Friday, October 21, 2011

E-Mealz It's What's for Dinner!! TOS Crew Review

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 It's 4 PM and you are dreading dinner time, Why? You have no idea what to make and nothing sounds good and you are tired of slaving over a hot stove only to find out your family isn't thrilled with what you have made. Why? It is one of the tired recipes you make once a week and everyone has Dinner Burnout Blues! What is a Mom to do?

   Well I am here to save the day, because I have a meal planning solution to share with you. This solution will end dinner time troubles and help with the grocery shopping too. Have I got your attention yet? I though so.
My family were give the distinct pleasure of reviewing E-Mealz as part of being on the TOS Crew. Now I know what you are thinking but what does meal planning have to do with homeschooling? Well to answer your question more than I ever though it did. Read on to find out how I not only busted our dinner time boredom, but how I also incorporated E-Mealz into our homeschool curriculum.

        For a long while now I have been at a loss for what to cook, I am not sure why, but it was getting boring at the dinner table around my house. Now I like to think I am a pretty good cook and many will agree with me unless they have been just trying to make me feel good. There just has been some creativity missing and I think it was partly do to the fact that I hated spending the time to make up a menu and then make the shopping list and then trudge to the grocery store, especially when my boys were both in tow.

One thing I know for sure is that any company endorsed by Dave Ramsey is something I want to at least try.

  Dave Ramsey

Recommends E-Mealz
Food is the biggest budget buster of all. I’ve wanted someone to create a practical solution to the "beans and rice, rice and beans" dilemma. Finally... E-Mealz has done it! Now thousands of my listeners subscribe to E-mealz from MealtimeMakeover.com. You will save a ton of time and money. And at just $5.00 per month, E-Mealz is a no-brainer!

 E-Mealz Core Belief and Ultimate Goal
The ultimate goal of E-Mealz and their core belief is reflected in their organization, Make Time For Family (maketimeforfamily.org), through which they are booked for speaking engagements and publish articles. Jane and Jenny have found that parents fall into two categories:

1) Those who did not grow up with family dinnertime and therefore don't have a vision for what it can be, or

2) Those who did grow up with family dinnertime, but since current lifestyles are so busy and fragmented, struggle to duplicate their childhood experience and pull it off for their own families.

Our goal through maketimeforfamily.org is to inspire women and men with a vision to do something transcendent in their family's life.

    When I first applied to review E-Mealz I was not super excited but figured, What do I have to lose? It surely cannot make meal time worse so it is sure to make it even the tiniest bit better. So when I was picked I was excited to dive right in and what better time to get access than a day when we needed to go grocery shopping anyway.

   Logging in and creating my account on the E-Mealz Website was a breeze so I became even more excited, hoping that the whole system was as easy to navigate. You know what? It was, the E-Mealz website allows you to preview different menu plans like, Gluten Free, Low Fat, Low Carb, Vegetarian and Portion Control. There are also different options for the size of your family or what store you like to shop at. Such as 2 person meal plan or a Family Meal Plan which feeds 4-6. Stores like Kroger, Walmart and our personal favorite Aldi.
   You can preview the meal plans that you are interested in by clicking the link and it will show you the shopping list for that week and the menu with only a couple of the actual recipes showing. You then decide based on the samples which menu plan you would like to chose based on your family's eating habits and family size. Don't worry though, after signing up you may change your menu plan once during your cycle. I thought I would end up doing that but we picked Aldi and we have stuck with it through out our 3 month trial membership that we have gotten to use for our review.

    Once you have purchased your membership, which by the way only cost $15 for 3 months, which broken down is only $1.25 a week.  Now I know some of you are probably thinking that this is not in the budget. Honestly I was thinking the same thing before I started but after using it the last couple of months I can not imagine not trying to crunch the numbers somewhere to make this work for my family. This plan has helped me out in so many ways that I do not know what I ever did with out it.

      Back to the set up process, now after you have picked your menu option you can log right in and you will be able to print out last week's menu and shopping list and the current week's one as well. For Aldi the new menu and list is posted every Tuesday and is always there when I get up to start my day, which is pretty early. So there is no waiting around until a certain time which eliminates some frustration right there.

   My house has some pretty picky eaters, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that 6 out of 7 recipes for the first week of our trial was something that sounding like everyone in my home would enjoy. Now there are certain things that some of my kids will eat so long as they do not know what all of their ingredients are, this was no different. I have just learned to omit certain ingredients from the verbal list when going through the recipes with the kids. We still make them according to the recipe but we have a don't ask don't tell policy in our kitchen and a What they don't know won't hurt them kind of thing going on when it comes to cooking. I am sure you have someone that is like that too. Just keeps dinner time more peaceful.

