A Lull In The Crazy

So things have been a little busy around the Lair of late. I went to California and spent time with the lovely Audry and David, and have been up to my usual no good offline. The crazy should keep it down to a dull roar through the weekend, but the way things have been going lately, that’s not likely, so I’d best write this while I can.

I want to tell you all about this awesome thing. I should also note here that I have not been paid in any way to endorse this product. This post is made of my own volition, and I write it with those of us whose lives are insanely busy in mind.

Writers, especially, are notorious for neglecting their health, whether or not they’re busy. That’s what makes what I’m about to tell you about so freakin’ awesome. The last thing crazy, busy people want is one more thing to think about or take care of.

EMeals takes care of everything but the cooking when it comes to eats. Seriously. This service is the BEST THING EVAR and you all know I don’t give props to just anything. I don’t flog anything for anyone I don’t believe is worth it, and it’s taken me over six weeks to even consider telling you all about this. Why six weeks? Well, the first two weeks were a trial period (free), and I wanted to be sure we stuck with it.

Not only have we stuck with it, we’re really enjoying our nightly dinners. Dinnertime has become a highlight of our day at the James household, when it used to be a real chore. We had a set of about five things we would rotate through when we didn’t order a pizza or get something from a local restaurant. He Who Enables My Crazy (AKA “Mr. Dina”) is a fantastic cook and has an entire bookcase dedicated to his cookbook collection. He loves cooking. However, we’re both busy (also lazy), and our schedules tend to contradict more often than not, so dinner wasn’t really a meal. It was more a “we’re hungry, what shall we eat” thing, and it was always the same few ideas. Convenience was a big factor in our choices, also.

With eMeals, the guesswork and planning are out the window. Each week we’re emailed a list of seven dinner recipes, along with cooking instructions and a detailed shopping list. And you know what?

We fucking love everything.

The recipes are fantastic. There are over 15 meal plans to choose from (Budget Friendly, 30-Minute Meals, Vegetarian, Paleo, Slow Cooker, and more – HWEMC and I chose the Clean Eating plan), and they’re amazing. EASY, too. Aside from the slow cooker meals, none of the recipes have been over an hour cooking time, and you spend that much time waiting for a pizza to be delivered.

The shopping list. OMG. I can’t say enough wonderful things about the shopping list. So user-friendly.

Now, while they do have a 14-day free trial, eMeals is a subscription service, so it’s kind of like a gym membership – if you’re going to pay for it, use it! (If you change your mind after you sign up, they’re nice about cancellations though, unlike the gym.) You can also change your mind about the plan you select on sign-up. Depending on your location, some plans might not be available to you because they use specialty stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, which not everyone has access to. (Don’t worry – the plan you select will tell you if it’s specialized. You can also pick a plan based on which store you shop most at.) You can also tailor the service to plans for just one or two people, or more than four. It’s brilliant.

For those with small humans, they have (for an additional nominal fee) a packable 5-day lunch recipe option and a dessert option. We just do the dinner option, and that’s plenty for us. And holy…wow. We’ve tried some things I never even looked twice at, and once hadn’t even heard of before. And it’s been amazing.

We look forward to dinner every night now. It’s become “our time,” and we enjoy cooking and eating together. For the first few weeks, we ate in the living room as usual, watching a movie or whatnot as we tended to do. Then, at HWEMC’s suggestion (not mine, so that tells you something about the magical power of this service), we turned off the TV and ate at our dining room table like civilized people for a change, complete with black silk placemats and candles in crystal sconces and classical music playing in the background.

Yes, darklings…it’s exactly how you envisioned I always dined (sans bare-chested manservant – he wears a shirt).

Each week we look forward to what new thing we’re going to try, and each morning we peek at what we’re going to make that night. The shopping is done weekly, so we always have the ingredients we need on hand for that night’s meal.

Having sung the praises of this plan extensively, let me illustrate a few caveats:

1 – subscription service. This is a paid thing, and it’s worth every penny. The cost for a year’s plan (which we signed up for) is less than $5 a month, and that pays for itself in weekly savings on your grocery bill the first week. So, so worth it. The recipes also build on one another, so that container of grape tomatoes you bought will be used in more than one recipe, and that package of walnuts you bought last week will be an ingredient in this week’s recipe. Like I said – it pays for itself.

2 – a bit of effort on your part is involved. YOU have to do the shopping. YOU have to find the things on the list. YOU have to put them away properly and YOU have to prep and cook the ingredients. That said, it’s all made extremely easy. Each list has a little sidebar detailing what each meal requires in the way of “staples” (flour, spices, oils) so you can make sure you have those on hand as well. Each recipe is easy to follow (though they do have a gourmet plan that was a little more complicated), and some of the ingredients might be harder to locate, and you may venture into parts of the store you never set foot in before, but it’s worth it. One day of shopping is a whole week’s worth of meals, so minimal shopping effort there really. Most of us go shopping at least once a week anyway, and for those who shop daily, this will cut that shit right out if you’re looking to do that.

If you want to see what I’m talking about, go sign up for the free trial. They do require a credit card to sign up, but they don’t charge you until you activate your subscription after your trial is over. Some of the recipes might have ingredients you’re not keen on, and you can just alter those. There have been a few flops in our house, but those are the exception, and likely due more to operator error than any fault in the recipe. (We have learned we’re not fans of much thyme, so we substitute Italian seasoning for that, which has a little thyme in it.) There have also been a few recipes that we just refused to cook outright, but again – exceptions, not the rule, and those were a matter of preference. (I’m sure they were perfectly lovely for people who eat those ingredients.) We manage to make about five out of the seven weekly recipes (because again – schedules), but they’re staggered so that we hardly ever miss a day. We’ll finish up the previous week’s recipes before starting a new week, and so on, so there’s some overlap.

We love this service, and it’s become an integral and exciting part of our day. We’re eating better, eating well, and love all it’s done for us. We love everything about eMeals, and wouldn’t change a thing. Now instead of “what do you want for dinner” or “what do you feel like,” it’s “what are we making tonight?” “It’s Wednesday! New recipes today!” Dinner isn’t a chore any longer, but an experience. The meals are so easy, we use very few pots and pans, so clean-up is minimal. We have made meals you would pay top dollar for in a restaurant, and they were fast and ridiculously easy to prepare.

I admit, I’m spoiled now. We ordered pizza for the first time in weeks the other day, and neither of us enjoyed it. I don’t think we’ll be ordering pizza much anymore.

Go. Give it a try. I hope you love it as much as I do.