E-Mealz {Meal Planning Service Review} and Giveaway!

I first heard about the E-Mealz menu planning service from a friend who started using it about six months ago and she was just raving about how helpful it had been for saving money and planning her meals. Then, it seemed, I was seeing it mentioned here in there in the most random places…..a photography blog that I follow, another online article and more. For only $1.25 a week (billed every three months for a total of $15), subscribers to the Family Plan receive a full seven day week’s worth of menus including recipes and side dish suggestions. There is also an option for a Meal Plan for Two with five meals per week. To obtain the menu, subscribers can log in to view and print their menus which remain on the site for a total of two before being cycled out for a new week. This provides the flexibility to meal plan any day of the week that works best for your schedule. Recipes are rotated every five to six months so that you get a true variety of meals to choose from each week. The bonus? With every meal plan comes a grocery list, organized by store sections, which you can just print out and take to the store with you to help make shopping a breeze! Ingredients are number coded so if you don’t want to prepare a certain recipe that week, just cross off the ingredients with the corresponding number. The list also includes an “Other Groceries I Need” section that allows you to add to the list. For the store-specific plans, the total cost of the grocery list is given at the bottom. Most plans budget for an under $75 average grocery bill. What’s unique about this service is that it not only has meal plan options for basic menus, subscribers can also choose a Holiday or Vacation Menu or Vegetarian, Points System, Low-Fat, Low-Carb or Gluten Free menu plans. If you live in the southeast United States, you can also choose a meal plan based on your local grocery store like Aldi, Kroger, Publix or Wal-Mart. Meal plans for these options are planned to take advantage of the weekly advertised sale items to help you save even more money! Here is a basic rundown of the features: Cost: $15 billed every 3-months ($1.25 weekly) Free Trial: Yes, sample menus of each type are available for you to print and try Format: web-based so you print directly from their site. Frequency: Weekly Photos of Recipes?: No Customizable? No, but you can choose the menu you prefer based on your needs Nutrition Data for Each Recipe: No Generate Grocery Lists for Each Recipe/Menu? Yes! Blog: Yes at Make Time for Family Forum: No Facebook: Yes Twitter: Yes Notes: The site also has articles for even more money saving ideas, they also offer a Gift Certificate option which is a great idea for newly married couples, new parents, and just about anyone! The E-Mealz service is great for someone who is just starting out with meal planning or someone who just doesn’t have or want to take the time to find their own recipes, collect them and plan each week. With the variety of menu plan options, there is surely something for everyone’s taste! E-Mealz is giving one lucky reader a ONE-MONTH subscription to it’s service. Here’s how to enter: PRIMARY ENTRY **UPDATED 3/28/11 THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED** EXTRA ENTRIES (do one or more of the following) 2. Become a follower of my blog (link is on the left of this page) 3. Like Meal Planning Magic on Facebook 4. Email subscribe to my blog. 5. Vote for my blog at Babble.com’s Best Mom Food Bloggers. Search alphabetically to find my blog (page 4) and click Like to vote (I had to start over in my voting for 2011 so your votes will help move me up!) Remember, leave a comment for each entry. Only one entry per person per method listed above. If you are already a follower, “like” this blog on Facebook or subscribe to my blog, you can still have an extra entry–just mention that in the comment. Good luck! Giveaway Rules: Congratulations to #5, Robin! She is the winner of this giveaway! Disclosure: I received a one-month subscription to E-Mealz. However, the opinions expressed here are my own.

Plan To Eat {Meal Planning Service Review} and Giveaway!


When I first thought to start doing reviews of different online meal planning services I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I knew there were lots but what made each one different? Since you know I believe there is no one way to meal plan and everyone has to find the method that works best for them I’m hoping that by reviewing a variety of services it will help make that choice a little bit easier.

This week, I’m reviewing Plan To Eat. Have you ever found a recipe online and maybe even set up a virtual recipe box at that site (Allrecipes, Taste of Home and My Recipes all have them, among others). But then you need to remember where you saved that recipe. And then you find one in a magazine you want to try. Or maybe you have a recipe box full of family favorites that you want to remember too. Oh, and that shelf full of cookbooks. What about those? What’s unique about Plan To Eat is that you can combine all those recipes in one place!

There are a couple of options for adding them to your virtual recipe box (along with the recipes that are included by Plan to Eat). You can manually enter your family favorites (or other printed recipes). Or you can take them from a blog or other document source and enter them in one big batch. But here’s the really cool part. You can take a recipe from a website and type it in (or cut and paste as I did) and it the program will automatically pull in the recipe—ingredients, instructions and picture with a simple click of your mouse!

Next is planning your meals. Once you log in you will have access to all the recipes in your box and you drag and drop them to the day you want to prepare them. There is a space for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Other (say a special party or event or snack). Plan for a week or plan for a month (or more). It’s your choice! You can change the recipe quantity to your needs, too. Does it normally serve four but you need it to serve six? No problem, just change that and the program automatically updates the quantity of ingredients needed.

