Last February, I went to visit my sister who is in her senior year of college in North Carolina. She lives off-campus, sharing a house with 4 (?) other girls. The girls were making dinner the night we were there, and they were having trouble with something. I offered my advice, and we had a delicious dinner.
It was weird to me to offer advice for cooking! Even weirder was how comfortable I felt. In recent months, I’ve really made great strides in overcoming my fear of cooking. Tonight I even sauteed something!! Okay you can pick your jaws up off the floor now. :-) I attribute this strange turn of events to three things: (1) getting a gas stove (for some reason, I feel much more comfortable with a real flame that I can see); (2) practice; and (3) E-mealz.
My mom was the one who told me about E-mealz, and I signed up for it last November. It’s basically a service where you get a weekly menu, complete with side dishes and a grocery list. The intention is to take away the meal-planning headache that often drives people to eating out or just scrounging instead of sitting down as a family.
It has really helped me a lot! For one thing, it encourages me to try new dishes. I very rarely outright dislike one of the dishes that are suggested on the menu. (And I can be somewhat picky!) They will have a different take on a classic dish – like instead of cliche spaghetti, they had spaghetti pie which was a nice change. The best part is the meals are very simple and easy to make! It has really helped me conquer my fear of cooking.
How it works: each week you can go to their website and download a PDF that contains your meals for the week and a grocery list. All the meals are on one page, and that includes the ingredients and the instructions, as well as suggested sides to complete the meal. The second page in the PDF is the grocery list for those meals (including sides). It’s really easy to substitute a meal with a different one from your personal recipe collection, if you wanted to do that.
They have different “meal plans” that you can sign up for: two-person and family (4-6 people). You can also sign up for some specific grocery stores to take advantage of their sales. They even have meal plans for specific diets – Weight Watchers, vegetarian, etc. We are signed up for the two-person Aldi’s meal plan, which I love because it makes it really easy to get all my food at Aldi’s each week, which of course saves me a lot of money.
The best part of all is that E-mealz is pretty inexpensive – $15 for a three-month subscription. I have been doing it for 4 or 5 months now, and I think it’s definitely worth it! (Even Dave Ramsey thinks so!) One side benefit that I didn’t expect is that since the whole meal is spelled out on the paper, then I can easily have Paul make dinner if I’m not feeling well or something. Once, my mom and I were busy sewing and we didn’t want to stop, so my dad willingly made dinner – I didn’t have to explain anything except point out which meal we were having! I like that aspect. :-)
I could go on and on, but you should see for yourself! They have sample menus on their website if you want to see more of what I’m talking about. If you sign up, then let me know how you like it!
(Also, they have very nice designs on their website.)