Meal Planning Conundrum & the eMeals Solution!

food chicken If you’re like me, meal planning each week can feel like a major chore. It is hard trying to find healthy meals on a budget that our whole family will enjoy. Each week I spend hours trying to plan breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for our lovely family of five. Then I spend even MORE time creating a list and going through our pantry trying to see what we already have on hand. Before I discovered the fabulous  (and most importantly FREE!) Walmart Grocery Pick Up, I would load all three kids into their car seats with my diaper bag in tow and begin the trip to our local grocery store. I would then pray that there would be no melt downs or blow outs while I quickly tried to gather our cart full of items. On the plus side, squatting down multiple times to reach bottom shelf items while baby wearing was like a mini workout. I’m just trying to stay positive here…

*** Check out my recent video where I talk more about eMeals!

Please note, I am an eMeals affiliate. This means that eMeals gives me a small fee to link their products on my page. I became an affiliate AFTER signing up for eMeals myself and AFTER writing this blog post so all of the opinions are 100% my own. If you are interested, please click on an eMeals banner or link in order to purchase their product. Doing so will help supplement our income and provide me with more time to create and share FREE materials with you 🙂 Thank You!!

Luckily, those days are no more. For the past nine months or so I have been utilizing Walmart’s Free Grocery Pick Up! I use their handy dandy little app to add things to my shopping cart, select a pick up time, pay and then head to the store where I park and everything is delivered right to my car. Talk about a GAME CHANGER! There are some downsides to using the service, but for the most part the good definitely outweighs the bad. Although the service has helped shave about 2 hours off of my weekly meal planning and shopping routine, I was still stuck trying to figure out exactly WHAT we were going to eat that week.

Then one day I was on facebook and saw an ad for something called eMeals. I decided to investigate further and it seemed very promising! Basically, eMeals will create a weekly meal plan for you based on your preferences. You can select or pass on which meals you want to make, quickly add all the ingredients to your shopping list and even schedule to have it delivered to you! eMeals was having a promotion where we could try it free for 14 days so I figured, why not? We just finished our first week and I have to say, I’m digging it! I am going to share with you a few things that I liked and disliked about eMeals, and maybe it will help you decide if it is something that might work for your family. Also, I will be sharing an eMeals recipe that was surprisingly delicious for everyone! Lets get started:

Pros:
Price – I have tried meal delivery services like Blue Apron before, but at $140 bucks a week for only 4 dinners… I just can’t justify that. We spend about $120 a week and that includes all meals. Thankfully, eMeals is only $59.99 for a 12 month subscription for a family of six. That comes out to less than $5 a month. Combine that with free Walmart delivery and you have yourself a deal!

Time Saving – Using eMeals has probably cut my meal planning time by 70 percent. I select my plan, click to add the ingredients to my shopping list and then use that as a checklist while I add them to my shopping cart on the Walmart delivery app. Simple!

Plans Offered – I absolutely LOVE how many different plans they have to choose from. If you are following a paleo diet? They have you covered. Low carb? They’ve got it. Low calorie? Kid friendly? Budget friendly? Diabetic? Gluten free? Yup, eMeals has it.

Unlimited Switching – You are not tied down to just one plan a month. You can switch your plan at any time to update to new recipes, so as your needs change, eMeals will change too.

Scheduled Delivery – I did not use this feature during my 14 day trial, but if you wish, it will take all of your shopping cart items and add them to Instacart, where you can then schedule to have it delivered right to your door! Normally I love any opportunity to stay in my PJ’s longer, but since Instacart charges a delivery fee and I like to tip the drivers, I choose to save my $$$ for other things.

Shopping Cart Features – It is nice that you can add more than just the recipe items to your shopping cart. Need laundry soap? You can add it to your eMeals cart. eMeals will also transfer those items to Instacart to be delivered along with your food items. Score!

Broaden our Horizons – Using eMeals has helped us expand our taste buds and try new meals that we wouldn’t have necessarily tried otherwise. I was surprised at just how well my husband and children liked some of the dishes. If you have a dish that you really like, you can even add it to your favorites on your eMeals app to make it easier to find in the future.

Cons:
Pay Up Front – Although the price was great compared to other similar services, I was kind of bummed that there was not an option to pay monthly instead of the full $59.99 upfront. Because of this, I haven’t decided if I am going to keep eMeals past the 14 day trial.

Almost Perfect – It is nice that eMeals has the option to add your shopping list items to Instacart for delivery, but it would be REALLY awesome if you could upload your shopping list straight to your Walmart Grocery App to save even more time.

