I hate to cook. I love eating good food though. I just prefer that it magically appear in front of me without the hassle of me having to prepare it and then clean up. Alas, we don’t live on a Disney Cruise ship (but if we DID, how awesome would THAT be?!?) Eating out is expensive though and pretty unhealthy when done on a regular basis. Of course, if you read everything there was to read on food these days none of us could eat anything. Anyhoo…in an effort to get better at this cooking dinner thing (you’d think I’d be good at it after 18 years of marriage and 3 kids, but I’m not) I signed up for something amazing. It’s called emealz. (you gotta love that they have an owl on their site!)
Go ahead, click on the link and go check it out…I’ll wait…BUT come right back. Ok, what did you think? Let me tell you about our experience with emealz. I first learned about emealz from Jon Acuff. You can check out his hilariousness here, just not now, because trust me, once you start reading you will laugh (maybe even enough to cry) and then keep reading his back posts for the next 3 hours. It’s true. It’ll happen. He talks about how important dinner time is to his family and I applaud him for the efforts he and his wife are putting forth into making that a good habit with their young kids. While our kids are older, I know it’s still important to at least make it a priority despite orchestra and youth meetings and musicals derailing our plans much of the time. I figured for the price of $5 a month…shoot, I can’t go wrong. Besides, it’s Dave Ramsey approved, and contrary to what I used to think, Dave Ramsey does not expect you to eat beans and rice for every meal. The things you learn on the internet!
So, all about emealz. It takes the hassle out of meal planning. When you sign up, you choose the meal plan you’d like. They have meal plans for specific stores like Aldi, Publix (we don’t have those in our area), and Walmart, or the ‘anystore’ plan, which is what we chose. There are also plans for special dietary needs like low-fat, low-carb, and even one that works with Weight Watchers Points. Every Wednesday I get an email with a new list of 7 meals and a grocery list with all the things I’ll need to prepare those meals. Since I’m all OCD about things, I got myself a pretty 3 ring binder with clear dividers. When I print out my meal plan, I print out 2 of the grocery lists (one to go in my folder and one to yuck-up while I grocery shop) and then put them back-to-back in the clear dividers. All organized and pretty.
The first few weeks using emealz, I straight up followed the meal plan and the grocery list. Now that I have over a months worth of plans in my book, I can mix it up with favorites since I have extremely picky eaters in my house. That would include my husband. Here are just some of the things that are frowned upon in my cooking: onions, chunks of tomatoes, spaghetti (as a meal), soups, stews, pot roast (or any other roast type of meat), most casseroles…you get the idea. This family makes it very hard to enjoy the whole cooking thing! When you have 4 family members beside yourself, and on any given meal you can only make 1 or 2 of them happy and the other whiners let it be known they aren’t…well, you can see why I’ve gone on strike more than once.
Emealz has made the whole planning and shopping part of cooking much better for me. There are nights when I’ve told them to suck it up and eat what I’ve made or starve. But really, if you’re going to slave in the kitchen making food for your family, you don’t want them to hate it. I started letting the pickiest go through my trusty binder and put a mark with a dry erase marker (they wipe off the plastic 🙂 to let me know which meals they want the following week. It makes the whole grocery list thing not as easy since I can’t just go off the one sheet, but hey, it’s a trade off.
All in all the emealz thing has been great! We even came up with a grading system for the meals. 1 being (don’t ever make this again) to 5 being (wow…this is amazing!) Like I said, I have a picky family, so there has only been one 5 meal so far, the “Chicken Primavera Pizza”. The rest of the meals range in the 3’s and 4’s. There have only been two 1’s to date, and that’s because they were stews or soups with onions and tomato chunks! Not emealz fault. I have gotten creative and if a recipe calls for diced tomatoes I just buy crushed or I put the diced ones in the blender. I’ve found with my crew it’s not so much the taste of things they object to, but the texture. One meal 3 of them deemed un-edible, Marissa and I loved. It was the “Sausage and Lentil Soup”. The problem with soups is they make enough to feed your whole family and then some. If you’re the only one that likes it, guess what you’re eating every meal for the next week?
I just figured it was time I share the joy of emealz (if not cooking) with you, my readers. Happy chewing! (that’s a phrase by one of my favorite food lovers, Lisa Lillian aka Hungry Girl.) Definitely check her out as well!! I just got her newest cookbook “300 Under 300” with you guessed it, 300 recipes under 300 calories. And you know it has to be good for me to BUY it. For a hater of cooking to spend hard earned cash on a cookbook and then proceed to actually READ the whole thing…well, that should say it all.