Trying eMeals for our Groceries on a Budget
The following is my own opinion of the eMeals service. I was in no way compensated by eMeals for this review.
If you think that putting a homecooked, healthy meal on the table 3 times a day, 7 days a week, is too much work and too expensive, you’re in good company. Most people do. You’ve probably heard of meal subscription services like Blue Apron
or Hellofresh. While those subscriptions do make menu-planning and cooking a breeze, boy-oh-boy do they break my budget. I had a free trial of Blue Apron for a week a while ago. The food was delicious, but there wasn’t enough of it. We rely heavily on dinner leftovers for easy, cheap lunches, and the Blue Apron meals JUST fed our family. Then there was the fact that it was only a couple of meals for $70+ dollars. In my budget-world, that is only a good price if we were going to eat those meals out anyways. And since I cook every.single.meal, even using a fancy subscription box to cook yet another meal is just not how I want to spend my splurge money. Our weekly grocery budget is only $100, so that obvously did not continue. I had to resign myself to the fact that as long as our budget remains my primary concern, Blue Apron (or any meal subscription box) is just not going to be a good deal for us.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw a recommendation for eMeals on on the Dave Ramsey facebook page. I thought it was another grocery subscription service, and I wasn’t entirely wrong. It’s a meal plan and grocery list subscription service. They have a bunch of different meal plan types, for basically every diet imaginable. Low Carb, Paleo, Low-Calorie, Budget… and more. Each week you get a new menu plan. You can look over it and select meals that you want to make, and it automatically generates your grocery list. Then, you just look over the grocery list, add any other sundries you need, and you’re in business. You can even order the groceries through something like Kroger Clicklist.
Best of all, the price is really reasonable. If you buy it in 3 month increments, it’s about $10 bucks a month. If you’re menu planning and couponing and creating your grocery list yourself based on the best sales, you know it takes a LOT of time. eMeals cuts out so many of those really lengthy steps. But, y’all know I’m all about the budget, so let’s look a little closer at these pros and cons.
1. It’s only $10 a month. If you expect your menu-planning/grocery-list-making process to take between 1-2 hours every week, you’re basically paying between $1.50 and $2.50 an hour for a service. I think my time is definitely worth more than that.
2. The food was all fantastic. Not too time-consuming, but different dishes than I usually think to make.
3. It fits our diet. We’re currently Low-Carb (the kids get their carbs earlier in the day) for our main meals, and the Low Carb menu was great.
4. I love not having to plan our menu. I always feel like we’re eating the exact same things because I know what is healthy and works in our budget, and that’s just what I tend towards. It’s so enjoyable to have different meals every night. Flexing my cooking skills is actually bringing a little bit of fun back to cooking dinner–and I’ll be honest, it was getting to be not-my-favorite chore.
1. It’s $10 a month. I would end up spending my personal money on it. There is no room in the grocery budget for $10 that isn’t devoted to food because…
2. The food is delicious but it is harder for me to get most of what we need and keep it at $100. I’ve done it for two weeks, but I don’t like how stressed it makes me. Plus, I hate the debate in the store over what is actually essential to the recipe and what I can modify. Trying to think about recipes, budgets, and the groceries I’m trying to get, while corralling three small children? Not my most rational moments. I think just getting the groceries for the 7 main meals would max out my budget if I didn’t fiddle with things and modify recipes. Unfortunately, there are 2 other meals in the day that we have to account for, as well as cleaning supplies, paper products, etc. The maths aren’t good, y’all.
I really, highly recommend eMeals, especially if you’re having trouble making a menu plan and sticking to a grocery list. If you’re just starting out in budgeting and meal planning, it can really help you get going. There are lots of healthy options that really aren’t that expensive, considering average grocery budgets. It is a fantastic deal, and it makes the whole menu planning/cooking dinner situation so much easier. Try it out! You can try it free for 14 days–that’s what I just did. Pick a menu plan, try several different menu plans. See what works for you and your family.
I LOVE this service, but I’m not continuing it.
ONLY because of where we are in our budgeting situation. We need to be focusing on saving for another house. I’d be truly happy to pay for it out of my personal money if that was the end of it, but I’m not comfortable with how tight it makes our grocery budget. If I ended up having to go over regularly, it would have a negative effect on our budget and saving. I could use the budget menu plan and make it work, but our diet is important to us. I CAN make a healthy, low carb menu work in our budget the way I’ve been planning and shopping. It’s a little work, but I think it’s worth the tradeoff right now.
At some point in the future, when our grocery budget eases up a bit, eMeals will be the FIRST thing I add.
So! Check it out! I hope it helps you and your budgeting and/or meal-planning situation. It’s a fantastic service, MUCH cheaper than meal subscription services, and it takes the stress out of meal-prep. As long as you don’t have a double-whammy of budget and diet considerations, I think you will love it.