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meal planning websites

Last post Tue, Jul 22 2008 4:16 PM by Brandy. 13 replies.
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  • Tue, Jul 15 2008 9:23 PM

    meal planning websites

    Does anyone use any of the meal planning websites?  For those who might not know, there are websites where you can buy a meal plan for $X/week or $x/season.  Each week, delivered to your inbox or available for print out on the website is a 7 day menu with shopping list.  Two sites I know of are savingdinner.com and e-mealz.com.

    SavingDinner I know and trust b/c I've been using the FlyLady system for years (not every aspect, but many).  I don't have the subscriptions though b/c I have two of the books (Saving Dinner and Saving Dinner The Low Carb Way) and I have yet to use even 1/2 the recipes in each book (I pair recipes from either book with other family favorites).  SavingDinner works out to about $0.76/week on the most expensive way to purchase it (3 month subscription vs. 6 months or 1 year).  SavingDinner users have sent in many a testamonial that they're weekly shopping trips have dropped in cost quite a bit (down to $60 to 80 on average for a family of four).

    E-mealz I heard about today through a post on the saving money portion of Wal-Mart's website.  I checked it out and it's not too bad.  It's $1.25/week for the subscription and they have several meal plans available.  They also aim to keep the cost for the groceries for the week around $75 and use the sale ads.  However, the site also states that the prices are only good for that week in a certain southeast portion of the US.  E-mealz also promotes itself as having easy "straight up" meals -- no weird ingredients, family friendly, easy to prepare.

    There are several others on the internet and most run between $1 and 1.50/week for the subscription.

    I guess for someone who is starting out and feels really clueless how to do something like this and is spending wads of cash b/c they're just picking up items with no rhyme or reason, it could be a valuable service.

    What are your thoughts?  Have you tried any of them?

    Officially Recognized Stretchpert in the General forum
  • Wed, Jul 16 2008 8:35 AM In reply to

    Re: meal planning websites

    Hi Sunshinetreva, I have never even heard of these websites before so I am going to check them out. I think that they would be great for people who have never tried to budget and are over spending at the grocery store. I want to see what their meal plans consist of. My family has gotten pretty good about trying new things and not complaining. I think the main thing would be for a person to give their family some time to adjust once they tried this out. The first week would probably be a shock to the family that is used to having whatever they want for meals and snacks!
  • Wed, Jul 16 2008 9:39 AM In reply to

    Re: meal planning websites

    DinnerPlanner.com is a pretty reasonable site  -  only 5 dollars for the month. 

    With two different menus - you really can't go wrong.

    http://www.dinnerplanner.com

     

     

  • Wed, Jul 16 2008 9:53 AM In reply to

    • Brandy
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Mar 28 2007
    • Saving in South Mississippi
    • Posts 25,145

    Re: meal planning websites

    I have used Menus 4 Moms for meal inspirations before

    The ArcaMax menu planner has some good ideas as well but their meals are not often as frugal as Menus 4 Moms.

    I would also suggest using the Hillbilly Housewife site. The site offers two low cost menu plans that can be used to kick start some frugal planning and eating. They also do an Angel Food menu that can be used to help you plan a shopping list and recipes even if you don't get the items from Angel Food.

    My personal approach is to make planning easy. I usually prepare basic meals using the same types of ingredients so once I am stocked, I have most of what I need on hand...choose a main dish and then grab some sides and we have dinner.

     

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager



  • Wed, Jul 16 2008 9:55 AM In reply to

    • Brandy
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Mar 28 2007
    • Saving in South Mississippi
    • Posts 25,145

    Re: meal planning websites

    The Dollar Stretcher has an article on meal planning as well.

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager



  • Wed, Jul 16 2008 11:07 AM In reply to

    Re: meal planning websites

    Brandy:

    I would also suggest using the Hillbilly Housewife site. The site offers two low cost menu plans that can be used to kick start some frugal planning and eating. They also do an Angel Food menu that can be used to help you plan a shopping list and recipes even if you don't get the items from Angel Food.

    I agree Brandy. I was going to post that too! The Hillbilly Housewife has some great menus for the weeks where you have barely nothing!

    I do a lot of freezer meals (cook big batches on weekend and freeze in meal sized portions). I dont' do all my meals that way (lack of space and time) but I do about half of them like that. It helps with menu planning.

    I don't personally see a reason to subscribe to something but what I did was made my own "menu" sheet. It's nothing fancy (just did it in Word) but it works for me. I even put a spot at the bottom for a quick to-do list. If anybody would like to have the sheet emailed to them, just send me a private message and I'll send the file to you.

    I find that meal planning (something I actually just started a month ago) has been a real time saver and money saver for me. I am more efficient with my grocery shopping now, I am more organized (I can remember what to pull out of the freezer rather than throw something together last minute), etc. Not to mention that my husband no longer bugs me by asking constantly "what's for dinner". As my kids get older, I think they'll like it too. A friend of mine who has done menu planning for years says that she picks a night where she lets the kids pick the meal (usually a kid favorite like pizza). I think that's a cool idea.

    PS. To help with my menu planning, I also made a master "Meal List". It's a list of all the main meals that I like to make, including some elaborate/pricey ones (like crab cakes) and lots of quick and cheap meals. It also has a list of sides to pick from and a list of breakfast items. I think this helps me to remember dishes I may not have fixed in a long time and to keep a varity going.

    God bless,

    Julie

  • Wed, Jul 16 2008 11:10 AM In reply to

    • AmyC
    • Top 100 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Oct 24 2007
    • Posts 868

    Re: meal planning websites

     Speaking of hillbilly housewife.....DH and I adore the black bean soup recipe from that site, add a little cumin, and some hot sauce and we are very happy for 2-3 meals!  Also, I can make the whole pot for less than $3.00!

    http://carneyexploits.blogspot.com

  • Wed, Jul 16 2008 11:34 AM In reply to

    • Brandy
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Mar 28 2007
    • Saving in South Mississippi
    • Posts 25,145

    Re: meal planning websites

    "I don't personally see a reason to subscribe to something"

    I can't see paying for menus. I have looked through all the free sources I shared and worked out my own menu from the portions I liked when I was struggling with motivation to meal plan.

     

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager



  • Wed, Jul 16 2008 11:45 AM In reply to

    • MarthaMFI
    • Top 10 Contributor
      Female
    • Joined on Wed, Apr 16 2008
    • New Westminster, BC, Canada
    • Posts 10,850

    Re: meal planning websites

    I have the saving dinner cookbooks and a bunch of her sample menus. they are good.  I look lots of places like my cookbooks, allrecipes, hillbillyhousewife etc. 

    my guys are pretty basic in the food groups so no fancy cooking.

    Officially recognized Stretchpert in Hobbies and Crafts
  • Wed, Jul 16 2008 12:42 PM In reply to

    Re: meal planning websites

    Because I shop two weeks at a time and plan my menus based on the sales flyers a website like this just wouldn't work for me.

    But I think as others have said if someone is struggling to reign in their grocery expenses, it could be a good way to jump-start the process until they're comfortable doing it themselves.

    One thing that's helped recently is the fact that All Recipes has a budget area: http://allrecipes.com/HowTo/Cooking-on-a-Budget/Detail.aspx

    From there I can look at budget-tagged recipes by main ingredient type (like hamburger or chicken) depending on what's on sale and expand our meals a bit by trying something different without needing to spend extra for it.  When I see what's on sale that week, I look through my own recipes, All Recipes, and the past few weeks meal plans (to try and not repeat).  Its nice to have something new once a week or so.  I find we have a bigger tendency to eat out when we're "stuck in a rut" with our meals.

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