Once you have your recipes added, select Shopping List and it will generate a list for all your recipes. Shop for a week or two weeks—you choose. Also, adding pantry staples to your list is easy with just a click. You can import the recipe to an email to shop from your smart phone. Add specific stores and move items around. Does only one store carry your favorite brand of yogurt? Need something from a wholesale club? No problem. Move an ingredient to the specific store and generate a custom shopping list for each store where you shop.

Here’s a snapshot of the features:
Cost:
$4.95/month or $39/year
Free Trial: Yes, 30-day free trial
Format: Online, fully customizable to your preferences.
Frequency: As often as you want.
Photos of Recipes?: Yes, for many.
Customizable? Yes!
Nutrition Data for Each Recipe: Yes (be sure to click that preference though)
Generate Grocery Lists for Each Recipe/Menu? Yes–generate for a week, two weeks or more!
Forum: Yes, quite active. Great place to ask questions and share ideas.
Blog: Yes, reguarly updated and new recipe ideas.
Facebook: Yes
Notes: Currently cannot import directly from most blogs but can us the ‘Bulk Input’ option to quickly add recipes.

I have to say, the flexibility of this program is terrific! If collected your own recipes or have links galore out on the web, gather them all up and centralize them here. Take some time to play around—after all, you’ve got 30 days risk-free to decide if it works for you!

Plan To Eat is giving one lucky reader a ONE-YEAR subscription to it’s service. Here’s how to enter:

PRIMARY ENTRY ***THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED!***
1. Leave a comment why a meal planning service is appealing or how you currently keep track of recipes.

EXTRA ENTRIES (do one or more of the following)
2. Become a follower of my blog (link is on the left of this page)
3. Like Meal Planning Magic on Facebook
4. Email subscribe to my blog.
5. Vote for my blog at Babble.com’s Best Mom Food Bloggers (I’m currently on the second page, #51 but hopefully your votes will keep moving me up!)

Remember, leave a comment for each entry. Only one entry per person per method listed above. If you are already a follower, “like” this blog on Facebook or subscribe to my blog, you can still have an extra entry–just mention that in the comment. Good luck!

Giveaway Rules:
**UPDATED 3/14/11**
Congratulations to our winner, #21, Jody!

Disclosure: I have received a free annual subscription to this service however all opinions expressed here are my own.

Giveaway Extended! Food On the Table Premium Service!

Earlier this week I began my series on online meal planning services with a review of Food on the Table’s service (read about it here!) I’m excited to kick off this series because I’ve been in contact with over 30 other services, all with something unique to offer and I can’t wait to tell you all about them. The extra bonus? I’ve got over two months worth of related giveaways lined up too!

I’m extending the giveaway through this weekend for Food on the Table’s one month free of their Premium Service (let’s you plan up to seven meals per week and choose from over 1,000 recipes in their database (vs. 100 recipes for their basic service).

Here’s How To Enter: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED
PRIMARY ENTRY
1. Leave a comment with why you would like this service or your biggest meal planning challenge.

FOR EXTRA ENTRIES (do one or all or somewhere in between!):
2. Become a follower of my blog (link is on the left of this page)
3. Like Meal Planning Magic on Facebook
4. Email subscribe to my blog

Remember, leave a comment for each entry. Only one entry per person per method listed above. If you are already a follower or subscribe to my blog, you can still have an extra entry–just mention that in the comment. Good luck!

Giveaway Rules:
**UPDATED 2/14/11**
Congratulations to our winner, #12, Shannon!

Winner will be chosen via random.org and will have 48 hours to claim their prize. If prize is not claimed a new winner will be chosen. Winner will be posted on blog and if an email is given, they will be contacted via email. Open to US residents only (because the service is only available here–sorry to my other international readers!)

GOOD LUCK!

Disclosure: I discovered Food On the Table on my own a few months ago and planned to include it in my meal planning service review. In the meantime, I was contacted by the company to test the service and did receive one month’s worth of premium service and was offered a giveaway opportunity for a reader of my blog. Check out Giveaway Scout’s listing of blogs with giveaways for more chances to win great prizes (seen link to the left).

Food On The Table {Meal Planning Service Review} and Giveaway!


Do you know what your Meal Planning IQ is? If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile then you probably know that meal planning is a good thing and it’s something you need to do to save money and time and to prepare foods that are better for you. But maybe you’re just not quite there and you’re still trying to figure out where to begin. Choosing recipes, making grocery lists, shopping the sales flyers, clipping coupons and more all sound good but it takes TIME.

Take The Quiz!
If you’re not sure where to start, find out what your meal planning style is by taking this fun quiz from Food On the Table. It should hopefully help you figure out where to get started and the areas you might want to learn more about.

