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Monday, August 23, 2010

E-Mealz Update: Week 1

In a previous blog, I mentioned my new subscription to the E-Mealz weekly menu plan. Last week was my first round with the prepared menu, grocery shopping list, and coupon links.

I'll use a scale of 0-10 as a starting point for my evaluation, where 0 means I would never, ever consider using the service again and 10 means the system is perfect, needs no modifications, and I will use it exactly as prescribed.

Based on last week's experience, I'll rate E-Mealz an 8 overall because the service provided what it promised, I came within $3 of the estimated cost, and it did make meal planning less of an ordeal. However, I did make modifications to the system, meaning I can't use the service just as is.

User Friendliness

Definitely easy to log-in, navigate the website, review the menu, link to the coupons, and print any desired material. I think an e-mail reminder could be useful for users who are very busy and may forget to check for the new weekly menu.

Quality of Meals

The meals are extremely easy to prepare (a novice in the kitchen could handle them), usually requiring no more than 3 or 4 steps - and the site clearly states that their purpose is to help you spend less time cooking, so goal met! However, I found myself changing a few of the prescribed side dishes to better accomodate our particular tastes.

Only one meal was an absolute n0 repeat ever period. Even though the meal was completely easy to make and ready in minutes, both the taste and portion size of the main dish were not up to standard. This particular meal called for Contessa brand frozen honey roasted shrimp, which you cook in the microwave in it's prepackaged bag. (Okay, I know, this should have been my first clue!) The shrimp was rubbery and had an awful preservative-laden taste to it, and this particular brand thinks that 8 shrimp constitutes two serving sizes. Eight shrimp for two adults to split - and we're not talking jumbo shrimp. Not a huge problem since I didn't like the shrimp anyways.

The other meals (pot roast, chicken finger salad, grilled sirloin steaks) tasted great and we'd eat them again. Plus, they all took less than 30 minutes to prepare. Remember, if you're a demanding culinary connoisseur, this probably won't be your soup de jour. But if you're an everyday, busy person who can enjoy a basic and simple meal, I can recommend this service.

Buying a subscription for someone living on their own for the first time could make a fantastic gift!

By the way, this Friday Ben & I are planning our big freezer cooking day (see this
post if you don't know what I'm talking about). I'm looking forward to reporting back on that experience. 19 days and counting until our estimated due date!!!!

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