I’ve had enough people ask me about this that I thought I would write a blog about it. Lately I’ve been posting pictures of some of the meals that I make at home on Facebook and Instagram. Honestly, up until this year, I was not really much of a cook. I can follow a recipe ok, but usually because it’s easier I just buy something frozen or already made or I eat out or order pizza. But this year, I have been trying to eat better and also save some money. So I looked into what my options were.
Somehow I came across emeals. I happened to find a Groupon for them for $29 for a year’s worth of dinners. Basically, what emeals is, is a recipe service. I paid for a year with the $29 Groupon, and now each week (on Wednesday morning) they send me an email with a PDF attached that contains my recipes and shopping list for the week. The PDF has 7 dinner recipes, one for each day of the week. Each recipe usually contains an entree and a side and serves 2 people. And each recipe is always 500 calories or less for one serving. There are several different emeals plans to choose from, including paleo, Mediterranean, and plans for specific grocery store chains (i.e. if you shop at Fry’s or Safeway or Kroger, you know that everything on the list will be at that store). Since I am trying to lose weight, I chose the 500 calorie plan. I’ve not had any problem finding almost all of the ingredients at either Fry’s or Safeway.
The shopping list part of the PDF is also numbered so you know which ingredient on the list goes with each recipe, which makes it a lot easier to eliminate recipes that you decide not to make. I tried my first week to buy all the ingredients for all the recipes and just ended up with a lot of food. So now, I usually only buy ingredients to make 4 or 5 of the recipes each week, which saves money and helps keep from wasting food when you know it’s likely you might make other plans 1 or 2 days out of the week.
One of the best things about emeals is that they have an iPhone app. The app lists all 7 recipes (both for the current week and last week) and you can choose which ones to skip in the app. Once you skip them, they are no longer displayed and their ingredients are taken out of the shopping list. The shopping list on the app also allows you to easily check off ingredients as you buy them. I pretty much use the app all the time and never print out the PDFs at all. I do, however, save all of them and keep a spreadsheet with a list of the recipe names. That way at the end I will have a year’s worth of recipes, and if I want something specific I can just find it in the spreadsheet and see which PDF it is in.
When I first started using emeals, I would take a trip to the grocery store to buy what was on the shopping list. This became pretty time-consuming since it is pretty much a week’s worth of groceries and you get them from various areas of the store. And especially since sometimes I didn’t always know what an ingredient was (not a cook before, remember?) and/or didn’t know where to find it in the grocery store. This time-consuming shopping trip each week became a bit of a deterrent to using emeals. Between time for cooking and time for shopping, it was just taking too long. So I started to look into grocery delivery.
A friend of mine uses a service called FreshDirect, which I looked into but is not available where I live. So I checked to see what was, and came across Safeway’s delivery service. It’s possible there are better or cheaper grocery delivery services out there, I don’t know. But I have had pretty good luck with Safeway so far. After I get my new emeals menu each Wednesday, I go through and pick out which 4-5 meals I want to make that week. Then I use the shopping list on the app to search for and order all of the ingredients on Safeway’s website. Every now and then I find something I can’t get, but usually I am easily able to find all of the ingredients or something similar. Then I schedule my delivery for Friday during the day. It’s easy to do this because I work from home every Friday, so I know I will be there all day. Safeway sometimes emails out coupons for free delivery and/or free products (I’ve gotten bottled water, bananas, and paper towels for free at different times), but even if they don’t, if you schedule a 4-hour window for them to deliver in (like 11a-3p on Friday for me), delivery is only $7. Not too shabby, IMO. Then, sometime in that window, your groceries are delivered to your door. This saves so much time for me since I usually go shopping by myself and have to carry a week’s worth of groceries up the stairs to our second floor apartment.
I’m a pretty big fan of this setup. I get my meal plan on Wednesday, order groceries on Wednesday or Thursday, and they are delivered on Friday. After that, I am all set and have all the ingredients I need to make any of the meals! Plus, I always know they will all be under 500 calories. Eating healthy has never been this easy.