Friday, January 20, 2012

e-Mealz - I'll Take The Help

Over the past few years, I have gradually made the transition from being more of a stay-at-home mom to more of a working mom. It's not a transition I took lightly and even still the growing pains keep me up at night. I fret and cry when my children do monumental or even non-monumental things with the babysitter (Sandra - may the Lord transfigure her because she's worth her weight in gold). But, I have paid off over $15,000 worth of debt in the past year and so if I'm going to work so hard, and be removed from my children, at least the money is well spent. I can't say at this point in my life if it is worth the justification but it is important to get out of debt and I am making some hopefully temporary sacrifices that the whole family feels.

On Sunday, my biggest goal of the day was to plan a month's worth of meals, get the grocery list prepared and thereby feel more in control of family meals, seeing as Pizza and Fend-for-Yourself are common menu items around my house. But, as I sat down to do work on this enormous and usually un-achievable task, a documentary came on TV about Groupon (I LOVE Groupon). So in my natural MO, I procrastinated the meal-planning and headed to the Groupon site where they were having a deal for e-Mealz. What the...? $29 for a year's worth of meal plans and grocery lists. You'd have thought the Lord was watching over me and having pity on me!

I thought $29 (50% off) wasn't a bad price to pay to try out what they were touting. I gave it a try. I downloaded a PDF file that has 7 meal plans including recipes and grocery list. The meal plans were from scratch meals that did not include pre-packaged items. All meals include a vegetable at least and sometimes have two sides, and none of the sides are ..."warm up a can of beans" which I love.

The only thing I didn't love was the dropdown menu where you choose your grocery store. The only one for this area was WalMart so I choose that one. They said they'll be adding Smith's soon but there's also a generic shopping list with no associated prices. For the WalMart list, they were able to list all of the prices and brands which made shopping very easy. I do prefer to shop at Smith's however. The grocery list was divided into section of the grocery store, i.e. frozen, produce, refrigerator, baking goods, etc. My grocery trip lasted 1 hour. I got everything on my list and I spent $75 after removing items I already had on hand which were several.

This week, the menu items included Swiss Chicken, Stir-Fry Beef, Barbeque-Bacon Hawaiian Pizza, Chicken Pasta Salad on Romaine, Baked Talapia (can't remember the rest). Sides included Parmesan Roasted Potatoes, warm rolls, fresh zucchini & asparagus salad. Everything was made from scratch including the teriyaki sauce for the stir fry. I am 6/7 meals and so far my 7 year old AND 2 year old (and finicky husband) have enjoyed every single meal. Perhaps even more, they have enjoyed that I am cooking a real meal and we eat together at the table. BONUS!

Better yet, I can switch my plan from 3-6 people to 1-2 at any time or back and forth. I can even choose Whole Foods grocery store.

After I went shopping, I came home and prepped a few items that would help me on busy evenings. I cooked a lb. of ground beef, steamed 2 cups of rice, cooked some bacon and chopped up some sirloin steak. This week was the test. I worked 4/5 days and each evening at 5pm when I walked in the door, it was easy for me to prep a quick meal and have dinner on the table by 5:45 easy. All the meat was defrosted because I refrigerated it all instead of freezing it, knowing I'd be using it within the week. That was a HUGE help.

Next week's meals include:
Chicken Tetrazinni
Beef Burgundy
Sausage and Zucchini Soup
Russian Chicken
Seared Catfish Subs
Sloppy Joe's
Slow Bake BBQ Chicken

Each week will include an "Easy Meal" and this week there is a crock-pot meal, a 30-minute meal, and a Slow Bake meal. I like these distinctions next to the name of the meal so I can decide which meal to cook which night depending on the time I have.

I recommend this to ANY person who struggles trying to stay ahead of the game, figure out what to cook and do so in a creative and edible manner. I rave this service. In one week, I have reconnected with my family and providing them with a part of me that I think they deserve.


4 backward glances:

Aislinn said...

That is super cool! So glad you were being blessed in this area because no doubt you are a busy mom and being able to have dinner as a family is one way to connect when a hard day is done!

Amy said...

I'm sure it's not for everyone and maybe won't be a solution forever but it's awesome for me now! My blessings come in very unusual ways :)

Rachel said...

I need to get on this program. I'm home every day and still struggle to figure out meals that everyone will like. I'm in.

Evie said...

Way to go Amy! Can I say you are becoming my idol more and more all the time??!!! I think I might try this because of you.
I love you oodles and gobs!
Aunt Evelyn