This week, I’m kicking off my series meal planning services reviews that are available online. Meal planning services make the task simpler and the web has many of them all with slight different features. Some are totally free while others are available for a monthly or quarterly fee.

Over the next several weeks I will be highlighting various services and I’m starting with Food On the Table. I first discovered this site via OrgJunkie and I wanted to learn more. I’m not a big coupon clipper. I’ve tried it and do use coupons occasionally, but find that I buy more store brands than items I can use coupons with. Plus, my home is not that big and I’m within ten minutes of at least four grocery stores so I don’t need to stockpile. But I do like to save money. Who doesn’t?

What makes Food On the Table’s meal planning service especially unique is that it takes the sale items from your favorite stores and provides recipes based on those sale items so you’re saving money with minimal effort—a real bonus! Check out a video highlight here. I’ve listed some of the key features to help you learn more.

Cost: Free (for three meals per week) or
Premium Service (up to seven meals per week) is $26.95/quarter, $47.95/six months or $69.95/year (as low as $5.83/month).
Compare the two services here.
Interactive or Email Service: Interactive, pick and choose the ingredients you like to build your weekly menu.
Customizable? Yes, you can choose the recipes that area appealing to you.
Rated Recipes? Yes
Frequency: Choose up to three meals per week for free service or seven meals for the Premium service.
Grocery List Print/Email Option? Yes
Availability? Currently in all 50 United States.
Nutrition Facts for Recipes? Yes
Ingredient Filter? (leave out ingredients based on your preferences) Yes
Time Estimate for Preparation/Cook Time: Yes
Forum/Feedback Opportunity? Yes, there is a forum to ask questions, share other recipes, ideas, etc.
Blog? Yes, there is a blog where you can learn about other meal planning ideas or opportunities.
On Facebook? Yes

Now here’s the really fun part! Food on the Table is giving one lucky reader one month’s Premium Service for free!

Here’s How To Enter:
1. Leave a comment with your primary meal planning challenge.
2. Become a follower of my blog (link is on the left of this page)
3. Like Meal Planning Magic on Facebook
4. Email subscribe to my blog.
5. Blog about the giveaway and leave me a link to your post.
6. Update your Facebook status with a link to this post.
7. “Tweet” about this post.
8. Vote for my blog at Babble.com’s Best Mom Food Bloggers (I’m currently on page 2, #64 but hopefully your votes will move me up!)

Remember, leave a comment for each entry. Only one entry per person per method listed above. If you are already a follower or subscribe to my blog, you can still have an extra entry–just mention that in the comment. Good luck!

Giveaway Rules:
Giveaway ends 2/11/2010 at 11:59 (CST). Winner will be chosen via random.org and will have 48 hours to claim their prize. If prize is not claimed a new winner will be chosen. Winner will be posted on blog and if an email is given, they will be contacted via email. Open to US residents only (because the service is only available here–sorry to my other international readers!)

Disclosure: I discovered Food On the Table on my own a few months ago and planned to include it in my meal planning service review. In the meantime, I was contacted by the company to test the service and did receive one month’s worth of premium service and was offered a giveaway opportunity for a reader of my blog. Check out Giveaway Scout’s listing of blogs with giveaways for more chances to win great prizes (seen link to the left).

Spring Fever Has Hit–And My Meal Planning Takes A Dive!

I don’t know about you but I have had a serious case of spring fever lately. Perhaps you’ve noticed the sparseness of my posts as an indication. Between youth sports (here in Texas, we started in March!), school programs and activities, helping the kids study for tests and gearing up for lots of end-of-year fun stuff PLUS the terrific weather we’ve been having here, I sure haven’t felt like cooking. And definitely not cleaning up afterwards!

But, what’s a busy woman to do who still wants to feed her family a healthy meal on the go and avoid the fast-food drive-thru? With my own freezer cooking session still a little bit aways (planning for to happen next week!), I remembered the freezer meal preparation store in my area and thought it was about time to drop in an pick up a few entrees. In my area we have Super Suppers and Dream Dinners. Each have different monthly menus and offer slightly different options when it comes to pricing. Since Super Suppers is closer to me that’s where I normally go. I like that I can choose my meals online and either go in a prepare them myself or normally, I just click, order and come in the next day to pick everything up and I’m on my way. Since my children are still young, we normally get the three person serving and that is enough for our family of four when I add a side or salad. For only $12 I can have a meal on the table in normally less than a half hour–you can’t really go through a drive through or out to eat for that amount. Even a large one topping pizza can cost more than that with delivery added! So that’s my solution for the time being

Thinking you’d like to get a few meals in your freezer for those busy spring evenings (or for days you just want to enjoy a night off!)? Check out this handy listing of all the freezer meal preparation stores in the U.S. and Canada (current as of January 2010) and you’re on your way.

Photo credit: Super Suppers