Let me be clear, I have grown to adore my time spent cooking over the past few years. It’s an easy way to decompress at the end of the day and sometimes take a little extra aggression out on those poor little veggies. What I don’t like is meal planning. I loathe it and I am terrible at it. When I try, I tend to spend way too much on groceries or I don’t buy enough or I end up cooking the same dishes over and over again. Everyone in my family craves variety, so much so that I rarely make the same thing twice thanks to my trusty meal planning services I have used.
If you love planning out your meals then this post isn’t really for you. But if you would rather take those hours stressing out over what to buy and apply it to, say spending time reading or playing with your kids or whatever else, it is something to look into. If you are tired of making the same thing over and over again, again, it is something to look into to.
I have used a few services. First, for years, I used Emeals and I still highly recommend their ‘simple gourmet’ plan. I’ve tried a few of their plans and it is by far my favorite. I decided to try something new for a few reasons: first, I was sometimes buying obscure ingredients that never got used again and second, there were a few good weeks where the recipes weren’t huge hits with the fam.
- They have 1 hour pre-week prep instructions, so if you have time Sunday night, you can knock out some of the work you would otherwise have to do the day of.
- You buy 20 fresh ingredients, nothing is frozen or processed, its so healthy with lots of fruits and veggies and not outrageously expensive.
- 20 ingredients means less time at the store and fewer things you will use half of once and toss the rest.
- They use the same 20 item pantry list. I just printed it out and put it in my cupboard and keep an eye on it. (With Emeals, they had a huge staple section and I missed some things on many occasions)
- They provide substitutes, for example, if you aren’t a seafood person they provide an alternative. They also provide swap outs for some pricier items, like putting ham vs prosciutto.
With this meal plan my children tried scallops, salads with incredible mixes of both fruits and veggies, and yes prosciutto. We have a rule that they at least try it once, even if it’s not for them. I took the advice from their website and have turned cooking into more of a family affair and since my oldest helps make it, she tends to be more enthusiastic about eating it.
So if you ask my husband what the favorite thing I make for him is, he probably won’t have an answer. Not because I am a terrible cook, but because its pretty rare for me to make something more than once…because I don’t have to.