seven meals, (five meals on the plans for 2 people) including any staples required. The shopping list is broken down into areas of the store and lists prices as well. A total for the week is also included. Each item also has a notation regarding which meal it is for so if you decide not to make a certain menu those ingredients can be easily crossed off.

The price? E-Mealz costs $15 every 3 months charged to your credit card

Descriptions of all the meal plans and options are simply broken down on the index cards in the center of E-Mealz homepage. There are also partial samples of the menu plans available at the same location.

E-Mealz also aims to help the cook from becoming a short order cook for every meal while bringing families together around the table to enhance family life.

How I Used E-Mealz

I chose the Wal-Mart plan as I generally do my grocery shopping there and a warehouse club. I appreciated having the shopping list already prepared. I did run into some challenges with E-Mealz though.

  • Many of the recipes just did not appeal to my family. My husband readily admits that the family is a bunch of "Culinary Philistines"(he gave me permission to use the quote). The recipes were just to different from what they are used to for them to be willing to try something new or contained unusual pairings of main dishes and sides. Changing side dishes would have been an easy fix, but they weren't interested in the main course. There were also a number of sea food meals, which is not something half of my family will eat. Additionally, seafood does not fit into my budget. Many of the sides were not in season and therefore not available or else out of my budget as well. Due to the seasonality and personal taste I did end up substituting sides on several menus.

  • Chicken Parmesan Menu

  • Cooking times were not accurate in my experience. I found that several items needed to be cooked longer in order to be done. Additionally, I needed to modify the preparation instructions to have the dish turn out. For example, we made Chicken Parmesan several times. After the first time I found it was necessary to do a more elaborate breading to get the coating to stick to the chicken as well as increase the cooking time.

  • The prices on the shopping list did not accurately reflect the prices at my Wal-Mart. On this issue, I know that grocery prices have been rising lately and it is challenging to keep up to date with them. I also know that prices at Wal-Mart vary from store to store and region to region. Having mentioned that, I still liked having the prices on the shopping list as it gave me some idea of what to expect before I got to the store.

  • I had several more pictures of meals I made, but unfortunately they did not turn out well.

    I do really like the idea of having menu plans and shopping lists available at the click of my mouse. For me, I think I would have gotten more use out of a program which allowed me to make choices between several main entrees and then through the magic of computers assembled my picks into a menu or shopping list. Or filling out a simple questionnaire at sign up to exclude some items such as seafood from our menus. I have shared information about E-Mealz with a friend who enjoys cooking, but needs to watch her diet due to diabetic concerns. She questioned if there was a menu plan suitable for diabetic menus. As I am not familiar with those needs I can not tell if this menu option exists. It maybe beneficial if this type of notation was available.

    I do think E-Mealz does a pretty good job selecting meal options for staying within a budget, although it was a little pricey for just dinner meals for a week.

    We found that there was plenty to feed our family of four with enough left over for at least one more meal.

    To learn how other TOS Crew members used E-Mealz, check out the Crew Blog.


    Disclaimer: I received a free limited time subscription to e-mealz to use so I could write this review. I have not been compensated in any other manner. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

    1 comment:

    1. I reviewed E-mealz, too, and I'm glad to see that I wasn't the only one to encounter problems.

      I found the prices were higher at both Walmart and "any store". My kids balked at many of the meals, too.