   So we printed out the menu and the shopping list, which is a life saver if you ask me. The prices are matched to the store you chose, unless you pick the any store option then the prices will be blank, they are organized by store departments and on the far left column is the meal numbers for each ingredient. Some ingredients are shared between 2 recipes this helps in the cost saving department. For instance a package of cheese, or bacon or certain vegetables or eggs. What I do is highlight the items on the list that we may already have to prevent the buying of duplicates to save extra money and there is also a pantry list on the bottom of staples you should always keep on hand, some I did not so I initially bought some extra items like some spices, cornstarch and croutons and such.

  For our first week that one day that the recipe would not fit the taste buds of our family I substituted that day for our Dinner at Church on Wednesday and just rearranged what meals we would be eating on what days.  Now to be honest there were a couple weeks where they were more than one recipe that did not mesh with our family but what E-Mealz did for me was inspired me to fill in the gaps with other recipes that I found on Pinterest or recipe websites, but it still seemed much more manageable to just add one or two recipes and some items to the shopping list than having to start with a blank canvas.

    Now I will let you in on a secret, I do double most of my recipes as I have 6 people in my family with odd people thrown in for good measure on many occasions so we have 8 on a regular basis and many of them are growing teenage boys, my hopes were to originally cook enough so we would have left overs for lunch the next day. You know what? We almost never have left overs anymore because everyone loves every meal I have made and they beg for seconds and sometimes thirds. Even my 91 year old grandma who was eating like a bird was asking for seconds and cleaning her plate. She had been bored with our prior meals too and just was not speaking up. Good grief had it really been that bad? Yes I am ashamed to say it had. How could I have missed it, well if your lifestyle is anything like ours it is chaotic to say the least and I simply just did not prioritize my meal planning above anything else, we just throw our meals together often at the last minute.
Our first meal we made was Sausage Pie and it was delicious and looked great too. I think it is our favorite, and the kids especially love eating "pie" for dinner.

Our next favorite was Toasted Ham and Cheese on Garlic Bread

Bacon Mushroom Quiche

And last but certianly not least Stuffed Pasta Shells which we used Manicotti instead of shells but delicious nonetheless

    So I have told your how E-Mealz has saved our family at meal time, but remember how I said I incorporated it into our homeschool.

   Well the kids and I are studying economics this year and so even though at the bottom of my shopping list there is a total for the week's dinner time meals and remember I was doubling it. I did not let the kids see the amount, we went shopping together I sent them to fetch certain ingredients all the while they are double checking prices and matching them to what I told them they should be( my prices at my Aldi were slightly higher than the projected prices on my sheet, prices differ from area to area) and then they also had to double the amount that was written on my sheet so they were multiplying and adding. So this was part of our Math on shopping day. I also started to see them work as a team which is very important to me. Alyx helped Taylor reach things that were high up or lift heavy items. So then when we got to the register they each had to estimate what they thought our grocery total was going to be. The one closest without going over received a prize. Over the course of a few weeks they seem to get more accurate in their estimating. This was so great!
  We also decided to head to our local produce store to save some extra money as well as use coupons at other stores if we could to save additional money, but the menu prices without deviating from your plan typical run $55 to $70 for a family of 4-6 people (this is without doubling).
      This has truly been a time and money saver for our family and I know we are going to continue with E-Mealz, How can we not? I love hearing my family's praises around the dinner table it has truly blessed my family's mealtime in more ways than one. All the boys now have a new found joy of cooking, where is before it was totally up to me and Alyx to come up with dinner. Meal time if truly now family time in every sense of the word.
   E-Mealz has come up with the ultimate gift for those hard to buy for families. Newlywed Couples, Family with a new Arrival, or just simply to help a famuily have wonderful dinner time experiences. E-Mealz printable gift certificates. What a blessing that would be for a family on your holiday gift list or simply just because.

    What is for dinner at your house?? If you don't know or are simply tired of all the work of preparing the weekly dinner menu, and creating the shopping list, then you go to http://www.e-mealz.com/ and subscribe today. Don't just take my word for it visit my fellow TOS Crew Mates and see what their families are saying about E-Mealz and Dinner time in their house.

Disclaimer: I was given a 3 month trial membership to E-Mealz in exchange for my review as part of the TOS Crew. I was not compensated in any way and was not paid for my review. Receiving the trial membership did not influence my review or my opinions in any way.


2 thoughts shared:

joelle said...

What a great review! You've caused me to really rethink this. I am not that much into using pre-made menu plans.
Visiting from the crew!

Sweetpeas said...

Sounds like this was a great fit for your family, yay for meals that picky eaters will eat!