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I need a pre-planned menu~

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I'm just so pooped. I am struggling with suppers these days...often digging in the freezer at 4:30 pm, waiting for something to jump out at me. So I've been looking for a menu plan to print and go. I can't find much that is free (do you have any suggestions?) so now I'm looking at E-Mealz. I need something healthy, higher protein and less starchy carbs, and lots of fruits and veggies. It has several (low carb, gluten free, and whole foods market plans) that the samples seem fairly healthy. Does anybody have experience with these plans, or know of a better plan that I could use? Thanks.

Edited by Blueridge
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I've been using the low-fat version of the e-mealz plan for 3 weeks. I love that it not only plans dinner, but also a few sides. Not to mention the printable grocery list! Now, menu planning takes 5 seconds instead of 2 hours.


The food is good and uses easy to find ingredients that you have most likely heard of before. The menus also incorporate lots of fruits & veggies. The e-mealz could very well be exactly what you are looking for.

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I tried E-mealz for 3 months and didn't like it -- too many canned things (this was the gluten-free menu).


I switched to Fresh 20 when I saw an online deal. I have been VERY happy with it, and my family is actually eating the food. I also like how food is used multiple times throughout the week to lessen waste. For example, beef used in a roast on Monday (with a side salad of lettuce and veggies) turns into tostadas on Wednesday (with leftover lettuce & veggies as tostada fixins).





http://www.adventuresofaglutenfreemom.com/ also has (FREE) meal plans, though I don't think hers comes with a grocery list.

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Haven't used this service, but I have used the Six o clock Scramble. I love that there's a pre-planned menu-mailer, but that you can search the database & customize the menu for your own needs/desires. The database also has several useful search options (eg gluten free, vegetarian, dairy free, etc). Also, the meals actually taste good. :) (I tried Saving Dinner menu mailers in the past, and none of my family really liked the food.)

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I am with you - I hate cooking dinner and I hate trying to figure out what to cook right at that time of day when my blood sugar is dropping.


I started making my own weekly menus about 7 years ago. I print out a weekly calendar from Outlook, where I maintain our calendar, and I write out dinners for each week. That way, I can take into consideration the nights that are busy with evening activities and I cater for field trips (ie, crock pot to the rescue!) It also helps me to figure out what days I might need to pack lunches for a field trip. And, since my husband travels, I can plan "kid food" nights vs. "real food" nights.


I do it on Saturday or Sunday mornings when I am not in a rush or thinking about getting school started. I look up recipes when I feel like I'm in a rut and write out the grocery list at the same time.


I tried to make them generic so that I could have 5 or 6 standard menus and just pick one each week. It never worked for me to grab a standard menu because of the husband's travel but planning each week on it's own has been a wonderful stress-reliever.


This week - huge benefit - dd, age 10, looked at the menu and got all of the ingredients out for me and HELPED cook!

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Haven't used that particular one.


A couple days before my shopping trip I begin my grocery list. I first pull out my menu plan calendar that is hung on the fridge. I plan 2 weeks at a time as I shop for 2 weeks at a time. I will search pinterest, blogs that I've bookmarked, and pull out older recipes that I know we all enjoy here. My 1 tradition that I've stuck to and my family LOVES it is 2 Friday's of the month we have Taco Night & the other 2 Friday's of the month we have Pizza night. I of course alternate them so we don't have 2 Friday's in a row where we have Pizza Night. I also have breakfast for dinner planned 1 meal of the 2 weeks period. It's usually on a Saturday as breakfast for dinner packed as a lunch for dh wouldn't taste so great :001_huh:. So since we have no work on Sunday's we enjoy our leftovers Sunday morning, if any are left. It's easy to make some fresh hot eggs and eat the leftover potatoes.


Some of my favorite blogs are FRUGAL ones. They are good heartly dishes and they don't cost me $8 a plate to serve to my family.


I still shop sales but only purchase the items that we use often outside of an original grocery shop, otherwise I tend to overspend and food goes bad :( For example if ANY fresh produce or bagged potatoes or MEAT goes on sale I nab the sale, even if I just grocery shopped! This helps us afford our food.


We are 100% gluten free. Our pizza dough is homemade using a recipe I found on a gluten free recipe blog. Our pasta we enjoy most is corn pasta.


Here is a sample of this most recent 2 week menu plan I have posted on the fridge. (This is a feature that my family all like, they can get up in the morning and read on the menu to know exactly what to expect for dinner.)


Sunday- Spaghetti, Meatballs, & French Bread with Garlic Butter Dipping Sauce

Monday- Sauted Garlic Shrimp, Oven Fries, & Corn

Tuesday- Spanish Rice with Ground Turkey, Homemade Black Beans, & Artisan Salad

Wednesday- Garlic Cheddar Chicken, Roasted Potoates, & Broccoli/Cauliflower

Thursday- Ham & Beans, & Corn Bread

Friday- Taco Night! Rice & Homemade Beans

Saturday- Sloppy Jo's, Corn Chips, & Cottage Cheese

Sunday- Meatloaf, Roasted Potatoes, & Cabbage

Monday- Hobo Dinner

Tuesday- Chicken Rice & Cheese Sauce, & Artisan Salad

Wednesday- Chicken Enchilada Dip with Tortilla Chips

Thursday- Homemade Turkey Helper, Dinner Rolls, & Artisan Salad

Friday- Pizza Night!

Saturday- Breakfast for Dinner!


By sticking to our menu we save on our grocery bill IMMENSELY! And there are no last minute store runs to grab sour cream or ketchup! Plan your menu and make your grocery list as you write each meal down. This also helps you know ahead of time what meat to pull out if any..and if any dry beans need to be prepared, or any fresh breads are to be made that day...ect.


This of course went into more detail than I meant when replying. I'm sorry to ramble so much!


Our menu of course suits our family and many meals might not fit your family but for us we all enoy them.

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I did e-mealz for several months. I chose the one that is supposed to go along with Weight Watchers. I do not like to spend a lot of time cooking, and I do not mind using some convenience foods, so it was great for me. Once I got enough meal ideas, I quit. I found some recipes that are now favorites with the family. :) I even have a recipe for shrimp, which I have never cooked in my life. DH and DD are thrilled with that one. (DS and I don't care for shrimp.)

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Thank you for more great ideas. I think it's funny that I don't feel like I can plan my own menus for the week...I'm sure I could if I tried. :)


I have found my only complaint with e-mealz is that more often than not, I need to alter the recipe to make it work for my family. Which I guess doesn't sound like a big deal, but I do not like cooking dinner (I cook 3 meals plus snacks every. single. day.) so having to adapt recipes at 6 PM isn't my thing. I found taking the time and going through the process of designing my own meal plan, based on my what my family eats and enjoys was much easier in the long term. Once it is done, you can just flip it around, rotate the meals, gives you more breathing room if you want to try a new recipe. I hope you find the system that works for you and your family, meal planning is just not much fun!

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