I Know What You Cooked Last Summer, an Emeals Review


IMG_9118Marinated flank steak with corn relish and grilled zucchini

For about a year now I have been using Emeals.com, on and off, to help me plan and execute dinner each evening. For those of you who have heard me bitching and moaning about how much I hate meal planning and especially grocery shopping, now is your cue to click away, because I’m gonna talk about it some more.

My routine goes a little something like this (hit it):

Sunday morning. I plan to sit with my coffee early in the morning and plan the week’s meals. I procrastinate for hours.

Sunday afternoon. I have been hiding in my office “meal planning.” I finally print out the Emeals plan for the week and get started. It doesn’t take long. I make a grid showing our family’s activities for each day, then I fill in the meals from the plan or use something from my limited arsenal of recipes of my own. Then I compile a list from this plan and head off to Costco and Ralph’s. Yes, both of them. On Sunday afternoons. Because I am a glutton for punishment.

This whole setup only works when I am on a roll with our routine. Summer was tough for this, when our plans or lack thereof changed without much notice. Now that the kids are back in school and we have something of a normal schedule, it’s working fine again. That said, I ramped up the cooking a few weeks ago, before school started, and here are some things I made:

IMG_7991Jennie Perillo’s pizza recipe. Always a hit.

IMG_8947Emeals marinated pork chops. Okay.

IMG_8948My own last resort frozen vegetables

IMG_8958Emeals grilled peaches with honey and bleu cheese. Adults loved!

IMG_9101Emeals pork stir fry with eggplant. WAY TOO MUCH EGGPLANT. All of the leftovers went into the garbage.

IMG_9103Emeals chicken corn chowder. Every time I turned around my husband was helping himself to more.

I have used two different versions of Emeals, where you can choose from several different meal plans including paleo, Mediterranean, vegetarian, etc. The first one I tried was designed for a low budget: I chose the one for Kroger grocery stores, and I received recipes that used the Ralph’s sale items to design recipes each week. It did save us money, but a lot of the meals were based on canned or boxed processed foods, which is fine in a time pinch but not every day. So I switched to the clean eating plan, which places more emphasis on fresh produce and meat.

The results are hit or miss, as with anything that changes daily. The kids don’t like to try new things. I don’t like to peel squash or jicama, as it turns out. 

My biggest beef with Emeals is that they do make mistakes, and I’ve been using the service long enough that it’s happened more than once. When you’re racing to get dinner on the table, the last thing you want to do is look down at your recipe and find a missing step. I could have tried to guess what to do with the bacon I fried and crumbled, but I’ve never made coq au vin before. It didn’t seem like something I could intuit.

coq au vin

Coq au vin and garlic mashed potatoes. Emeals eventually did email me to say the crumbled bacon was supposed to go in the broth. But I had to wing and so I just put it on top.

Also, there are some recipes in which the portions of ingredients seem off. Too few potatoes, and far too much milk. Not enough broccoli, but a giant bowl of dressing that will drown it and make it soup instead of salad. That’s missing the whole point of Emeals – to make dinnertime easy. Most of the time it’s fine, but those few times when it slips up are enough for me to be frustrated.

Comments

  1. Everything looks yummy! And I definitely need that corn chicken chowder recipe. (Though not convinced I could get my kids to eat it, even though they like everything inside of it!)

    As always, I stand back in awe of your kick-ass organizational skills, Kim. (Can you plan my meals for next week?)

  2. Maybe I should start this as a side business!

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