One Plan Per WeekIt is great that you can switch your meal plan whenever you want, but as far as I could tell you can only choose meals from one plan per week. For instance, if you need dinner for 7 nights and only 4 meals on the “low calorie” plan suit you, there isn’t a way to add those meals as well as three meals from the “low carb” plan. Maybe there is a way and I just haven’t figured it out yet, but it seems to be one plan per week. Technically you could add the meals to your shopping cart, then go to another meal plan and write down or print the recipes and then add it to your list, but that would be unnecessarily more time consuming. UPDATE: This is not true! If you want to add meals from multiple plans you need to follow these steps:
1.) Select the meals you want to make from plan #1
2.) Click them to add them to your shopping cart
This is where I went wrong…..

3.) Go back to your meal plan and select the option to change your plan. It will then give you an option to look through the plans and their specific meals  for the week first. When you find the meal plan you want, click it.
6.) Then click the triangle at the bottom in the purple navigation bar that says “switch to this plan”.
7.) Click the green “Switch Now” button.
8.) Find the meals you want to add to your shopping cart for plan #2

Pictures – I wish all the meals had pictures to accompany them. So far I would say that half of the recipes I have come across had images. I would be more likely to make a meal if it had a scrumptious picture to go with it!

Not the Best for Large Families – The meal plans come in two options. The first option is for one to three people and the second plan is for a family of four to six. If you are a large family, you would have to adjust the recipe and your shopping cart items to fit your needs which may, or may not, save you as much time.

So there you have it! Hopefully I was able to give you some additional information that will help you decide if eMeals is something worth signing up for. BTW, I am in no way sponsored by Emeals and my opinion is all my own 🙂 If you are interested in trying the recipe in the picture above, follow this simple and delicious recipe!

 recipe
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What I learned our First Year of Homeschooling.

Homeschooling is never something that I had envisioned doing. To be honest, being a stay at home mom was never in my plans either, yet here I am! There are many reasons why parents might choose to homeschool. Maybe you would like to travel more. Maybe your child is having issues with bullying.  Maybe you are like us and feel like the public school system, and its one-size-fits-all curriculum, just isn’t beneficial to your child. Whatever the reason, it is a major decision that will impact your family for years to come.

This year I was a newbie. I scoured the internet researching curriculum for almost two years trying to make the most educated decision I could. As a one income and fixed income family, wasting money on curriculum really isn’t ideal. Unfortunately, the biggest challenge I have come across in my first year of homeschooling was one that I couldn’t really research. It was brought on by my own experience in the public school system, mixed with what our society deems “normal”, as well as my own personal need to constantly meet deadlines and to-do lists.

This year, the biggest thing I have learned was to forget what society has taught me the past 26 years. By that, I mean that I am [still] in the process of learning that it is perfectly acceptable to go at each child’s individual pace. I am still learning that it is absolutely okay if we do not finish our curriculum by the end of our homeschool year and that it is perfectly okay to skip over some topics and elaborate on others. Even though the whole point of us homeschooling was to do things differently than the public school system, it was still incredibly challenging to actually accept our newly found freedom!

Some days I found myself literally in tears because our curriculum wanted us to finish (x) amount of pages in (x) amount of days and if we didn’t, I felt like I was failing. I grew impatient with my children simply because of my inability to realize that the curriculum is a mere guideline of what can be accomplished, not an enforced law that had to be followed exactly. Once I realized that, it was like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I became more patient with our children and I feel like my son was able to concentrate better without his overbearing mother and her pressure of completion vs. true understanding.

It seems so simple, but honestly it has been the biggest game changer in our homeschool lives. Besides being a mother, wife, teacher, website tester, babysitter and blogger, I am also a graphic designer. In graphic design, the ability to meet deadlines is crucial. Being able to distinguish when deadlines are necessary, and when it is okay to relax will be the key to our homeschool success. I wish I would have learned this little tip towards the beginning of the year rather than at the end, but I guess late is better than never!

Today, I uploaded a new video to my Youtube channel that talks about what I have learned this year and also quickly reviews the curriculum we have purchased for the 2017-2018 school year. My son will be going into first grade this year and I am excited to have a fresh start with my new found knowledge. How was your homeschool year? Did you learn anything new as a teacher and mother? If so, I  would love to hear about it!

I’m Back! ( + Bible Curriculum)

I know. I know. It has been a while (to be modest). First, let me just start by saying thank you so much for being so patient while my blog was down! I know that there have been a lot of people who were trying to find links that were no longer available and I sincerely apologize. With that said, I hope to start posting weekly and getting back on track :]

One of the most requested links was the daily bible program that I modified from Armor Your Children. It is a simple, 5 minute, 32 week program that christian families can utilize. If you are a Mormon, head on over to the Armor Your Children page to get your unmodified, FREE devotional series or click here to download my modified version that omits scripture from the Book of Mormon and Doctrine of Covenants.

I really liked using Nicole Carpenter’s program this year because it made our bible time quick and easy, which is perfect for those on-the-go moms and dads out there. Also, be on the lookout for my new video on YouTube where I cover our upcoming 2017-2018 homeschool curriculum choices!