Did you know that an affordable and effective meal planning service can help improve certain areas of life? It’s true! Here are just 5 of the top ways…
Meal-planning has been a big point of contention in our marriage. It’s true. For whatever reason, dealing with the meal-planning process can cause a lot of stress, anxiety, and arguments for us. Neither one of us enjoys the process, but we know it has to get done.
From talking with other people, this seems to be a common stress-point – very few actually seem to enjoy it. Before talking about the benefits of a meal planning service, and our favorite, let’s see what generally happens.
Alternatives to meal planning
What commonly happens when people (like ourselves in the past!) ignore the meal planning process is:
1. Quick and easy “food” is grabbed on short notice.
Grabbing something quick and easy from the grocery store is one solution to this dilemma. This sounds fine until you consider that “quick and easy” is usually expensive. Food providers know that people don’t enjoy the meal planning process and they know that people will pay a premium to avoid it. This can be a budget buster.
2. The “easiest” solution is going out to eat.
It’s 5pm and you didn’t do any meal planning. At this point you don’t even want to do a grab-and-go from the store. You just want to eat. What happens? Chinese food, pizza, or another delivery service starts to sound like a good option. Or perhaps the local eatery where you can sit down, have a drink, and let someone wait on you. That sounds nice. Expensive, but nice. This isn’t just a budget buster but a total budget killer. In fact, dining outside the house can easily cost you a half million dollars over time.
3. Quick and easy food is often less healthy.
Frozen pizza? I LOVE it. And for the most part they’re horribly unhealthy. That fried chicken that smells so good when I walk into Publix? NOT HEALTHY. Almost every “meal” that comes from a can or box – is generally considered unhealthy. Some are better than others, but look at the ingredient list. These are not filled with fresh ingredients. Instead they’ll loaded with preservatives, sodium, and a dozen names none of us recognize.
5 ways you can benefit from a meal planning service
1. Avoid arguments, stress, and save time
A good meal-planning service is going to provide a weekly menu for you. Boom. Done! Seven meals picked out and provided in an easy to use format. No more “what do you want to eat this week? IDK, what do YOU want to eat this week?” discussions. This is a huge benefit of pre-made meal plans.
I admitted above our past struggle with meal planning. Using a meal planning service totally eliminates those tense discussions.
2. A meal planning service simplifies grocery shopping
This. Is. Awesome.
Not only does a good meal planning service include the meal plans, but it will include a grocery shopping list. This is sort of a shopping list maker – but all done automatically!
You’ll get a shopping list that is even organized by department and set up exactly how you would walk through the store. You aren’t working to organize a haphazard list. It’s done for you. This is a great feature.
3. You eat healthier with a meal planning service
When you are preparing your own meals, you know exactly what is in there. And since you’re shopping once a week this means fresh ingredients for your meals.
Grab-and-go food is generally focused on ease of preparation – not on health. Having fresh ingredients means no preservatives. Preparing a planned meal also means total control over sodium levels and other spice levels.
Some meal planning services (the best at least) let you choose from a variety of different meal plan formats. Some of the options includes:
- Clean Eating meal plans
- Paleo Meal Plans
- Low Carb Meal Plans
- Low Calorie Meal Plans
- Diabetic Meal Plans
- Gluten Free Meal Plans
- …and more…
You can also change the meal plan selection if desired. Want Paleo meals next week? No problem. Maybe Low Calorie the following week? That’s fine.
Having flexible options is great.
4. Meal planning services can save you a lot of money
The average family winds up throwing out up to 25% of the food they buy. This works out to be around $1,500 (or more) each year. Having a meal planning service, with an organized shopping list, helps you purchase exactly what you need for your meals.
Also, another great feature of the best meal planning service, is that it can be cost-optimized. What does that mean? You can select your preferred grocery store and select a budget-friendly plan that will take store specials and discounts into account.
Publix; Aldi; Whole Foods. These are just three of the stores supported by a budget optimized meal planning service. The service will craft meal plans around what is on sale – to assure you save as much money as possible on your grocery bill.
5. You experience different food options with a meal planning service
Without a meal planning service you’re more likely to repeat recipe favorites. Sure, they might be your favorite cooked meals, but at some point you’ll get sick of them. If you haven’t already.
A meal planning service is going to help exposure you to new meal options. Those options are going to be within the meal plan type you select, so they’ll fit your diet or preferences. This is a great way to find new meals to add to your “favorites” list.
What’s our top choice meal planning service?
Our favorite meal planning service is called eMeals. We’ve tried the Paleo meal plan, the Clean Eating plan, and the Slow Cooker plan. Each has great recipes – many of which are now our personal favorites.
EMeals gives a new menu each week. It includes seven dinner entrees and a side specifically paired for each entree. The shopping list maker feature (happens automatically) is awesome. Having these pre-made meal plans has quite a few benefits – some of which I listed above.
Another great feature – also included by default – is the ability to customize your weekly plan. Is there something on your recommended plan that you don’t like? You can easily swap it out for something else.
EMeals also has both an IOS and an Android mobile app, so you can manage your meal plans directly from your mobile phone if preferred.
There is a 14-day free trial for eMeals so you can try it out risk free. There are also sample menus, for each of the meal plans, listed on the site that you can review in advance. Those samples are to give you an idea of the planning format and a few of the many recipes in their database.
After the free trial you can subscribe to the service for as low as $5/month. You’ll certainly save more than the cost – both in shopping savings but also by cutting out meal planning hassle from your life.
Check out eMeals now. I bet you’ll love it as much as we do.